Did You Ever Consider Having A Big Family?

Did You Ever Consider Having A Big Family asks popular lifestyle blogger, Gabrielle of Design Mom

Did You Ever Consider Having A Big Family asks popular lifestyle blogger, Gabrielle of Design Mom

The other day, I received an email with a question about big families from a reader named Megan, and I thought you might like to chime in with some advice. Here’s the email:

I’m a mom to four boys under the age of 6. I have 3 year old twins, a 5 year old, and a 6 year old. All of our boys are adopted from South Korea, and we are super lucky to be their parents. I’d love your thoughts on something. How did you decide to have a big family? My husband and I love having a big family and would like to add another kid or 2 (either by adoption or biologically…I don’t know yet), but we feel like a circus act everywhere we go currently!

We have not decided to have a large family for religious reasons (although we do have a faith practice) and we aren’t trying to save kids by adopting them. We just like having a big family and happened to decide to adopt the kids we have. I’m wondering how you decided to have a large family when it’s clearly not the “norm” to have a larger family?

We are constantly asked really personal questions about our family, people make so many comments about how are hands are full, and to be honest I think people don’t always want to hang out with us because we have a larger family. I get really overwhelmed when I’m in public because my boys (and I) feel like all eyes are on us. I’d love to hear how you handle it/decided to have a large family. — Megan

Did You Ever Consider Having A Big Family asks popular lifestyle blogger, Gabrielle of Design Mom

I was intrigued by Megan’s questions, and her email got me curious. If you’re reading, how do you personally define a big family? Is there a certain number of kids that you think of? Or is there some other factor you use?

How do you Define a Big Family?

In my own experience, yes, some of that big family feeling comes from physically having lots of people in the room. But some of that feeling also depends on the ages of the kids. For example, I was definitely more overwhelmed when I was parenting 3 kids age 4 and under, than I was when kid number six arrived. So for me, is 3 kids a big family?

As far as how we chose to have a big family, I think for us, it was almost the default option. Both my husband and I grew up as one of 8 kids — four girls, four boys each. So growing up in a big family was familiar to us, and as a young married couple, we discussed wanting to have a big family of our own too. But I don’t think we had a particular number in mind. I do remember thinking that if we wanted to have lots of kids, we had better start early. And we did. I had baby number one at age 23, just a week after I graduated from college.

How do you Handle your Big Family Whilst out in Public?

As for being a circus when you’re out in public, I hear you. We use the same word when we think of our family on outings. It’s a lot of people and it does feel like a circus, and yes, it draws a lot of comments. How to handle it? Well, first, I can tell you that it does get better as the kids get older. And second, our best strategy was just to acknowledge the chaos. We be honest about situations that we knew would be too crazy, by skipping them or sending just one parent with a couple of kids.

Did You Ever Consider Having A Big Family asks popular lifestyle blogger, Gabrielle of Design Mom

We’d also try to get out in front of the craziness by being open about it. For many years we had a default response when someone invited our family to their home for dinner (which happened especially often in France). We’d basically say, “Oh. You you do not want to invite us for dinner. We are a circus! We are so many people, it will be overwhelming. Come to our house instead.” If they insisted on having us over, which they sometimes did, at least we had warned them of the tsunami coming their way.

And of course, a lot of handling the circus comes down to teaching your kids how to behave when you’re out and about. Which every parent has to do, but it just feels magnified with lots of kids. And I suppose that’s why things get easier as the kids get older — they’ve had much more practice behaving well. Even still today, before we get out of the car at any destination — a friend’s home, the mall, the park, a museum, wherever — the kids get behavior reminders from us. Be aware of your volume (we can be loud when we’re together). Be aware of people around you and make sure we’re not walking in a wide line on the side walk and blocking paths. Be patient because it can take a little while to find a good spot for the whole family at restaurants. Be flexible because if this outing isn’t working out, we may need to change our plans. And look out for your siblings.

Lastly, 3 tips to help them as they’re learning how to behave on outings: 1) Remember that bad behavior mostly comes down to tired or hungry kids. So have snacks in your bag, or make frequent food stops as needed. And 2) be willing to shut down the outing if the kids are just too tired. Whatever the activity is, it’s not worth losing your temper at the kids. It’s okay to go home. Honestly, if they’re little, they probably won’t remember the fun activity even if it’s great. 3) Have mental games or challenges at the ready (like 20 Questions, or spotting patterns — how many blue cars or red pants can you find?) for those times when the family has to wait and be patient.

Okay, Dear Readers. Your turn.

What advice would you give Megan? What is a “big family” to you? And how did you decide whether to have a big family or not? Was it even on the table for you as an option? Also, how do you teach your kids how to behave on outings? Any tips you’d add?

P.S. — 18 tips for traveling with a big family.

105 thoughts on “Did You Ever Consider Having A Big Family?”

  1. I think a big family is more than 2-3 kids. 2-3 is still common and people are used to encountering it, and as you mentioned, depending on the age, 3 might not seem like a lot (or it just might). To address a comment made in the email to you, I’m just going to be blunt. I have 2 kids, so when I hang out with friends who have 4 or more kids it just seems insane to me. I do hesitate to ask them over to my house because its feels so crazy. I do hesitate to ask them to go to dinner with my family because often they can’t afford it, or turn it down because they know it it will be a circus. Our best friends are heading toward kid #4 and honestly it makes me miss them because I know SO MUCH of their life will be put toward those kids. Not that this is a bad thing, but I still feel like my husband and I can be ourselves, and not always feel like mom and dad – but I think once the kid numbers get so high, you’re mom and dad all the time. It’s hard for you to get a sitter, its hard for you to have a conversation with other adults, the kids are your entire life (which is fine!). So maybe the root of it is that, in my opinion, people who surpass 3 kids are just different than those who don’t. They have different life goals, different focuses, different things that they enjoy. I do think that’s a turning point in friendships, that is where couples lose their friendships because their differences are highlighted and their flexibility and options for time with friends become vastly different (similiar to how couples who choose to have no kids may not want to hang out with people who have 2).

    1. One of my friends has four kids that are much younger than mine and I often cringe at the thought of getting together during the day. Especially now that we are out of the baby stage ourselves; I struggle being gracious with the messes her younger kids make, their inability to play unsupervised, that thing that all kids do where they beg for any food that another child has, and just that they are generally higher maintenance to have over. It is not relaxing in the slightest. I make time for evening hours when we can actually converse uninterrupted.

      I realize I sound like a jerk in writing all of that out. It will get better when the kids are older and less demanding. But for now- it is a struggle.

      1. I have two young kids (under 3) and I feel this way about meeting up with friends during the day. It’s so hard to have an actual conversation. And I also think that other people’s kids can be very enjoyable or extremely grating depending on your own mood and their mood! More so than with adults who are usually better at pretending.

        Honestly, what I think you’re describing is just a kids thing! And I would love it if my friends decided to stop by after bed time more often so we could have an actual conversation.

        1. It might get better and it might not. I have a friend with 5 children between the ages of 16 and almost 4. It is near impossible to communicate with her as she is so busy with the kids because she chooses numerous competitive activities for all of them which requires a minimum of 4 hours of driving a day (that is not including the husband’s driving)! I don’t think it is the number of children but the life choices you make. I know another family with 5 children and she finds time for herself and friends too.

