The “more” of a big family

The “more” of a big family

The "more" of a big family

“It gets easier the more kids you have.”

I’ve heard this often from moms of big families—and even said it myself a few times—but I’m pretty sure we’re all just fooling ourselves.

Or maybe it’s just that I’m at capacity (even as we wait for the arrival of #6!) and feeling it.

Either way, while it’s true that some things do get easier—they have each other to play with, so I’m not constantly entertaining them; the older girls are old enough that they’re actually really big helpers; and many things become automated when you have to do them 4, 5 or 6 times anyway—there are some areas where more kids are just, well, more.

As I’ve been evaluating things over the past 3 or 4 months to see how we can reduce the chaos in our home, a few things have become obvious to me…

1. When there are 8 people in your family, there might not be 8 times as much stuff…but there’s still a lot of stuff. Everybody needs a decent amount of clothes (and even if we all participated in Project 333, it would mean 33 items times 8 people for a total of  264 items of clothing, not including underwear, pajamas or loungewear!). The kids each need school supplies and shoes and treasures of their own that just can’t be shared.

2. A normal amount of arguing and testing the limits from each of them can feel like a whole lot of disciplining and enforcing the rules. I often have to remind myself to view each “incident” separately rather than viewing them as an amalgamation of all four girls!

The "more" of a big family

3. The noise level is just…well, deafening sometimes. Maybe this isn’t true in “sweet” families, but for our “spicy” family, there is constant noise. And it’s often loud noise. Many times our girls sound like a full classroom of kids or an entire choir just by themselves, and that’s even without Jackson chiming in. At any given moment on any given day it’s not unusual to hear 5 or 6 different voices all talking at once. (Which is just perfect for this introvert, as you can imagine!)

4. Preparing meals no longer requires a single recipe with leftovers for lunch the next day…the recipes now have to be doubled and sometimes even tripled just to get us through dinnertime.

5. If everybody is fairly neat but just a little bit messy, our house still ends up as a disaster zone by the end of the day. And when they’re not neat…well, it’s a disaster by breakfast and I’m tempted to just burn the house down and start over!

6. Visiting a store together means constant reminders to not touch, stop quacking, walk in a line not a mob, be respectful of other people, keep up, slow down and “shhhh!” I’m sure I’d do some of that with just 1 or 2 kids, but when I have them all with me, they all need their own reminders, so it’s constant.

7. When we share viruses, it can feel like we’re sick for weeks as one person passes it to the next and then the next and then the next. And that means constant interrupted sleep and laundry (for the stomach flu) as well.

8. The interruptions are constant. I’ve already told Sean that in our next house I need a wall calendar and chalkboard in the kitchen because I get asked “What’s for dinner?” (and every other meal) or “Are we going anywhere today?” at least 4 times every single day. On school days, there is a constant stream of books being dropped off for me to review, questions being asked, and help being requested. Just when I think I get one or two of them settled, someone else needs help.

9. Leaving somewhere to come home is literally like herding cats. Just as I get two or three of them ready to go, I realize that the others have wandered off. Despite my commands to “Stay put!”, by the time I gather the others, someone else has gotten distracted and left the loading zone, and I have to go searching for that one. We often make abrupt exits because when I do have them all in one place, I’m not letting a single one out of my sight!

The "more" of a big family

There’s also more of the good stuff, of course—laughter and snuggles and “I love yous” and aha moments—and most of the time the good outweighs the hard.

But if you ever hear me tell someone it gets easier the more kids you have, feel free to burst out laughing and call me a liar for not sharing the whole truth!

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. I only have four kids, plus one on the way, but having a daily whiteboard has been a lifesaver for cutting down on the “what’s for dinner” and “what are we doing today?” questioning. I decorate it once per month (so it’s a little tired looking at this point!) so I only change the day of the month, day of the week, and details each day. It’s pretty fast to do, and I handle it at the same time I do the kids’ school notebooks and checklists for the next day. I got the whiteboard at Walmart for about $7, which was money well spent!

  2. I am mother of five age 7 – 18 and I so get all the things you are saying! I plan a menu for dinner each week and began printing it out and putting it on the fridge two years ago. So. much. better! Now when I miss a week, I get all the questions and a reminder to self to keep it up!

    We also have a calendar printout above the backpack hooks in our entry. This seems to provide a sense of security and predictability.

    Good luck as your family grows. Our 18 year old left for college last week and we miss her so much!

  3. Genius! I honestly have no place in my kitchen for this, but I’m going to find SOME PLACE to put one! (And I have a little board already!)

  4. Ah, but I’d have to stick to my meal plan then, LOL! I love the idea of hanging the calendar where everyone can see it—great idea!

  5. I am new to your blog. I have 8 children ages 3-16. This post made me laugh!! Why DO we say it gets easier?? Of course it doesn’t get easier the more we have, it gets harder in most ways! I think it would be more accurate to say, “It gets easier the older they get.” Because this simultaneously happens as we are having more babies, we get mixed up and say it’s getting easier the more we have! It really is funny! One thing is for sure though, we do feel very BLESSED with each addition to the family! They are WORK and they are BEAUTIFUL!

  6. I didn’t know sweet and spicy was a thing. We’re definitely of the spicy variety. Lots of noise, lots of zeal, lots of activity and zest. Which is good… and hard. I’m glad you wrote this article, Mandi. 🙂 It’s very, very true.

  7. When I read that post for the first time, it was such a lightbulb moment for me. I love my spicy family (and actually hoped and prayed for kids with big personalities when I was pregnant the first time because I had babysat sweet families and found I preferred the loud, boisterous ones over the quiet, meek ones—ha!), but it was such a perfect description of the difference that I’ve never forgotten it!

  8. I’m so glad you (and other moms of many) read this as I meant it. I was a little nervous that it would come across as whiny or complaining, and that’s not what I intended at all, because you’re right…we are blessed, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything! <3

  9. What wisdom in your post! There is so much more joy, but it can be a lot more laundry, dishes, illness, noise, and logistical work. I always jokingly compare kids to dessert…there are people who can go through life without it, but I think they make life so much richer and sweeter. Also, there are some that are a little more self-disciplined who may want a smaller family where life is a bit more under control (these are the same people who get a small scoop of ice cream!). We are of the mentality…sure, throw on another scoop (or throw in some more chaos)…it’s all good! 🙂

  10. As mom to 6, age 12 and under, I laughed and agreed my way through this! “Stop quacking…” hilarious, the things we find ourselves saying! Great reminder to laugh about the “more” of my big family!

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