Large families really are a source of curiosity! I still, though a large family mama now, find myself amazed at how even larger families make it work day by day. I also realize that while my family is large-ish, we really aren’t all that large after all. Nonetheless, I know that mamas wanting large families, or mamas wondering how in the world it can logistically work with so many kids do look at us as a large family and want to know.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve answered reader questions all about large family living. This week will wrap up the series unless I get more questions. Be sure to go back to part 1 and part 2 in the series to be sure not to miss a thing!
Everything ELSE you want to know about large family living:
And here we go!
#16 How do you manage all that laundry?
First of all, I’ve learned that we do not need a new towel every night. We are drying our clean bodies, so the towel can be used for a few nights. Washcloths on the other hand–no way!– which means we have dirty washcloths coming out of our ears!
Truth time: I do not do everyone’s laundry! My kids do their own laundry. We have hampers in the girls’ room, the boys’ room, and our bathroom. I do mine and the hubs’ laundry, JBear’s laundry, dish towels, as well as towels and washcloths.
Nan, the oldest girl sorts and starts the girl laundry, and I often help switch it out since she is busy with school. However, the girls–even the 5 year old–fold their own laundry and put it away. Of course, there are times that I help, but generally speaking, that’s their chore.
Same for the boys. They all–except the wayward 2 year old–fold and put up their own laundry.
I make sure that they have enough clothes to last a week and then some so that we only have to do laundry once, maybe twice a week, rotating laundry days.
When I hang the clothes on the line, I do all of it. And while I do enjoy hanging them on the clothesline, I just can’t make it work all the time. You can read this post about those months we didn’t have a dryer and how we made it work.
As far as sorting and matching socks, usually, since all the girl laundry goes in one hamper and boy laundry in another, we don’t have a terrible amount of lonely socks. But when there is one without a match, I have a box I add them to. Every few weeks, I sort through the box and pair any matches. After awhile, it’s apparent which ones really no longer have a match. At that point I use them to clean window blinds or as dry erase erasers.
#17 Are you able to go and do much?
For my sanity’s sake, we don’t. There are times when I get brave, and all 7 kids and I do something, but that really is rare. If the hubs is with me, that’s a whole different story. I’m much braver with him by my side.
When we do venture out, we try to be sure it is a kid-friendly place or an outside venue because it can get chaotic and loud. Sit down restaurants are not my favorite with all the kids. While they are very well behaved most of the time, with so many of us it can get loud and crazy pretty quickly!
Also, I’m a homebody. I’d rather be home than most anywhere else, so staying home doesn’t often hurt my feelings. 😉
#18 How do you have time to be alone with your spouse?
Now that we have teenagers along with our littles, we are able to have regular date nights. We pay the older kids to babysit and often rent a movie for them all to watch while we are gone. However, we don’t stay gone for long, and if we do need to be gone for more than a couple of hours, we get an adult to sit with them.
Before our teens were able to help us out on date night, we had to be creative. Either we had to have a date on the front porch swing, which is still one of my favorite places to be, or we got a sitter. Most often the sitter was a church friend or family member, who never charged us to watch the kids.
For a while, we traded off babysitting services with another couple. They kept our kids one Friday night a month so that we could have a date, and the next month, we’d keep their kids on Friday night. We did that for probably two years. While we didn’t get date night as often as we would have liked, it was still amazing to have friends keep and love on our kids and return the favor for them!
#19 Are you able to vacation?
For years we didn’t go on vacation. Part of that was a money thing, and part of it was a “we don’t want to load all the kids and our stuff up and go” thing. However, as we could afford it, we would take day trips or visit family to get away. The last two years, we have taken our vacation at a state park — in our tent! While camping is in some ways more difficult than just getting a hotel room (or two, which we do have to do), in many ways, it’s way easier than trying to keep kids corralled and quiet in a hotel.
It does get easier as the kids get older because we have more hands to hold little hands, and more eyes to watch little people. It was much more overwhelming when they were all younger!
#20 How many outfits do your children have?
It depends. I always keep at least 7 tops & bottoms for each season; however, for the little ones, it’s closer to 9 or 10. If we have more than that, we just don’t have the space for it all. I really have to stay on top of purging and rotating clothes in and out so that we don’t misuse our space.
#21 When cooking a meal do you ever make enough to incorporate leftovers into something different?
