Question 6: What are your tricks to raising a large family?
1) Many hands make for light work. We have 8 abled bodied helpers in our house and that means that a lot can get done (or undone) very quickly. One of my favorite things to do is a few times throughout the day, I will say, "Everyone pick up 10 things bigger then your thumb and put them away. Mark, set, go!" In a matter of a couple of minutes we have put away 80 things! Do you know how long that would take me on my own?! Sometimes I mix it up to make it more fun like, "Everyone find 5 things that have the letter E in its name and put them away." Or "Everyone find 8 things with blue on it and put it away." Or "Boys are going to do the living room, girls are going to do the dining room, lets race to see who finishes first."
2) Everyone has chores. Everyone has 2 rooms in addition to their bedrooms that they are in charge of cleaning once a day.
3) I shop clearance. I have set rules I have made up for myself when it comes to shopping. They are my dollar lines in the sand. When things get down below my dollar line, I buy LOTS. For example, I will not buy canned vegies or fruit for more then 55 cents a can. Eventually the price always drops down to that level and then I buy a couple of cases of each kind. Then we have enough until the price drops again. Same goes for kids shoes and clothes, I will not buy unless they drop below my dollar line. I am usually buying when the season is over and storing for next year. This especially works for buying sports equipment for next year. I also buy future sizes and store them, for example shoes (you know they will eventually be every size). Here are some of my dollar lines:
Canned Vegies and Fruit: 55 cents
Canned Soup: 50 cents
Meat (I buy very, very little meat): 1.99 lb (less if it has bones)
Cereal: $1.99 box (no sugar kinds)
Canned Beans: 50 cents
Pasta: $1.00 a large bag
Frozen juices: 50 cents
Kids Shirts: $3.50
Kids Shoes: $8.00 (only nice brands, cheap brands don't last)
Kids Jeans: $6.00
Kids Coats: $9.00
Kids Snow Boots: $10.00
Kids Winter Gloves: $3.00
As for Mom? I buy all my clothes at thrift stores. It is so fun to find a great find!
4) Divide and conquer. Kevin and I have come to realize that it is just too stressful for both of us (and thus the whole family) to attend every sport, event, meeting, etc. So we take turns going to the kids various activities. It is also great because after, lets say a soccer match, we can take that child out for ice cream or something and they can get some valuable one on one time. Since many of our kids activities also often conflict (ie they are held at the same time) it allows us to do two at once.
5) Don't sweat the small stuff. My house is clean, it is not a museum by any means. And it is not all clean at the same time. That is just impossible. We have learned that a little bit of mess is not something to stress about. Spending time as a family is much more important then living in a perfectly put together home.
6) Hand-me-downs. We pass clothes, toys, etc down the line from oldest to youngest. Well, at least we used to. Now, my 4 oldest are the exact same size and my 3 middle are the exact same size. They have really thrown off my entire system!
7) Our piano teacher comes to our home. Instead of carting all the kids off to piano, she comes to us. In 2 1/2 hours she has all 5 kids in lessons done and I have not had to leave or figure out what to do with the little ones.
8) We have chosen pediatritions, dentists, opthamologists and therapists that will take us all at once, assembly line style. That way, I only have to do the dentist twice a year (no more then a "regular" mom).
9) Date night! This is how we keep our marriage sane. We go on a date night every week. We are still madly in love but it hard to get in a word edge wise with so many little ones wanting your attention.
10) LARGE home (9 bedrooms), LARGE van (seats 13 plus the wheelchair), LARGE travel trailer (sleeps 10, more if we put kiddos on the floor), 2 LARGE washers and dryers (they are quads so I can do 8 loads at once), LARGE table (it is square seating 4 on each side allowing space for up to 16). Our moto is go large or go home!!
11) If it is not on the calendar it does not exist. We have a family calendar where EVERYONE'S (including the husbands) activities are written down. If it doesn't get written down, then no guarentees that you will be able to do it because our family takes daily careful planning.
12) Family Night. Every Monday night EVERYONE is required to be home. We have family devotional, play games, have a treat, do service or go on a special outing as an entire family.
13) Family meals. Dinners are required attendance. We sit down as a family once a day and share our stories, worries, dreams and food.
14) I buy some things wholesale. Because we have a large group, I can buy many things in wholesale bulk. For example, underwear, socks, towels, dish cloths, paper plates, napkins, easter dresses, etc.
15) The environmentalists are going to hate me for this but my mission is to save orphans, not trees. We use only paper products. Paper plates, cups, napkins, etc. That way, we only wash pans.
Keep the questions coming! It is fun to answer them!