Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Stress and Motherhood

A survey is showing that three kids is the most stressful number to have, and after that it's easier. Since that is what my mother always told me, I will not complain to much about the lack of meaningful statistics given. She had cause to notice, having spread seven children out over nearly two decades. (I was the magic stress-reducing fourth child, too, so that may be significant.) I also noticed my stress level go down significantly when we went from three to four children, probably because I spent the whole time in between in labor.

This has not been enough to entice me to further exploits--not that an extra child would be so hard, it's the acquisition process I no longer have the stomach for (quite literally). Also, it was enough of a challenge finding a vehicle that would fit four kids and a wheelchair. Upgrading is not really an option.

But, I definitely believe I am less stressed than mothers with three, or two, or maybe even one child. There are so many things that just don't matter once you realize you don't have time or energy for them any more. I saw one mother write about how she found it so freeing to be reassured that "As long as your children are fed, clean, clothed, and loved, you are doing a good job." And I thought: clean? clothed? Why? Fed, yes. You can't get away without feeding them, although here economies of scale come in. Clean and clothed are definitely optional.

Or again, a lovely mother of one little girl posted on Facebook about the challenges of getting stains out of socks. And I thought: stains? socks? What are those?

Also, once you have four you have hit critical mass for playmates--chances are anybody can find somebody to play with at any given time. 

There are stressful things, like looking at the grocery cart and bill and imagining what they will look like with four teenagers. I try not to think about that. It's too noisy around here to think, anyway. I'm getting very good about not thinking about things. Which is, I suspect, the key to a low-stress life. 


Silvia said...

:) As always, what a fun post to read.

I think age has to be added to the equation that makes up for stressful or stress free motherhood. I only have two, and I admit with the first one as toddler, and the second one as baby, I was in that despaired impasse of... "oh, dear, I cannot go to the mommy and me time at the indoor free pool any more... it has to be one to one as long as they are younger than five".

But having children in my mid thirties, puts me at 42 with an 8 and a 6 year old, and it is shamelessly easy. Maybe the mix of age and personality make me be relaxed, and having girls, though good eaters, the groceries bill is pretty painless. Living in Texas, I do not know what socks or stains are either. And maybe we are cliché homeschoolers or who knows what, but hand me downs and good will or thrifty stores, are our best friends. We only buy books, books, and then if inevitable, shoes once a year for them. We are both immigrants, and we never got into the credit card frenzy, but into the old mentality of saving money and living a bit beyond our means.

Life is so good!

Silvia said...

Oh dear, I meant under our means, LOL.

Diary of an Autodidact said...

It certainly was never as crazy for us as those first years with three. We had 3 kids age 2 and under for a while, but then waited 2 1/2 years for the fourth, who was an easy baby.

I think people who worry about stains in ANY kid clothes are a little Sisyphean in outlook anyway.

Steve said...

That grocery cart in teenage years? Think "double vision".

Brandy Vencel said...

The buying-food-for-four-teens sort of freaks me out, too. I try not to think about it.

Heather VanTimmeren said...

Well, I only have two, and that's all we'll have, but I completely concur with your conclusion that not thinking about things is the way to a low-stress life. For example:

Laundry - it's in another room, and everyone still has clean underwear (presumably) - let's not think about laundry today.

Dinner - it's only 2 'o clock, I'll figure something out later. Oh, now it's 5 'o clock - well, um, let's see here...

Yeah, not thinking works for some things, and not so well for others, but I still practice it frequently! (-:

Rachelle said...

When I had two, people told me that was the toughest. At three, then they pulled out the surveys saying it was three. So I guess I'm proving my parents right: I do like to do things the hard way.