on having a large family
When Fraulein Maria first met the von Trapp children, a little seed was planted in my young, impressionable mind. Remember the shrill of the whistle and the subsequent array of children that stumbled into the room, all lined up in a row? Yes, so do I – fondly.
While life isn’t all brown paper packages tied up with string, I think it’s safe to say that the truly good things are the simple ones. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned over the past few years it’s that stuff doesn’t guarantee happiness but a wholesome meal, a good night’s slumber and giggling children, do*.
With three giggling gerties to our name, Daniel and I were recently placed into an entirely new social category; that of the large family. Our hands are literally and figuratively full; we are juggling like the best of them. But if welcoming Percy into our lives has taught us anything, it’s that a big family is for us.
Is it safe to say that the large family is experiencing a renaissance? The two-three children trend of the nineties and early naughties is still strong but I’ve noticed that more couples are making the leap to four, five, six. And I must admit, the dynamics and practicalities of the large family unit intrigue me. I’ve always read the blogs of mothers with a gaggle of children, fascinated by their day-to-day rhythms and lifestyle choices. If I meet a woman with more than three children I tend to ask her what it’s really like…and then we chat about her washing pile, her car choice and whether bunk beds are the only option.
If my experience is anything to go by, the more children I have the better I become at adapting and making do, the more settled I feel in this motherhood role. While I never take it for granted, I do truly hope that we’ll add to our brood.
Do big families intrigue you?
Are you finished having children or do you still want to grow your family?
If you have 4+ children how do people react to your decision?
*the irony of placing “slumber” and “children” in the same sentence is not lost on me.
So many thoughts ran through my head while reading this! I currently have 2 babies, one is 3 and one 8 months. I would love 4…but I know having 3 will be hard because my husband is happy with 2. Money is the biggest reason, I believe. I'm a stay at home mom, so we tend to struggle some months. I would say we have all we need and most of what we "want". But, I want a 3rd so bad. Sorry for the rant! Haha. Good post. Thanks for sharing!
We have 4 boys (10, 8 year old twins and a 3 year old). We have been called 'breeders' and 'once you have more than 2 kids you just can't focus on them all, you are disadvantaging them the more you have'. Ugh. On the flip side other people are lovely with their comments. We also recently moved to a 2 bedroom house on 1 1/2 acres and the boys share a room-with bunks-ha! They are only in their room to sleep so it is fine. People think we are crackers but we are trying for more kids-I can't wait to have another bebe! I am definitely calmer the more children I have had-and more organised (organised chaos!?)
At the moment I feel completely content with two…but I felt completely content with one so I am not sure that is a good measure of what the future will hold!
However while my heart prompted our family of three becoming a family of four, I think practicality will reign and we won't have any more. With my family in the States it is simply overwhelming to think of the travel…and the cost of the travel!
Oh and I went to high school with a real live von Trapp. She was a few years older than I was and I was obsessed with her…mostly because I was obsessed with the movie.
I would LOVE to have more (we have 3) but due to complications I can't have anymore biological children 🙁 in the future we will definitely consider fostering to adopt though!
I always wanted a big family and the minimum we wanted was three (which we have right now aged 4, 2, and 8 months). We're pretty certain we want more at some point but my body needs a little recovery gap so we'll see how we go!!
And as a ps I wonder whether big families are becoming a sort of status symbol because you need a bigger car house etc? I don't know whether that's true but it's food for thought!
We'll have three and that will be it. To be honest, it's my husband that wants more than the two we already have, but with the difficult pregnancies I have, the fact I'm already 35 and, this is the most pertinent point, the fact that I am so ready to have myself back and be more than a SAHM (the best option for our family at this stage) three will be it.
That said, I have four siblings and big families are the norm to me. It was busy growing up, we had a van, my mum did multiple loads of laundry a day and we only had bunk beds for two of my sisters for a short period of time.
