It’s nice to hear from other families with four or more kids! This topic really hits the nail on the head: there are so many misconceptions about big families out there that just aren’t true. That’s why Erika from Prairie Mommy is setting the record straight once and for all.
The Most Common Misconceptions About Big Families
So many people look at all those kids and wonder how we manage it all. With five kids in the house, things definitely get chaotic, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t live normal lives too. You just make do!
If I had a dollar for every time someone made a comment about how many kids I have I might actually have enough money to raise this big family! (Kidding!) Seriously, though, people are always interested in anyone that stands out. And if you have more than the usual number of kids it definitely draws attention!
When my twins were born and three kids became five we definitely got a lot more comments from strangers in public. These are some of the most common misconceptions about big families that I’ve encountered over the years.
You must homeschool
Now, a lot of big families homeschool but that doesn’t mean they all do. This year is actually the first year all my kids are in school! Yes, I admit we’d love to learn at home if we had that option, but I know our family isn’t alone when it comes to sending their kids to a classroom.
There isn’t enough time for each kid
When you have a new baby or difficult kid, they’re naturally going to take time away from everyone else. That’s just the reality of having kids! It’s still a misconception about big families that there’s no time for everyone, though.
Other than with my twins, I only ever had one baby at a time. There was plenty of time to spend with the older kids while little ones napped, and vice versa when older kids were occupied or with friends. I always find a way to spend time with each kid individually, too.
You’re very religious
I’m friends with a whole range of big families—some of them are very religious, but others (like mine) are quite liberal. The choice to have a lot of kids is personal and people do it for so many different reasons!
You’re either very wealthy or very poor
I don’t know why this misconception about big families exists but I see it way too much. People think you either have a ton of cash so you can afford the big family or you must be broke all the time with all those kids.
The truth is we live pretty normal, middle class lives. My kids never go without and I would argue they’re pretty spoiled. Certain things are definitely more expensive with multiple kids but it’s really not as costly as everyone thinks.
You can’t ever do anything together
This is a big subjective. I mean, we do have too many kids to book most hotel rooms, but otherwise it’s really no different to do things together as a family of seven than it was as a family of three or four.
We take advantage of free events when we can to save money and save for the stuff we really want to do. Other than the extra costs it’s really not any different taking out all my kids than when I only have a few.
Older kids have to be too responsible
I think this misconception about big families comes from TV shows. In most families I know (including my own) the older kids don’t have any more responsibility than other kids their age. My big kids aren’t quite able to babysit yet, but when they do I will pay them just like anyone else.
Now, that doesn’t mean the older kids don’t want to help sometimes. Kids naturally look out for their younger siblings regardless of how many kids you have!
No one gets anything new
OK I’m going to be real here: I love thrift shopping and buying second-hand. That goes for clothes, furniture, home décor… Anything! My kids wear a lot of thrifted and second-hand clothes, too. It saves us money, is better for the environment, and means we can wear nicer brands than we might be able to afford new.
Growing into a sibling’s hand-me-downs isn’t something that kids in big families are usually upset about. In our house, it’s a super exciting occasion!
We do buy kids new clothes, though. Sometimes you can’t find something second-hand or they want a specific item. The fact that I am so frugal with the rest of the wardrobe means we can splurge on the pieces they really want. Oh and shoes! Never cheap out on shoes.
The kids are unplanned/they have an agenda to populate
This big family myth comes in one of two directions: Either you ‘don’t know what causes that’ or you’re part of some kind of religious group that encourages you to ‘go forth and multiply’. While in some cases those might be true, most people have lots of kids simply because they want to.
And by ‘want to’ I mean that they feel like they have the love, time, energy, and resources to raise several kids. I always joke that the only unplanned kid in the family was one of the twins.
They have strange rules
Whenever I think about this stereotype, I’m always picturing the family at the beginning of the Sound of Music. You know, when the dad has the kids trained to come by whistle? Between that and the Duggar’s’ “blanket training”, it’s easy to assume people with lots of kids have strange rules.
Most people, though, raise their large families no different than they would a smaller one. It all depends on their personal values!
It’s total chaos
OK, this one is partially true. There are definitely times where I’m questioning all my life choices including why I don’t live alone in the Maldives. But those moments are only temporary. Most of the time having a house full of kids isn’t chaotic—it’s lively.
When I do find time to myself I’m really not sure what to do with it! I think some people just thrive in these kinds of environments and I’m one of them.
Hopefully this clears up some misconceptions about big families! The truth is that for everything that’s tough, you get a whole lot of joy, excitement, and love too.
Erika is a work at home mom of 5 kids. When not running her business or child wrangling, you can find her blogging about parenting and life in Manitoba over at Prairie Mommy.