Do you have a large family or want one? Well, you already know the things to think about when considering a large family and how it isn’t as hard as you think to have kids close together.
“Coming from a large family you feel protected – you have friends and allies.” – Paul McGann
I was in the Walgreens bathroom on the toilet crying.
Helpless… oh my goodness… how are we going to survive crying.
See, I’d had a sneaking suspicion over the past weeks. A suspicion that I was – despite our plan – pregnant again with our 5th child. I tried to wait it out, see if the symptoms were just cyclical.
But then I woke up that Sunday morning and just could’t wait any longer. I drove to Walgreens in town, bought a pregnancy test, and took it right there in the bathroom.
It was positive and I was Freaking Out.
Now, months later and one perfect angelic baby later, we are doing fine. We are okay. We have taken having #5 in stride and are getting into our groove. The groove is decidedly different than it was two or three kids ago.
It’s a large family groove.
It can be loud, overwhelming, and busy, but it has its own beauty and fun.
5 Things Large Families Do In Their Home Smaller Families Do Not
I will say that some smaller families run tighter ships than larger families. Any family can do anything they want at any time.
However, after being a mom of a few children then a mom of many more (and having friends of all types as well) here are some things that large families simply must do if they have any hope of thriving.
1. They Focus on Function Before Form
In many areas of the home, function must win out. This doesn’t mean you can’t always have beautiful things and a well-laid out home, but it is not the first thought. The first thought is: will this work for my brood?
We’re currently in the planning stages of building our own house and the lady designing our kitchen and I had to have a candid talk. She wanted to put a small pull out trash can in one of the cabinets. I looked at her and had to laugh.
“A small trash can?
Do you think I have a small trash can?
I have an outdoor sized trash can!”
Mwahahaha. With trash, wrappers, diapers, and everything else, we do not use a dainty steel pretty to look at trash can.
We essentially use an outdoor one inside and do not ever use kitchen trash bags.
Here are some other choices we’ve made as we’re building our home for 5 kids:
- Water and scratch proof floors. There will be a time for nice hardwoods and it is not now.
- Dorm like bathrooms. The upstairs Kid Bathroom has two shower stalls, two vanities, a urinal (four boys #needisaymore) and a toilet, basically all separate.
- Room sharing. I’m scared of room sharing (here’s why) but it’s a necessity for budget purposes. We’ve actually created a “giant” room for all the boys because it will give them more space and lots of room to play. It is not as ideal as an individual room per child, but with 5 kids that was never going to happen.
- Stainproof materials. I wanted a white sectional. I just don’t think – even if it’s washable – that is a wise use of my time because I’d be washing that puppy every other day. The couches, carpets, and other surfaces will likely be stain proof, not too sensitive or easily stained. With a lot of kids, you don’t want to be focusing on messes instead of hearts.
You get the idea. A home can be beautiful, but if it doesn’t function well, a mother of many will live in endless frustration.
2. They Must Plan and Stick With It
Even the most go-with-the-flow and fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants spontaneous mom of many knows that things just fall apart without clear plans.
This doesn’t mean every minute of your day is determined, but that you’re purposeful and focused on your choices.
You don’t willy nilly sign your children up for different sports without closely checking practice and game requirements because you know afternoons and evenings would be chaos.
You have a plan about pickups, drop-offs, and home systems. Even if you don’t run them all perfectly and need to re-visit, tweak, and buckle down, you are constantly trying to find ways to make the home work efficiently and well.
If there are multiple little people with the same problems over and over again, you are the one who gets worn out. In fact, in my opinion, this planning is the #1 thing moms need.
101+ 15 Minute Projects
In just 15 minutes a night (while you’re in your pajamas!) take your home (and heart and mind) from stressed out to organized.
3. They Buy, Make, and Create Bulk
Most recipes are in serving sizes of 4-6. This works fine if it’s a filling meal, but for larger families, or with kids who are big eaters, you’ll have to double recipes.
Or, if you have 4 kids and cook a dinner for 6 there are 0 leftovers. This means everyone is still hungry and you have to pull out something to supplement.
Bulk buying becomes advantageous at this point. Except there is one disadvantage to bulk buying, you need a lot of storage. You’ll learn to buy things that don’t go bad or that are used regularly in bulk sizes.
Not just because it’s cheaper – it may not be – but simply because it’s more convenient. It actually is easier to buy a huge pack of canned tomatoes if you use 3 cans per spaghetti night.
So while you might not relish cooking double batches, buying bulk, or needing two people with you at the store to even be able to push it all, it makes mealtimes much easier.
4. They Value Routine as a Lifeline
When you have a lot of kids, one thing you cannot do is let everyone choose their own routine. Until they get older, that is.
No mother could survive the madness of 5 different breakfast times, snack times, lunch times, nap times, and bedtimes. All you would do all day is run around like a chicken with its head cut off.
Routines are key when there are multiple children with needs to be met. Of course, you can be flexible and make sure that each individual child’s needs and wants are considered.
But what you cannot do is let each child determine their own routine independent of the family. It will make the home life chaotic for everyone.
A great way to navigate this as children get slightly older is to help them learn to follow their own routine. You can do this with visual cues, like printable routine cards, or in whatever way works best for this.
This will create a sense of independence, pride, and cooperation with your kids and yourself.
Want your kids to learn to independently follow their routines? These visual routine cards do the trick.Learn More
5. They Are “Mean Moms”
Mean moms are mothers who do what’s best for the child’s heart in the long run, not just in the moment. Mean moms can be super affectionate and loving, they just aren’t afraid to make their children angry.
The other day I was walking down the hall to stop a scream fest and I realized, disciplining the hearts of a lot of children takes a lot of work. If I let bad behaviors go unnoticed things escalate quickly.
Without being reigned in there are multiple people to fight with and lots to whine about. It takes a lot of effort, discipline, and motivation to consistently and lovingly discipline a lot of children.
Consequences help with this and here are 32 consequences mean moms frequently use.
6. They “Let It Go”
I’ve come to believe the hallmark of an emotionally mature and happy person is this: the ability to let things go.
Minors don’t matter in the long run and are only minor inconveniences.
Moms of lots of kids learn to take these with a grain of salt and move on. Type A moms become much more balanced after having a lot of kids because they are forced to stop worrying about the silly things and focus on the Big Things.
Reminds me of an infographic I created once…