We didn't do a lot of extra curricular activities, not so much due to cost, but due to time. We also had each other to play with and the other kids in the street were around if we needed more friends. We lived on a street with lots of kids, our neighbours had 13(!!) so it was a fun childhood full of imagination and a lot of self regulating seeing as mum was usually cooking or cleaning. 😉
Recently, I've realised it's certainly not for me, but I can see the appeal that draws other people into it.
Hope you're all doing well. Linda. x
I've always wanted to have 2 kids but as I've been drawn to starting the path to becoming a foster mother, I see many more kids in our future. I am about to have my second baby in a week and while I am going to wait for my biological kids to grow a little older before we foster, I already see the need to plan for having a large family.
I hear you. I love it. We would have more if that last pregnancy hadn't broken me so hard. But I still haven't really come to terms with not having any more…and the kids are all baby-mad too. They keep begging us to have another baby. I think we'll start fostering in a couple of years. I like the big gang. xxx
I have three now, a 3 year old boy and 1 year old twin girls, and they are a lot of work! But I am so sad that this will, in all likelihood, be it! I'm struggling to come to terms with it actually. No more pregnant bellies or soft newborns. I have wanted children for as long as I can remember and felt I waited so long (i was 32 when my first was born) and within only a 2 year period had 3 children! Several people have told me how lucky I am to have got it all over and done with so quickly, and whilst I do feel very lucky, I would have preferred to drag out the baby making a little longer.
If I was younger, and didn't have fertility issues, I would have probably been one of those women with 16 children and counting! So it's probably better this way! I'll just continue to wistfully stare at other peoples newborns and discreetly try to sniff them as they go past.
I love the idea of a large family but my pregnancies are too high risk to have any more. 🙁 I've thought of adopting but I'm learning to grow where I'm planted with my two lovely children. I know of a woman with 10 children, there was a beautiful editorial on her here: http://www.nhmagazine.com/May-2015/Whats-It-Like-to-Live-in-a-Family-of-12/
We have four kids- 15, 12, 2 & 1 & while life is hectic it's full of all the good things. I feel as though I am really hitting my mothering strides with four & if I was 10 years younger ( I've just turned 36) I'd have one, if not two more. For so many years I held off on extending our brood & now I wonder what I was so frightened of? But we are done now & very happily so. Four is perfect for us & while people tell me I'm crazy I happily agree- I'm crazy in love with my kids 🙂
We have 3, though for a while I was trying to convince my husband to have a fourth. When number 3 what about 3 years old, we went on a family holiday where we didn't have to take a cot/pram/bottles/bibs/nappies etc, and it was soooo relaxing. I knew then we couldn't go back. I just couldn't do the physical hard work of a little one again. These days I'm content with our three. I look at other peoples babies, and while I enjoy holding them and cuddling them, I always feel grateful to hand them back. A sure sign that we are done.
Oddly enough, before having the one baby, I assumed I wanted none or just one. THEN I had hyperemesis gravidarum and said never again and suddenly now that she is older I want 4. So does my husband. Which is quite disheartening since HG is so debilitating and the idea of potentially having it four times is terrifying but the idea of being done is just heartbreaking to me. I honestly did not know before I had her that having a child would be so amazing. Is it hard? Yes! But worth every moment. Love this post and this discussion!
i stumbled into your blog a few months ago and even though i'm not part of your typical reader demographic i so enjoy visiting your blog and reading about your family and life by the sea. i'm an almost retirement age grandma and my reproduction years are over. i have two grown children and two young grandchildren and most likely won't have any more. seeing photos of your children nourishes a little part of my soul that still longs to rock a wee little babe to sleep. i truly believe that there is something in our brains that always responds to and yearns for more babies. for me it has never gone away.
Julie – I really appreciate your perspective. I have two children and always thought I would have more but over time have realised two works well for our family. I still do yearn to nurture a baby but that hasn't translated to actually deciding to go for it. I find the yearning has peaks and troughs and it's nice to know it's a normal feeling.
