When I was a little girl I always knew I wanted at least four kids. If I was lucky, maybe 6.
Why was that?
Maybe because my parents had 4 and it was fun to have a bigger family. Though 4 is not as many kids as some of the parents in our church had – some had 8 or 9. But I knew my parents weren’t having more, they stopped at 4 because they had 2 boys and 2 girls.
When I got married to David 17 years ago, little did we know he would want 5 kids too. In fact, we really didn’t talk about how many children we wanted – we just focused on going to school and getting our Graduate degrees before having a family – and it worked out well. All these years later, we have 5, and boy what a ride.
Every day I look at my kids and I am amazed – they are all so different, yet in some ways so much alike.
Our kids range in age from 1 year to 10 years, and they always generate comments…. “you have your hands full!” or.. …“are they all yours?” (or, are they “yours?”) Sometimes I’m not sure how to respond to that.
Having kids hasn’t always been super easy – but it has been the best ride we have been on so far. Lots of comments are always generated by strangers, and many assumptions are always made. Back up north in Minnesota, a big family is always associated with being Catholic. Here in Arizona it’s usually associated with being Mormon.
(Just in case you are wondering, none of those apply.)
I love having a big family ~ living with all these children is rewarding … I can’t think of the last time we went on a date night .. or had a “Mom’s night out” or “Dad’s night out” – it’s been years. Quite honestly, both of us would rather go places with our kids than leave them back. We never go anywhere without at least 2 of them, usually it’s all 5.
In fact our last Valentine’s Day was spent as a family of 7 instead of mom and dad going out for dinner.
Not too long ago .. a co-worker made a comment to my husband at work and said something on the order of how they were going on a vacation, and didn’t my husband “wish” he could do that kind of stuff.
My husband called me and said, “You know, I’d rather go somewhere with all of us, I just can’t imagine going on a vacation or trip without my kids. They are just everything.” I knew, at that moment, exactly what he meant – because I, too, feel the same.
This leads me to say that we have one conclusion – having kids is a blessing, and having 5 is pretty darn amazing.
Anyways – here are some of the things we love about having 5 kids.
We can always come up with an excuse for not going somewhere. Unfortunately – it’s more times than not :) We do feel bad saying no, but it’s common for people without kids, or perhaps 1, to tell us “bring the kids, it’ll be easy!” Unfortunately we both kind of look at each other .. and know exactly what each of us is thinking. With 4-5, someone always has something that can hold us back – and not make us feel guilty.
Our oldest helps with the youngest. When Mom has her hands full in the kitchen with bread dough all over her hands, or is trying to make 3 things at once, our oldest can help give the two smallest a bath – diaper them up and, dress them, she even goes so far to do hairstyles too. Not to mention she’s great at tucking them in at night. It’s really sweet.
Five voices singing in the back of the truck is FUN stuff. Especially when they can belt out some classic rock tunes. I love listening to them in the car – they all seem to have the same taste in music. At least right now.
We can be experts. Not really experts, because I think we are all learning, but experts in our own way. With 5, we know what works in terms of organization. I personally know quite a bit about working at home full time with kids (after all, I do it daily). How about those things like meal planning? Got it. Homework organization? Got that too. It’s almost impossible to ” do that” when you go through each stage once.
Children help keep you humble. When it feels like you aren’t getting anything done, when you are just sitting on the floor playing with them, what you are doing with them is so important. When you are interested and engaged in what they are doing, you lose sight of your own interests – the job of giving them your attention, focus and presence is something that cannot be replaced. It’s also humbling to see that every move and decision I make, influences them in some way. Flaws you may have overlooked before are now so obvious because you are trying to be a great parent and you realize how much you are falling short.
They prevent you from watching TV. I’m not sure if this is just our house, but TV was just unnecessary as a whole. What time? Not only does having several kids make you too busy to watch TV (and even spend the money on TV)… it helps you learn how to prioritize your time. There is always too much to be done – making food for everyone, doing laundry, picking up, folding clothes, putting clothes away, cleaning rooms or even organizing. Not that TV is bad, but it’s great when you can show your children that work and effort are required on a daily basis, too.
Youthful beauty. Pregnancy keeps you looking young through thick, beautiful hair and a glowing complexion – but after the baby is born, children themselves keep you feeling young. They really do – it’s amazing to see the world through the eyes of your children. They are energetic, enthusiastic, and when they are happy, their laughter and excitement is infectious.
The empty nest takes longer to arrive. It’s true — the more kids you have, the more likely you are to delay that empty nest. Once the first leaves, I still have 4 more at home.
Our kids love kids. It’s true – our kids LOVE kids. They love babies, and they really do love to have the company of each other. Having several older siblings, makes it easy for the smallest (and newest) to adjust – from the moment they are born, they are clamored around, taken care of, and even played with all the time. If one sibling is busy, there is always another one around that can play.
Admiration for my Husband. My husband was great with the first. He was even more amazing with the second. Then he just got better with each subsequent child – he wasn’t sure he could handle a 5th, and guess what? He does amazing! He is great at cuddling the babies, super at talking to the oldest, and has our 3 year old wrapped around his finger.
Extra hands at home. Having many hands is great – especially when everyone can pitch in to help – household duties get knocked out in no time. My kids call themselves the “Tiny Cleaners” – and as tiny as they might be, they can pack a punch. When they start cleaning it’s amazing how quickly and effectively things get done.
Never a dull moment. Trust me – there is NEVER a dull moment. Having 5 is noisy in our house – when my husband says “I have to take a call in the office. Try to be quiet…” — what he really ends up doing is going to the car and sitting in the car in the driveway to talk. He just can’t talk in the house. There is always commotion, always something going on – whether it be jumping from sofa to sofa, to climbing up walls … to spraying each other with the hose in the back.. our house is always full of activity. That’s exciting.
So much love. When our 5th was born, my kids embraced her as the newest baby. They love her to pieces. When she wakes up from her nap, she peeks around the corner of the kitchen or living room and says “Mama…” I try to cuddle her for a brief minute, and she slips from my lap, and meanders around the house to find “the others”… you know when she has found them when you can hear them squeal “You’re awake!” ;) They love their sister. They love each other, and when they wake up, you can find them hugging eachother on the sofa or in the kitchen and then running off to play.
As they grow older, the investment returns. Your kids grow, and in their latter years, your family works to take care of eachother. Everyone is connected and everyone thrives on making sure others are taken care of. Whether it be emotionally, physically or spiritually, it might start in smaller ways and increase over time.
Our kids learn to be compassionate. We have siblings of both genders, and various ages – and despite their differences, they are great at being compassionate. I love it when my 10 and 7 year old congratulate our 5 year old on learning how to color and write his name – even know they know they can probably do better. They understand that others need celebratory praise for doing their best – even though it might not be “the” best. Our older ones feel important that they can be a role model, and the little ones thrive on compliments – and in the end they learn that to help, means to love.
In the end, having lots of kids has been an amazing ride – would I love to have more? Sure — but I’m not sure if we’ll expand beyond 5.
Do our kids fight? Get annoyed with each other? Complain and cry? Sure… what children don’t? But in the end, they’d be bored out of their mind without each other.
The time they spend together is important to us – they may not realize it now, but they are probably getting the BEST form of training in teamwork, togetherness, compromise and communication – more than any college course could ever teach them. One day, this extra time spent together may make them better co-workers, spouses, college students, and even parents themselves.