      2. Anonymous, don’t beat yourself up. I don’t think you sound like a jerk. It’s just not the season you’re in. I have seven kids (no babies anymore) so I know how crazy things can get. I have a friend who is expecting her third (she has a toddler & elementary age child). She very directly tells people she doesn’t want to hang out and do the mom +kids thing. I’ve heard her say more than once, “I’d love to see you and actually get to visit. Let’s meet without our kids, in the evening, so we can actually talk.” A kid-free evening with a friend may be just what your friend needs.

    2. I have 4 kids and I think that this has everything to do with having young kids-not just family size. Once your kids hit older elementary school it’s totally different. I don’t think any of my interests/goals/focuses are any different than my friends who have 1 or 2. And we’re definitely ourselves-not just mom and dad-because our kids aren’t little anymore. We go out with other couples, and our family get togethers with other families are primarily with our 2 youngest because our older teens have their own things going on.

      1. I totally agree with you, Heidi. I know plenty of big families–and while the kids are young, it’s crazy, but that’s just as true of families with fewer kids. Once the kids get a little older, the dynamics totally change and the parents have more time….I actually think that parents with lots of kids tend to have the most varied interests and nuanced perspectives on so many topics because they are constantly interacting with their unique growing, learning, discovering children.

  2. I’m one of 3 and that didn’t seem like a big family so I agree with Emily that 4+ kids starts to feel like a big family to me.

    My husband and I went the opposite direction and decided to have one kid (who is almost 16). We made that decision for a host of reasons, and it’s worked well for us. That said, there is a happy chaos to big families that I regard fondly. Having loads of people around for holidays and such seems like it would be lots of fun. (And I know it’s not all sunshine and roses!)

    As with every choice in life, there are pros and cons no matter what.

    In terms of kids’ behavior, I think it’s incumbent on parents to be mindful of what their kids can reasonably handle at their current stage. Your advice to have snacks and distractions and to be willing to change plans is sound. Flexibility is key for good parenting. :)

    1. Thank you so much for commenting as a parent of an “only”. My husband and I also have one child for various reasons (including mental health and economics) and we love our little family. Sometimes people comment about us having an only child the same way “big” families get comments about having “so many” kids – you can’t win with anyone! We knew this decision was what was right for us just as having four kids might be right for someone else. Both my brothers happen to have three children each, all much younger than my daughter (I am the oldest in my family), so we get our fill of babies and toddlers and are always happy to get back to our cozy and calm life! xoxo.

      1. My family is small , my nine year old son and me , my ex wife and l always planned on more children but when she turned to drugs (meth) all this changed , its been six years since our break up, being a family of two has been a challenge at times but my son and l have a bond that is hard to put in to words , my plans for a big family did not happen but my plans for a happy,loving family did .

  3. I think this topic is so interesting! And I personally feel a bit of reverse pressure. We currently have 2 children and are about 90% sure we are done. I get comments like “oh JUST 2?” “Oh, ONLY two?” often. As if 2 children are not enough. I feel there is a trend towards having lots of children and existing in a certain level of chaos these days. Maybe it’s just the socia media culture/demographics I choose to follow? Maybe it’s the Parenthood (the tv show) affect? More kids equals more love equals more fun (which I’m sure it can!) I was not prepared for how difficult the decision to have a third child can be. It’s almost as if thinking about having another child logically (money, time, resources, space, etc) is looked down upon in comparison to approaching the decision more emotionally (more love!) Also, I am one of five siblings and we definitely do not have Parenthood-type relationships.

    1. I’ve noticed this trend, too! I’d be curious to know if it’s actually a thing or if it’s just what attracts the most attention on the internet.

      All of my friends and relatives who have kids have three or fewer, but it does seem like more people are trending to larger families than that old 2.5 kids and a dog statistic.

      1. I’ve heard so many friends with 1 or 2 kids lament that they’d love more, but simply can’t afford it. I realize that’s a reality for many people, but it also makes me sad that money seems to be the primary factor (fyi, these friends are largely middle and upper middle class, and refer to costs like college and extra activities).

    2. I get that a lot too! I have a 4yo and a 14mo and we get asked if we’re going to try for a third. I am 95% sure we’re done. It just doesn’t feel like it did last time — when we had our first baby, we always knew we would have another but made a point of waiting so we could enjoy our daughter and I could recover career-wise. We weren’t ready right away, but my husband and I were always very aware that we were working up to it, and we’re very excited to be ready! Now I don’t feel the pull to have a baby in the same way. Part of it is financial but most of it really is the feeling of not being able to divide myself further. I can’t be a good mom, wife, career woman and have time for myself if I take more things on. And with my kids I always think: I have two hands!

    3. Thank you. I have two kids, and the decision to have the third or not has been the most difficult! I have health reasons that make it difficult as well. My two kids are now 6 and 4 and we are hitting an “easier” phase and its hard to think of going back but also hard to say no to another lovely child! We started homeschool last year and I was the only one with two kids in our homeschool group, everyone else had more! I feel pressure to have more as well as wanting one more.

  4. I’m one of 5, my husband one of 4, and we have 3 kids. In my area, 4+ is a big family. I think once your family size hits 7+, logistics are much harder. Hard to get a rental car or hotel or table at a restaurant. Plus the cost of everything when those kids no longer order off of a kids menu or get children’s priced tickets multiplied by 7 is big!

    I socialize with a lot of families that have 4 or more kids. No matter how many kids a family has, the kids I enjoy being around are the ones who know that a no from their parents means no. No negotiating, begging, etc. Allowing your kids to pester you to change your no’s to yes’s is a recipe for a bratty, whiny kid. No one enjoys hanging out with that kind of kid.

  5. I’ve slowly realized that my thoughts on this are NOTHING like anyone else’s… I grew up one of 4, and it seemed a little lonely. I mean there were only 3 other kids in the family! 😄

    And I seemed to have the smallest family of all my friends. I spent the bulk of my life thinking 4-6 was “normal” and 7+ was a big family.

    Even after I had 6 and people would occasionally comment on it, I was like, “What are you talking about?? It’s not like I have 13 kids–THAT’S a big family!”

    Anyway, I didn’t really notice a ton of head turning or too many comments (or I was blissfully oblivious) until we moved to Portugal. Literally everyone is counting us! (We even almost caused an accident walking along a highway!)

  6. We have 2 small kids, and I love hanging out with my childless friends who are kid-friendly. Hosting dinner is our go-to since it’s easier for the kids. After we eat we can put them to bed and keep on socializing. As for hanging out with other friends who are parents, I find the parents of only children to be the hardest, since they tend to constantly hover and mediate their child’s experience and interactions with the other kids. Parents of 2+ are more easy-going, but by that point when there are 4+ children gathered, it’s loud and crazy (and usually still happy and fun too). In my social circle, 1 or 2 is normal and 3 is big. Nobody has more than that.

