NBC News

NEW YORK—May 6, 2013—An exclusive TODAY Moms/ survey of more than 7,000 mothers released today finds that on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being “extremely stressed,” the average stress level is about an 8. Moms admit they’re often the ones putting pressure on themselves to be Supermom.

“Moms put an extraordinary amount of pressure on ourselves to achieve this ideal of perfection. That’s bad news because it’s really stressing us out, but good news because it means we have the power to reduce our own stress by just easing up on ourselves,” said TODAY Moms Senior Editor Rebecca Dube. “My favorite part is reading about what TODAY Moms have STOPPED stressing about – from housework to cute outfits, sometimes we all just need to let some things go to keep our sanity. It’s liberating to realize that no one’s the ‘perfect’ mom, so we might as well not stress about it.”

So what’s worrying moms, and who’s the most stressed of them all? Some survey highlights:

Three is the magic number… for stress
Moms of three kids are more stressed than moms of 1 or 2 kids, but once they have four or more, stress levels actually go down! Call it the “Duggar effect” – once moms get past three kids apparently they learn to relax and roll with the punches.

Who’s working our nerves more, husband or kids?
When we asked moms who causes more stress in their lives, husband or children, it was a close call. A majority of moms (54%) say children are more stressful, but many moms report that they could handle the stress of parenting if only their husbands didn’t act like another “big kid.”

Stressed by kids’ social woes
Nearly two-thirds of moms (62%) stress more about their kids’ social lives than about academics. If your child is failing math you can buckle down on homework or hire a tutor, but what if he has no friends? The helpless feeling of watching a child struggle socially is among moms’ biggest stress points.

Stress: We’re doing it to ourselves
Three-quarters of moms say the pressure they put on themselves is worse than judgment from other moms. And it’s a vicious circle: 72% stress about how stressed they are. The good news is, as kids grow up moms ease up: Moms of teens are half as likely to stress about being the perfect mom compared to moms of toddlers and babies.

Health and safety is a major stresser
This survey was conducted the week of the Boston Marathon bombings, so safety was on moms’ minds. 1 in 5 say keeping kids safe and healthy is a major stress-causer, and 40% of moms said worrying that the world is not a good/safe place is a top stressor.

Beware of the teenager
Moms agree that raising girls is more stressful than raising boys (60% say girls are more stressful), and 59% say raising teenagers is harder than toddlers. Our hearts go out to moms of teen girls!

Social media: stress reliever or trigger?
Social media can be a great way to connect, but can cause its own stress. Measuring up to all the cool crafts they see on Pinterest causes stress for 42% of moms. And the pressure to take pictures of all the important moments in their families’ lives causes stress for 83% of moms.

Methodology: surveyed 7,164 women in the United States in an online survey conducted by Insight Express/NBC News, April 15-19.

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