Living with a large family. I thought I’d write about this as we get asked a lot about our family dynamics. How we do and plan certain things. We are a family of 7. 2 adults and 5 children aged 13,11,10,10 and 18 months.
The early years
We never set out to have a large family, we just knew that we wanted them close in age. Our first scan with the twins showed just one little baby. It wasn’t until I was nearly 5 months pregnant at the second scan, that we found out it was twins. When they were born I had 2 newborns, Colby was 3 and Courtney was 1, we had 4 under 4. It was hard. The first year with the four of them is like a blur to me now, it felt like one long day that was never-ending.
I knew I would forget a lot of it because I was just so busy. So I kept a diary and wrote down all their milestones, and how I was feeling. I love reading it back now and I’m so glad I wrote it.
A lot changed when the twins came along. I faced up to the fact that I wouldn’t be going back to work, childcare for 4 pre- schoolers would have been way more than we could afford. So a stay at home mum I became on a more permanent basis.
All the pregnancies were planned. When the twins were 4 we were going to try for another baby, but it was around this time that my mum was diagnosed with cancer and so we put those plans on hold. After nearly 3 years we thought my mum was in the clear, and so decided to start trying. (You can read about this here ) To cut a long story short we had Carson and my mum died the next day.
So now we have our 5 children, and sometimes I don’t feel like we are a large family, I guess I’m just so used to it. But when I think the average family have 2.4 and we have double that, I suppose we are.
Our biggest outlay after our mortgage is food. We shop once a week at ASDA and I buy all meals for one week. The children have packed lunch at school, with the older two having school dinners twice a week on P.E days.
We very rarely have any waste, all the food that I buy gets eaten. I can remember when it was just James and I, and we were working full-time. So much of our food shop used to end up in the bin, as we just couldn’t use it all before it went out of date. That never happens now!
The next biggest outlay is Christmas. I start Christmas shopping as soon as they go back to school in September.Over the summer holidays I start writing lists and getting ideas of what I think they want. It’s the only time of the year that we let them have what they want. The rest of the year if they want something they have to wait for birthdays etc.
We have never given them pocket money. I have questioned this over the years. Colby and Courtney have now reached an age where they have a bit more independence. They are now going out with friends, swimming or to the cinema, and of course they have money for this. They just have it as and when rather than every week.
I call Cerise the queen of tat, as she absolutely loves the pound shops and would happily spend £10 on 10 items of plastic. That’s probably another reason we don’t give it haha.
This year we had our first plane holiday in 10 years to Florida. We had a fantastic time and enjoyed every minute of it. You can see our Florida vlogs here:
Every other year we have been camping in our 9 man tent. We started camping in the uk, up in the lakes and then started to go a bit further afield. We drove over to France a couple of times and in 2013 we drove from Liverpool to Venice, Italy. It was such a lovely journey through France and Switzerland. It took just over 24 hours but was so worth it. The only drawback was we had to pitch our tent when we got there, and we were so tired. Camping is a fantastic experience you just have to fully embrace it haha.
In some ways it was easier when they were all little. Although it was hard and tiring during the day, come 7 o’clock they were all tucked up in bed to save my sanity. We had this routine for quite a few years, it just meant that for the last few hours of the day I could recharge my batteries.
But now they are older they go to bed some nights more or less the same time as me. So now there is no break from them. Of course we are now entering the teenage years which to be honest can be just as hard some days as having toddlers. Trying to judge what mood they’re all in, and making sure everything is ok at school, and looking for any signs of any problems keeps me just as busy. It has taken me by surprise how much more I worry about them now than when they were newborn babies.
One thing that is a bit of a challenge is trying to find some family time. James works nights and weekends,the girls have dance and the boys have football. So the only night of the week that is free, is Wednesday,,and that is now reserved for all of us to get together. We all sit downstairs and watch T.V, when the Bake off finally finishes we’ll watch a film or play board games. We just make a bit of effort to get us all together as it’s to easy to just let them go to their room and go on Facetime or the Xbox. They can do that on the weekends.They have all come round to this idea though and just come down on a Wednesday evening now.
The only other time we’re all together is at dinner time. We eat every evening meal at the dinner table, and that’s when we all talk about our day. I can usually look at them all then and know if they’re a bit quiet or not so happy and I’ll make sure every things ok with them at school. Most of the time everyone is very loud and trying to all talk at once.
The bad bits
Of course having a large family is not all plain sailing and there are drawbacks. When we had the second scan for the twins it took the Doctors ages to tell me it was twins as it wasn’t on my notes and I don’t think they could understand why, but when they eventually told me the first thing I said was “Oh no, we’re not all gonna fit in the car” and that was my first insight to having a large family. Straightaway we had to get a 7 seater car and that’s the only thing we can have until they’re old enough to drive!
Courtney was only 1 when they arrived and so to go out we had a double pushchair and a single pushchair, which meant I couldn’t go out anywhere unless someone else was with me. I spent a lot of the very early years at home on my own with them.
We only have 3 bedrooms, so they share a room and I think that’s what they dislike the most about living with a large family. They would love their own room and their own space, and I completely understand that. We would like one day to do a loft conversion, but that’s not even on the horizon at the moment.
As a general rule we are not a sickly family, but as you can imagine once one person gets ill it spreads round the whole family. The most recent being in Florida. We all got sick, Cerise, Courtney, James and Carson while we were out there. Colby on the plane home, Casey the day after we got home, and me 2 days later.
The good bits
But to me the good definitely outweighs the bad. We have watched our children grow, play and bond together. Of course they argue, but they love each other.
Now that Colby and Courtney are both at high school they’ve started communicating a bit more. I love it when I can hear them talking about there homework or school. It’s nice they’re having proper grown up conversation. Or when the twins get snuggled up on one of there beds to watch a film together. It makes me feel happy and content that they’ll have friends for life, and someone looking out for them if we’re not here.
At Christmas time we all gather together to say thank you and look forward to the year ahead. I look at them all excited and playing games and think that all the hard work is so so worth it.
You can watch this post in action here:
See you soon