  7. I’m coming from a different place – I always wanted a big family. I have two brothers who got on really well and it was lonely being the only girl. But, I only have one, because my relationship ended when I was pregnant. She is now nearly 6 and would love a sibling. I would love to have 2 or 3 more with another partner but time is ticking on and I’m worried I’m getting too old. Enjoy your big families ladies, don’t let anyone’s comments bother you!

  8. I think 3 is a lot! 1 or 2 seems more common to me. I have 4 children, and now that my youngest is 4 years old I feel much less like a circus director in public. I feel much more capable as a parent to slightly older children, maybe I’m in a sweet spot of rational thought and pre-high school. I’m very happy to be done with toddlerhood. I would consider adding more children to our family if they didn’t start out as babies!!

  9. We have 6 children in our family and have had our share of comments and bow outs, but we also really enjoy being together at home so less time at restaurants and hotels works out. That said, when we do travel and eat out there are some additional logistics and expenses but we make it work. Sometimes I have to remind others and my children that the cost of such and such activity times 8 is a lot more than times 2 or 3 so we have to be a little more deliberate in our plans and budget. I understand we are an intimidating bunch to host so we don’t plan on staying with people when we come to town just because we are friends and are not offended when we don’t get invited to dinner etc. Like Gabby, I’m much more comfortable inviting people into our space than invading theirs.

    As an adult I treasure the relationships I have with each of my siblings (I am one of seven) and thoroughly enjoy their children (lots of nieces and nephews). We spend weeks together each summer and everyone has survived the circus unscathed. We even get everyone’s fed several times a day😄.

  10. We have 4kids, 7 and under. It seems overwhelming at times, not all the time, though. In the past year I have struggled with refusing my friends’ invitations over to their houses, or even for outdoor playdates. My reason is pretty tight schedule. And of course also the circus gig to it. I know our limits pretty well, and when we move within those, it all runs pretty smoothly, even with my part time job as a side gig. I usually meet my adult friends in the evening hours, day hours are devouted to tasks, chores, goals. We have very little personal time, me and my husband. But there is always some if we organize it well. For relaxation I run (4times weekly, 20-40min), my husband plays squash (during his work hours with colleagues). We watch movies once a week. My husband goes fishing as a hobby, usually acompanied with at least one kid. We regularly cycle as a family, go to the swimming pool, skate in winter. The key is in a well organized time, which sometimes requires me denying friendly invitations. Hopefully, my friends understand that.

  11. This is so timely! A couple of weeks ago I found out I was pregnant with #4. Unexpectedly (#3 was 2 years of trying and $$$$). At 40. I have two “big kids” 10+ and an 18 month old. I’ve been so overwhelmed, wondering how we can handle 4. We don’t even have a big enough car right now. We can’t fit in to 1 hotel room. It seems like such a huge leap.

    Honestly, some of the above comments are making me feel worse.

    Any tips of big family moms are totally welcome! Would love to hear more from you, too, Gabrielle!

    1. I have 4 and I love it!!! Don’t let the negative comments get you down. Nothing is better than seeing all my kids together.

      1. Congratulations! Your 18 month old will thank you for the rest of his/her life for the gift of a sibling close in age. I was one of four, and my siblings were 8, 10, and 13 when I was born. I always felt a bit lonely growing up, and I always wished I had a sibling to play with who was closer in age to me.

        Embrace this wonderful surprise! (And a tip from someone who must have been a “surprise.” My mother never referred to me that way. She always told me that she had always wanted four children and that she was thrilled to find out she was pregnant with me. She was 36 in 1960 when she had me — probably equivalent to 46 today! It wasn’t until I was an adult that it occurred to me that she must have been in shock when she found out she was pregnant. Mom is 93 now, and she tells me that I helped to keep her young.)

        PS – Luckily many hotels these days have affordable “suites” — you’ll be able to fit!

      2. I so want to give you a hug! You sound apprehensive about your surprise, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say congratulations! I’m not sure which comments have you nervous, so I will just say that my husband and I have two kids and have good friends who unexpectedly had four (#3 ended up being twins). We still love them and see them whenever we can, along with another family. It gives us eight kids when we all gather. Yes, it can be chaotic, and conversations when everyone was tiny were challenging, but that eases. Now that the youngest of the group is two, we can chat more while the kids go play.

        Our friends were stunned to find out they were doubling their kid count and it shook the details of their life something fierce – she was on bedrest for 4-6 weeks, they had to move and buy a minivan – but four years later they are in love with their family and wouldn’t change a thing. Plus, they road trip a couple times a year in their Honda Odyssey and so far the survival rate is 100%! :-)

        I wish you the easing of your anxiety and a boatload of future family fun.

    2. I have 4 kids also and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I agree with the woman who said your 18 month old will love having a sibling. Yes, things change, car needs are different, etc. I looked at it as a opportunity to upgrade! Or at least to junk the van that had been given to us a buy a used one that better met our needs. As for hotels, we skip those all together and do AirBnB. Honestly, you’ll be fine. You’ve got two great helpers (my oldest two are 8 and 6, baby is 1, and they are generally terrific helpers). Like Gabby mentioned, it’s definitely different when some kids are older. Anyway, I just wish I could reach out and give you a hug. You’ll be awesome. You’r family will be awesome.

    3. I have three and have spent years regretting not having more. I love spending time with our many friends that do have 5+ kids.

      I also can recall very clearly the day I found out I was expecting baby #3 a year earlier than we had planned. I was stunned. You see, that same month we had bought our first home and I lost my job.

      After that first year of logistics, major life transitions, prioritizing, I realized we were more than just surviving. Having another partner for the other kids, watching them connect and adore each other, cherishing the unique personality of another child is wonderful.

      Once they are born and the stresses fade, you will feel like you can’t imagine your family without them.

    4. We have six children, and our sixth was a surprise at a point when I honestly thought I would fall apart emotionally if I had another child. He’s almost a year old and he is an absolute gift to our family in so many ways–he has brought out a tenderness in my older children that is absolutely wonderful, and he is such a ray of sunshine when I’m dealing with difficult or challenging things with the other children. Absolutely the gift that we did not know we needed to bond our family together in a new and wonderful way!

    5. Be encouraged! And congratulations. We have seven children (some age gaps means that we had two 10 year olds, a 15 year year old & a 17 year old when our youngest was born (when I was 40!) This would be my #1 tip for you: our children take our cues from us. When we are excited, it is easier for them to be excited. Our big family, age gaps & all, was our normal. Our kids enjoy each other (there is plenty of bickering & sibling stuff…). It has been wonderful seeing the relationships between the older kids and younger ones grow and develop. Life can be hard. Parenting can be crazy. But enjoy it! It goes by quickly.

    6. Oh, ladies, your comments mean so much to me! Yesterday I heard the surprise baby’s heartbeat for the first time and it made it all real. I appreciate the encouragement and congratulations. I never thought of myself as a big family mom, I don’t have many friends with kids at all (living in a city with mostly professionals), and it is taking some getting used to, but it does feel like this is meant to be. Our littlest would have been so lonely at 10 with both brothers out of the house.

      I was actually having a hard time turning 40- wondering where I was headed, lamenting the inevitable physical changes, mourning becoming undesirable in the eyes of society. In some ways this has given me clarity and purpose and knocked me out of my self-absorbed pity party.

