3 kids: the magic number?

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3 under 3

Amy Condon is a mum to 3 kids, who are all under 3! Yes, you heard us right. Each week she tells us all about the ups and downs of bringing up 3 children so close in age in her mummy blog. This week Amy talks about the stressful thought of adding to her brood...

'A friend showed me an article today. Apparently, research in the US has revealed that when it comes to children, 3 is the magic number. As long as what you're trying to conjure up is stress.

Having asked mothers to rate their stress levels, the researchers discovered that those with 3 children scored higher than those with 1 or 2. No surprise there. But what was interesting was that stress ratings appeared to fall when they asked mothers of 4 or 5 kids.

My husband was delighted by this revelation. It gives him ammo in his argument that maybe we're not done having kids.

I was horrified.

Many of the mothers said going from 1 to 2 was easy compared to adding the third. But that wasn't the case for me. I've never known what it's like to have just 1 child. I went straight from zero to 2. If anything, adding the third made it easier. When M arrived, I knew what I was doing, and only having to feed one, only having to get one to sleep felt so simple compared to the double duties I'd had first time around. OK, so yes, I did have 2 toddlers to look after as well, but G and T were great with their new sister, bringing her blankets and toys. T showed some signs of jealously when she realised this mewling little bundle was sticking around, but they quickly wore off. After all, the twins were already well used to sharing my attention.

But adding a fourth now? No, I don't think so.

Ask me to rate my stress on the average day, and you'd get a barrage of abuse and a not-so-polite request to leave me alone as I have too much to do. If I'm not trying to get 3 uncooperative people dressed and out the door, I'm trying to deal with multiple demands for books and toilet trips and tissues. I'm not sure I remember how to eat a whole meal without getting up every couple of minutes to pick up dropped cutlery or refill juice cups, and I have more housework to do than I ever thought possible. I'm also a bit freaked out by only one person talking to me at a time. Being simultaneously shouted at by 3 people is the norm, yes?

How on earth would adding a fourth (helpless) responsibility help me? I can just about get out and about on my own with M in the buggy and her sisters walking. Where exactly would I put a fourth one? When M was a newborn, I used to carry her in a sling, while pushing the double buggy. Sometimes also carrying shopping. I have absolutely no idea how. I am in awe of that young mother. Just a year-and-a-half later, she seems a distant and remarkable woman.

My husband's argument is that as the girls get older, they will become more and more useful in looking after another little one. As I wrestle my way out from under 3 small children fighting for space on my 2 legs, I have my doubts about that. Then there's the issue of sex. No, not that kind. Gender. What if any new child was a boy? With 3 older sisters? That'd mess him up, surely?

No, I'm done. Although I still adore babies, and occasionally think wistfully about the joys of stroking a lovely pregnant tummy, and miss the closeness of breastfeeding, and that new baby smell.... No. I'm done. I think even my husband is joking when he suggests adding to our brood. Half-joking at least. Sleepless nights, constant feeds, newborn nappies. They're all in our past, and I'm finally OK with that. I don't think adding to our family will reduce my stress levels. I think as my girls grow, they will become more independent and I will get more and more time to myself. They will be able to get themselves ready, want to play more on their own. I don't think adding more kids helps. I think them getting older does.

Maybe I do have the most stressful family size, but I'm happy with our choices. Once, I thought I'd struggle to have even 1 baby. To have had twins, then another child less than 2 years later was beyond my wildest dreams. It's hard work, of course, but to me, 3 really is the magic number...'

How many kids have you found to be the perfect number? Tell us about your experiences in our comments section below.

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Amy's other blog posts...

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