Tips for Raising Large Families
Eight children are my own. Although there are not enough children to warrant a TV special, it is enough to make strangers at the grocery store start counting the heads of the little ones following me. As I pack all eight children with me, I prepare for the barrage of questions about my children’s paternity or whether I have a TV.
Although we never set out to raise a large family, there was always the feeling of missing someone. They are all here now, and I wouldn’t trade my busy life for peace.
People often ask me how I do it. Most of the time, I do. It’s a lot like the circus juggler, where you take on new tasks while also trying to complete the ones you have. It all ends up in a huge mess. The real challenge comes in when you have to get up and start juggling again.
1. Organization is crucial.
It is hard to count the hours lost due to poor time management and miscommunication. On some days, I have to be there for three children at once. I must be helping with homework and making dinner. Many nights were chaotic because of the many activities. I’m not proud of the nights that homework was done in the car and kids were eating fast food. Sometimes, it happens even though it was planned.
I made a large family calendar using a magnetic dry erase board to bring order to our chaotic lives. It helps everyone keep track of their schedules. Everything can be found on the calendar, from the time the kids should wear sneakers to the gym to the child who needs to bring what instrument to school. Google calendar syncs everything to my phone and my husband’s calendar. Since the establishment of our calendar, the number of school phone calls asking for shoes and saxophones has decreased significantly. A bulletin board is located above the calendar. This lets us easily keep important information close by, such as school lunch schedules and class numbers.
A well-organized home will save you a lot of time searching for keys, leashes or homework assignments that have somehow escaped your child’s folder. It is essential to have a central place to keep all your family’s necessities.
2. Everyone must help around the house.
Everyone is responsible for maintaining a smooth household. A chore chart can be a useful tool to teach basic household responsibilities. Chore charts encourage responsibility and set goals for children. We can reward responsible behavior by linking privileges to responsibilities and impose consequences for children who don’t follow through. My children were skilled at spotting when I was about to ask them to do something. They had already left the room, and they were gone when I turned my back. It made my life so much easier by holding them all to account. You can do it now or later. Just get it done.
I had not even hammered one nail to hang up the chart, and the kids were already asking for more chores. Win!
3. You can save time by planning your menu and shopping in bulk.
Planned meals save you time and allow fewer trips to the grocery shop. We shop once per week because of our busy lives. Consider joining a warehouse store if you have the space. This will allow you to buy more and save both time and money.
On my shopping days, I try to visit a few stores. I have learned through trial and error which stores offer the best deals in each section. The month began with a trip to the butcher.
- 25 lb Chicken Breast
- 25lbs Ground Beef
- 40 lb Drumsticks
Everything is portioned when I return home and pack in storage bags. Tenderloins and cutlets are made from breasts. Later in the month, ground beef will be used to make tacos and hamburgers and pasta sauce. You can make delicious cold leftovers by frying drumsticks on the barbecue or baking them in the oven.
My chest freezer is a blessing! Best purchase ever!
If you see me in the grocery store, you’ll recognize who I am. I am the mom with the cart full of cereal and 3 gallons of milk. All the food will be gone in less than a week. You’d be amazed at how fast the food disappears once you walk in the door.
4. Be careful with clutter.
This has been a difficult one for me. I was the mom who saved everything. Everything multiplied by eight children looks like an episode of Hoarders.
Now I take pictures of my favorite pieces and save some special pieces. The rest is thrown away.
After the children leave for school each morning, I like to set aside time to tidy up. “Like” is the keyword. Sometimes I will step over cars and dolls while trying to kick someone’s shoes to the side. We ask the children to help us tidy up the living room every night. It would surprise you how quickly everyone pitches in to help.
5. Spend time with your spouse.
We make it a priority for our time to be alone. It’s great to have a date night at home. Sometimes it’s pizza, and other times its chips with salsa. Heck, I can turn grocery shopping into date night. You have the luxury of time to yourself, so make the most of it.
A friend of mine stopped me in the CVS parking garage to comment that I was holding hands with her. It looked almost like we liked each other.