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The Lifestyle of Large Families

Updated on July 15, 2013

Define "Large"

In some circles, two's company and three's a crowd. In others, it's cheaper by the dozen. Defining what number is the cut-off for "large" is mostly irrelevant for this discussion because what's true for large families is just truer for larger families. As the second of five children, I hope to provide some insightful and entertaining commentary from an insider perspective that begs questions like: "Is having more kids worth it?", "Where's the best line to draw?", or maybe even, "What have I done?" So whether you and your spouse are deciding when enough should be enough, or you just want to hear more about what life is like in large families, take a peek below at the COSTS and the GAINS, and then get in on the discussion yourself.

The Cost

More kids = more money. That's easy math. But money isn't the only cost to consider. I've compiled a short list of some of the sacrifices large families have to make. Instead of throwing a bunch of numbers at you (because there are so many extraneous variables like lifestyle choices to consider with finances), I'd rather just bring your attention to a few of the categories that are affected when living in large families. But don't be disheartened! There are also some "gains" to follow later!

1) Eating - You may want to get a Sam's card. And while you're at it, grab two grocery carts. Turn Tuesday into "Spaghetti Night," and pray to God you don't have all boys. Large families can really put it away.

2) Housing/Utilities - Large families use large amounts of... well, everything. Bunk beds, five minute showers, and lights out by an early hour are all good strategies to employ.

3) Vacations - You might as well forget about Disneyworld. You may even have to take your kids by the airport every now and then just to show them what planes are like so they don't grow up wondering how people go on vacations without taking long road trips everywhere.

3) Individual Attention - Not that cuddle time isn't ever an option in large families, but there are only so many laps to go around. Kids can also get away with more when less attention is being paid to them. Now would be a good time to grow eyes in the back of your head, mom.

4) Child Care - Large families are definitely NOT cheaper by the dozen. You can actually save lots of money by having mom stay at home to take care of whoever isn't old enough for school. Make sure grandma isn't too far off either, and don't forget to make nice with neighbors who have responsible, teenage daughters.

5) Education - Having more brothers and sisters doesn't make you any dumber (although that depends on who you ask...). It just means mom and dad may not cover full tuition for college. Talk about motivation for scholarships and getting a J-O-B!

6) Transportation - Nobody's too cool for a mini-van. Although a 15-passenger van... that may be pushing it. With large families, not only will you have to consider the type of vehicle, but also the time and gas required to cart kids around to school, practice, plays, birthdays, games, you name it. You'll get to know the local gas stations pretty well.

How Many Siblings Do You Have?

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How Many Siblings Do You WISH You Had?

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The Gain

Yes, I'm aware that there are a lot of "costs" to having large families, but that does not mean that the costs automatically outweigh the gains! There are also plenty of things to love about being in large families, including the following.

1) More Love to Go Around - Sure, more arms could mean more fist fights, but they can also mean more hugs! Every family has their struggles, but happiness is contagious, and sometimes it only takes one to get the love flowing in the whole room.

2) Support System - One thing that's true about large families is that there is always someone there. That could be seen as a "cost" in some circumstances, but it is also a huge comfort to know that there will always be plenty of people to be there for you in tough times.

3) Self-Sufficient Children - Let's face it. You're only one person. Kids in large families have to learn how to take care of themselves sometimes. This often leads to a more rapid development of healthy levels of independence and self-sufficiency that prepares them to take life head-on when they get older.

4) Appreciation of the Little Things - Large families cannot always afford the finer things in life, but neither can 98% of the rest of the world! Learning to appreciate the little things will help them flourish socially and learn to count their blessings in any situation.

5) Never a Dull Moment - There's always something going on. Again, potentially a "cost" if the something is annoying, dangerous, or illegal, but it also makes for some pretty great stories when you're older. You will learn to look back and cherish memories of experiences you would not have had if there weren't so many darn people around!

6) More People to Take Care of You When You're Older - It at least improves your odds! You can bet that there will be someone... surely someone... to look after you in your old age. Even though large families tend to be spread out on the map as the kids move out and move on, they still look after their own.


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