We have 5 children ages 9 and younger. If that sounds like a lot… it IS!
A Full House
I still think it sounds like a lot when I hear someone say they have 5 children, and then I remember so do I! Life in our home is always active, keeps us on our toes, and is full to the brim with all things — laughter, laundry, love, and plenty of messes to clean up! When we were thrust into parenthood, my husband and I had no idea the abundance of life that was to come through the future of our family.
We’ve Always Known
When we were engaged, the couple mentoring us in pre-marriage counseling handed us a questionnaire. We were sent to separate areas to answer and then brought back to compare what expectations we had for marriage. One of the questions asked how many kids we envisioned in our family. Much to both of our surprise we had both put down 5 children. Neither of us grew up in large families and I had personally thought 5 children was an outrageous number to have. How could you even manage? I think we both knew somewhere deep down though, that we were called to have a large family even if we didn’t know how we could do it.
No Need to Compare
Have you ever compared the number of children you have to someone else and proceeded to rate yourself accordingly? Well, I have more children than she does, so that’s why I can’t do that. Or, I could never handle that many kids. I only have 2 and I’m overwhelmed! The truth is motherhood is a beautiful gift and a beautiful challenge no matter how many kids you have on your hands (or in your hands for that matter).
When I started out as a mom of 1, I had a preemie and had never taken care of a baby before that. That was hard. It was a steep learning curve, but eventually I started to gain confidence. Then I had another baby when my oldest was just 18 months old. Two babies at the same time, phew! Since then, we’ve nearly always had two kids in diapers for the last decade. Have you ever wondered why you thought a past season was hard, when now you can see how insanely not hard it was? Ha, the gift of hindsight!
Grace for Today
That season of going from 1 to 2 kids was one of my hardest! I remember crying a lot and thinking I wasn’t sure if I could do this. Then baby number 3 came along.. and 4, and now 5! Would you look at that. I’m still standing! I say that because I really do believe you can handle however many kids God gives you. Your motherhood muscles get stronger as you go along each day, right? You can do things things today that you couldn’t when you first got on this train. Amen?! That’s worth taking note of and celebrating!
I think we have to remind ourselves that motherhood takes a powerful combination of grit and grace, and that is required no matter how many children you’ve been given. I’ve always been at full capacity in motherhood, and I’ve always been given the grace I needed for each day. We all have such unique stories that begin and end in different places, there is no need to compare with one another, rather we should cheer the other on! Heck, by another mama a latte and let her know she’s doing an incredible job!
How Do You Manage?
So, what does it look like to have so many little people in one house? Well, it pretty much looks like children live there, because they do. And in our home, we all live here most of the day, since we homeschool. That isn’t to say the house is in complete chaos. I personally cannot function if there’s stuff everywhere, but I also don’t have time to clean up after my kids all day. So, we have systems. Lots of systems! Living in a large family means everyone has to help carry the load. We train and teach responsibility of self and space to equip the kids for their futures, but also their real lives now.
More people means more work, but truth be told it’s not an exponential amount. I mean, I am already getting lunches ready, reading stories, changing diapers and doing bedtime routines. Having a large family means built-in opportunities to grow in character and learn teamwork, responsibility, and how to be selfless. Having a large family also means there are some things you don’t get as much of. There’s less one-on-one time, but there are lots of people to play with and learn from. And quiet. There’s definitely less quiet!
More to Love
One phrase my husband and I have said with each new pregnancy is, “more people, more love.” It’s true! There’s a bunch of love flowing around here and it’s worth it to us! No matter how big or small your family is, though, it’s just right for you! Hear me when I say that you CAN handle it. And if you’re in the season where you’re still unsure about family size, I think you’ll know and feel it inside. We always did, even though we weren’t always sure we could handle it.
So how about for you? What defines “large” for a family to you? If you grew up in a large family I’d love to hear some of the benefits you experienced growing up and even now.