We have 4 munchkins and I'm hoping for 1 more. I absolutely adore having a big family. I love that my children have each other and that we have lots of helping hands to love and support. I've found that once we were used to 3 kiddos, 4 just added to the mix and was much easier to juggle. I've found that family life is a perfect atmosphere in which to teach, love, and nurture.
My husband is one of five (although some of them are half siblings), and I am one of 2. I have always loved the dynamics of a big family, but I'm not sure how many we'll have. I am totally, unexpectedly pregnant with number 3 right now (we had discussed it, but due to birth control failure, it happened way before we were ready!), and we'll see how it goes after that. I'm glad to hear some positivity from the other side! I am already anticipating some logistical challenges, like fitting them into the car and going on trips, but I know that ultimately these are small, and relatively easy, obstacles to overcome.
I come from a family of eight children–six boys, two girls–and I have loved every bit of it! I never suffered from any lack of attention; my parents were great at spending quality with each of us. Besides, what child wants the attention of their parents 24/7? They made sure to support us in our different interests and hobbies, plus, with four older siblings to hang out with and three younger brothers to play with, I was never bored.
I've always dreamed of having a large family. When I was young I said 12, but as I've gotten older it's shrunk a bit ;] Now I say at least five because I'm the fifth in my family, and my husband says four because he comes from a family of four.
Four children raised. We survived… and so did they. 🙂
We have three at the moment (almost five-year-old twin daughters and a 21 month old little boy) and have another one due in 8 weeks. It's funny that as soon as we mentioned having our 4th on the way people make all sorts of funny comments as though it's too many! We've decided on having four and no more. In part that's due to having the girls at 26 weeks and complications with this pregnancy (a little girl, too!) which almost led to her delivery at 24 weeks. But I always had my heart set on 4, so…it will be fun to see how adding this one little one into the mix goes 🙂
Thanks for posting this Jodi. My head is full of thoughts I’d like to share on this topic but I will try to be concise. While my husband and I are very much at the beginning of our child rearing years –we have a 13 month old and are currently trying for a second- we both desire a large family, though what that will eventually look like for us, we don’t know. I am the youngest of two and grew up with a comfortable-but-not-overwhelming-level of affluence. My brother and I knew that informing my parents’ decision to only have 2 children was the idea that they could better provide for two children than three, or four, and while my brother and I have reaped the benefits of this, I think we could have easily found room as a family (literally and figuratively) for another. I have a strong –secret- memory of my Mum crying one morning to my Dad, and the words, “we could have had another baby.” At the time I didn’t know what to think but now, as a mother myself, it fills me with grief. I don’t want my husband and I to regret the children we didn’t have. I choose to trust that our hearts (and our finances) will always find the room to love yet another little soul.
We have 4. Boys 20 and 19 and girls 17 and 14. There was a time when I wanted a fifth, but now I'm so very glad we stopped at 4. The last 2 years have been so much harder than I ever expected, with an eating disorder which has almost used up every last bit of me. And my eldest moving away to study and finding the change harder than he expected. Trying to find part time work for the kids has also been really hard and scares me for their future.
I love them dearly and found the young years, while often exhausting and always busy they were also so much fun and so very enjoyable, but these few teen years have almost done me in. I sometimes wonder if I've been irresponsible by bringing so many into an already over crowded and struggling earth.
I am a SAHM and have loved it. I'm so glad that I've been able to be here for my kids but financially it's not always been easy, and the cost of supporting our eldest in uni is crippling and next year I'll have 2 to support and I don't know where that money will come from.
I don't want to be a negative nancy, but I did want to be honest about how it is for us right now.
I still think 4 is the ideal number though.
I'm sorry it has been an intense time for you Kate but I love your honesty. Best wishes to you and your tribe x
Thank you Nikki
Kate thankyou for your perspective…when dreaming of families it is probably common to think of young children, not a gaggle of teens. The saying "little children, little problems; big children, big problems" rings true, I imagine things get more complicated as they get older.
