Three Is The Most Stressful Number Of Kids Parents Can Have, Study Claims

by : Francesca Donovan on :
Sylvester Stallone; Sistine Stallone; Scarlet Stallone; Sophia Stallone and Jennifer Flavin StalloneGetty

Motherhood is hard. If God is a woman then good mums are saints. But it turns out being a mum to three children is deserving of a special kind of admiration.

Why? Because, according to mums who know best, raising three kids is the hardest job in parenting.


A study has found three children can cause a trifecta of stress incomparable to any other sized brood. So for any kids who’re one of three, go and make your mum a brew for all her hard work, stat.

Kate Middleton, mum of three children - at prince louis christeningMatt Holyoak/Camera Press/Redux

A TODAYMoms.com survey conducted in April 2018 asked 7,000 mothers from the US how stressed they felt. The researchers then assessed the mothers’ stress levels as related to the number of children they have.

But contrary to what you’d expect, stress levels don’t increase exponentially with each addition to your brood.


In fact, mothers who have four children – a la Kris Jenner’s original Kardashian Kids, Kim, Kourtney, Khloe and Rob – reported the lowest stress levels and were generally the least stressed of them all.

Jill Smokler, a mum-of-three and blogger, told Today the stats are very accurate, saying:

Going from one to two was an easy, breezy transition. Two to three, everything was turned upside down. I do not feel like I have it together.

You only have two hands! Just crossing the street and not being able to physically hold all their hands I find tremendously stressful.


To be honest, keeping a pot plant alive is hard enough. Frankly, it’s a miracle these mums had time to answer the survey in the first place.

According to New York psychiatrist and mother-of-four Dr Janet Taylor, stress levels might decrease after the fourth sprog just because mothers eventually learn to loosen up and stop trying to control every little thing.

Apparently, there’s just ‘not enough space in your head’ for worrying about parental perfectionism when you have had four or more kids, she says.


Dr Taylor added:

The more children you have, the more confident you become in your parenting abilities. You have to let go. And then you’re just thankful when they all get to school on time.

The survey found 60 per cent of mothers said the feeling of having limited time to do everything your children require of you – as well as everything else – causes them the most stress.


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An astonishing 72 percent of mothers stress about how stressed they are, too.

What about the time old socially-imposed question of gender? Many looking to be parents have a preconception of what sort of little human they’d like to raise.

Well, if consigning your kid to one of two strictly-defined gender norms is your idea of fun, you may as well know it’s apparently less stressful to raise boys than girls.

Unsurprising, considering girls have been oppressed by years of patriarchy…

Presumably, that’s why 60 per cent of mums surveyed said raising girls is way more stressful than raising boys.

Fingers crossed for a ‘Blue for Boy’ gender reveal, hey!? Call your mum, kids.

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Francesca Donovan

A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you've never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.

Topics: Life


  1. TODAY

    Mom survey says: Three is the most stressful number of kids