I love reading scientific studies and the results of various bits of research. Mostly, I'm really surprised by the things some people actually manage to get funding for, but sometimes I can see that it has some usefulness.
60,000 Norwegian women with small children were included in a study on happiness.
Satisfaction and enjoyment of life increased in the months after birth and peaked when babies were six months old. After that, satisfaction with life decreased until it reached rock bottom at three years. (Strollerderby)
In the study they focused on satisfaction with the partner and general satisfaction with life from pregnancy through to toddlerhood. You can read all the findings here.
Each of the results are rather easy to explain, I think.
General satisfaction with life increased after birth – well, in Norway there is excellent maternity support with parents able to divide 12 months full maternity pay per child between them. Spending say, six months with your baby without financial worries is bound to make most people happy.
Satisfaction with life decreased over time and reached a low point when the child was 3 years old. - There are so many potential circumstances to answer this one. Did mum go back to work? Has mum stayed at home and become bored? Has mum lost touch with her social group? What are the financial strains on the couple?
Satisfaction with partner affects a mother's experience of life during this period.- You don't say? It is only the period of biggest change, and in many ways most vulnerability most women will ever experience. Having a supportive or disinterested partner is bound to affect how a mum feels!
A general decline in both types of satisfaction over time during infancy and toddlerhood. - Isn't that just the ebb and flow of life? Some times you're happier, sometimes sadder, and these early years of parenting are not easy, rewarding, yes, but not easy.
While I think the findings in the study are relatively obvious, the up side of knowing about it is that when your child is three years old and you feel your life is in a rut or a slump, you know you're not alone. You can understand that it's a phase – we hope, since the study didn't go much beyond that - and that it will pass. If it happens that way for you at all.
Assuming this is relevant to UK mothers, do you think having this knowledge can affect your understanding of the phases of parenting, or do you think it's really just another money wasting study that formalises common sense?