It can be a bit of an adjustment going from a family of two to a family of three. In my personal experience, having that third child somehow automatically shifts your run-of-the-mill ‘nuclear’ family into the ‘big family’ category. I guess that’s pretty fair because, honestly, after the third child – they all kinda blend in anyway *shrugs*. Strangers’ obvious comments seem to be free-flowing and because you’re now officially outnumbered in the adult-to-child ratio, your family size is now up for constant public commentary. But it’s not all bad. In fact, it’s kinda awesome. So what is having a big family really like? Well, let me explain it to you like this …
Four things you give up
1. Being able to leave the house quickly
I think families of any size can safely agree that children can turn a simple act of leaving the house into a bit of an exercise. When you have a big family though, you can pretty much just set aside a good half an hour of time dedicated to simply getting out of the house. This is to make time for going to the toilet three times, locating lost shoes and making no less than two trips back inside the house once you think you’ve got everything – except, you haven’t. Bye-bye spontaneity! See-ya later!
Remember those days where you felt put-together and kinda smug because your life was pretty much in order? Hah. I don’t. It’s been so long. One thing for certain that you can bid farewell to when you have a big family is any sense of control. Because truthfully, you’re just along for the ride. There are way too many variables that can occur in any given moment and try as you might – there’s really no point trying to have control of much when you have so many little humans to contend with. So breathe in peace, and breathe out surrender.
3. Eating out
Well, actually, don’t get me wrong- you can still eat out. But only if you want to eat beans for the rest of the week! Eating out with a big family can take a real toll on your finances, especially if your children eat the same quantity as mine. You can however, make peace with a nicely rounded weekly meal of hot chips, though – about the only type of takeaway that doesn’t dint your weekly budget.
4. Lengthy uninterrupted conversations with your beloved when there are children around
Most of my chats with my husband these days tend to be almost grasped-for in desperation as we head out to our respective duties each morning. Parenting so many small children leaves most communication to be an exchange of chores or tasks that have or have not been completed. To counteract this, however, we take as many opportunities as we can to escape our tribe and reconnect alone on dates – or sleepovers!
It’s not all bad news though, I swear.
Here’s five things you gain
1. Impeccable juggling skills
The baby needs feeding while you need to prep dinner and keep the toddler out of mischief while the preschooler does colouring in? Easy done! Reckon you can manage to put out a load of washing whilst baby wearing and talking on the phone, whilst simultaneously supervising your other children playing near by? Of course you can! Having a big family means you become a pro at stacking jobs and juggling everyones needs all-the-time.
2. All the laundry
But unfortunately … you can’t avoid the laundry. And there will be mountains and mountains of it. Every. Single. Day. It does, however, make you really enjoy those fifteen minutes where it’s all done, though.
3. Playmates for life
Sure, it won’t always be smooth-sailing but when you have a big family you give your children one of the best gifts they’ll ever receive: siblings. They’ll always have someone close in age to hang out with and make memories with – and it’s such an honour to watch those bonds grow.
Yeah, you learn not to sweat the small stuff. When you’re the parent of one child you might swear black and blue that they’ll never eat Twisties, but I guarantee you by the time you’re onto your third or fourth child you’ll be feeding them that for breakfast just for peace. Having a big family ensures you keep a realistic perspective and you really do become the queen of letting things go.
5. Unexpected joy in chaos
Amidst all the daily chaos that comes with being completely outnumbered by children, there are so many little moments of pure gold that come along. Moments that make you remember the real meaning behind all the day to day craziness, moments that keep you anchored.
So sure, you’ll struggle getting out the door most mornings, you’ll definitely need to embrace the art of surrendering, eating out may have to be slightly reconfigured and conversations with your beloved may temporarily take on a new variation.. but (as long as you can keep the washing machine going) having a big family is such an extraordinary blessing that will not only refine your skills of juggling everyone’s needs, but it will create such wonderfully rich memories for your children and offer you such perspective and joy in life that you really never knew was possible, too.