The average family has 2.4 kids, and this seems pretty accurate from personal observation. Having five kids in our family, I thought it would be fun to offer some insight to some things I have realized as our family has grown. (Disclaimer: Every family is different and this is only written regarding my own personal opinions and personal experiences).
We Choose Our Battles
In high school I was friends with a guy with four siblings. He told me I could walk into his house without knocking whenever I wanted to visit. I couldn’t even process this as being real – until now. Now I get it. I don’t have the energy to care about every little thing, so I choose my battles. I don’t really care about little things as much as I used to and am very easy going. I focus on the big deals and things worth expending my energy and time. It’s very funny to me to compare myself pre-kids to how I am now.
They Are Each Other’s Best Friends
There is nothing quite like watching their sibling bonds grow, and the fun activities they come up with. They read books to each other, play video games together, build forts (if my couch cushions are ever missing, now you know why), dress up in costumes. They come running like a stampede when our youngest cries, and want to share new experiences with her and each other. Yes, they fight, but they are best friends and we have something really special going on in our family. I know this isn’t unique to big families since my one sibling, my brother, and I have always had a great bond, but it is just really sweet and special to see five kids running around laughing together and knowing that they are lifelong friends.
Costs Add Up Fast… And Things Aren’t Always Fair
Imagine buying something for $15 for one person – it’s no big deal. Buying for two turns into $30. For three turns into $45. For Four into $60. And for five into $75. And so on. A simple $15 per kid for five kids turns into a less simple $75. Things like school photos, book orders, and buying new shoes for the season add up very fast!
We have had to teach our kids that things aren’t always going to be equal and fair all the time. If I’m with one or two kids I will often sneak over to Dairy Queen/wherever for some quality time, but I don’t bring something home for everyone every time or I would just rarely do anything like that overall (see the above paragraph!). They know that we do special things with them without the others and that we do special things with the others without them too. Discovering your sibling got a slushee and you didn’t may not feel fair but that’s life and you’ll get your turn another time too.
Through birthdays, Christmas, doing chores, and generous relatives, they have just about everything they’ve ever wanted, but my hope is that they learn to not be bitter over things they don’t have and grateful for what they have and receive, and to focus on getting the few things they really want vs wanting a little bit of everything.
Responsibility is Not Optional
I have seen some moms argue that kids should be kids and not have responsibilities because they have their whole lives to do that. I can’t say I have ever fully agreed with that, but even if I did, it isn’t really a very realistic course in a bigger family. When there are seven people making a mess and only 1-2 people regularly cleaning (the adults), the odds are against the adults of being successful. My kids neeeed to help out a little bit to keep our house functioning. It’s lucky for me that I think it is good for them to have a few simple jobs that they are responsible for! (**They don’t have a lot of responsibilities and have plenty of days off too but they need to do a few basic things like picking up after themselves and helping when I ask).
Yes, Our Hands Are Full… But We Can Handle It
Buying for seven doesn’t come easy. My cart is usually overflowing at the checkout line, and everyone always seems concerned about it. It’s very sweet but I do this every week, and I’m used to it. Offering help is always really nice, and if I need it I will say yes, but I don’t think I have ever needed it. A few times cashiers have seemed really concerned about my workload and said things like that they hope I have help to load/unload the car. But I’ve got this.
Your Love Isn’t Divided, It Multiplies
I have seen many first-time mothers scared to have more kids because they can’t imagine loving other kids as much as they love their firstborn. I started with twins so I have never really experienced that fear, I knew right away that you could love more than one child wholeheartedly but to anyone who may feel that way or wonders: no you do not love subsequent kids less. It is very possible to love all your kids the same amount. We do not have a certain amount of love we can give that gets divided amongst however many kids you have – your heart overflows as your love multiplies and expands in ways you can’t imagine. I love and relate to the saying “if you think my hands are full you should see my heart”.
My parenting style has definitely changed over the years as our family has grown. I know that by having a bigger family we experience things a different way than smaller families do in many ways, and I know that big family life doesn’t suit everyone – there’s nothing wrong with that either! Many people feel peace about having no kids or about being done after one, two, or three kids and that is great too. I had a great experience growing up with our family of three (and then later four). But, at least for us, having a bigger family is an incredible and rewarding experience!