But what I really don't understand is how parents manage all those kids!
Well, I can not speak for all parents but I can say that in our home we use a combination of means to keep order. I have a huge schedule that is about 4 feet wide and three feet long. Across the top are the days of the week and down the side are the chores and under each day of the week is the name of the person who is responsible for that job. Some parents prefer to just ask whomever is around to do the job that is needed but I found that when I did it like that, that I often ended up asking the same kids over and over. It seemed as if a few of my children were born with extra sensitive antennae that allowed them to figure out when I was about to look for someone to was dishes, change the garbage or a diaper, and they would simply vanish.
So I came up with a schedule that offers variety, but is rarely changed. As children get older and can handle more chores, than I take the time to update the chart but as it is a very large chart - it is not a chore I am eager to tackle. (Even mums can be lazy too!)
I also have competitions that allow kids to earn movie nights by winning chore races. If you earn a movie night – you get to select the movie we watch as well as what treats we have. We also can earn points with clean rooms that allow us to have a special treat on Friday nights.
As we are coming up to Advent, many of the children are doing extra chores to earn extra points so that they can buy treats from my treat box with their points to give to the sibling that they are the secret angel to.
Every Thanksgiving we draw names from a bag or basket and we keep drawing until everyone has pulled a name that is not theirs out of the basket. So if the oldest daughter, Amanda, pulls the baby’s name, Elsa, from the basket she is then the secret angel to that child and will leave little treats and gifts though out the weeks of Advent for Elsa to find – usually on Elsa’s pillow. She also prays for that child and does acts of charity for her. For example a secret angel might slip into their person’s room and make their bed in secret.
Then for Christmas, Amanda will buy a gift only for Elsa and Elsa will give a gift to the person she is secret angel to. (As she is the baby, I will do this for her.)
But even with all of these schemes to keep order in our home, we still experience chaos on a fairly regular basis. Have any of you watched the Home Alone movies? Well, the general bedlam that you see as the two families rush out the door to leave for the airport is the typical morning scene at our home as we zero into the last minutes before take off time in our 15 passenger van for daily 7 am Mass. We try to go to daily Mass as it really helps to have these additional graces but, to be honest, we do not always make it every day of the week
I wonder what the house sounds like, because in mine it’s not the quietest.
Some families on TV don’t fight and that is so weird to me because my families always fight, I sometimes wish that my house could be very quiet.
When we first moved to this house – I thought I would lose my mind. I even considered looking for a different house because this house has plaster walls that echo and echo and echo and echo…. But we adjusted to it.
Something that I do from time to time is enforce a quiet time, especially when the baby is napping. At that time each child is asked to take a book to their room and read or look at the pictures if they are not reading yet. Other times we put a movie on and sit quietly together to watch it and the baby will nurse and eventually fall asleep in my arms. It is very peaceful when we do this and we all enjoy it.
But typically there is always a back ground hum going on. Someone will be practicing on the piano, someone else will be listening (at the same time) to their favourite artist on Rhapsody while another person is playing a computer game what is bleeping and dinging. Occasionally a little one’s voice rises in an argument with another sibling over all of this music. Sometimes I put headphones on and listen to a radio program while I work at the computer so that I can concentrate. And sometimes it is very, very quiet. And that usually means trouble is brewing somewhere. (And yes I agree, families that don’t fight, argue or have disagreements on TV are not normal! Learning how to settle differences of opinion is an important skill to learn in life.)
What kind of job does your husband have to support 12 kids? I think that the amount of grace God has given your family is amazing.
My husband used to work for a very large telecommunications company, NORTEL. Then the high tech bubble collapsed and many people were laid off. My husband was one of the last to be laid off from his company so by then – there were no jobs left in his area of expertise. So he took a hobby of his and turned it into a business. We lost our home and our van and we have had to build our life completely back up from scratch. We are still struggling. We only have eight children still at home but it is still a lot of people to support. Our oldest sons have made a lot of sacrifice to help the family. Our son who is 20 has stayed home and not pursued further education so as to help his father with the business. Recently we learned that he has a serious heart condition which was very hard for him as his dream was to eventually join the army. Now he might not be ever able to do this. Still, he works hard to help us and is trying to discern what is God’s will in his life. Hopefully he will completely recover from this heart condition. Our oldest son has taken two semesters off from his University studies to help with the business and is hoping to be able to continue to help us with the bills next semester with a part time job while he finishes his last semester at college. Our oldest girls have helped whenever they can in little ways and they have certainly prayed a lot for us.
