I have four kids. Yes, I planned it. And as I wrangle my kids into the ridiculous mum van I now drive, I think back to the very famous family of my childhood … The Brady Bunch.
Ahh, The Bradys, a family of six kids, three girls and three boys, all stunning, handsome and wholesome (on screen, anyway). They were television’s perfect family. Having a large family of my own, I’ll never understand how Mrs Brady managed to stay calm. Coffee, Prozac or pinot, whatever her poison, I’m here to tell you that managing a big family is nothing like the Bradys would have us believe.
Here’s what it’s really like:
Not everyone has an ‘Alice’
OK, let’s address the Alice in the room. We all recognise that Alice was running the crap outta that family while Carol swanned around her perfectly polished house. Alice also had the uncanny knack of solving the children’s problems with a simple one-liner over afternoon milk and cookies which left everyone ready for a relaxed and non-eventful bedtime. It’s almost never that easy.
Read more about big family living:
- 8 challenges that all parents with big families can relate to
- Big family living: Spending quality time with each child when you’re stretched
- Bigger families are happier – and here are 10 reasons why
The days are long
If you have a big family, you will know that the days are looong. There is a LOT to stay on top of when you have lots of kids. The permission notes, the washing of clothes and bodies, the after school activities and the all-important but mostly forgotten homework. Once all the big stuff is taken care of, it’s time to sit down and relax, right? WRONG! It’s time for round two. While the day might be ending for one child, there’s always another one who likes to stay up late.
Listen to Jo Ryan, baby expert and author of Baby Bliss, reveal the best way for new siblings to share a room:
Sharing isn’t caring
The sharing of bedrooms in a big family means ridiculous bedroom antics will occur. Quiet reading time quickly becomes dibby dobber hour. Stomping up and down the hallway is required from parents, as well as a whole lotta “SHHHHHHHHH! The baby is asleep” being whisper-yelled at children. I never saw Carol Brady stomp. Not even once.
One word: Aldi
I don’t think I saw Carol cook either. That my friend was the domain of the all-rounder, Alice. Hold up … wasn’t Alice banging the butcher?
If my Brady memory serves correctly, I am sure Alice had the hots for the local meat man Sam. Imagine the discount she scored on all the good cuts. Meaty meals are pricey, and we are currently only feeding three kids and throwing mushy mash down the throat of the other one. What I’m saying here is that if you have a family of any size, you must immediately shun the local supermarket and accept the challenge of ALDI. In a quest to balance the budget, send yourself on a weekly anxiety-inducing expedition through the German supermarket chain. Over time you will learn the ways of this magical treasure den and will soon be espousing ALDI Rose as the best four bucks you’ve ever spent.
Liar, liar pants on fire
Your kids will lie to your face. This is relevant, no matter what size family you have. Those sweet children will stare you dead in the eye and reply, “yes mum” to any and all of the following questions …
“Have you brushed your teeth?”
“Is your homework done?”
“Did you put your swim stuff in the wash?”
Not even a cute smile will save them from your rage when you cop a whiff of your child’s revolting breath while stepping over his wet swimming gear to retrieve the forgotten homework.
(Sibling) love is dead
Those kids you are so busy shaping into decent humans, well (unlike the Bady Bunch kids) they hate each other.
Not only do they hate each other, they feel the need to express their hatred of one or more of their siblings on a regular basis. They will forever score keep on the other children in the family and attempt to gain one up on each other in any way possible. Bedtime, showers, vegetable eating, who used the last towel: all of these issues will cause World War level smackdowns between your children, and you will be in your striped referee’s shirt and no whistle. Without a Union or Government Body to advise you, you’ll be left screeching those immortal words: “GET TO YOUR ROOM.”
Perhaps like The Brady Bunch, a big family is a thing of the past. The realities of parenting a child, let alone multiple children in this current era is difficult, to say the least, so whether your family is big like mine or super small, I salute you. In the words of the great non-parent and Dali Lama: “Everything is either a good time or a good story” and boy have I got a LOT of good stories.