      Ellie- Good reminder! I would and will never call this sweetie pie a surprise or accident. I won’t present this pregnancy to others as anything but planned, either. My mom was a surprise and was reminded of it all the time growing up. :( BTW- Your name is on my girl name list, should I break the boy streak!

      Thanks again ladies. And thanks, Gabby, for creating such a warm community and asking thought-provoking questions!

      1. “I was actually having a hard time turning 40- wondering where I was headed, lamenting the inevitable physical changes, mourning becoming undesirable in the eyes of society.”

        You are not alone in this. I turn 40 in May and am working through similar thoughts. Thankfully, my 73-year-old mother is active and vibrant and a constant, positive role model.

        1. I just want to add to all the wonderfulness that has been posted above. I am #5 of 5 kids: my siblings are 12.14.16 and 18 years older than me, my mom was 47 and my dad 49 when i was born, and i had the most blessed position in my family – i was so definitely a surprised and so definitely loved. My siblings, who were starting to go their own way came back home because of me and i have grown up with these amazing people and their partners in my life forever. we have 4 kids – our last is 4.75 years younger than her sister. She has brought the most amazing love and balance and joy to our family – i had miscarried a surprise baby and a second very early miscarriage, and she seemed vowed and determined to arrive – she is fierce and loving, the most incredible combination. Oh and i was 42 when she was born. I absolutely love the fullness of 4 kids and walk with such joy, when we all head out together! we’ve been tasked with bringing the party too many times to count ;) and seriously, the relationships the kids have are so powerful. i really think it’s intense when the kids are younger and now that they’re on the brink of teen and adulthood, there is more time to relish it all! and i get to do the things i put aside for a while, while raising these humans. i wish you so well. you’re not alone!

          1. I love hearing that your siblings came home because of you! Our eighth baby was very much planned, but he is 4 years younger than the seventh baby. I want him to know all of his siblings well and I know video chats will help, but your comment about visiting brought tears to my eyes! Thank you!

    7. Hi Anonymous– we were a family of 4 kids in the house– sometimes hectic, but we never regretted it. And I felt like with a husband who was willing to take the reigns, I was able to have friends, outside interests… And now that they are all married and have kids of their own, I love our big family even more! They live scattered across the country, but we see them most every month. Just back from our youngest daughters camp weekend wedding in Wisconsin and it was great to be together for that! Tuesday we go to San Francisco to meet our newest grand-guy. There’s always more to love with a big family…

  12. Dear fellow moms,

    As I read this, I couldn’t help but chime in about the REGRET of not having had the courage to have a larger family. I am incredibly thankful for the two children we do have — they are beyond my wildest dreams amazing – but now that I’m 43 and my youngest is in her last year of elementary school I am so sad we didn’t have more children. At least 3 to be exact. My husband was not on board and I was afraid so that ended the discussion pretty quickly. But if you are even considering a larger family, and feel it in your soul, do it while you can. I really wish I had, looking back on those years. All that Gabrielle said applies to two kids or 10. At the end of the day, I think the decision of having a large or small family (however you define that) is totally personal and individual to the people involved.

    1. I think this hits on what Megan was getting at. She WANTS to have more children… she is just having a difficult time juggling the social pressure, etc. I agree that once you have several children, you’re in motion. More children means a bit more noise and more stuff, etc., but it isn’t wildly different. And the plus side is that you get one more completely unique, wonderful individual to love!

  13. As the youngest of six kids, I always knew I’d want a big family – I just had no idea that three would be considered big. From the “Was she planned?” to “You’re always pregnant”, I wasn’t expecting that having another baby would elicit such a strong response. Yes, it’s a little crazy at times and I’m often told I’m “in the weeds” with a 6yo, almost-4yo and newborn – but I really couldn’t imagine it any other way and do feel a tinge at this point in the circus, why not add another [cute] clown? My favorite thing to say to friends and strangers if the topic of family size comes up and especially when in the presence of my husband: “We’re only half way there!” I’m only half-kidding …

  14. I have 2 kids and come from a family of 2 kids. To me anything 4+ is a big family. I knew I was done after 2. Most people I know who have 3+ kids have extended family that pitches in.. be it with babysitting, taking kids to activities, helping when one is sick etc. We don’t have that. They are in town just living there own life which is fair.
    I am also a very practical person…. what kind go house would I need for 4+kids, what kind of car, what types of vacations would we go on, how would we pay for university, how could they all play sports/take music lessons? I like having one on one time with each child and I know that I would not be able to do that with more than 2.

    1. I think it comes down to expectations. I am one of five and grew up in New York City. We lived in a house that was about 1800 square feet (kind of big for NY, but also smaller than some friends’ apartments). We had a van (they’re not much bigger than the SUVs that many parents of 1 or 2 drive). I felt like I had one on one time with my parents, but it was probably less than what children with fewer siblings had. Then again, we had lots more sibling time. We did road trips a lot for vacations but we also all ended up in Europe one summer. We all did some sports and music lessons and we all went to college– some with scholarships, some with financial aid, some with none of that.

      Now I have 5 kids and live in a Midwestern college town. I feel like we have quite a large house. Our two oldest currently have their own rooms and the three youngest share. The people who owned the house before us had no children and the people who live near us mostly have two or three kids and live in similarly sized houses.
      Here in the Midwest I feel like I get way fewer looks than I do when I’m home in NYC (though many people have complimented us on our beautiful family while we’ve been riding the subway). Now that the oldest is almost 15 I don’t do as many things where I have them all with me at once (like grocery shopping– I usually think once a summer it’ll be fine to take them all to Costco at once and then remember it’s not fun :) )– I got a lot more comments when I had more little ones that I had everywhere with me. I didn’t have any family nearby and my husband was in school/training for many years (until our oldest was almost 9). It was hard and still is but it’s a choice that’s doable.

  15. As an introvert, a mom-of-one, and with only one sibling myself, more than two kids is a big family to me. We have a few friends with 2+ young kids and I just can not imagine how they manage (mentally or financially). But I think a lot of that comes from my being an introvert and really really enjoying P&Q and alone time – and my husband is much the same. Neither of us were built to parent big families!

  16. i think of 4+ as a big family. i have 2 girls, 5 years and 3 years. i get the appeal of large families (i follow all of those gorgeous homeschooling mamas with large, beautiful broods on IG, too), and i’d be game for trying for another, but my husband is more than overwhelmed with the 2 we do have, so we’re done. i’m ok with that. a 3rd child and a miserable husband do not a happy family make. at cocktail parties, we always say we’d have another one if we were richer and younger, and it’s 100% true. ( :

  17. I think the perception of what entails a “big” family is largely cultural and depends on where you live or what religion you belong to. As a Utah Mormon, 4-6 kids is the norm and I have a couple of friends about to have their 7th babies. (My husband comes from a family of 10 kids and his mother is a saint.) I “only” have 3. However, my sister just moved to Connecticut with her 3 little girls and gets stares and comments wherever she goes at having so many kids!

    My neighbors across the street growing up had 14 kids, and another family in my town had 16. Now THAT is a big family.

