Raising a large family

Guest blogger: Margot

Five children: exhausting or fun? Or both? A rather large family always seemed like so much fun to me. Four kids would be perfect, I thought. But if you have four without a problem, you might as well have five. Except I had never thought about the fact that all of those children would have different hobbies at different places. You can’t clone yourself, so how do you organise everything?

“Do you work?”

A question that I’m often asked. And the answer is “No”. I don’t know where I would find the time. When the children are sick or at home because their teacher is sick, I’m always happy that I don’t have to arrange childcare.

In the summer, Julie is turning four, so she’ll be starting school after the summer holiday. Now I’m often asked if I’ll go back to work at that point. But if I’m working, I’ll have to make all kinds of after-school arrangements. Or the children will have to stop playing sports and their hobbies. I don’t want to do that to them.Luckily, people often say that they understand why I don’t work because being a mother to five children is more than a full-time job in itself!

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I enjoy being the mother of a large family

I love having my children around me. I really feel like a natural-born mum and don’t want to miss a moment with my children. But I’ve also learned that I do have to miss some of those moments. Well, I wouldn’t say I learned exactly, becauseI don’t really have a choice considering the fact that I can’t be everywhere at once. And so my husband and I both have to make some sacrifices. But, of course, I always want to be updated on all the half-time scores and be sent as many videos and pictures as possible.

The chaos of a big family and getting everyone in the right place

To be honest, I sometimes enjoy playing a taxi driver. Of course, it starts early in the morning when the four oldest go to school. In the winter, we go by car because cycling for more than 20 minutes with a kid on the back in the cold and dark is not exactly what I call fun. Especially when there’s a car parked out front. My husband leaves for work early, so it’s up to me to get everyone out of the house on time. This will be the last year that the six of us go to school together. Obviously, Julie has to come with me to take her brothers and sisters to school. Liam is in eighth grade and will be going to secondary school next year. He’s very excited about it. I’m not really ready for it. Just like I’m not really ready to be all alone at home without any children after the summer holiday. 

I have to say that so far, I’ve always managed to get all the children to school on time. Unless, of course, one of them falls off their bike or a pedal falls off. Oddly enough, this usually happens to the same person every time: Tobin, my youngest son. As sweet and caring as can be, but he’s always the one to have these kinds of accidents. Luckily, he’s also able to solve most problems himself.

And when the children get home…

…the planning really begins. After all, they no longer all have to be in the same place. They’re all over the place, but in a structured way. Liam often rides his bike to tennis. If it’s raining hard, tennis is cancelled. So, he doesn’t have to ride his bike in the pouring rain. At such times, I’m glad the kids have their own smartphone with a tracker. I can at least see that he’s arrived at the tennis club. In the meantime, I’m with another child at dance class or taking one of the  children to theatre class. 

Of course, they also want to play with their friends sometimes when they’re not playing sports or have activities. What then? I sometimes feel bad about this. Since I’m away every afternoon, they can almost never have friends over. Although I have become a bit more easy-going about leaving the children alone at home. I often tell the parents I’ll be gone for a little while to drive one of the children to an activity. As far as I’m concerned, the children can be home alone. Liam or Tobin is at home – with a phone, of course – to keep an eye on things. I trust my children in this regard and assume that the other child’s parents also know whether their child can be home alone without parental supervision.

I’m not alone in this!

My husband is barely mentioned here, but he’s very much in the picture! He works full-time: 50% at the office and 50% from home. And I really need that 50% from home. Especially on Wednesday afternoon, which is a busy day and I  really need his help getting all the kids to the right place.

My children are just other children, of course, who sometimes do not  want to do what they’re told or spend an eternity putting on one shoe and I then lose my patience. But we’re a typical large family. The older kids help the younger ones. Whether that means zipping up a jacket or tying shoelaces. And all the hugs throughout the day are the best reward for my work as a full-time mum! As long as we are enjoying ourselves, we have no problem being such a big family.

Margot, mother of 5

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