The past six years of our life has been a very long test of faith and we have been blessed with the opportunity to actually see ourselves grow in faith. It has not been easy and sometimes we have felt that our faith has failed us greatly - only to be given the graces we needed to get up, dust ourselves off and start yet again. And each time it has been just a little bit easier. What has kept us going is that we have tried to remember that God never gives us more than we can handle. And sometimes – it is ok to get angry with God and demand more graces. Just two weeks ago – I cried out to God that He must absolutely give me more graces if He wanted me to carry this cross any further because I was falling! Never be afraid to call on God for help, never be afraid to tell Him “I can’t do it, YOU must carry me now!” I have had to do this a lot the past six years and I have realized that I will have to keep doing this the rest of my life. I simply can not do this alone – Jesus and Mary are my partners. Mary prays for me and Jesus gives me the graces through her prayers.
Is it a hassle to have that many kids??? But I bet it’s a blessing to have so many kids.
Is this many kids a hassle? Not really, but making 30 or more sandwiches can be a hassle. Keeping track of the number of socks we need – can be a hassle. Trying not to lose any of them (the children, not the socks) at the zoo – can be a hassle. Settling the numerous arguments can be a really big hassle. But every single hassle is more than worth it for we are paid over and over in love and blessings. I am almost 46 but I feel as though I am still in my late twenties or early thirties. I am so very, very blessed. There is always someone nearby me to hug and kiss or to hug and kiss me, or to remind me in no small way of God’s love for me.
Now if I was this mom I would really want a couple of priests and nuns out of such a big family.
We are praying that we have a few vocations out of our family. My husband and I think it would be very strange if we did not. Besides if ALL of them got married and even only had four children each, we would have 48 grandchildren, and if the average number was 5 than we would have 60 grandchildren - and I am not sure I could remember that many names. Whatever happens, I think I will be needing a very large calendar to be able to record all of the special dates and occasions that we will be able to look forward to as grand parents, and hopefully also as the parents of some members of the religious.
I sometimes feel like my moms only paying attention to my sisters or my brothers. With your family that would be super hard.
I think that this is super hard, even when you only have four children as each child is an individual and brings his and her own needs to the family. These can greatly vary. When we still only had four children our youngest had serious food allergies that were affecting his behavior that required us to focus a lot on him. Sometimes the other children felt very jealous and did not understand why the family rules did not always apply to him. As adults now, they understand but then – it was very difficult. It was also very difficult for us.
Still we made an effort to compensate and have from time to time, we have made the effort to take one child at a time out once a week, so that each child had an opportunity to spend time alone with one of their parents. We have not done this as much lately, because with the family business there has often been the occasion to take children, in small numbers, on business trips. Sometimes they have even been able to go alone with their father on long trips or short day trips. We are continuously adapting and changing how we do things based on where and what we perceive the greatest needs to be. Again – this is where our need for God’s graces comes in. We are able to gain the graces we need through attending Mass, receiving Holy Communion and also through Confession. We try to take advantage of these sacraments as much as possible.
But in addition to this, we have also told the children that it is important to tell us when they are feeling alone and ignored. We have told them – “We are only human and sometimes we are not aware of what you are feeling so please, please tell us when you feel you need sometime alone with us.” This has helped because sometimes a child has done this and occasionally – it has been an adult child who has come and said – “I need to talk, there is something wrong between us and I want to fix it.”
I don’t know if they would have been able to do that if we had not made them, when they were children, partly responsible for the relationship between them and ourselves.
I think I have covered all of the questions that came up in the comments. And I want to thank you all again for the wonderful comments you shared about your thoughts about my article on family life and discerning family size.
I hope and pray that all of you have a peaceful Advent season and a wonderful Christmas.
mum2twelve aka Christi