  18. We have seven kids, and we are definitely a circus! There’s no way to get around that. We had seven years without a baby though in between those seven children, and I can say that as the kids got older the craziness wasn’t as overwhelming. Now that we have small children again though… oy!

    As far as deciding whether to have a large family or not, we have three biological children and four adopted children — and the crazy thing is we never set out to adopt. It just found us and we said yes.

    People are definitely always overwhelmed by our sheer numbers, and I find that there are quite a few people who feel this gives them license to say the craziest things to us. I’d really never dream of asking some of the questions people ask us!

    But a friend of mine recently commented that they remember being afraid of being overwhelmed when we showed up to an event where we’d be spending most of the day together. He was afraid that he’d feel overrun with the chaos and noise — but he was actually surprised to find that yes, it was a little crazy, but charmingly so, and it was certainly nothing like he anticipated. I liked that!

  19. This is a thought provoking question and it has a lot to do with options and birth control. The decision to have a child(ren)through birth or adoption, a large family or a small family is very personal. We must remember to respect all individual decisions and as women do all we can so that choices continue to be open to each and every one of us.

  20. We have 4 kids. We didn’t plan for 4, but after #4 was born, we knew that that was our family. We really stood out in Los Angeles, where I’m from, but when we moved to Boise, Idaho, I would hear, “what, only 4?” (Boise has a fairly large Mormon population but we are not Mormon). The spacing worked good for me, they are all 3 years apart. I never has two kids in diapers at the same time :) Our youngest is 13 now and the physical work is minimal. One thing that surprised me was how easy it was to add more kids into our mix. Kid’s friends, our friend’s kids, it didn’t change things much to me if we had 4, 8 or 10 kids hanging out. What was hard for me was having just one kid to care for; so much work! Financially, there isn’t a lot leftover, but we do ok and try to have experiences vs things (though there are a lot of things too). Our two oldest haven’t gone to college. One is an EMT working and planning to start paramedic training soon. Our recent high school graduate is working full time at the airport and wants to become a pilot in time. Room for personal space for each kid is important. I’m looking forward to our empty nest. We are seeing it emerge little by little and it’s nice.

  21. I think you have to be willing to have parenting be your vocation, your life’s work, to have a big family. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to do other things once enough of the kids are older–but you can’t count on that being the case. There’s just enough little people with varied needs that they can interrupt at any time. So you have to be prepared to be happy if/when the circus is 24/7.

    Both my husband and I were one of two kids–he was adopted, I was not. I have one kid, in a part of the country where most people in our age/class bracket have zero. My husband would prefer to have 3-4, and would be willing to give up the money and friends and hobbies to get there. I’m…not. I like the relative freedom I have with two adults and one child, especially as he grows out of the infant stage, and as I found on maternity leave I’m actually desperately unhappy without my career and hobbies and friends in my life. My vocation is my art and my code. Maybe someday I’ll come around to a second child, depending on our situation, but we’re never going to be a big family.

  22. Interesting conversation! I have 8 children on purpose. I did not set out to have a large family, but at each intersection, it felt like the right thing to do – just like it feels right to be done now.

    Yes, we do fewer things “out on the town,” but I don’t miss it at all. We don’t need the “town” to entertain us. We come up with our own fun – with extended family, with friends and neighbors, and with our own family. Yes, eating out is expensive. We would need three or four hotel rooms. We need a giant van. Forget about flying.

    On the other hand, our home is our entertainment and our sanctuary. We regularly host large (25+ additional people) and small gatherings. There is always someone to play with or go for a walk with or read stories with or snuggle with. We have to be more organized – time, meals, shopping, clothing, laundry, you name it – but that is not a bad thing.

    I am an introvert, and need to have quiet time on a regular basis. That’s what my bedroom is for, and the kids know to tread lightly if Mama is resting. Being a home-manager for a family of this size does take a lot of work and time, but for me, the rewards are more than worth it. I realize big is not the right answer for every family, so do what is right for you!

    I have lived in small towns and big cities. I have had people count our children in the grocery store – very loudly. I have had surreptitious whispers, “You do know how to avoid that, don’t you?” I just laugh and go on my way. I don’t need to be offended by anyone else’s opinion.

    In our home, I feel like there is just more love to go around, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  23. I’m not sure where I read this, but I have found this to be true with each kid that I have had (I have 3 kids): “No matter how many kids you have, it’s a lot of kids.”

  24. When they were small, my three were a lot (three kids born in almost five years). Now that they are older (youngest is 10), I feel like three is nothing and I should have had more. I think perspective (mine at least) constantly shifts – and ultimately contentment comes to those who choose it.

    We adopted our oldest, and then I unexpectedly got pregnant…twice. :) I feel lucky to be a mother in the first place. There were so many days when I thought I never would be.

  25. Going Anon for This One

    In our area, a major city in the South, it’s not uncommon to see families with three kids. Four are less common, but not totally rare, and I can only think of one family with five kids. Growing up here, I had several friends who were LDS and had 8-12 kids in their families. I always thought it seemed like such fun to have lots of siblings when I only had one.

    I have three children at home (plus one who died at birth). If my husband and I weren’t old, I would definitely have opened up the conversation about having at least one more. Emotionally, I don’t feel done, even though the logical side of my brain knows that we are. Maybe that’s a result of having a baby die, though I think it’s also because I always wanted four kids.

    Even though having three kids isn’t unusual around here, I still get lots of comments about it. My go-to response is to smile brightly and say, “Good work if you can get it,” which usually stops the person in his/her tracks. I just think it’s bad form to comment on someone’s family size. Aside from the fact that you never know if someone wants more but is struggling with infertility or other barriers, to insinuate that someone has “too many” children is to basically say that some of them shouldn’t have been born. Very few things are more rude than that, especially to say in front of an innocent child.

    1. Going Anon, I really appreciate your comment. And I’m so sorry about the loss of your preciosu baby. My fourth child was stillborn (and I have suffered 2 miscarriages as well) and discussions of “choosing” to have another child, family size, etc can hit me in a tender place as a result. Like you, I don’t feel finished having children, although logically it seems we have to be. It still feels like an unfinished picture…and maybe it always will.

      I resonate so much with your words–every child is precious, and the fact of their lives should never be questioned or criticized. Thanks for sharing your truth here.

        1. ^^ this. I have 3 lovely girls but lost my first born at 8 days old. I always feel like I need/should have had a 4th but then I wonder if it is because there should be a 4th here.

  26. I have 4 sisters and at times it felt like the house was empty.now that we are all adults and gather frwyently at my parents house its a lot if people under one roof but we really enjoy it and crave for even more.
    Being an introvert,I found a refuge in my big big family.
    I don’t have kids and I don’t know if I ever will but I don’t think 3 kids is good enough for those who decide to create a family.

  27. I was 1 of 8, so, in my opinion, up to 3 kids is a “small” family. 4 kids is a sort-of middle path, and 5-8 is a big family. 9+ is a huge family ;)

    Personally, I loved having so many siblings. That being said, there were some things I hated about it, like the impossibility of vacations, outings, etc. Because of my perfectionist personality, I knew I would probably be a better mom with fewer than 8 kids, and for a long time I thought that 4 or 5 would be my max.

