This post was originally written in 2014, but I wanted to bring it back around today & add some new details because I think that it still holds true.
Why are moms of more kids often less stressed? I think we’ve figured it out. It boils down to a few things that help you to be a stress-free mom.
I think that often times, moms of multiple kids & large families are misunderstood. We’re the crazy ones with the huge families, you know? The ones hearing “Wow- are they all yours?” and “Trying for your own basketball team?”
Yep- that’s us.
If I can speak on behalf of other moms of many… we love it and everything that comes with it.
I’d even go so far as to say that having four kids is less stressful than having one, two or three kids. I have written several posts about why I think this is true, but it just seems to become truer as time goes by…
When I am out with the kids, I often hear people tell me “You are always so calm.” The first time that I heard it, we all laughed because if I never considered myself to be a calm person… until I had my children.
I have so much MORE on my plate now than I did before I had kids. Often times, I can’t even remember what is on my plate, because there is so much. I’m sure you can relate! You are probably doing the same thing at your house! So why is it that we feel less stressed with more kids?
According to the Today Show, I’m not the only one who feels this way: “Mothers of three children stress more than moms of one or two, while mothers of four or more children actually report lower stress levels, according to an exclusive TODAYMoms.com survey of more than 7,000 U.S. mothers released Monday. Once you get a certain critical mass of kids, life seems to get a bit easier.”
“More stress nuggets from the online survey of 7,164 U.S. mothers, conducted the week of April 17 by TODAY.com and Insight Express:
- 46 percent of moms say their husbands/partners cause them more stress than their kids do.
- 72 percent of moms stress about how stressed they are.
- Biggest cause of stress: 60 percent say it’s lack of time to do everything that needs to get done.
- 60 percent of moms say raising girls is more stressful than raising boys.
- Nine out of 10 moms stress about staying fit and attractive.” ~statistics from TODAY.com
IT’S NOT THE NUMBER OF KIDS… It’s the attitude.
Yes, there is more to worry about. Yes, there is less time. Yes, there is more to do. Yes, there is less energy. However.. I know that I can’t do it all, so I just enjoy it.
Here are reasons why moms of more kids are less stressed.
1- LET GO OF PERFECTION.
Dr. Janet Taylor, a psychiatrist in New York, mom of four told the TODAY show: “There’s just not enough space in your head” for perfectionism when you get to four or more kids.”
I completely agree. I can’t make the perfect meal every night, so I don’t. I don’t worry about it and I don’t stress about it. I just toss in some chicken nuggets and pull out a veggie tray that I picked up from the grocery store (pre-ordered online to save time). Dinner is done.
I can’t do it all… so I let go of that need for perfection. I will fail if I try to be perfect. I’m OK with that.
2. WE PLAN… BUT DON’T OVER-PLAN
I know things will go wrong. I know that if I plan to have the perfect picnic lunch, someone will spill something, someone else will get hurt and I will most certainly forget the main meal component. I’m OK with that and I plan on it. I plan on things going wrong. When I say that I plan on it, I don’t mean that I pack extra or that I bring the appropriate things… I mean that I have a mindset of “Things will go wrong. It is going to be OK.” Then, with a smile on my face, we just make the best of it…
Sometimes playing is more important than cleaning or cooking dinner. Sometimes messy play is more important than a clean kitchen table (it can be cleaned after). When you have four kids, you can’t have perfection at the same time. Plus, each child has someone to play with at all times, and when they all come together to play – it’s a party at our kitchen table.
4- SLOWING DOWN
I have seen how fast our oldest has grown and it makes me want to slow time. Since I can’t, I just enjoy it. I take those moments that I may have missed if I were always wanting to be doing more & more. I can’t do more with four kids because there isn’t enough of me to go around, so I take these moments when I get them and I enjoy them. A ten minute snuggle in their bed with them while they tell you about their day is more important than making sure that they fall asleep on time.
5- SAY NO TO OVERSCHEDULING.
We’ve had to say “no” to a lot of things, including some of the activities that our kids want to join. It is for our own sanity. We can’t do everything, so we let the kids pick and choose. One activity per child. Gymnastics? Baseball? Lacrosse? Wrestling? Scouts? Whatever they choose- they can only choose one activity per season, per child. That was the way that it was when I grew up and it’s the way that it is for my family.
We also have to say no to travel teams. We will join the ones that travel up to an hour away, but once they talk about traveling for the weekend for an event or game, we’re out. We just can’t, so we don’t. Our kids haven’t had an issue with it yet and they all still play the activities that they want to play.
6- FAMILY COMES FIRST.
If you’ve ever been around me, you’ve heard me say it again and again: “Family comes first”. I remind our kids that if they treat each other right, they will have friends for life. God picked them to be siblings for a reason… they need to nurture that relationship.
Having four kids lends itself to being friends with one another. They have a built-in playmate constantly. There are always two that pair up and play together… and it might not be the same two tomorrow. No one is ever left out and they always have someone around.
7- IT’S ALWAYS A PARTY.
There is always a party when there are 6 of us around! Someone is always doing something fun or exploring something new. When friends come over, it’s like they just joined in on a party or celebration because there are so many of us. Our backyard is where friends gather. Our cul-de-sac, in front of the house, is where kids meet with their bikes. Our driveway is where the basketball game happens after school. They know that when they come here, someone is always ready to play.
I’m sure that you get the idea… If you can have a more laid-back attitude, for the most part, you will feel less stressed & happier, too. That joy will spread to your children.
8- When you understand that you can’t control it all, you stop trying to control it all.
Instead, you start teaching your children to love life and you start enjoying this life with them… and these moments as a family. You learn that your children will mimic your attitude and your actions. You learn that your voice becomes their inner voice. Being relaxed and happy seems so much healthier than being stressed and angry.
Plus- did you know that the #1 thing that kids want from their parents is for their parents to be less stress? (It’s proven)
9- FORGET THE DETAILS AND FOCUS ON THE PERSON
I can’t tell you the last time that I planned a birthday party that was more than a text saying “Can ____ come to ___’s Birthday party next weekend? We’re taking five kids to the trampoline park. If he can come, I’ll pick him up at 1:00 and bring him home afterward.” Then we put our family (cousins included) in one car… friends in another & head to the party. Most of the time, we’ll head to a little bakery right after and order doughnuts or cupcakes for the kids then head home. Birthday done.
Do you know what our kids get out of that? A MOM & DAD WHO ARE HAVING AS MUCH FUN AS THEM!
We aren’t stressed about the party… because it is ALL ABOUT OUR CHILD and not at all about the details. Not at all about the stress. I can’t tell you how much our kids love these little parties. They love how we focus on THEM. They pick the time, the place, the date, the snacks, the friends… we just pick to focus on them.
And when we forget something (like buying candles at the store), we still roll with it. We make it work with a smile. Here’s a great example from last year, after his birthday dinner:
Caption–>> When your sons turns 8, but you only have # 5 & 6 candles… You rely on your husband to figure out that he is 56 in dog years 😉 #thisishowweroll #dontsweatthesmallstuff #happybirthdaybeau. #thirdcaketoday!!!!
10- SPEND TIME WITH THEM.
Stop worrying about everyone else and everythign else and just spend time with your kids. Everyone wins. Embrace how wonderful you already are and stop trying to be more & do more. We can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be something really wonderful to your family. Run off to play with your kids every chance that you get. Be happy and calm. Spread those feelings to your kids. It is contagious.