Are They All Yours?

large family

“Are they all yours?”

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been asked this!

I resist the temptation to say in jest, “I found one in a Cornflake packet,” and simply say yes with a smile.

I’ve been called crazy countless times.

People ask me how I do it all. “You must be SuperMum!” No, really, I’m not.

“You look too young to have four kids,” a lady said to me at the grocery store after glancing over my brood.

“Don’t you know how this [children] happens yet?” Oh my! How?

Then there’s the ever-popular, “Wow, you’ve got your hands full.”

I grew up in a family of four, and it was fairly standard back in the day. However, the majority of people seem shocked if you push past the two or three-child mark and beyond in our busy modern world.

I get it. I do. It is (really) full on. And people mean well, however I enjoy having a large (ish) family and I’ll tell you a few reasons why. I’ve also noted some challenges I face being a mother of four.

1. Holidays are epic

Family holidays are my favourite. The kids play card and board games. They run outside and make up intricate games that I don’t even know about. There are enough people to play a good game of backyard cricket and practice long skip rope. It’s a lot of fun.

A challenge to note: It can be tricky to find places that accommodate large families. Many standard facilities only cater for 2 or 3 children as a maximum.

2. Experience and Empathy

There’s a certain experience that comes with raising a number of kids. It doesn’t make me an expert, that’s for sure! I’m still trying to work it out! However, I’ve become even more gracious and empathetic towards other mothers because I’ve seen and tried a variety of different things. I had a chilled baby, a really fussy baby and two in-between. I had an early walker (9 months) and really late walker (18 months). I’ve experienced tantrums in the shop, and the triumph of hearing your sweet polite children. I’ve had long periods of raising kids alone with no external support, and other times with family around.

Even though you are the same mum, kids are all so different and everyone’s experiences and situations are different too. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is the importance trusting your mother-instinct.  

A challenge to note: As my children get older, I’m noticing the expense rise considerably and we need to compromise on how much/what we can do.

3. Playmates

More people to play with and create with.

A challenge to note: The dynamics does my head in sometimes! More kids = more variable family dynamics = more conflict.

4. Life Skills

Something I’ve noticed about large families: we tend to refer to ourselves as a team. There is a lot of compromise, from younger kids waiting at older kids sporing events, and older kids waiting for younger kids because they do things slower. Everyone has to help out here and there and there’s a lot of compromise to make it all work.

One of the things I appreciated from being raised in a large family myself was the opportunity to foster an understanding of (many) different personalities. Part of my role as a mother is to help my children learn to love each other. This is the sort of love that comes from understanding and respecting another person: knowing them and loving them unconditionally. Some personalities clash, and some click, but ultimately there is an expectation in our family that we all choose to love and value one another unconditionally, and with many people in the mix…well…we all get a lot of practice. Of course, these skills are learned outside of the family unit also and are not dependent on having many siblings.

A challenge to note:  It’s challenging to find quality find time to spend with each respective child individually.

I don’t really mind when people say what they say when they hear the size of my family — apart from a few rude people, most mean well — but I tell you, it’s super lovely (and rare) when people say something positive. I was on a bus excursion a few years ago with one of my children, and I was chatting to one of the parents and she asked me about my children. 

“Yes, I have four,” I mentioned.

She gasped, and exclaimed, “Oh! You are so-so lucky!”

That I am. That I am.

large family

It’s interesting (and beautiful) to see the many overlaps in the joys and challenges large families experience, and I asked five mums to share the answers to these two questions:

  • What do you love about having a large family?
  • What do you find most challenging? 

Nicole – blogger at Planning Queen and mum of 5

“They of course fight at times, but you can tell they do all love each other and I love how there is different relationships between all the kids. “

What do you love about having a large family?

Our kids are currently aged 16, 13, 11, 8 and 6. They of course fight at times, but you can tell they do all love each other, and I love how there is different relationships between all the kids. The 6 year old adores and looks up to his 16-year-old brother, for example, and the 16 year old and 13-year-old share things with each other that they don’t share with the rest of the family.

