Life in a Large Family

Leah Outten  @thegracebond
September 26, 2016  | Last Updated: September 26, 2016

I grew up as basically an only child, my siblings not arriving until I was 10 and 13 years old — and even then I didn't live with them except every other weekend. My childhood was very much different from the one my own children have now. Growing up I wished for siblings to play with, and a larger family life has always intrigued me. You know we've all peeked into the Duggar's home via television in curiosity! This is the honest little peek into ours.

While we are certainly not Duggar size, our larger-than-average family of four-going-on-five looks like this daily:


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There's a lot of noise

It's chaotic 90 percent of the time. Someone is nearly always interrupting, crying, or making weird fart noises. We're constantly learning the value of waiting our turn to speak or that some noises are truly unnecessary to make.

Organization and lists are key

I am slowly, very slowly, learning this to help improve our household function — and truthfully my happiness. I am happier when things are in their place and our day has some order, which makes me a better mom, but it still is impossible to keep on top of everything all the time. I keep a command center to organize all the book bags in cubbies, school papers in files, a white board for today's chores, and some printable checklists so the kids know what they need to do before free time after school. Organization has been a game changer to help me and my kids know where to put things back instead of just chunking it behind the couch in a massive pile (true story).

Everyone has a small job

Another thing I'm learning as I go and as my children become more capable -- letting go of doing it all myself and recruiting this little army I've built myself! While the one-year-old doesn't do much yet except help pick up toys, my five- and nine-year olds are my new sanity savers, folding their own laundry and working together to empty the dishwasher. Chores are now how they earn technology time — muhaha!

The laundry is never done

The toddler smeared her poop on her pants while digging in her diaper (daily — not even kidding) or husband brings home a bag of stinky workout clothes along with his normal work clothes he changes out of (that's three outfits in one day, y’all). Plus, the towels and kitchen rags we go through. It never ends. Don't even talk to me about keeping everything folded and put away. At least it's clean — most of the time?

The dishes breed themselves

Multiply three meals times five to six people per meal depending on the day — gesh that's a lot of plates. Yes, I finally invested in some fine china called paper plates to lessen my load as a larger family momma, even though it hurts the hippie in me. It builds in the blink of an eye. My sink is never empty.


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Okay, really nothing is 100 percent clean. Ever.

It gets undone immediately with new food splattered on the freshly mopped floor or crumbs crunched into the van carpet. There is always a stray toy or underwear on the floor. And as I type, my toddler just pulled out the books I had stacked neatly on my office shelf. I just can't keep up despite us all having tasks. If you ever visit — give us some grace.

Our car is filled to the max

If you ever need a ride, sorry. We're filled to capacity! Bring on the Diono car seats. They are the only ones that will help us fit five car seats or boosters into our van. It's either that or buy a twelve passenger van. Yikes. Man, that's a lot of seats.

We fight and yell

With all the noise going on, it feels like everyone has to yell to get heard. Especially with a son who loves to instigate, there seems to be extra fighting when he's in his pest mode. The truth is, no one is going to get along with someone all the time, and a large family magnifies that.

There's always someone to play with

Playdates are great and all, we love them, but it so nice to have built in playmates right here without even leaving or feeling the pressure to clean the toilets before someone comes over. Ya know, when they aren't fighting over a toy.

We have helpers

In many ways having more children actually is easier because we have built in helpers for the smaller tasks. My older children truly love to help their little siblings, whether it is picking out their outfit or helping them at the play area. They take pride in it, and it over joys my soul to see them show love and responsibility!

We love

We may yell, but there is a whole lot of love, too. I adore getting glimpses of my children sweetly playing or working together on a task to remind me why I've done this mommy thing going on five times over. It's worth it; it really is.

Maybe this isn't all unique to our family size, but it certainly is different than growing up as essentially an only child personally. I'm learning how to function living in a larger group, just as much as they are. This world is all new to me. As an only child I didn't experience the world of sharing constantly or the life tasks that my kids are learning at an early age — like folding their own clothes. It was always done for me because it was just the two of us, my mom and I. I am seeing the fruits of my labor as my children grow. Yes, I get overwhelmed at the messes and noise some moments, but I know one day they will be ready for the world and their own families because they've had good practice in their childhood.

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