Yes! What I have found is that when I do that, I have to put the extras up right away or someone is going to want to eat it. Admittedly, I don’t do it as often as I should. Thanks for reminding me to be more mindful! 😉
#22 What do your morning & nighttime routines look like?
In last week’s post, I shared our “schedule” and how we do bath time. In the mornings, I usually don’t have to wake the little ones up, so often they “help” with breakfast. Then we wake up the middles and bigs. They make beds, get dressed, and take care of hygiene. That’s all supposed to happen before they stumble in to have some breakfast, but not always. Then we clean up the kitchen, take care of our animals, and start school.
In the evenings, we have supper around six. After supper, we have our evening chores which consist of cleaning the kitchen and dining room and living room. The little ones play for a bit then take baths and get ready for bed. Lately, they are getting to be later, but as long as they are in bed by 8:30, all is well.
#23 Do your kids have chores?
Yes! I mentioned that a little before. Here’s a little glimpse of what they do daily or almost daily:
The big kids are in charge of washing and drying dishes and also vacuuming the dining room. The middles do things like empty the trash and taking it out, sweeping the kitchen, and filling ice trays. Even the twins help around the house by emptying the bathroom trashes and gathering eggs.
Our oldest has a horse and a dog, so she takes care of feeding them every morning and evening. The other kids have other animal related chores like feeding and watering the chickens and rabbits.
In addition, our oldest have the “summer jobs” of mowing and weed eating; therefore, they get paid extra for those things.
Of course, there are other tasks that must be done around a house on a weekly (like laundry), monthly, or semi-annually basis, and we generally tackle those things together!
#24 How do you take time to refill your tank?
Truthfully, I don’t do it as much as I should. Sometimes I go out on the porch kids are in bed to think and reflect. Other times I run a Epsom salt bath and relax in the tub.
My favorite alone time is in the mornings. I love the quiet and the stillness of the morning, so I sneak out onto the porch for my quiet time.
Friends. I need my mama friends. They help me refuel when it’s hard because they are there to support and encourage!
#25 How do you get quiet time? Time in the Word?
Like I mentioned before, I try to be up at least 30 minutes before the kids so that I can have hot coffee and quiet time in the word and in prayer. I love reading my Bible on my front porch swing!
From time to time, I engage in a corporate Bible study, and that always challenges me to be diligent to be in the Word. And sometimes, I’ll pick up a study to do on my own. I know that my Bible is my Source. We should always go there for answers, but sometimes, it’s helpful to have direction from a Bible study to get you going.
#26 How do you afford feeding all the kids and still maintaining a healthy, balanced, diet….especially as they get older?
I try to stay away from packaged foods, and I make lots of foods from scratch. I promise it’s not as hard or bad as it sounds. Yes, it does take more time, but it’s really not much harder.
While we do eat a variety of meats & vegetables, or at least offer them to the kids, I don’t buy organic typically unless it’s on a better sale than it’s non-organic counterpart. Am I saying that I never buy convenience foods? Not at all! I do buy chips and crackers (only when they are on sale), but I also make sure they are eating fresh fruits as snacks as well.
I also fix my kids’ plates every meal to eliminate wasting. If they want more after finishing what’s on their plates, I am glad to give them more–within reason, of course.
#27 Does a large family ever have the ‘middle child syndrome’? Is it more or less evident in larger families?
Wikipedia defines middle child syndrome as “the feeling of exclusion by middle children. This effect occurs because the first child is more prone to receiving privileges and responsibilities (by virtue of being the oldest), while the youngest in the family is more likely to receive indulgences.”
Overall, I think that middle child syndrome is less evident in our family. I’m not sure why that is unless it can be explained this way. We have a friend who is a counselor who specializes in family dynamics. He proposed that we have several “sibling units.” The oldest three are a unit (oldest, middle, youngest); HR is much like an only child; followed by the twins who are their own unit (oldest, youngest); and JBear who is also much like an only child.
If his theory is true, then we only have one “middle” child. Have we ever seen evidence of middle child syndrome with him? At times yes, but mostly when he was much younger. Since he’s one of the oldest two now, we see it even less. Of course, I can only answer for my family.
And that’s a large family living wrap!
I have to say, I’ve enjoyed this little Q&A session, but it has made me realize that there’s probably lots more you’d like to know about different subjects. If that’s the case, comment below and let me know! Or if you have a question that I haven’t answered, please drop that, too!