In an age where raising children seems to be a competitive sport, we can all agree that parenting is stressful.
However, a recent survey by todaymoms.com finds that mothers of three children are more stressed than mothers of one or two. The kicker: The study also found that mothers of four or more children reported lower stress levels too.
Momaha blogger Melissa Cruickshank – a mom of two – agrees with the findings. Mom blogger Heidi Woodard — a mom of three –said she’s relieved to know her insanity is justified. The moms recently measured their daily routines to see if the parenting stress test was accurate.
Melissa: Sleepwalks to crying baby’s room, replaces binky, heads back to bed.
Heidi: Enjoys every minute of sweet, nirvana-like shut eye.
Melissa: Sneaks into the shower for nine minutes of uninterrupted alone time.
Heidi: Hits the snooze button. Tries to muffle out husband, two boys (ages 11 and 9), and two dueling TV volumes.
Melissa: Wakes 4-year-old daughter, dress and grooms her before plopping her in front of the TV with a moderately healthy breakfast. The she dresses her baby and sets her next to the 4-year-old to keep each other busy (read: annoy each other).
Heidi: Gives herself a pep talk, “Come on. It’s game time. You’ve got this.” Hears her husband shout, “I NEED A HAIR CUT TONIGHT!” Pulls pillow over her head.
Melissa: Heads back to the bathroom to blow dry her hair. Notices her husband is already showered and dressed. Nice.
Heidi: Flips a coin to decide whose hair she’ll bother to tame today: her 4-year-old daughter’s or her own. Entices daughter to get out of bed by threatening to leave her behind if she doesn’t.
Melissa: Arrives at work three minutes early. Reaches to pat herself on the back and feels spit up on her shoulder. Heads for the bathroom.
Heidi: Drops off daughter at daycare, enjoys Zen-like commute with zero backseat distraction, and peels into parking lot of work on time (translation: only 10 minutes late).
Melissa: Accepts co-worker’s apology for arriving late to a meeting because she was at the dentist. Wracks her own brain to remember last visit to the dentist without luck. Makes mental note to schedule a dental appointment.
Heidi: Breaks from work e-mails to sort through sports schedules for both of her boys. Sighs while looking at calendar realizing they won’t have a single night at home this week.
Melissa: Eats lunch at her desk while making calls to plan 4-year-old’s birthday party in two weeks.
Heidi: Tries to remember if she put sunscreen on her daughter and lays out the correct sets of uniforms (out of four total options) for her boys.
Melissa: Heads out the door, grabbing a snack for a presumably stahhh-rving child from the vending machine for the ride home.
Heidi: Passes her boys’ empty school (forgets until then that school is officially out for summer). Pulls into daycare, leaves car running, begs daughter to finish her artwork tomorrow, double-checks time.
Melissa: Arrives at home after two pick-ups, starving child crisis averted while only needing to replace the binky four times.
Heidi: Asks her boys if they snacked on anything besides Pop tarts and beef jerkey. Fills up water bottles, shoves bags into respective vehicles, and realizes she’s in the same place as her husband for the first time in 72 hours.
Melissa: Unloads people, artwork and clothes from car while listening to how the world will stop if her 4-year-old is not allowed to play outside with her friends at this very moment. Considers request, while taking level of energy, temperament of baby and outdoor temperature into consideration. Concedes.
Heidi: Bribes her daughter to stay in the car in exchange for a ring pop from the concession stand. Shoves one boy into a van and hollers at the second in an SUV to have a good game. Realizes neighbors are watching and waves.
Melissa: Husband gets home.
Heidi: Peels into baseball parking lot. Realizes that no one has eaten yet. Vows to treat everyone to fast food after the game. Hangs her head in shame.
Melissa: Hands over baby, heads inside to make dinner.
Heidi: Escorts her daughter to the port-o-potty for the first out of five trips over the next several hours. (The next four trips will happen when her brother is up to bat.)
Melissa: Sits down with family for dinner.
Heidi: Starts exchanging texts with hubby to keep track of how both boys are doing.
Melissa: Eats most of her dinner, feeds baby and says to 4-year-old “sit in your chair” 11 times. Success! Plays with the kids while husband cleans up. Heads back outside with 4-year-old to play.
Heidi: Asks other more responsible moms for Band-Aids to cover daughter’s bloody knee.
Melissa: Hands off 4-year-old duty to husband. Puts baby to bed.
Heidi: Scarfs down hot dog with the works. Wonders why she can’t lose those last 10 pounds.
Melissa: Upholds “Worst Mom on the Block” title by being the first to call her child inside to get ready for bed. Sees her husband outside enjoying a beer with the other dads. How nice.
Heidi: Resists the urge to yell “HIT THE FREAKING BALL!” while pulling monkey daughter off the fence.
Melissa: Washes bottles and get supplies, food and coffee ready for the next day as husband puts the 4-year-old to bed.
Heidi: Runs to concession stand realizing the fate of the game is dependent on her son having more seeds. Loses track of daughter.
Melissa: Gives 4-year-old a kiss and hug and finishes chores.
Heidi: Congratulates or consoles son. Drags overly tired 4-year-old away from all of her friends.
Melissa: Jumps in bed. Sweet relief! Catches up with husband, watches TV or reads a book. Breathes.
Heidi: Finishes up drive through dinner. Tosses dirty uniforms next to the washing machine. Showers, books, and bedtime for kiddos.
Heidi: Embraces 30 minutes of quiet time.
Melissa deals with diapers, bottles and middle-of-the-night cries, but gets to be in bed by 9 p.m. (it helps that she’s organized). Heidi is constantly on-the-go, but her children are older and fairly self-sufficient (it helps that she’s easy going).
Both bloggers agree that being a mom of one or many is no walk in the park, and are interested in what you think too. What is the most stressful number of children to raise in your opinion?
* * *