“Are you done yet?” After a cordial hello how are you, greeting, we’re then met with that direct and curious question my family hears quite often. Who in this day and age has a family with 9 children?! Sure, you could watch the amazing families on TV who are famous for their multiple children and the lives they lead, but what about the families in your own home town? We’re just like the neighbors next door, but we happen to celebrate more birthdays, more chairs around the dining room table, and believe it or not… more love and compassion to feel for each other.
“Hey guys, get up at 7:30 in the morning. Who has chickens?”: the redundant yet, necessary inquiries of the final words as the family winds down for the night and what to do first thing once the new day begins. Mom and Dad retreat to their bedroom; as they’re about to turn out the lights, the six month old is falling asleep nursing on mom’s side, the three year old has her blanket wrapped all around her, nestled into the crook of her daddy’s arm, and one by one, the older children come to say good night. A simple but much needed hug and kiss, they retreat to their rooms or sheepishly ask (the seven year old) if he can sleep in Mom and Dad’s room. The 16 year old who shares a room with her six year old sister walks in proclaiming, “It’s weird to go to bed without seeing you first and saying goodnight,” and gives Mom and Dad a brief, but intentional and meaningful good night blessing.
As the new day begins, each child, when they are of an age to begin to help out with a chore – usually around age three – they are expected to partake in the household’s daily chores. The children are assigned daily tasks in which they rotate through. Since the children are homeschooled, there’s flexibility to wake times and it’s basically contingent on how Mom’s day went. It’s much easier on Mom when she decided not to have her child’s sleep schedule dictate her schedule. She is the adult after all.
With that, each morning begins with a nutrient-dense breakfast shake with their daily vitamins. The “kitchen kids” prepare, serve, and clean up “breakfast”.
By the time breakfast is over, Mom and Dad are joining the kids to start the day. We go over the day’s activities, what Mom has going on, and what expectations are expected of the kids while she’s away, on a business call, or while at home preparing and teaching school time. They may have additional household chores, required reading time, told when game time is allowed, and if the older children have any errands (like taking out the garbage or a Walmart run).
Mealtime – it’s simple when you have the weekly meals planned out with who will help prepare them. Between Mom and the older four kids, with Dad helping out as needed, it eliminates the guess work and avoids the “what’s for dinner” question. Okay, let’s be real… no it doesn’t. They still ask because they get lazy and won’t read the weekly menu. And really, this doesn’t happen every single week. Mom will get preoccupied and not task someone to plan meals. That’s when it becomes a guessing game and looking in the fridge to see what can come out of the mystery ingredients in about 30 minutes or so.
Of course there are disagreements. Some children get along better than others. As a matter of fact, two of our boys insisted that they change their birthdate in order to be considered twins. Whereas another child pretty much wants to avoid being in the same room with one particular sibling! Either way, respect, kindness, helpfulness, and compassion is ALWAYS encouraged – especially during disagreements. In all honesty, major fights between any of the kids happen pretty rarely. Sure, you’ll have that tattle-tail kid, the one who only comes to you when they want something, and then you’ll have one who just wants to be near because they really do love your presence. That’s pretty cool.
Is it hard? No, not since setting our family standards and expectations during their early childhood. Now, it’s “normal” for them. Chores are normal, sharing a room is normal, helping cook and prepare meals is normal, acting silly and having a “black out night” with music and strobe lights for “fun” is normal. When the older kids want to go to youth group and hang out with friends, driving the minivan or 15 passenger van is normal. Sitting and reading with each other is normal.
Shopping at a thrift shop and scoring lightly used name brand clothing for a fraction of the cost is normal. And who in the world can resist baby sister? Absolutely nobody in this family!
At the end of the day, the kitchen is cleaned up, Mom and Dad aren’t stressed out about home life (work, however is another ordeal), those who need a bath – mostly get one and everyone is safe. Mom and Dad co-sleep with the two youngest girls, while everyone else shares a room with a sibling – save the oldest who has a room in the basement and no one likes basement spiders – so he’s happy. Every once in a while, we’ll have sleepovers in Mom and Dad’s room, just because they want to be by Mom and Dad – and that’s perfectly fine with us.
And yes… screen time exists in our house.
There’s no denying it, apologizing for it, feeling regretful about it, or anything negative about letting the children have some screen time. They have three game systems, two of them courtesy of their Nana as a house warming gift. And yes, Mom even uses it as some “get away time”, time to let the children be children, enjoy their games while Mom has some peaceful time to herself to do what she wants to do, whether it’s taking a nap, working on the computer, snuggling with baby, or simply some alone time with Dad. Kids… go play Xbox!
This is our day, our life, and our family. Are we done yet?
When you have a newborn baby looking into your soul with their perfect little eyes, there will never come a time when you don’t want that child in your life. We can’t imagine our lives without any of the nine so far, so why would we even consider snuffing that possibility from our future? – A husband and wife’s realization… after number seven 🙂
Are you thinking about having a lot of children, but how to afford them? Here are 10 Ways to Budget Before Baby to start off on the right foot.
Photo credits: AndiL.