Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Large Family Checklist

If I've heard it once, I've heard it a thousand times.

 "How do you do it?" 

Five kids seems to constitute a huge family in today's world (though it's really not - I know many, many families with more children than our little five). 

So here's a few things we can't live without, in no particular order:

A tabletop griddle.  Grilled cheese, pancakes, french toast, bacon. . .When there are seven people waiting hungrily for a meal, a measly stovetop square griddle just ain't gonna cut it.

A well-running dishwasher.  I must say, we are hanging on by a thread with this one.  Ours is 14 years old, and I fear she may not be long for this world.  But she stills churns out a load every night after dinner, without fail.  If the kids are home all day (as in weekends, summer break etc.), then it is usually run twice a day.  Most pans and large items still have to be hand washed every night. But remember - we have five kids, so that doesn't mean I'm doing all that washing.

4-slot toaster.  Breakfast is so very much more pleasant when I can pop out four pieces at a time.  With seconds on toast, I only have to run it about three times a morning.

Bunk beds and lofts.  We have two lofts and one set of bunk beds. They make our average-sized bedrooms seem roomy (as does a large set of utility shelving in lieu of dressers in the boys' room - huge spacesaver).

Front loading washer/dryer.  Seven people wear a lot of clothes.  A lot of clothes.  I do laundry twice a week and our large washer/dryer set make the whole process go much more quickly.

A van/suburban.  We currently have both.  Older models, but in good shape.  Our van is not a looker, but it's paid for and utilitarian (two things I love in a vehicle).  The suburban is a thing of beauty to me, and it's plenty spacious.  

And now I'll tell you a few things that are not needed to have a large family.

A lot of money.  Yes, some money is essential.  But kids don't need to be involved in every expensive sport offered.  They don't need to have the latest Uggs and iPhone.  They don't need to have birthday parties with astronomical price tags.  They don't need trips to Mexico and Florida two to three times a year.  Are these things nice?  Absolutely.  And if you can afford to give them to your kids, great!  But they're not necessary to a person's childhood.  

Superhuman patience.  Five kids can really tax my sanity, not gonna lie.  The volume, the fighting, the constant activity and scheduling can be a lot.  But I don't have any more patience than the next person (and quite possibly less than the next person) and somehow we manage.  

Lots of spare time.  People always ask "How do you find enough time to spend with all the kids one-on-one?"  It is a challenge, but it can be done.  We are creative with carving out time with each of the kids.  This doesn't have to mean major events.  Just quality time talking or throwing a baseball or going to the grocery can be wonderful opportunities to connect.  

A huge house.  As we kept having children, people would ask "Are you going to have to move into a larger house?"  My answer continued to be "No".  Our house is 2100 square feet, with four bedrooms  and a partial basement, and it is just fine.  Sure, if a huge house were to fall into our lap, that would be great.  But who's going to clean it?  Kids can share bedrooms.  It doesn't kill them.  It might teach compromise (we're working on that).  And here's a strange phenomenon I've noticed over here.  It doesn't matter the size of your house -  your kids are going to be in the same room you are in 90% of the time anyway.  When our kids were a little younger, that meant our master bathroom.  Smallest room in the house, and everyone seemed to congregate there when we were trying to get ready in the mornings.  True story.  These days it's the family room/kitchen.  Most of the time, all of us are there, doing our various activities.  Why have all those other rooms to clean?  Might as well keep it to a minimum.  Bonus - I know what's going on when everyone is within earshot.

Okay, true confession.  We don't need all those items I listed above.  They make life easier, for sure, but we could certainly get along without them (but man!  I would miss that dishwasher!).  What we really need is love.  And grace.  And the love just grows with each child.  There never seems to be a shortage.  Being surrounded by your children (whether it's one child or nineteen) has to be one of God's greatest gifts, don't you agree?  

1 comment:

Henry Nelson said...

Amen to that blog. I always felt the same way even having only one child. We lived in a very small house and friends would say "don't you want a bigger house?". NO. We had all we needed, not even a dishwasher because I always said I married one.
Eric did not have anywhere near the toys and "things" kids have today and we all survived. However, we all ate together even if it was after a soccer game or whatever. It's so sad to see people not being "families". It's no wonder some kids have no idea what it is like to be actually loved, disciplined, and cared about these days. Of course, the main thing they are missing is God in their lives so without that who can get through life's many challenges.
Keep up the great writing.