We have six children 16, 14, 12, 10, 8 and 2 and I absolutely love it!! (If you had told me when I had my third child that I was only halfway there I would have looked at you like you were a crazy woman though!!) I love the fact my big kids have experienced the realities of a newborn, I love that we have all had to lay aside our selfish expectations and embrace the natural sacrifices that are the day to day reality of large family life.. There is less money, time and space to go around everyone!! I love that my children are all experienced baby settlers, washing folders.. ( yes – the washing pile is mountainous!!!), cooks and they can clean and tidy the house in no time!! They are also independent and resourceful… Not because I'm a slave driver but because a family this size can only operate well when we work as a team!! It's always been awkward when we have had to announce another pregnancy and I have got used to the weird and bewildered looks we get when we venture out together but I'm ok with that!! Its noisy, messy at times and slightly crazy but so much fun too!! We drive a landcruiser and a smaller 7 seater around town and I'm slowly resigning myself to the fact that a van is inevitable!!!!!!
I love talking about child spacing and how many kids to have! We currently have one boy, 16 months, and we'd feel lucky and love to have at least two more. Although four sounds enticing after recently reading an article saying that having three is supposedly the most stressful because one is always left out. My hesitance to 2+ kids is that I'm very introverted. Any introverted mamas with lots of kids? I'd love to know how you handling emotionally recharging! 🙂
how you handle*
I would love to have a whole 'gaggle' of children. I only just got married and so I don't yet know how easy or hard it will be for us to have kids, as well as what kids look for us. But I'm looking forward to seeing what our family turns into!
I'm pregnant with my third and I've noticed peoples reactions when I tell them that this is indeed my third pregnancy. They almost gasp, like 3 is truly a big family but it's not really. I have always been happy with the thought of 3 kids my husband recently expressed a desire to have more. I was shocked at the time but I have warmed a little to the idea. I will see how I manage with three first however.
I find this a really tough one. It's such a personal decision. I love children and I love being a mum of two. I would have more but for some of the reasons that others have mentioned. Another reason that nobody has mentioned yet, and it may sound silly to some, is that I cannot help thinking of the environmental impact of having more. Even though we try to live simply, we live in a rich country and each person has a bigger impact on the planet than a person living in a developed country. We are an overpopulated world. I hope this doesn't sound like a criticism, it isn't meant that way. I love your blog.
Sorry, just realised that simplelife touched on this too
I remember discussing how many to have in relation to overpopulation/environmental Impact during mothers group with our first. One lady (now one of my besties) asked if anyone had considered that angle. After everyone had their (somewhat heated say) she reminded us that she was in a same sex relationship, and added the neither the babies father, nor his partner were planning to have their own family, so the way she saw it as there were 4 parents they could have 4 kids and still be carbon neutral!!!! It still makes me giggle. For the record the have 3 so far!!
I have always loved big families too. The happy chaos. I'm also thinking of the Darling Buds of May. When we started having children, though, I wasn't sure I wanted a second child let alone more. Then we had our second child and I didn't want to stop.
However, I saw a mum at the park the other day with an older child and a newborn. She wasn't struggling or any of that, but I just thought "No, I'm done".
I literally weep thinking I will never hold a baby inside me again, never watch their tiny faces and wonder who they are going to be. But I have health issues and already feel bad for not being able to be fully present with my two now, let alone share with more.
A friend of mine who has four has mentioned about the comments. I would never have three, but would have four. I just like the balance of even numbers I guess…
Enjoy your big families you all! Know I am envious (but also content).