    Fast forward to the realities of pregnancy, childbearing, postpartum depression, miscarriage, and a very difficult baby, and we’ve maxed out at 3. I’ve been pregnant 4 times, and that breaks my heart. 3 kiddos in my care, and 1 in Heaven.

    I still sometimes feel like there’s a missing child, and I guess that’s because there is… but it’s important not to judge your family by the number, be it large or small. I wanted more, but I have 3, and, honestly, they’re about all I can handle. 0_0

    ~ Lee

    || secondgenhomeschooler.wordpress.com ||

  28. I just had my 2nd and in the toddler and baby stage now. We have been thinking that we are done having kids. One of the main reasons is money. It’s not that we couldn’t have or love or care for more kids. We will still be paying off our own student loans for many many years. How will we ever provide college for 1 child, never mind 2!!? I’m sure it’ll cost something like 100K in 18 years. There is just no way we can afford that. Plus little kids are SO MUCH WORK!

  29. I always admire people who have more kids. My husband and I initally wanted to have five kids when we got married but we have two now, one with moderate special needs, and we feel very overwhelmed in our current situation that makes us think we likely won’t be adding to our family, despite how desperately I would love to. I think people with big families are amazing.

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  30. Thank you for this comment: “I was definitely more overwhelmed when I was parenting 3 kids age 4 and under, than I was when kid number six arrived. ” And thanks to all of the other commenters who shared something similar. We have three age 4 and under, my son is 4 and my twin girls are 2 (they were a surprise). I feel so overwhelmed most of the time, and try to avoid that secondary pain/guilt that I shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by three children when there are people who have 4, 5, 6, or more kids! How are those people doing it? What skills do they have that I don’t have that they are able to give their kids what they need and also stay sane? It’s a relief for me to hear that even those of you with the skills to manage huge families found those early years difficult.

    1. Heather I’m in your same boat. 3 boys: 4 and 2 year old twins. It is –chaotic and rough at times. I’m glad that you are trying to go easy on yourself. What we are doing is hard!

      As to the main parts of this post: in our area I think we are seen as a big family. I think this is mainly because all of our children are young and close in age. Our kids are loud and overwhelming and we always have a giant stroller or kids all over a shopping cart. We are a bit of a spectacle. Twins always seem to be.

      In our are there are mostly 1-2 kid families but there are also plenty of 3-4 kid families. However they generally have a wider age spread than ours. However there are some very big families in our neighborhood too. I think a couple at least have double digits!

      Three feels big for us because we were planning on 2. A third always seemed like a crazy outside possibility. After having the twins we have discussed a fourth a lot. Even though I feel like someone might be missing we’ve also almost certainly decided to stop. Money is a concern but also spreading our attention among more kids is a big concern for us.

    2. Heather, it gets easier as they get older. My first 5 were all 18-19 months apart. (My sixth was born 2 years later, my seventh in another 2 years, and my eighth 4 years later).

      When they are all tiny you do EVERYTHING. When they get older they can clean up their toys and make their beds. They can help set the table and help you fold all the laundry, and even sort their own laundry. But until then, it is all you. What you are doing is so important!

      There is one thing that I changed a few months before my fifth was born, and it made a HUGE difference in how overwhelmed I felt. I started to get up earlier than my children and shower. It wasn’t easy (my second child would get up at 5:20 a.m.) and I ended up getting up at 4:30 that year. What a difference! Yes, I had to go to bed between 8 and 9, but I was tired anyway. Getting up that early gave me a few minutes of quiet and a chance to get ready for the day. I started breakfast while they slept and I found I had more peace.

      Over the years, I’ve needed to become more organized. It definitely helps. I am not a naturally organized person; it takes work, but the more I can do it, the better things go.

      I’ve also learned to cut down the number of toys. We have kept those that they actually play with, and we don’t buy a bunch of toys for gifts for them. It helps with the mess tremendously.

      I do laundry 6 days a week. I have several pop-up hampers in my closet and I sort clothes as I take them off. My children sort their clothes each morning, and I typically wash 4 loads a day. It is my children’s job to fold, hang up, and put away clothing each day. Once a child is 3, that child has chores, including folding laundry (we start with wash cloths, cleaning rags, and cloth napkins at that age), picking up his toys before each meal time, and tidying his room twice a day (before breakfast and dinner).

      A little quiet time each day helps with my sanity. I get it by being up earlier, having a bedtime (some parents don’t have a bedtime for their children, which surprises me, but it is important to me), and having quiet time in the afternoon for all children in their rooms (nap time for little ones and quiet playtime/reading time for older children). The afternoon time gives me a chance to pay bills, read blogs, make bread, sew, make gifts, etc.

  31. amber noelle bechtold

    I love hearing so many perspectives. As the oldest of 5, then I have had 4 kids I felt like I knew what a big family life was like…. But my sister has 7. The biggest differences I see is we all feel that 7 has taken a toll on her. Her ability to give time and attention to all 7. They also struggle to provide the most basic necessities let alone extras( she doesnt work)…so as extended family we pitch in to help for bdays, christmas, daily living etc. So for me everytime she said she was pregnant I just thought- WHY?? You can barely afford the ones you have!! Also its always crazy with all the kids together. I dunno…its sooo personal and we have respected her and her husbands decision to have a large family- but inwardly its hard because like others have mentioned I feel like her life has become nothing but kids, and shes always stressed and its chaotic :(

  32. My son attends a school with a number of large families. I find that friendships are difficult to navigate with kids from large families because although we have lots of his friends over, their families do not reciprocate by having him over. I understand that the logistics of adding a kid and arranging playtime for one kid isn’t a priority, but it hurts my sons feelings because he really enjoys his friends and wants to spend time with them.

  33. Gabrielle, thank you for bringing up this topic. I read every comment and find people’s responses so interesting. I appreciate that you made a space where people can give their opinions and share ideas in a safe space. I am one of two. My husband is one of three. And we married and had seven. That wasn’t the plan originally, but I am so glad we did! Our kids range in age from 7 to 24. Our youngest is in first grade and our oldest is pregnant for the first time. I love it! But here’s the thing I don’t love: that in our society it seems normal and acceptable to comment on someone else’s fertility. Whether its a well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) relative or a stranger at the grocery store, others making comments such as “are they all yours?”, “are you planning on having more?”, “when are you going to start a family?” is just strange to me. Family size and fertility are private issues. You just don’t know where the person is at. Have they just miscarried? Do they have a boy and a girl, but long for a large family that will never be because of health issues? Are they a newly married 22 year old and think it’s none of anyone’s business when, or if, they have children? We must be compassionate, kind, and supportive of families. Whether it’s large families, families with no children or somewhere in between.

    1. I totally agree with this. I’m astonished by the things that people will say to others, especially to complete strangers. Everyone is on their own journey and we never really know what that journey is or is like for them. I’d never dream of asking someone about their family, particularly someone I don’t know, unless they initiated a conversation about it.

      1. Yes, even the innocuous comments can be so hurtful! I have a friend with four boys who had a daughter in January. In May, her baby passed away unexpectedly and for no apparent reason. People see her out with her kids and say things like “are you going to try for a girl?” They mean no harm but still, how painful.

