Seven is Heaven: Why My Large Family is Not As Stressful For Me As You’d Think

We’ve added to our family. It’s been quite the transition adding a seventh child to our household, but it’s been a smooth one thankfully. We have our 6 with us full-time and 7 every other weekend. {Though between my husband and I we really have eight total, since he has an adult son.} However, we’re raising SEVEN and let me tell you… it’s more rewarding than not.

My husband and I have been together going on 4 years (even though it feels like our whole lives) On our wedding day in July 2015 we had our first full-family picture taken when at the time it was with the 7 that we had.

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This is our last family photo from Christmas 2016 where I was 5 months pregnant.
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Now our youngest has just turned a month old (she was born March 30th) and we took our first family picture with her in it. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was going to be as far as getting them to partake in typical photo challenges; Getting everyone to look the same place, smile, etc. My sister-in-law took them for us because she is a photographer [K&M Photography], so she is a miracle worker at making the photos turn out great and getting everyone to do what they are supposed to do.

Here are some of the shots from that day, it’s amazing to see the changes in the children year after year. They grow up so fast.

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WHY MY LARGE FAMILY IS NOT AS STRESSFUL FOR ME AS YOU’D THINK

We hear things like “How are you still sane?”, “You almost have a baseball team.”, “Betcha ya’ll are broke”, “Are you going to have more?”, “I don’t know how ya’ll do it, I can barely manage one.”

I’ll go through and mention a few reasons why my sanity is still intact.

#1 – MY HUSBAND! (haha) He helps to enforce everything we’ve taught our children, he helps me when I’m feeling overwhelmed and worthless (which isn’t as regular as you’d think but there has been a melt-down or twenty in our 4 years together) He has been a blessing at those times and all the time.

#2 – TIME MANAGEMENT – I know a lot of parents have a hard time managing their time or staying organized. I know this because I’ve talked to many moms who wonder how I get myself and so many children ready while always being on time, when they run late with only themselves and one or two kids. Believe me, waking up 5 kids on a school morning and making sure they get dressed, brush their teeth, fix their hair and look presentable, have homework/snacks/lunches packed, bookbags on and at the door, all in 15 minutes is a workout… but it’s a rhythm we’ve been beating to for a while and most mornings just flow. And on the rough mornings we get through it in the same amount of time and I praise the children who struggled and let them know we made it through another  morning and they are going to have a great day.

At home when they were younger I had picture charts with their names, so they would know what they needed to do throughout the day. I even followed my own schedule that I had printed and posted in several areas of the house with timestamps. Now I just follow the same routine daily instead of specific times. For the more important tasks or for things that are not in my daily routine that may slip my mind, I have alarms on my phone to go off. We also have a marker board to write down important reminders. And above all I just don’t procrastinate, if I know we have to be somewhere at 2pm, then I’ve gotten myself and everyone ready by 1pm, then I leave sometimes up to 15-20 minutes before I’m suppose to be somewhere (to consider drive-time and to just be early) and I’m usually there 10-15 minutes before I’m expected. My rule of thumb, I’d rather be early than late. I’m hoping my children will carry these traits with them also.

#3 – TEAMWORK – My husband and I are on the same page basically always. We make decisions together and he never confirms with a child before making sure it’s okay with me. Partially because he doesn’t want to say yes, if they already came to me and I said no. (which has happened before and he does not like that trait in a child) When one parent says no, both parents say no. This keeps us from undermining each other and making the children feel like one parent is more likely to say yes than the other. It keeps things quite simple because they know we’ll come to a decision together and they are less likely to try and win over one parent causing a rift. There are many other aspects to this category as well, for instance, my husband and I take turns/both help on bath nights, laundry, dishes, homework, cooking and general cleaning. We don’t have a particular schedule for it, but where we see an opportunity to help each other, we take it.

#4 – BUILDING CHARACTER – My husband and I have since they were very very young imprinted on the children to NOT lie. Over the years they would much rather own up to mistakes, accidents, misbehavior, destruction, fights, anything they know they shouldn’t have done, instead of covering it up or lying about it. Raising them to be responsible for their actions at a young age has instilled character within them. They take any discipline they may get with their heads held high and that makes me proud as a mother. To know that my children won’t grow up thinking they can get away with everything and that there are consequences for their actions. This makes our parenting a lot easier because there are almost never any lies in our household and if there even becomes a situation where a lie erupts, another sibling or siblings will not allow it. The truth comes out entirely and then the original “liar” will confess and reap a more extensive punishment than that if they had told the truth to begin with.