I have to agree with what littlecatherine said. Being a mom is something I love more than anything else. I became a mom right away and it feels like the most natural thing to me. I am still breastfeeding my 20 month baby (bedtime only) and I do want him to have a sibling. Now large tribes is something very appealing for me but I also have BIG concerns regarding the environmental impact of each of us, even if we live very simply (and we do) we still have an impact on the environment. And looking at the demography in the world….well I can not see how All billions of us are going to be able to live on Earth. Finding a home is already tricky for a lot of people. Our food is already highly polluted. I know people who have made the choice of not having children for ecological reasons, it may sound a bit absurd but I know they have a point. There is an estimate of 4.3 birth every second in the world (study from 2013). I think large families must be a lot of fun but I think 2 will be good for us. Now these are very personal decisions and respect is the key word 🙂
I have 5 children, ages 1 through 15. There is no question that it's a struggle sometimes and not everyone is cut out for this lifestyle. But we have a lot of fun together. I feel like we have our own little community, right here within our house. Strangers do give us looks and make stupid comments sometimes and ascribe all sorts of interesting and amusing attributes to us without any knowledge of us at all, apart from the number of children we have. Most of the time their assumptions are so off base it's hilarious. I wrote a bit about the experience of being a "mother of many" in a 1-2 child world last year: http://www.littlehomeblessings.com/?p=9165 .
My husband and I also stopped at two for ecological reasons…and I'm so glad to read here that we aren't the only couple to take this issue into consideration. The global population explosion is a real and serious issue. To be sustainable global citizens, this issue needs to be addressed. It's hard to talk about…most of the people in my family have chosen to raise large families and they are very uncomfortable with my thoughts on this issue. But how can we continue to ignore this reality?
I'd love more kids, I always said I wanted four! But unfortunately it's just not to be, and I'm learning to let go of that dream and count myself incredibly lucky that I was able to have my twins at all. A gaggle of kids sounds like a great plan, go for it! xx
That's beautiful, Jessica!
Ah Jodi, I have 8 children and it was not a decision that many people in our lives agreed with at the time, especially when they were young. Now my oldest is 20 and my youngest is 6 and I'm so glad that we did what we believed to be right. The biggest change in dynamic was that of moving from 2 to 3 children. As soon as you are 'outnumbered' things become different. You could say harder but I prefer the phrase rewarding! If you can adapt to life as parents of three then you can adapt to life as parents of six, the two to three children jump is by far the most challenging I found – and in turn, most rewarding x
We have two girls 4 and 2 and when I think with my heart I would love another, when I think with my head we're done. For us it is financial and the extra pressure that another child would bring. My husband is one of three boys and I am one of four girls. I always wanted lots of children and it makes me feel sad when I think I will never experience another pregnancy, labour (yes labour), newborn stage but in saying that I am completely in love and very grateful for my girls. I've loved reading all the comments and thoughts x
We have four kids aged 1,2,6,7. We get a lot of negative comments from family, friends and complete strangers. One coles employee saw me walking along and stopped me to ask "don't ya have a tv?" What? When we told my mother in law we were thinking of having a fourth ( herself a mother of 4) she responded with "why would you do it to yourselves?" We recently visited family on the Gold Coast. They mustn't do large families there because people were constantly gaping with open mouths and pointing. Our kids are almost always beautifully behaved, and are usually well dressed and fairly clean and tidy. When we had Rupert, we swore that would be our last…. But I'm starting to get clucky again!!! And my one and only girl is desperate for a sister. Knowing my luck, we would end up with twin boys!!
Ah Jodi, I love this post!
I am one of two, as is my husband, and as yet we don't have any. But growing up, I had friends who were 1 of 4 and I used to be the nanny for a family of 7 and I absolutely adored the chaos! Whenever I think back I remember love, laughter, happiness and warmth! Although I want 4, my husband isn't sure, so who knows what we'll end up with -I'm still holding out hope for 4!
Thank you for your post!
I'm 23 years old, have a 5 month old and we are working on our second. We believe birth control is not the way for us. We would love to have a big family and view
Children as a blessing from the Lord! That being said, it is still very scary sometimes. I truly believe that I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me. Everyone keeps telling us that 2 are so hard, and we will change our minds. Maybe we will, we shall see. But I do wish more people would be encouraging and supportive of having lots of kids like- this will be long and hard but you can do it!! Instead of: you're crazy and you won't make it.