  34. I have 2 boys (almost-5 and 7), and because I grew up in this size of family I probably considered 4+ to be large by comparison. I’m 99.99% sure we’re done. As a type A-introvert-anxious-overthinker it seems like if I were to add more kids my emotional health might suffer simply from not being able to mentally handle the organization required for 3. I do experience a little spark of envy around large families, and have daydreamed about adding another. That part of me imagines I’d adjust my thinking, my personality, to be able to handle it. The logical side of me isn’t so sure that’s possible.

    I have plenty of friends with 3+ kids, and believe there are SO many variables that determine how well it works–kid ages, kid and parent personalities, parenting style, etc. For me, the family dynamic and how well my parenting style meshes with another family’s style is what determines how well we get along and whether we hang out…not # of kids (although sure, family size may determine schedule availability). There are some families with only 1 or 2 kids I may dread getting together with because of kid behavior issues, awkwardness between us as parents, etc., and families with 4 kids who I’d invite over any day, anytime.

  35. What an interesting discussion! I’d say 3+ kids qualifies as “big” family around here. We had 5 kids in 6 years (now they are ages 11-17, one set of twins) and it is non-stop chaos and crazy loud and its definitely not for everyone but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

  36. I’m an only child, so large families have always fascinated me. I have one child now, and hope to have 3 total! A huge difference from my childhood, but since my husband and I come from very small families we need to create our own! ;) One question I have is why Mormon families tend to have larger families. No judgement here, I’m genuinely curious. There weren’t many Mormon families where I grew up, but the few that I knew had 5-6 kids each, and I’m seeing that echoed in the comments here. Would love to hear more about reasons why.

    1. I think there are a variety of contributing factors as to why Mormons tend to have larger families. Some are cultural. I think it’s partly a self-perpetuating phenomenon (I. E. “I come from a large family so I’d like to have a large family too”). The more large families you kmow, the more comfortable you are with having a large family. I think Mormons are also much less likely to stop having children for financial reasons. I think it’s just not seen as a very valid reason (especially since so many people grew up in a large family where maybe money was tight and so they figure they can make it work too). Which perhaps means that they are more willing to “go without” if it is because of their children. Parenthood (especially motherhood) is held in very high regard within the church and families are considered to be the foundation of society and the most important thing we can do in this life. (As you can imagine, there are some negative repercussions to this line of thinking – especially for those who don’t marry or don’t have children, for mothers who feel like theyre failing, etc etc). Anyway, I am by no means an authority on this subject, but since no one else had responded to your comment, I thought I’d give my 2 cents from my observations (I come from a family of 5 kids raised in NYC and am about to have my 4th in a western city in Canada and I am LDS). I’d also be happy to hear others’ input here!

      1. Honestly, I just like babies. My dad loves babies, my sisters love babies, so we all had lots. We’re Mormons in the Midwest where having lots of babies in any religion is common. My sister lived in Pittsburg for a while with her 8 kids, and there were many families in her neighborhood that had families as large as her’s or more, and who weren’t Mormons. She loved it. But mostly, in our family, we just love babies.

  37. Reading the question that was addressed by Gabby, I would say that the author of that question, should be open to more children. The only thing holding her back, is peoples perceptions and that is not a good reason to do or to not do anything. One of the most beautiful things a person can do, is to love another child.

    Personally, I have six kids, ages one through nine, and love them so much. We would like to have more and are actually looking into adopting after hosting. I am a type A person, and every child has caused me to stretch and grow in a whole new way, each time. There is just more love. The type A personality helps me with the organization and work that goes into having a large family. It is more work than I have done for anything but so worth it.

    Practically, we don’t live in a large house, we have one car as a family (a Honda Odyssey and will probably get a Ford Transit), we live on the East Coast, if we travel we normally stay in an AirBnB. We are not wealthy and will most likely not pay for college. We grocery shop at Aldi and we rarely go out to eat. We do not have family that helps, babysits, etc, but we do have a nice faith community.

    I did not grow up in a nice family, so I treasure every bit. To anyone that is thinking about having another, go for it. Because of my family size, everyone comes up to me and feels the need to tell me their story, etc. There are so many people who let little things hold them back. I have never heard of someone regretting having another child.

    Also, after I had number 5, a lot of the comments stopped. People must have realized we are just crazy, or that whatever they said didn’t matter. It doesn’t.

  38. I have 5 children ages 14-4. So many good comments here. I haven’t read every one so hope I’m not repeating but here is my one bit–I think it’s important to be positive about my group when out in public (and privately :), so whenever I get comments about “Wow, that’s a lot of children,” or “You’ve got your hands full!”, I try to always reply with a smile and “They’re a really good crew to have.” I want people to know I love these five humans and very particularly wanted each one.

  39. Imaginary scenario: You go out to eat with five of your best friends. Strangers in the restaurant come by and say the following things:
    1) Are they all your friends?
    2) I could never handle so many friends at the same time!
    3) I wish I had that many friends……
    4) Are you trying to make more friends?
    5) You already have five girlfriends…Are you trying for that boyfriend?
    6) Don’t you know how friend control works?
    7) Maybe you should talk to your doctor about your friend problem….
    8) Wow…Your friends are really well behaved!

  40. Thank you Gabby for posting my email! When I wrote to you…I felt in a particularly vulnerable/insecure spot. We became parents to our 4 boys in the span of 5 years and I’ve been realizing that our family has changed so quickly that I haven’t completely allowed myself to just be proud of our incredibly unique, beautiful, sweet (and loud) family.

    I LOVE each and every comment that I’ve read above. I really appreciate each and every perspective. And you know what…you are so right…it is a really overwhelming season of parenting when kids are little and it won’t be like that forever. I’ve really let myself get hung up on the personal comments that people ask about our family (even though I’m actually not a very private person) because I’ve been worried that they don’t want to be around us, that they think less of me, that I won’t fit in etc. I’m so embarrassed that I’ve felt that way because the reality is that I love our crazy family and I can’t even really imagine not having another kid.

    I agree that teaching our children to behave is a huge piece of not feeling like a “circus”. Pre-children…I would have rather of spent my time with a mom of 5 well-behaved children than 2 terribly behaved kiddos ;)

    So, again, thank you all for your thoughts and I want to hear more! It is so helpful hearing from all different types of families.

  41. To me a big family is 4+ kids, and that has never really been on the table for me. My husband has mentioned 4 or 5 as a number, but that was before we had any kids, so his number has gone down a bit. :)

    I feel like it is hard to even give advice to someone about how many to have or how close to have them because it is just SO dependent on your situation–your finances, your community, your extended family, your personality, your marriage, your age, your lifestyle, and perhaps most importantly, the kids you already have. One major factor in our decision making is that our oldest child is a terrible sleeper (“terrible sleeper” like even the sleep consultant who came to our house was surprised how many times he woke up, we’ve visited specialists, we’ve done a sleep study, etc.). Especially when he was younger, I felt like I pretty much had a “special needs” child in that our lives were completely overtaken by his sleep issues.

