What is it like to be a mom of 10 kids?! I get asked this question all the time. The best analogy I have is that having 10 kids is like hosting a birthday party every day, but the guests never leave. The amount of work, planning, food, activities, and fun that go into a party is what I do every day.
To get a few awkward answers out of the way . . .
- Yes, they are all ours.
- We know how they were made.
- Amazingly, there are no twins.
- We do own a TV.
- Our hands are full, and so are our hearts.
- No, our older kids aren’t raising our younger kids.
- I drive a 15 passenger van.
I am an only child who always wished for a big family. Luckily, I met an amazing guy who was willing to go on this journey with me. Our journey hasn’t been easy, I have had multiple HG (Hyperemesis Gravidarum) pregnancies and postpartum depression, but the family we have created is worth it.
Being a Mom of Ten: What It’s Really Like
Just like every family, we have our challenges. Our kids range from teens to toddlers, so we have every childhood age and stage happening simultaneously. We sometimes struggle to meet everyone’s emotional needs, but we do the best we can. Burnout is real. Meeting all the kids’ needs doesn’t make much time for me, but I have learned to set some boundaries and make sure that I take care of my physical and mental health.
There are three things that we worry about most. Logistics, time, and money are the daily puzzles we have to solve. I’ll try to address how we solve these in this article, but we’re self-aware enough to know that our methods won’t work for everyone. This isn’t an instruction manual; it’s a glimpse into our big family life.
Logistics Takes Organization
As you can imagine, the logistics of a large family require time and organization. Coordinating our kids’ school activities and sports is a full-time job. I have a giant wall calendar, and every child has their own color marker. We have also learned to ask for help, i.e., setting up carpools with neighbors for sports practices. In our house, having routines is critical. Downtime or unexpected events like illness can create chaos. The laundry alone is a colossal undertaking, and the washing machine seems always to be running. A few other stats: We run the dishwasher three times, do three loads of laundry and go through two boxes of cereal and a gallon of milk . . . every day.
Time is Fleeting
Time is what we value the most but run out of every day. I’d love to read more books with the kids. I’d love to sleep longer. Every parent we know gives their kids 100% of their time and energy. We have to distribute that time with a different denominator, and our kids get less individual attention. There are some amazing things about watching our kids figure things out on their own. We also find small moments to connect with our kids.
Smart Money Management is Critical
We’re luckier than many families. My husband has a great job, and we can afford many luxuries that others cannot. However, we do have to be very thoughtful about our monthly budget. Our grocery bill is the size of many peoples’ mortgage, about $3,000 a month. I feed more people each day than some restaurants do, especially during the summer when everyone is home for every meal. Having a weekly meal plan is critical and being creative with our food budget is mandatory. When deciding on extracurricular activities for our kids, we have to be mindful of cost, and sometimes that means our kids can’t do what their friends are doing. It’s hard to say no, but it’s essential that we don’t get overextended.
Hands down, the best part of being a mom of 10 kids is seeing the relationships and bonds develop between our kids. They are not best friends all the time, but there is always someone to play and squabble with. The younger kids learn so much (good and bad) from older siblings. Holidays at our house are a lot of work, but absolutely magical.
Teamwork is Key
Learning lessons of responsibility and teamwork happen in our house daily. Our family only functions if we work as a team, and that means ALL the kids, oldest to youngest, all help out. Each child has responsibilities appropriate for their age. Our oldest kids help out with meal preparation and occasionally watching siblings, while younger kids help take care of pets, clean up toys, and do other household chores.
Resourcefulness is Our Strength
Our large family is really resourceful. We utilize hand-me-downs for clothes, shoes, and toys. My kids are not picky about clothes because they know we use what we have. We try and use up everything in our refrigerator and pantry before going to the store. We can’t eat out or go to the movies regularly, but our kids really appreciate it on the rare occasions that we do.
Small Things Don’t Matter
As a mom of 10 kids, I have needed to level set my expectations. My house is going to be messy and look lived in. We won’t be invited to some parties and places because of our family size. I have learned to let a lot of the small things not bother me and focus on the big picture, which I see as a positive.
The bottom line is I love being a mom of 10 kids. I have the incredible privilege of raising 10 human beings. I can’t imagine a more extraordinary accomplishment. No, I am not superhuman. I don’t have all the answers. Of course, I make mistakes, and I am constantly learning new ways to parent my crew. Whether you have one child or 12 children, we can all agree that motherhood is HARD and AMAZING.