Monday, July 8, 2013

What I've Learned: Large Family Facts

This isn't a complete list and I am sure the list varies for every family, but I thought I would post some lessons I have learned from having a large-ish family.
Feel free to comment with more!

1. Boys are different from girls. My boys tend to climb more and throw things more than my girls ever did (even with a couple of tom boys). Although it could just be "my boys", but they also clogged the toilet many more times with toys. In fact, Devin bought extra wax rings to keep handy so he can pull a toilet up anytime of the day or night when needed. Those Thomas trains just do not flush!

2. Sometimes popcorn, colby cheese chunks and sliced apples make a fine dinner. Even the most organized menu plan can fall apart and there are those occasional (sometimes not so occasional) nights when cooking a meal is the last thing you want to do. Freshly popped corn goes great with cheese and apples. You might even throw in a quilt on the floor for a picnic and a movie. I bet you will not hear any complaints!

3. The laundry is never DONE! The best you can expect is that the laundry is "caught up." Caught up usually means that there are only 2 or 3 loads waiting to be washed. If you ever think you have completely washed everything, I suggest you look behind the bathroom door, in the kids' closets and maybe under a few beds. After looking around you will likely only be caught up on laundry.

4. Matching towels and wash cloths just aren't that important. As long as it is clean and reasonably decent (that's a wide definition too) then it can be folded and placed in the linen closet for use. I used to be fussy about matching linens and towels but now I realize that it's not important and nobody cares. The kids love the faded sponge bob towel with the bleach stain as much as any towel in the house. Time to choose function over beauty when you have 9 people taking baths or showers each day.

5. Each child is beautifully unique. I have so many different personalities amongst my 7 and it really is neat! Although we do expect chores to be done by al family members, we can sometimes adjust some chores to fit a child's interest or strength or personality. What a boring family we would be if we all were the same.

6. You can make lists and carefully planned schedules for your home school year, but it will never fall exactly into place. The biggest cause for home school burnout is the frustration of the "school plan" not going as you hoped. Educating at home includes not only academics but also the young siblings, the diaper changes, the spilled milk on the floor, the broken refrigerator and anything else that can possibly happen when you are living a life. I still craft a schedule but it's very loose and flexible to allow for all those "things" that will eventually happen throughout the day.

7. On those really bad days, it's OK to forget your schedule and just let the kids play. There are those occasional days when kids are cranky, mom and dad are cranky, and things just are not working out. It is not the end of the world to forget formal school lessons and spend the day outside, or reading books, or taking a family nap. Just do what will change the day around to a more positive leaning and start fresh the next day. Really, it's not a  big deal .

8. Kids need to go to bed at a reasonable time. Period. Not only do kids need their rest (and this includes teens) but parents need to have a few hours alone without the kids. I think bedtimes are a must for all families but especially for large families. It allows me to work on a project, read a book or watch a movie with Devin.
9. Date nights are important. In fact I think dates with your spouse should be a priority over ANY child's activities. This is not to say your child should miss an activity, but rather if you do not have times for dates because your family's schedule is too busy then you need to get rid of some activities to make time for your spouse. Dates do not have to be elaborate or expensive, and in fact they can even be at home dates. The point is to spend time with your spouse. One day your kids will be grown up and out of the house so you best make sure you nurture the relationship with your other half now. Many marriages have fallen apart after the kids moved out and the husband and wife no longer felt they had a reason to stay together. Date nights!!!! I prefer once a week but will sometimes space it out 10-12 days, depending on Devin's work schedule.
10. You will never get everything done that needs to be done in a day. Don't be hard on yourself. When you combine children, meals, laundry, school, husband, projects, housework, grocery shopping, etc, you just cannot possibly accomplish it all! Decide what is a priority and save the rest for later. Sometimes the priority needs to be sitting on the porch and hanging out with your kids or playing a board game. Those sticky spots on the kitchen floor? Well, I bet they can wait until tomorrow...or Friday to clean up:-)  Just always remember that it is okay to not get your entire list marked off at the end of the day.


  1. I had to think really hard to offer anything to your list. I totally agree with everything you've said. Love the laundry and none matching linens. I bought two really cheap new towels the other day, they were on sale for 10cents. I was shocked at how much nicer they were than my 'best' towels. I think I need new towels, not that it will happen anytime soon.

    I think I would add two more.

    11. Screens are not deadly. We do not have a tv, but we all have iPads... even the little guys. Because there are times when activities stack up, and the toddler (and mom!) must wait through not one activity, but 6 or 7 in a row. Colouring books and matchbox cars will hold their attention for at best one hour... Then there are times when someone simply needs the undivided attention. I don't think that Zoo story and ABC apps are the end of the world.

    12. Limiting activities is good for the whole family. I need to work on this. In fact, I am awful at accomplishing this. I want to give my children as many opportunities as they want to have. Yet, and I only have 5 children, I am starting to realise, that my older three do 4 activities a week... when all five children do this, there will be at least 20 hours a week we are just waiting through activities. Not to mention we'd love to have more children. What am I doing? :D - My conclusion is that it is okay to miss a few 'opportunities', and this year my goal is to make it happen.

  2. I enjoyed your blog today!!!! I am a mother who had only 2 children but your list would be great for every family. I am now a grandmother and enjoy watching my grandchildren in their activities. Their parents are doing a great job keeping balance in the children's schedules and their own lives. They enjoy date nights regularly!! Thank you, Sam, for such a fun blog.


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