    Two kids (what I currently have) felt like almost too much to handle when we were living in DC in a one-bedroom apartment without any family within 1500 miles. We have always wanted three, and I we are currently in a “wait and see” mode right now. Now that we have moved closer to family and live in a cheaper city (Houston), I think three will feel very do-able in a few months. If my husband had a larger salary and we lived even closer to family, I think I could do up to four without going completely insane.

    My husband is one of five, and his two sisters each have five (soon to be six for one!). I used to be a little too opinionated about their large families, but now I am defensive when other people criticize them to me. Ha! I love their sweet families so much, and now that I have my own, I realize that it is so complicated and hard to decide how/when/how many children you should have.

    Just a tidbit: When my SIL gets comments like “you know how this happened, right?” (regarding her soon-to-be-six kids), her favorite line is “yes, and we had fun doing it!”

  42. We have one child and as such have received unwanted praise and criticism from people. I have friends with no children and friends with 7+ children. I love spending time with all of them and learning from them. Imagine life if all our friends made the exact same choices and had the exact same priorities. The bigger families are louder, that’s physics for you….

  43. I know that might come out of scope, but couldn’t not say it !!!

    I am a proud mom of 1 boy !!! Yes just one !!!
    You see, not all of us had the luxury to have 2, 3 ,4 or more !!!
    I’ve always wanted more ! we just couldn’t have more !!!

    But along my secondary infertility journey, a feeling of “distance” toward big families has emerged, mainly due to the same stupid comments like “Oh just one, that must be very easy for you !” “Only child, you don’t have the same load as us” “Oh you are sooo lucky to just have one” “ONE !!! doesn’t he get bored?”… bla bla bla bla…

    Honestly it came as a reaction to all this criticism, that I’ve learned to accept our little family of 3 and love it no matter what… and to find happiness with as little as we have… After all, it’s not the quantity, it’s the quality…

    1. Anna, I have a big family, and I get negative comments. I would also NEVER say those comments to you! I know so many people who have fertility problems.

      I know a couple who had one baby, who died shortly after birth. I can only imagine the pain they must have when people ask them why they don’t have children. I would hate to have to explain to people all the time if I were that couple.

      So, I don’t ask. If a couple has been married for years and doesn’t have children, either they cannot or don’t want to. It’s not my business. Likewise, if they have one, I know secondary infertility is a very real thing. I know people could have had one and had multiple miscarriages. There’s no need to hurt people with nosy comments.

      I wish you a lifetime of happiness with your son! I am sure he is a joy and a delight to you!

  44. I have 4 kiddos, 9 years, almost 7, 4 (3 boys), and 1 year (girl). All of our kids were planned. My husband comes from 4 and I come from 2 and always wished we had a bigger family with more siblings. But my parents both came from huge families (my dad is from 12, my mom is from 8) so they didn’t want to have a lot of children.

    It’s always interesting to think about the issue of family size and what fits for some and not for others. I feel like we are complete at 4 and since mine are young and closer in age it feels a little crazy sometimes but there is so much joy and life in our house as well. I am not assuming that anyone with less or more children don’t feel that same joy, I just know this is what works for us. I also see how my husband is with his siblings (they are pretty much the adult version of what we have in terms of age spacing and gender breakdown). My SIL also has 4 kids around the same age as mine and the cousins all spend time together and it’s fantastic.

    My personal observations about a “big” or moderately big family are:

    1) There seems to be a considerable amount of judgement and assumptions on the part of people who don’t know me or us. We do have one on one time with our kids, we still have date night, my husband and I vacation alone, and we support each others time with our respective friends as well as just time alone.
    2) I have been both praised and criticized pretty openly by strangers which I think is such an odd experience. Sometimes it’s nice but I often think about why we socially feel the need to comment openly about other peoples life choices. My hands are full, but they are full of love.
    3) These things tend to happen without any conversation WITH me about my family choices. I don’t feel the need to explain myself and quite frankly don’t care what criticism anyone has about our situation. I love it. I’m grateful to be able to even have children at all so there isn’t a day, even the tough ones, where I am not eternally grateful for my treasures.

    I don’t feel that my life is wrapped up only in the identity of being a mother and not being myself or being a couple. I do have more constraints right now having young children but honestly other than having more littles to take care of my constraints with four are not that far off to what I felt having my 1st.

    I know big families are not for everyone, heck, children aren’t for everyone. I just know that my four are meant to be for me. I think we should be less judgemental all around. I don’t ever look at a family with 1 child and think “you should have more” and I don’t look at families bigger than mine and think “you’re crazy.” I just look and think what a beautiful family.

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  46. Just wanted to comment that a big part of our reason to have 2 kiddos and stick there is about environmental impact and the carrying capacity of the planet. I know his might sound extreme to some, but I do think we have a responsibility to teach our children how to respect the earth and advocate for it. As Americans, we use a huge amount of resources per person. Though ironically, my friend with 4 children who lives in NYC and doesn’t own a car, takes public transport or walks everywhere, might have a lower carbon footprint than people I know with no kids.

    1. Yes, I hear you on this one. We have seven kids, and this is one area that I feel really self conscious about.

  47. I’m not a mom yet (though I definitely hope to have kids at some point!), but for me, anything less than three seems small and anything more than three seems big. I’m one of three, and to me, that seems like a nice, medium number of kids. Both of my parents were from families with 4 kids, and my mom has told me she always wanted 4 as well. But my dad only wanted 2, so they compromised with 3. I know my mom, even now in her 50s, wishes she had another. Most of my friends from my hometown were from families with just 2 kids, but most of the young families I know (with parents aged 30-40) seem to have 3+. So I think maybe 2 was normal in my hometown during the 90s but more families are having 3+ now. There are only a few families that have more than 4, and most (but not all) of those families attend the Baptist Church in town. I think the largest family has 7 kids, and while it seems like a lot, they are also one of the closest-knit families I’ve ever met!

  48. I am the oldest of 5. Dad & Mom had 5 kids in 6 1/2 years then had to stop for medical reasons.

    Grew up in the Catholic faith and most of the families we hung out with had larger families (8, 9, 10 kids) so I’d say 10 is a large family.

    Dad worked two jobs so Mom could be a SAHM, so no vacations away or reasons for hotels or air travel. We had one car and Mom didn’t drive, so if we wanted to go somewhere we walked or took public transit. We had our fair share of meals at Denny’s after Sunday Mass, but the majority of our entertainment was at home or with relatives. My parent’s best friends traveled for work each Summer and for 3 years in a row our 5 kids moved in with their 9 kids and my parents had 14 kids under 1 roof. It was a BLAST! We had the best time!

    Decided at age 8 that kids weren’t in my future. Helped raise my siblings then helped raise their kids while I was in college, so that was enough for me :-)

  49. Two kids here (9 and 12), and I love having two. Would not have minded a third one, but health reasons prohibited that. I come from a country of small families, and my best friend there has two sibilings and herself three kids, so they are already a big family there. My husband has six siblings and is from the Midwest, I do enjoy the big family celebrations we have there with the entire family. My family’s reunions (I have one sibling who has no kids) are so tiny and rather boring and way too civilized compared to theirs …

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