I’m not exactly sure when we crossed the line from an “average-sized” family to a “large” one, but I will tell you that when people see my family of six in public, we are frequently met with comments of the “whoa… YIKES” variety.
“You’ve got your hands full!”
“You’re busy, aren’t you!?”
“Better you than me!”
“Are they all yours?”
I’ve even had strangers question our birth control choices and suggest we permanently solve that “problem” (yes, really). Buuuuuut that’s another topic for another day.
The comments don’t bother me, really. But at times, they do cause me to question, “when did having more than 2.5 kids become a bad thing?” Sure, some days can be super overwhelming, and having a house full of young kids can cause all sorts of chaos and challenges.
But when push comes to shove, I don’t just survive having a large family, I LOVE having a large family.
Beyond the obvious blessings that come with having children, regardless of how many you have, we’ve discovered 5 unexpected benefits of having a large family.
- Your house is never perfectly clean, but you’ve learned not to care: I love having a clean house. I love Joanna Gaines inspired decor and beautiful white furniture and shiny, spotless hardwood floors. But when you have multiple young kids, trying to keep a spotless house really is like brushing your teeth and eating Oreos at the same time. As soon as you have one corner clean, the other side of the house is a disaster. This realization has helped me to let go of a lot of expectations I have for how my house “should” look. Instead, I decided that as long as the kids are awake, the house is probably going to be a bit of a disaster, so I’m finding myself playing on the ground with them instead of trying to stay caught up. I can catch up when they go to bed… or when they turn 18. This same shift in mindset can be applied to lots of other areas: cooking beautiful meals, hosting perfect parties, getting anywhere on time, getting kids potty trained by a certain age, looking “put together”… the more people demanding your attention, the more you have to prioritize the things that really matter to you.
- We have fewer things and go fewer places, but we have more quality time: When you have a large family, it’s just plain hard to get everyone in the car and go places. Beyond that, things like going out to eat or outings to trampoline jump parks get really expensive really quickly. Additionally, money is a bit tighter, so we can’t keep up with the Joneses in just about any area. I used to see this as a sacrifice in having a large family, but I’m slowly realizing what a gift it is. Kids don’t need extravagant outings or fancy toys. We don’t need to eat out or go on huge vacations. I certainly don’t think there’s anything wrong with being able to give your kids these experiences or things, but we’ve realized that the less we focus on those GOOD things, the more we get to focus on the BEST things. Without the ability to go places or buy things, we spend a lot of time at home, together. And that time together is simply the best.
- There’s lots of fighting, but lots of forgiving: Where there are lots of people, there are lots of conflicts. The more personalities and preferences you stick in 1,000 square feet, the more likely you are to have two people run into and offend one another. Someone is always fighting. This is tough, and can be extremely draining, but the long-term benefits are amazing. Conflict resolution is an incredibly essential life tool, and the more you practice, the better you get. Plus, in our home and faith, we place a huge value on forgiveness, and there’s no better place to learn that skill than within the safety of your own home. Forgiveness strengthens relationships and builds character. It’s hard to explain, but there’s something about the security of knowing that no matter how much we disagree, we still love one another and are here for one another that makes me okay with the
occasionalcontinual discord. We are building character.
- There’s more work to be done, but more hands to do the work: On this point, I’m no expert, as my oldest child is only five. However, I can already see that as my children get older, our home will not function unless it’s “all hands on deck” in getting daily tasks done. Large families simply cannot survive unless there is a team mentality, and we are working on fostering this from an early age. This has to be done with grace and flexibility, of course (see #1), but it is only to their benefit that they learn “many hands make light work.”
- Someone is always crying, but someone is always laughing: Yes, it can be easy to focus on the fact that when you have numerous kids, there’s probably always someone crying, whining, or complaining. But, by that same vein, when you have a large family, there’s always someone laughing. There’s always something to celebrate. There’s always someone acting goofy. There’s always someone saying something positive. There’s always someone having fun and inviting others to join them. Yes, there are days where my house is FULL of screaming and crying, but the days when it’s FULL of belly laughter make the screaming days 100% worth it.
So others can think what they like, but I personally love having a large family. The benefits are lifelong and oh-so beautiful.
And yes, my hands ARE full.
But oh, friend, so is my HEART.