Dads may need to step it up a notch in the parenting game.
Even when fathers pitch in, for the most part it is still moms who take on most of the emotional labor of parenting, according to a recent study by researchers at Arizona State University and Oklahoma State University. Mothers handle grocery lists, doctor's appointments, playdates, homework help, and other responsibilities.
And sometimes juggling all those duties becomes more than they can bear, creating a strain on their mental health – as mothers themselves can tell you.
"I hit a time in my life when my ability to cope with the normal challenges of every day was weakening,” says Fran Pitre, a mother of three sets of twins and author of the book TwinsX3, in which she described the joys and stresses of raising six children.
"Looking back, I realize that I was experiencing mild anxiety attacks, and the situation would grow even worse when my husband was away on business trips. I found myself snapping at the children over the littlest things. Small irritations like a misplaced library book would seem much more serious than they should have.”
As the kids were growing up, Pitre did freelance work as a graphic designer, wrote and published a book, and returned to school to become licensed in medical massage therapy. Her three sets of twins include twin boys, twin girls, and one twin set that includes a boy and a girl.
Fran believes there's a number of ways to keep the stress low and the kids happy, all while taking care of their needs.
She says there are a number of things mothers can do to keep their sanity, including making sure everyone in the household pitches in on chores as soon as they are old enough. Pitre says keeping a calendar of everyone’s plans for the week, enforcing a curfew and making sure you take care of your own needs also help keep the parenting-stress level low.
Today she works as part of a physical therapy team.