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Little kids make parents happy, study finds

A new Finnish study challenges notions that parents of young children are exhausted and overwhelmed.

Henna Kapulainen ja Pasquale Romano vaihtavat 1-vuotialle kaksosilleen vaippoja.
After 10 years in Scotland, parents Henna Kapulainen and Pasquale Romano relocated to Finland in hope of achieving a better work-life balance. Image: Mikko Koski / Yle

Researchers poring over data collected in the FinTerveys 2017 national health survey said they were surprised to find that parents with young kids had slightly healthier lifestyles than adults no longer chasing toddlers.

Scientists compared the lifestyles and wellbeing of parents with children under the age of seven against other adults under the age of 50.

Fourteen percent of mothers with young kids said they exceeded three hours of screen time each day. That compares to a quarter of women and a third of men who reported locking eyes with their digital devices for more than three hours a day.

A mother of one-year-old twins, Henna Kapulainen, told Yle her habits changed for the better after becoming a mom.

"You get outside and move around more. You also manage to get to bed earlier and put more thought into healthy food for your kids and yourself."

Less booze, good life

Families with young children also consume less alcohol in one sitting, the study found.

Seven percent of moms with young children consumed more than six alcohol units at one time each month, compared to 15 percent of women without young kids at home.

The study found that 90 percent of young parents described their life quality as "good" or "very good".

Annamari Lunqvist of the THL said the results dispel some myths about the relentless nature of parenthood.

"The findings show that the majority of parents of young kids are doing well and leading healthy lifestyles. Young children bring a lot of meaning to life and parents are a lot more content with their lives than those who don’t have kids," she explained.

The study surveyed 762 parents of young children and 1,865 other adults between the ages of 18 and 50.

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