American culture promotes personal space, individuality, and truthfully, selfishness. From a young age babies are taught to be alone, with many parents setting up nurseries or bedrooms just for their infant. Sleep training, video monitors, and large divided floor plans in our homes is the norm. Unlike other cultures where the household or family home likely includes extended family such as grandparents, aunts and uncles, Americans families typically live in single family units. Further, shared bedrooms, and even shared bed space like co-sleeping which is ‘normal’ in many other cultures, is uncommon in the United States, and even a hot button topic frequently subject to debate. In this day and age, the majority of Americans are raised from infancy to be alone and are taught to value their privacy.
The exception to this standard way of life are the large families. If you are one, you know it…you have received stares, comments and questions as you try to load everyone up at the store. Frequently asked questions include:
- “All they all yours?”
- Response: No, I borrowed some just to come grocery shopping because that’s fun.
- “Are you going to buy ALL of that (usually food of some sort)?”
- Response: No, I was just overloading my cart while wearing my 7-month-old as my 6-year-old is tackling my 3-year-old who is running away because the cart is too full for me to contain him.
- “Did you mean to have ALL of them?”
- Response: *Shoulder shrug.
- “How do you plan to afford college?”
- Response: Hopefully we win the lottery…?
While having more than 3 children is considered large by many, having four or more is definitely outside the realm of the typical American household. With more kids and usually a similar amount of space, there are more shared bedrooms, less privacy, and arguably more responsibilities granted the children in the family. There is also a lot more juggling of schedules, pre-planning, and inclusion of younger kids in activities typically suited for older children. But, just as all families and households must find a balance, so too must those with lots of kids of many different ages.
Children raised in large families learn early on:
- Responsibility is a both an expected character trait and a virtue. Being responsible for yourself and your siblings is a must.
- Friendship and loyalty begin at home. Whether you love or hate your brother that day, he will always be there for you.
- Act like a role model for someone smaller is always watching.
- Your parents and siblings really are your biggest fans, while you may fight at home, heaven help the outsider who decides to trash talk your brother.
- Togetherness is entertaining, being alone is boring. All-inclusive large family activities are usually loud, busy and chaotic, but so much fun!
As the oldest of 5 children and a mother of 4 boys (yes, in fact we are Catholic), large family activities are simply my way of life. As such, organization, planning, scheduling and preparedness are all mandatory to ensure everyone’s enjoyment, safety, and sanity (specifically mom’s). Inclusion is key, and while toting your younger children around to every soccer game, fall festival and boy scout meeting may not seem ideal, it truly teaches life lessons like no other. With the right gear, the right attitude, and the knowledge that togetherness really is best for your kiddos social and emotional development, enjoy these fast-paced days as a family because one thing is for sure, they won't last forever.
Here is some of the best gear for large families we could find to get you out and about with ALL of your kids this Fall.
The question I am most frequently asked as a “large family” mom of four is simply how I do it? But the answer is easy…because it is my life. I was born to be a mom, raised to be a mom, and now, I am actually a mom. Family size is all about free choice…whether you are a mom of one or a mom of more, love your family big or small and relish in each and every opportunity you have to spend with these incredible little people. Life can be simple, it is an amazing adventure and these large family must haves will make things just a bit more convenient and enjoyable this season allowing you to include everyone, making this a fabulous fall for your whole family.
Headed out with ALL those kids for the perfect pumpkin patch photo? Spending the day at the corn maze? Check out one mom's thoughts on How to Handle Fall Activities Like a Boss.
Photo Credits: KVdesigns