Since we have five children in a wide age range, we experience life a little differently than some of our other parent friends. Maybe you can relate? Here are some of our #largefamilystruggles:
1. Scheduling ANYTHING is a nightmare. This, this, this. We aren’t just working around naptimes, we’re working around those PLUS early bedtimes for toddlers, multiple Saturday morning games, late sports practices, choir practices, and school schedules. We’re free from about 1-4 on Sundays, usually (but we can’t leave the house because, you know–naps).
2. Family vacations. Or more, accurately, the lack thereof. These fall into the same realm as unicorns and the Loch Ness monster.
3. Our 7-passenger Suburban is FULL. Yes, I know I could get something with two bench seats to have an extra seat for friends. I used to have one, and it was a nightmare with two kids in carseats. AND NO, I’M NOT GETTING A VEHICLE WITH A 4TH ROW. I just can’t bring myself to go there.
4. Mealtimes. The baby gets hungry at 5:45 while we’re still cooking, so we start feeding him snacks to tide him over. Meanwhile, we cycle other kids through dinnertime between homework and leaving for sports or other activities. I dream of family dinners where we pass the rolls and chat about our days. In reality, though, I usually eat dinner while standing and shoveling my food in before the baby totally loses it in his highchair (he’s been in there for 45 minutes by the time dinner is actually ready, after all).
5. Going anywhere is tough. The toddlers need snack cups, the teenager doesn’t want to sit in the third row, someone always gets in the car without shoes (seriously, what is it with kids’ aversion to shoes?!). And when we get there we’ll probably realize we forgot the stroller/diaper bag/jersey/water bottle. Inevitably, someone will be very ready for a nap. We divide and conquer a LOT, rather than try to haul everyone to every event. Anytime that we happen to have three kids or less, we feel so free! Let’s go grocery shopping! Let’s hit the mall! Eating out is a breeze!
6. Family pictures. You know that phrase, “herding chickens?” I never really appreciated it until we tried to take family pictures and get five children to look at the camera and smile simultaneously. We’ve decided to embrace the family pictures with crying babies and siblings scowling at each other as “authentic.”
7. The mess. One child dropping his dinner plate or leaving some trash on the counter might not seem like such a big deal, but when you multiply that mess times five, there are days you might consider lighting your house on fire and building a new one instead of cleaning up the mess that can be created in a few hours.
8. The amount of food we eat. Our teenager and older toddler never. stop. eating. Holy growth spurts. I think I keep Amazon Prime and Sam’s in business with my bulk purchases.
9. Santa, Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy have their work cut out for them. Since we have very young children, the older children will be visited by these magical characters well into their 20s!
10. The super-helpful comments from other people. From, “You have how many kids?” to “You do know where they come from, right?” to “Wow, you sure have your hands full,” the comments and jokes are always flowing.
Of course, there are some major benefits to having a large family that I cannot leave out. Like how we can leave the teenager home to babysit after the younger ones are in bed to grocery shop without searching for double carts, or how the kids have built-in playmates when their friends are busy. And, although the kids make never-ending messes, there is something to the saying about “many hands making for light work” when it comes to an emergency house-cleaning session. Our sink may be overflowing with dishes, but our hearts are overflowing with love…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.