Any parent will tell you that having even one kid can be a handful. You’re responsible for a whole other person’s life day in and day out for around 18 years or more – and then you need to prepare them to take on the big bad world all alone. Parenting can be daunting, and even more so for those with several kids to care for.
Whether you’re struggling with the daily life of raising multiple children or just know that you’d love to be surrounded by kids someday, here are 6 secrets to an easier life with a large family.
1. Get Organized
Getting organized takes the number one spot for a reason – it is absolutely crucial to the running of a hectic household. When you have several children with different needs, school schedules, social lives, and extracurriculars, you might often find yourself having to be in two places at once if you haven’t planned in advance. Time management is tricky, but it’s absolutely key.
Many parents will make use of a large calendar that’s accessible to the whole family, and spend a Sunday night talking over the plans for the week ahead. Aside from events and activities, you can also use your calendar to map out things that need to be done within the household, like chores and meal plans.
2. Make Every Penny Count
On average, raising one child from birth to adulthood is thought to cost around $233,610. At almost a quarter of a million per child, families with four or more kids may have to hope to win the lottery – or just get very good at budgeting and taking advantage of discounts and sales.
A simple spreadsheet is a good way to start with budgeting. Record your total income, making sure to account for tax, then add any regular outgoings like bills and insurance, savings goals, and other expenses. It may take a while to get your spreadsheet just right, but over time, you should develop a good idea of how much you can spend on everything from groceries and clothes, to gifts and vacations.
You’ll soon get the hang of spotting money-saving opportunities. Hang on to any coupons or store rewards cards you pick up to cut day to day costs. For bigger expenses like Christmas and birthdays, use an online discount site like Upgraded Reviews to save on everything from beauty products to travel deals.
3. All Hands on Deck
The beauty of a large family is that there are more hands available to keep the household running smoothly, and learning about responsibility at a young age will teach kids invaluable life skills.
Chore wheels are a popular choice as they keep things fair by rotating daily or weekly chores, so there’s no bickering over who always has the worst jobs.
It’s also a good idea to set individual responsibilities for each child, like keeping track of their own belongings. Lisa Pennington, a mom to nine kids, suggests assigning each family member a color to make life easier. Her kids each have their own schoolbag, towel, plate, cup, and so on, all color-coded so that everyone knows which dishes they need to wash and who needs to pick their towels up off the floor.
4. Delegate or Ask for Help
If running a big household is too overwhelming, there’s no rule that says you have to do it all yourself. Modern life means that we each have our own homes, but many would argue that we were never meant to raise families alone. As the saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child.”
If it’s within your means, you could hire some help around the house, even if it’s just getting someone in for an hour a week to help with the mountain of laundry that families of all sizes seem to generate. Otherwise, see if you can turn to relatives, like your kids’ favorite aunt and uncle, to take them out for a day while you get on top of the housework and life admin.
5. Parenting Dream Team
If you’re raising your family with a spouse or partner, communication is key. You need to be on the same page and get really good at checking in with each other, and the kids need to see you as a team – there can be no default parent. Just like your kids are sharing responsibilities, make sure you and your co-parent are equally positioned as heads of your household.
If you’re going to be an effective team, it’s also important that you make some time for each other. Among all the madness, try to keep up your date nights, even if that just means a take-out and a movie after the kids are in bed. It will do you both a world of good – after all, your love is what brought this family together.
6. Enjoy the Little Moments
With so many people under one roof, it can be easy to get caught up in just keeping the machine running and everyone surviving. But it’s a safe bet that you started this family because you wanted to bring more love into this world – so it’s important to slow down and appreciate all that love.
As hard as it is to find time with a big family, seize those moments when you can. Remind yourself to be present, and spend a half-hour here and there giving each kid your undivided attention. When they’re little, you are their world, and even if they can’t articulate it yet, playing a board game, reading a favorite book, or making you laugh about the funny thing that happened at school today, will mean so much to them.
At the end of the day, if everyone is safe, healthy, and happy, you’re doing a great job. Your kids may not remember whether they always had matching socks or if they always made it to soccer practice on time, but they will remember being loved, and all those little moments will add up to create lifelong memories of a happy childhood. The best thing is, your beautiful brood of kids will grow up alongside their best friends, and they’ll always have each other to share these happy memories with.