Corporal punishment in our house is limited to extreme situations (such as perversions or deliberate malicious intent that is harmful to others).  Most of our punishments are things that really break their hearts, I say this because they would prefer getting spanked and ask for spankings versus these punishments. Grounding relinquishes sleepovers, game privileges, TV time, technology for a period of time that is to be determined. Lesser punishments could be time outs from technology/playtime and/or sitting in their rooms to contemplate for 30-45 minutes until they understand and can communicate such understanding. They like to keep themselves in line and not let the others get in trouble, there is usually a child or two that remind the rules and expectations to the others. They do extremely well overall, so we hardly ever have to do any of that (not saying never), which makes things so much easier on us as parents.

#5 – INVOLVED GRANDPARENTS – Yes, I’m aware not everyone has this luxury (we have that issue too with some of them), I’m just thankful that we do have some grandparents that want to be with the kids and help us out when they can. There have been times more often than not, that we’ve needed someone to watch the kids while BOTH my husband and I had somewhere to be. With 6 children it’s pretty much impossible to do certain things necessary with all of them with us, especially with meetings or appointments.

It’s also very relieving in the cases where they ask for a kid or two for a night or a whole weekend. Even though we’ll always still have 4-5 still at home with us, it does tend to make some days a little easier on getting stuff done. They love being involves and I can say that I am extremely grateful and blessed for the kids’ grandparents, they have saved my sanity plenty over the years while probably sacrificing their own (haha).

#6 – “BUILT-IN BEST FRIENDS” – Yeah, as you may have heard before, having multiple siblings tends to create built-in best friends. I find this to be very true. Sometimes there aren’t a lot of chances for kids to interact with other kids away from school, maybe you’re in a neighborhood without children, or you don’t know any other moms, or you don’t have a very social life with your children.

In the case, if you have multiple children, they end up being each other’s friend. This works if you have close nieces and nephews too, they tend to be good friends as well if they are together often. We have 7 minor children and they may fuss at each other and sometimes “not get along” but overall they are each others best friends. They love being with one another, they interact well together, they carry conversations with one another, and do basically everything together. It does help when trying to entertain them, they can entertain themselves for the most part because they have someone else to play with. Sometimes they don’t even want us around, but when they do we’re there. When they want help to fix things, build things, switch movies, help with Netflix, read books to them, color with them, watch them play or perform, or just be with us. As much as they enjoy being involved with each other, they strive for our parental involvement too and of course we’re there for them when they want us to be.

#7 – ALDI FOOD MARKET – If you don’t mind shopping cheaply and generic then this store or any similar store is your best bet. With our family size, grocery shopping has to be done on a budget. We do about 80% of our shopping at an Aldi and the other 20% at Walmart (mainly for quantity or products Aldi doesn’t carry). We can overflow a shopping cart and only spend $200 or under and not have to shop again for a few weeks. We cook our dinners every night and they eat everything we eat, for the most part, so being able to buy groceries affordably is very important to us. If we didn’t have a store like Aldi, I don’t know how we would manage. Heck, when it closed for remodeling for a month, we drove 42 minutes away (31 miles) to the Aldi in another city to do our shopping.

Now some items are about the same price as say Walmart, but for the majority of items we get, Aldi is definitely cheaper. {For instance a box of mac & cheese is $0.33 at our Aldi and $0.99 at our Walmart. It may not seem like a big price difference but when you’re buying upwards 12 boxes a month, that’s $8 saved. A thin crust pizza at our Aldi is $1.99 and at Walmart they are $3.80 so we save $36 a month on pizza. The average price of a box of cereal at Aldi is $1.40 for stuff that tastes the same if not better than name brand and saves us $30 a month in cereal. The savings really add up, that’s already $74/month saved just on those 3 things and I could go on and on.} Basically we save a ton of money by doing our main shopping at Aldi, plain and simple.