Living in a family with 5 kids, they simply have to learn to share, negotiate and help out so the house is a sane place to live. I love when the 16-year-old makes his lunch on the weekend, and happily makes lunch for the 8-year-old who has similar tastes. I think it teaches them things that will stand them in good stead for adult life.

What do you find most challenging? 

Making sure I spend enough time with each child. I have to consciously think about it or it won’t happen. Sometimes this means the other kids have to wait and the younger ones can find this challenging, but again it is quite reflective of the real world.

And sometimes I just cannot be in two places at once. Our kids are at three different schools and if we have clashes with dates, I may have to make a choice about which event I attend. It is always difficult to explain to one child why you cannot attend something when you are going to see their sibling at their school.

Kate – blogger at Picklebums and mum of 4

“I love that our house is often full of laughter, and thudding feet, and even dirty dishes…it’s far from perfect but to me the chaos is part of what makes our house a home.”

What do you love about having a large family?

I don’t really think four kids is a big family…but then I go out with all four kids in tow and the world seems to think it definitely is! We didn’t set out to have a ‘big family’ but the number of kids we have feels right for us.

We had twins first, so there have always been multiple kids in our house and I love that. There is always someone to play with, someone to share ideas with, someone to help, someone to learn from, and someone to love. Yes more kids means more work, but it also means more hands to help with the work, and I think my kids benefit from that as much as I do.

I love that our house is often full of laughter, and thudding feet, and even dirty dishes…it’s far from perfect but to me the chaos is part of what makes our house a home.

What do you find most challenging? 

Sometimes the logistics of four kids does my head in! Making sure everyone gets where they need to be, with the stuff they need, on time, can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to after school activities, but I am careful not to over commit and it always seems to work out in the end.

Juggling money can also be a challenge, and sometimes I feel guilty that my kids don’t have this or can’t do that because the budget doesn’t quite stretch that far. However, I remind myself that our kids never miss out on important things, and I think there is a something to be said for learning how to budget, and earning the extras yourself.

Meeya – Graphic Designer and mum of 5

“I am a better person for learning to love each of them.”

What do you love about having a large family?

I love having a large family because I’m an only child. Everything I wished for growing up – brothers, sisters, noise, fun family holidays – I am able to give to my children. Due to fertility issues, my parents could only have me, so there’s never been any resentment. I just knew I wanted a big, busy and loud family to make board games, holidays and dinners fun and eventful!

I love seeing the girls become best friends, and the boys become best mates. I love seeing them become each other’s best friends too, and watching the boys learn how to treat the girls and the girls love and care for the boys. I love seeing different relationships grow that transcend gender and age!

And I love seeing them all play together and learn vital life skills like sharing, delegating and conflict resolution, without being ‘taught’. I appreciate the opportunity for myself to learn to love equally, yet differently. Forming a unique bond with each of my children and discovering as they grow older: the things we have in common, and realizing the way our personalities match and clash. I am a better person for learning to love each of them.

What do you find most challenging? 

Living away from family, and not having family nearby to call on in times of need, or even just babysitting. The more kids you have, the harder it is to find someone to look after ALL of them.

The practical day-to-day tasks are challenging in that everything takes longer, uses more resources and requires more organisation! When you’re not naturally wired that way, it takes more focus and concentration. Another challenge is not being able to do all of things that families of 2 or 3 (over a shorter age span), are able to do. When the first three are old enough for something, but it means having to deal with a toddler who doesn’t understand why they can’t participate, or not doing the thing at all, and having to explain to the older three that they miss out because the toddler is too young.

Melissa – artist at Liss Letters and mum of 6

“There’s always a lot to talk about.”

What do you love about having a large family?

At the dinner table we do ‘best moments of the day’ and there’s always a lot to talk about.

What do you find most challenging? 

The constant noise, and making sure I give each child the individual time/attention they need.

Naomi – blogger at Seven Cherubs and mum of 7

There is also always someone to play with, always someone to talk to and if you need help there is always someone to available to help you out.”

What do you love about having a large family?

