The patter of tiny feet has long been thought of as the key to happiness.
But according to a study, having children makes men less satisfied with their life, while women only enjoy motherhood once their offspring are old enough to be packed off to school.
Between the ages of three and five, children were found to make mothers less satisfied with life, while being the father of a child under five "significantly reduces" life satisfaction.
Women with children aged five to 15, though, were happier than those who did not have children.
However, even children of school age brought no increase or decrease in happiness for men.
The study, carried out by the Institute for Social & Economic Research in Colchester, surveyed nearly 4,000 cohabiting or married couples between 1996 and 2003.
It examined people's job satisfaction, work status, lifestyle situation and work-life balance.
A further key finding was that women with children were significantly happier with life if they had a job, regardless of the hours involved, whereas partnered men were happiest when they worked full-time without overtime.
But mothers who worked longer hours rated their "job satisfaction" to be lower than those who worked fewer hours.
The team's findings also showed that the life satisfaction of women without children was unaffected by their working hours.
Professor blues Alison Booth of Essex University, co-author of the study, said she believed the findings reflected the balancing act that many parents had to play between work and family.
She added that the financial drain of having children could be an extra burden.
She said: "My guess is that it is a struggle for them actually to balance all the things that they have to do."
"It will be very interesting in a few years' time when the new policies on pre-school child care have filtered through to see how these households' life satisfaction is affected."
NVDL: Ummm...teaching kids, especially in South Africa is a goddamn nightmare. Overseas, in Korea it was more fun; more about the actual idea - imparting knowledge, learning from your students and hopefully giving them something. Some of it I enjoyed. But after all that, I had very strong sense that due to the schlepp and the sheer amounts of headaches you get from the worst brats, you might as well save yourself for yourown kids, and do your best - give your best - to them. You're gonna need all your resources for them, so why use them up on someone elses kids?That said, I have an idea I'm going to enjoy being a dad. Except, there's a bit of worry in my eye. I think I'll give it a few more months. Make it years...;-)