#8 – OUR SUPER MOBILEYes, I named my van. Before our baby was born I drove around in a Honda Odyssey for 3 years. It was a great van and it fit my 5 great, when we had 6 with us it was a little compacted inside. I knew that in order for all 9 of us to safely drive around we needed a bigger vehicle before little miss arrived. We shopped around for 7 months (while I was pregnant) before we found the one we wanted. I had finally found one, A 15 passenger Ford E-Series. Yeah huge, right, I know! At first my husband thought it was more van than we needed, but I explained that they won’t always be so small and they are going to need more room as they get bigger than a smaller vehicle, PLUS they just don’t make many nor have many 9 passenger vehicles available and believe me I looked!! I’m happy with what we ended up buying. It’s dependable, large enough, I don’t have to worry about kids sitting on top of each other, everyone has a seat belt and it works for us, that’s all that matters and it’s been a LIFE SAVER already.

 

#9 – SCHOOL – My children being at school every day definitely assists my sanity level. Fun Fact: Did you know that our children… everyone’s really who attend public school… spends an estimated 2,457 days of their lives in school. Roughly 17,199 hours. That’s just K-12. (If you include Preschool that’s 2,646 days and 18,522 hours). That’s a little more than HALF a year, each year of their lives, which means they are away from you a total of nearly 7 years if it were combined. 7 years worth of time spent in school seems like a lot, doesn’t it, well it is. That’s a lot of time away from them… mandatory time away from them at that. A lot of parents think of school as a free babysitter and don’t care to get involved in worrying about their child’s behavior/grades/school life at all. BUT if you’re in the same group as me, you do care and you are involved or as involved as you can be.

Now I know there are a lot of parents who work outside of the home and don’t get to sit at home those 7-8 hours a day and enjoy the “peace and quiet” (unless you still have littles at home, like I do) School is literally a blessing when you have to work or in my case want my ears to stop ringing for a few hours and get some “home” working done. It not only gives parents a break, but it’s also allowing the children to be educated for free; Albeit sometimes it can be stressful for some parents financially, especially if you have more than one in school. I consider myself lucky to live in an area where related schooling stuff is affordable for us. I believe with all school type expenses (excluding lunch) it costs us $430/year for 6 children.

#10 – PATIENCE & NOT WORRYING – Above all else, I’ve had to practice patience… sometimes extreme patience, for going on 11 years.  I’ve been a mother for 11 years, hard for me to believe, but it’s true. I will not lie and say it’s been easy, PARENTING IS NOT EASY! It is one of the hardest jobs on this planet. Always worrying if you’re doing it right, will they turn out alright, etc. In the end you just needs to do your best and hope for the best. There really is no right or wrong way to do things. Every parenting situation is different because each parent, situation and child is different. We’re not cookie cutter or ticky tacky. I realized a long time ago not to let judgements of others bother me. You can do your own thing without conforming to other parents strategies. I mean when we become parents for the first time we’re completely NEW to everything, even adding a kid or two doesn’t always mean you’ve gotten things all figured out. Some things may get easier, some things are the same, but you will always come across something different, something new. The key to life, not just parenting… is patience. I may not always have the best patience, but having children has allowed me to understand and value patience.

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I’ve tried not to rant, I’m blogging my sanity though for crying out loud. Needless to say, I’m doing what I can day by day. My kids are clean, clothed, fed, and provided for.

Does staying sane mean missing my own shower or two? maybe. Do I forget to eat? yeah a lot… or is it that every time I go to eat I have a little person begging for my food after they just finished or refused to eat theirs, idk. Are my clothes inside out? haha sometimes, yes in fact it’s happened. Forgot to brush my hair or put on makeup? frequently. Do I look a hot mess? it’s quite possible or at least it most definitely feels like it some days.

I just do what I feel is best and if that means I’m doing things differently then so be it. It doesn’t make me better or worse than any other parent out there. Seeing our lessons and our guidance and our impressions being expressed by our children is rewarding. It means that they are absorbing what we’ve taught them and that all our struggles are not in vain.

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Seven is Heaven: Why My Large Family is Not As Stressful For Me As You’d Think

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