Productivity and making something work for now can take some creativity as a larger family. I talked with other moms with various family sizes on how we make our budgets, our homes, and schedules work for us.
These are our confessions.
My baby slept in our master bathroom
When we welcomed our fourth addition into a 1,500-square-foot town home with three bedrooms, we were a wee cramped in space. With our, then, 2-year-old still needing the crib and her own room and the two older kids sharing a room, our youngest child camped out in our master bathroom for several months in a portable crib, or the Rock ‘n Play. Coincidently enough, she has been our best sleeping baby yet! I loved that she was still very close to me but not so close that I would wake up with those tiny baby grunts or every move she made.
My toddler slept in a closet
When our third child was ready to move out of the crib so that our fourth could take over the nursery (and no longer be in our bathroom!) she moved to a closet. Yup. A hall closet. To be fair, this hall closet was basically a little room, complete with a window, a vent, and some built-in shelving that my sweet husband and father-in-law built for me. It even had purple paint and a nice lighting fixture! It was my little reading and writing nook, until we realized it was the perfect width to fit a crib mattress. We moved an extra mattress and her toddler covers in there and voilà! – the tiniest fourth bedroom you ever did see.
Apparently, I'm not the only one who uses walk-in closets creatively either. I have a dear friend with four kids, and her youngest sleeps in the master bedroom closet. One day when they arrived home from a trip she squealed with glee, “My closet!” I guess small spaces make them feel safe.
I cloth diapered to save money – and then stopped
I was so excited to start cloth diapering when I made my transition to a “crunchy” mom. I bought them when my first was around 18 months old and continued to cloth diaper through our third child up until about a year old. When our fourth arrived, I tried, I really did. But, I just couldn't keep up with laundry for six people on top of doing diaper laundry every other day! I'm sorry, Mother Earth and my budget. My sanity wins this round.
Our kids share a room – all seven of them
Sharing rooms and closets is extremely common in larger households. As I mentioned above, my older two shared when we had our smaller home, and now that they each have their own room in our new house they still prefer to sleep in the same room. I found three of my kids in my oldest daughter's room last night! They migrate in the middle of the night. It's so sweet.
Chantel and her family are all too familiar with room sharing, “All seven of my children share the same room, including the only boy, due to our house only being a two-bedroom. But, only for a few more days now!” I wonder if her kids will continue to share even with more space available after their move?
I dread upgrading to a conversation van
Being pregnant with our fifth child, we have had to make the decision of whether to squeeze in our current van with special car seats or to upgrade to a larger one. Though our day-to-day life in our mini-van will suffice for now, the extra space for vacation or when family visits would be very nice. Still, I felt a lot of anxiety of driving a huge van as a 4’11” mom. For now, we decided to squeeze in, but I have a feeling in a few years we may make the upgrade for more space as our kids grow.
“Missy, a momma of nine, felt the same as they made the decision to upgrade. After purchasing our 12-passenger vehicle I cried for a week – the thought of driving and parking gave me such anxiety. My husband calmly said, 'You need to do this for our family.' Almost a month later and I'm driving that beast like a pro.”
Yearly memberships make financial sense
Jessica, a mom of five, says, “Yearly memberships to zoos, museums, etc., make me happy because we end up spending the same just for one-day admission. This is so true. When you add up the cost per child and adult to get in, it just makes sense to buy an entire year's worth for nearly the same price when you have a bunch of kids! Then we can go back for free as many times as we can.”
We have to learn to let go and delegate – without expecting perfection
Brittany is a mom of four and pregnant with her fifth and has learned what I have recently: we have to delegate or we will drown. “All of my kids do chores. Even the 18-month-old. We couldn't keep up with everything if the kids didn't pitch in.”
Janet, a mom of seven, agrees but also adds that us mommas have to learn to let go of perfection while we are at it. “I have had to accept that I can't do it all myself, that I need to delegate, and that when I delegate, it won't be done 'right.' Accepting imperfect help becomes a necessity in large families!”