10 Things You Need To Know About Raising A Big Family!
Raising a big family is a massive, and often incredibly difficult job, but it is also rewarding in more ways than you can imagine.
Today I am sharing 10 things that I have discovered along the way, on my journey as a mother to 6 children, that I would have loved to have known in the beginning!
1. PLANNING AND ORGANISATION.
I think the number 1 thing you should know about raising a large family, is that being organised and planning pretty much every part of day to day life, in advance makes life soooo much easier.
I know many of you probably just rolled your eyes back into your head at the thought of routines and schedules, charts and programs and so on, but it really works. I have found that when all these things are in place and are being followed, things get done, there are less arguments and everyone knows what is expected of them.
2. STRESS LEVELS.
Like anyone participating in this giant parenting game would know, having kids involves stress to some degree at some point. It certainly doesn’t discriminate, however, when you have a large family, prepare yourself for double or triple the stress.
Now I’m not saying that having more kids will cause you more stress, but realistically, the more you have on your plate to deal with, the more stress that may come your way.
I have found that the best way to tackle this is to look after yourself, and by that I mean be aware of your physical, emotional and mental health.
Have some strategies in place for when it does build, and if you can feel the stress levels rising into the ‘not coping’ zone, don’t ignore it, address it, and use the strategies…. that’s why you have them!
3. TIME OUT – ME TIME.
Having so many little demanding people going at you 24/7 can become overwhelming as time goes on. Our eldest (the twins) recently turned 10, and it’s taken me till now to realise just how important allowing yourself some time out and me time really is.
It wasn’t until I hit rock bottom that I saw just how much my family had eaten away at who I was as a person. While I was busy dedicating my entire existence to raising my children, I had let my own personal goals and dreams waste away, which in turn pretty much sucked the life right out of me.
I’ve found that once you get the planning and organisation bit under control, there’s usually somewhere in there that you can make time to do those things that make you who you really are.
It doesn’t have to be full days, even 5 mins here and there can help refuel your tank.
Aside from doing my fitness stuff and working out with a couple of buddies, scrapbooking and crotchet are my ‘Me Time’ activities.
4. NOISE….. AND LOTS OF IT!
Children and noise go hand in hand, but multiply the children and obviously you multiply the noise. There is rarely a quite moment here at Chaos HQ and I have found that these days, I actually crave the sound of silence.
Yep, long gone are the days of gazing at a silent, swaddled, sleeping newborn. These little monsters seem to get noisier as the years go on!
The noise can get so much sometimes, that I struggle to concentrate and string coherent thoughts together.
I cannot begin to imagine what it will be like when the kids take up musical instruments, or have all their friends lob in afterschool as teenagers… STREWTH!
I am 100% uncertain of the cure for this, but I am considering creating some kind of bungalow/rumpus room area that is completely separate from the house!!! 😉
5. MESS & CLEANING MESS.
Lots of kids make lots of mess. It’s that simple.
Start getting them into routines while they’re young because once they’re 4 or 5 or so, it just gets harder to convince them to pick up after themselves. Don’t forget to set a good example (hint hint MonsterSquad Dad!!!) and pick up after yourself too, because kids learn so much from what they see!
Keeping the clutter to a minimum certainly helps with the mess, and having a designated play zone is a fantastic (although not always possible) option.If you have the space, do it!
Create a chore chart with rewards and get the kids involved. Be prepared to stand there and keep at them until it becomes second nature, but it will be worth it!
Dealing with constant mess has been possibly the hardest thing for me to learn to deal with. Before kids, I was a total neat freak!!
6. EVERYTHING GETS BIGGER.
When you have a bigger family, everything grows with you. Your home gets bigger, your car gets bigger, even your couch gets bigger.
Yep, long gone are the days of zippy little economical cars. I now drive a 12 seater bus, which I might add is a nightmare to park at shopping centers, and we extended our home, which is lovely, but takes twice as long to clean up!
One of the more noticeable things that increases is your BILLS. Shopping expenses go up, schooling and uniforms go up, general living expenses, medical cost and so on all get bigger!
I know that sounds daunting, but your HEART gets bigger too, which makes all the growing totally worthwhile!
7. RELATIONSHIP STRAIN.
Busy, Busy, Busy!!! Life is always busy with a big family, but it’s so important not to neglect the relationship that got you the big family in the first place!!! It’s so easy just to get wrapped up in the daily grind and stop communicating properly.
I have learned this one the hard way! Keep the lines of communication open, which makes it easier to be on the same page when wrangling the kiddies.
Make an effort to plan things to do with your significant other, like date nights. It doesn’t have to be something massive, expensive and difficult to plan. Often, our date night means getting the kids fed and sorted and off to bed so we can sit and eat a meal in peace and then maybe watch a movie together.
I’m putting ‘relationship time’ right up there with ‘me time’.
Not enough time in your day? MAKE TIME, because the alternative is not a pretty situation. 😉
8. DOING THINGS AS A FAMILY.
Family time is also super important, and planning special events is a great way to have it.
Now, a bigger family means bigger expenses when it comes to booking anything like event tickets, holidays and so on.
Ask the kids for input, plan in advance and remember that it doesn’t have to be a costly experience. We can’t afford to go holidaying every school holidays, so we usually plan one outing as a treat and then make use of cheaper options to keep them busy.
Find a great park, Walk the dogs, Go to the beach, Have your own MonsterSquad Movie Marathon, Build a little garden, Do some crafts, Read a book together, Sing and Dance like no-one is watching!
You’re only limited by your imagination!
9. YOU’RE NEVER ON YOUR OWN.
Prepare yourself to be swamped with love (errr nagging) 24/7.
Yep, you’ll never ever be alone again, which is lovely in the sense that you’ll never be lonely or stuck for a conversation, but it can get overwhelming when you can’t even use the toilet without company.
I am a big ‘cuddler’, but do often feel smothered and crave some personal space.
It’s tricky to get the balance right, but I find that when I incorporate the ‘me time’, ‘relationship time’ and keep my ‘stress levels’ low, I enjoy the lack of alone time much more.
10. BULK LOVE.
Having a big family has really taught me to accept and to love unconditionally.
We stick together, back each other up and even when they’re all fighting and arguing we’re all as thick as thieves.
Knowing that someone will always be there and have your back is a pretty special thing, and I am grateful for that each and every day!
Our children, have learned to look out for each other, help each other and be aware of each other, which also extends out into their friendship groups too. They’re developing some dynamic people skills just by living with each other, which I hope they keep and take with them out in the ‘big world’ as they grow up.
Yes, raising a big family is hard work, but it’s totally do-able. You don’t have to be extra patient, or have super-powers to survive each day.
Just a little organisation, a little awareness, and a great big heart!