I love that our home is never boring and that we have so much fun! There is always so much going on, and as a parent I love seeing my children interact together while being creative. My children always have several games, crafts or activities happening at once. There is also always someone to play with, always someone to talk to and if you need help there is always someone to available to help you out. A large family is a great support network right within the walls of your own home.

What do you find most challenging? 

The biggest challenge for me personally is to find one on one time with each of my children every day. It is important for me to have a good relationship with my children and doing so involves having meaningful moments with them. Finding the time to make this happen each day is difficult when there are so many different personalities and needs to meet with a busy schedule. It is hard work keeping up with everyone but one that I find personally rewarding and worth the effort.

Tracie – nurse and mum of 4

“Call me greedy but if I can get hugs from all four of my children each day, it’s a good day!”

What do you love about having a large family?

I love the variety of personalities, strengths, weaknesses and talents that make up the dynamics of our family. No two kids are even remotely similar, not even my twins. I love watching their interactions with each other and the little alliances that are formed. And lastly, the sheer volume of love! Call me greedy but if I can get hugs from all four of my children each day, it’s a good day!

What do you find most challenging? 

When the children were younger, the logistics of everyday life and moving around with four small people was a challenge. As they have grown, the financial costs have been a challenge. And I must confess keeping on top of quality time with each of them is hard (particularly since one of them was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes). I am always asking myself if I am doing enough to fill each child’s love tanks.

Family: There is no perfect number and there are pros and cons for any combination. Celebrate all the good and embrace the joys with the challenges. It’s what you make of it.

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  • Reply
    February 1, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Maybe they’re all like me and only wish they had more?! 🙂 Sometimes I wonder why I had one but I always had the intentions of having a big brood (and I’m one of them that would say, “wow, you’ve got your hands full”). It just happened that I only got to have one as I had mine later in life – not meeting the right person at the right time I guess? I just feel very fortunate that it was my first pregnancy, no miscarriages, no complications trying to have kids, and I was able to have a healthy, thriving little girl with no complications in labour or afterwards either. And today, was her first day at “big school”. Five years on from when I had her at almost 45 years of age. I often ask myself why I didn’t choose ‘that one love of my life” back when I could’ve had more … You’re one lucky lady … <3

    • Reply
      Kelly - Be A Fun Mum
      February 1, 2017 at 12:37 pm

      Thanks lovely. You’re so right, you have to run with the way things turn out sometimes hey. I really believe there are advantages of having large and small families…it’s what you make of it that counts. Big congrats to your daughter’s first day of school. What a special milestone for you both. I hope she has a lovely day.

  • Reply
    February 1, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    I love this!! I only have 3 myself and get told constantly I’m too young to have 3 kids, or my favorite “if your mother raised you right you wouldn’t be in this situation” (despite being married, business owning and happily settled).
    I love the idea of a big family, and would happily have more kids, unfortunately we simply wouldn’t be able to afford to give them the lives we would like to.

    I look after 3 extra kids once or twice a week and take them shopping and to and from sport etc, the amount of times I’ve had eyebrows raised at me when I’m wrangling 6 kids through a supermarket, or been told, “they aren’t all yours are they!?”.

    Big families are fantastic, they are full of life and laughter, highs and joys and constant friendship- never will those kids be alone if they don;t want to be (and often even when they want to be- hahaha)

    Many blessings to the families who you interviewed, and to yours as well!! x

  • Reply
    February 11, 2017 at 9:51 am

    Hi, I’m Janice and a mum of 7. The things I get asked is do my kids have the same father, You must be crazy. I tell them that yes I have been married for 25 years and all the kids have to the dad. I’m not crazy just very lucky. Some people can’t have kids. I have 7 great kids who drive me crazy, make me poor but I wouldn’t be me without them.
    And yes, holidays are a nightmare. Places don’t cater for 9 people unless you want to spend thousands of dollars. I would love to take the kids somewhere great like a cruise but we would have to get 3 cabins. Not a cheap thing to do. Enjoy your kids cause one day they or you won’t be around.

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