Saturday, February 7, 2015

4 Lies People with Big Families Tell

By and large, people with big families usually think it's an awesome way to live. I've read blogs posts by moms dispelling negative misconceptions about big families, and I've known plenty of parents of 8 or 9 that cheerfully talk about how wonderful it is having a houseful of kids.

I'd be the first to agree that big families are super cool (according to many people I know, mine is one!) But in their enthusiasm, I think people with big families might be stretching the truth a little. Here, I'd like to set the record straight.

4 Lies People with Big Families Tell -- telling it like it is about large family life  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}


Lie #1: After you have 3 kids, you might as well have 10. It's not any more work.

False. I've had 5 children, and I assure you that each addition has turned our world upside-down, at least for a little while.

It's not exponentially harder to add a fourth or fifth child to the mix  you do get better at multitasking, plus you can change a diaper one-handed in the dark by that time  but bringing a new family member home from the hospital is like adding a new plush zoo animal to a crib mobile: it unbalances everything.

The way you herd everyone into the car, the way you assemble for mealtimes, the morning get-up-and-get-ready-for-school routine... none of it works the same way after you have another baby. The first 6 months postpartum is mostly scrambling to find your new normal. (If this isn't true for you, please don't tell me. It'll just make me feel bad.)

If you're simultaneously trying to juggle the needs of a toddler at the same time as your baby, good luck to you. I suppose it doesn't really matter how many older kids you've got at that point, but if you've got a baby and a toddler your life isn't going to be a walk in the park for the next 6-12 months.

Lie #2: I'm not more organized than you just because I'm the mother of a big family.

Wanna bet? If I wasn't OCD about organization, this house would disintegrate and crumble to the ground. Our life hinges on the wall of our kitchen that's been taken over by chore charts, behavior charts, sticker charts, and just about every other kind of checklist you can imagine:

4 Lies People with Big Families Tell -- telling it like it is about large family life  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Without these, life as we know it would come crashing to a halt.

I'm like a cruise director on crack trying to make sure everyone has a ride where they need to go, has finished their homework, and has gotten something to eat. Oh, yeah, and then there's that part about making sure they're developing into well-rounded people and stuff.

If my life was a movie, I'd be Ender Wiggin in the control simulator room from Ender's Game:



I'll believe you if you say that being organized isn't your natural inclination, or that you weren't all that organized before you had a bunch of kids. But if you regularly orchestrate the movement of 7 or more people into shoes and into the car, believe me, you are organized.

Lie #3: After a while, you get used to the noise.

To an extent, that might be a little true. Sometimes I'll talk over the cacophony, unaware that our house is registering on the Richter Scale. Occasionally I'll realize that a toddler's been screaming "I'm firsty!" in my ear for 5 minutes. But on the whole, I'm not used to the noise.

I still can't carry on a phone conversation when kids are flipping out in the background (that's why I end up taking most of my calls in the garage.) As a kid I never could study to music, and to this day I don't really like going to restaurants because the TV in the corner is too distracting.

It's getting worse as I get older. If I get lost in the car, I need to turn off the radio so I can see where I'm going. My kids know that when I'm stressed, silence is a necessity unless they want to forfeit all Christmas and birthday gifts for the next year. I don't think I'll ever be used to the noise.

Lie #4: As a mom of many children, I don't have any more patience than the average person.

Actually, this one is true. I probably have less.

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Unremarkable Files

16 comments:

  1. I only have two children but come from a big family (being the youngest of 9) and would agree with these. My mum was and is very organised - you need to be to keep on track with everything when you have a big family. And I can see how each time you have another child, you have a big period of readjustment - yes the basics of looking after them are something you're now used to but the family dynamic changes and that takes time to settle again. Fab post :-)

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    1. Between the two of us, you're probably the more organized one keeping track of all the appointments and medical information for your daughter's heart condition! Thanks for stopping by.

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  2. I enjoyed this post, especially as we are prepping ourselves (bracing ourselves) for baby #4.

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    1. Jeez, way to announce your pregnancy to me, Megan! Congratulations! You'll be awesome.

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  3. Haha! I've told all these lies at one time or another! :) I probably actually have less patience because having more kids!!

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  4. Good post Jenny. Now you need to do a post on the blessings of a large family and why people look at you ( or anyone) like you are NUTS when you say you have 5 kids. I remember being pregnant with my 5th and people asking "WHY?" would you do that? I mean, it has nothing to do with the fact that if people no longer had kids, our species would go extinct. hahahhaha

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    1. I've been thinking about telling people, "Just doing my part to stimulate the economy!" when they express surprise on our 5 kids.

      Back in September 2014 I wrote a post called "In Defense of Big Families" with some of my thoughts on why I want my big family.

      http://unremarkablefiles.blogspot.com/2014/09/why-so-many-kids.html

      And in November 2014 I wrote "Why 'Do You Want More Children?' Is the Wrong Question."

      http://unremarkablefiles.blogspot.com/2014/11/why-do-you-want-more-children-is-wrong.html

      You might be interested in both if you've also had 5+.

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  5. What a great insight! I do not think I would ever get use to the noise either, but would be lost with out it! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Now that you say that, on the rare days when almost everyone is out of the house, the silence is pretty creepy.

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  6. #1 is almost true for me, except that it was after #4 that things never really changed much by adding on 5, 6, and 7. This is not because a new baby didn't cause unbalance, it was because there was no balance to upset. I have been in scrambling mode for a good 8 years now! My teenage daughter will vouch for the fact that I a horribly disorganized. But, hey, why would I want to step on her toes when she does it so much better than I do. I am just hoping one of the littles has the personality to take over for her when she goes to college in a few years!

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  7. Two, that's all I wanted and all I had. After the second one I looked at the Hubs and said "They will out number us if we keep going" I think I must have sounded like the girl out of a horror movie as the Hubs did his thing and we stuck to two!!!!! My mother was from a family of 12!!!!! 12!!!!!! I remember family gatherings, they were CRAZY!!!!!!! I am good with two, and I think you are AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!! BRAVO!!!!!

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  8. Love #4 - I had to just laugh. I grew up with five brothers, and I remember telling my mom that our house was "dirty" compared to the neighbors who had fewer children and they had girls who were very helpful around the house. I think I made my mom cry that day - poor thing. Big families do have some advantages, but they come with challenges as well!

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    1. I love having a houseful. But it ain't clean.

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  9. Great post! I have three children and although not 19, people make it seem as if I have a ton of kids. I have been asked if they are ALL mine. Can you believe that? I cannot imagine what rude comments questions you have heard with 5 babies, that would make a great post!
    I love that you have a wall in your kitchen "command center" ;) I need one of those.
    Thanks for sharing with us at MMBH!
    XOXO

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    1. To the credit of mankind in general, I haven't received all that many rude comments. Most are shock and awe. Some are nice. A few are nosy.

      A while back I wrote up some of my responses (even if I don't say them out loud) in a post called "My Favorite Responses to Comments on My Family Size.

      http://unremarkablefiles.blogspot.com/2014/11/favorite-responses-to-comments-on-my.html

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  10. Jenny, you are just wonderful. May you never stop writing!

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