big family

10 Tips for Managing a Big Family

I get asked often “how do you do it” in reference to juggling the five kids, two dogs, a cat, and the rest of life. Managing a big family is truly not as difficult as you’d imagine and I’ve said before that attitude is the absolute most important thing. That’s absolutely still my main idea! I don’t believe that there is any one way to run your life but I’m happy and most days, I’m managing! If you’re looking for them, there are some tips I can offer that I think could help make the process a bit simpler.

1. Have a schedule but be flexible. You can plan to spend time doing specific things in a particular order each day but you need to be willing to let it go if that can’t happen. You might find that making breakfast takes longer than it should due to interruptions. Your toddler is supposed to nap at a certain time but this week they won’t fall asleep until three hours after that. That shouldn’t stop you from making plans. Make plans but don’t be afraid to break them if that’s how it’s working out. Write everything out in your head but do it in pencil and be as cool as you can about unplanned circumstances.

2. Be organized. My personal opinion is that there will always be a level of mild chaos. In our house, someone is always playing with a few toys that are going to be crowded around them. There will always be activities that someone needs to be driven to and meals that need to be on the table. It’s great to have an expected time and place for everything. Keep a calendar and a tentative to-do list. Label shelves, bins, closets, drawers, cabinets, or at least know where everything is meant to go. My entire pantry is labeled so that anyone putting away groceries or taking something out for consumption knows exactly where to go for what they need. It reduces the overall level of chaos and helps with #3.

3. Buy in bulk. Buying in bulk doesn’t necessarily mean signing up for those big box stores. While some of their products are a great value when purchased in higher volumes, it isn’t always the case. Shop sales, price surf, and keep up with coupons. When you find an amazing sale, being able to buy in bulk is great if you have the space for it.

4. Don’t be above hand-me-downs and yard sales. My oldest has a wardrobe made almost completely of Justice, the mega expensive girls’ clothing company, and yet the majority of it came dirt cheap from yard sales. We have bought two entire wardrobes for the price of one outfit bought new from the store. All of the kids’ dressers were purchased from online yard sale groups on Facebook. You can find good quality if you look for it and there’s really no harm in buying used!

5. Be strategic in your bedroom planning. If bunk beds or loft beds aren’t an option, try trundle beds. We used to have bunk beds but with ceiling fans in every room at this house, we decided to go the trundle bed route. Trundle beds are a bed with another bed that rolls out from underneath. We paid less than $200 for the beds, mattresses not included. These are great for sleepovers and guests too, actually.

6. You can’t please everyone! I’m specifically talking about dinner. Pay attention to food likes and dislikes but be aware that perfection is likely not a frequent possibility. If you tried to make a separate meal for everyone, you’d be broke and cooking all night. At my house, we have the main course and multiple sides. Mostly, my kids have specific sides they don’t like and have the option of just eating more of the other side. They all like broccoli though, which I find shocking. My point is, we don’t offer backup dinners. What’s on the table is what’s for dinner. The same goes with places we’re going, activities we’re doing or not doing, and anything else. Someone might not be in the mood. It happens.

7. Share chores. I know some people are Type A and that means that everything has to be done a specific way and in a specific spot, this advice isn’t for them because I know that just stresses you out more. Me, I’m good with you doing it your way until I have time to do it my way. That’s exactly how it goes with my kids cleaning their room. I insist that they do it and there is a certain level of clean it must be. For example: I’m checking under the bed and in the closet. If things aren’t in the right labeled bin, I put them in the middle of the floor and you do it again. Once I have time, I do the deep cleaning and get rid of old toys or find a new spot for toys that may not have had a home yet. I do have a strong opinion on kids learning some responsibility through a few chores around the home but I’m not just talking about the kids. Husbands can help too, especially if you both work. Have a family conversation about what everyone can do to help your home be a happy home.

8. Make time for everyone individually. This doesn’t mean you have to go out to dinner and a movie with each, that can be pricey and completely out of your budget. It is, however, reasonable to be able to make time to read to just one, have a tickle fight with them, or just sit and talk about their day.

9. Go on dates with your spouse. Sometimes people think I’m crazy when I talk about how I date my husband. For the same reasons that I think it’s good to get a vacation alone with your spouse, I think dates are a must. It’s so healthy to get out for a few hours a month to just spend time focusing on nothing but the person you made all of these tiny people with. This is your teammate in all of this, your other half, it’s helpful to continue to get to know that growing person.

10. Do things together as a family. Growing up, we always ate our dinner together at the dinner table. In my family, we try to do something big and fun at least once a month. We go to festivals, zoos, faires, wherever the season takes us. We dress up with our kids at Halloween and we really try to make a lot of great memories with them. Vacations can be expensive but we try to take moderately local ones as often as we can, like when we went to the Poconos for a week. Our Disney vacation is finally underway but it had been put off for a few years! (Follow our Disney planning journey here.)

What kinds of tips do you have to share?


10 Tips for Managing A Big Family

2 thoughts on “10 Tips for Managing a Big Family

  1. We grew up in a big family, and these are good tips! It sure is fun for the kids. One thing I didn’t appreciate as the “runt” of the litter, I would get stuck with my younger sisters’ hand-me-downs! So I learned to sew at a young age so I didn’t have to wear them except for a few I liked!!!

    1. That is awesome advice!! If they expressed any dislike for the used clothes, I would definitely try to look into something. So far everyone is like me and loves them as long as they’re in good condition. (My oldest can’t manage to keep clothes in good condition so we now split a new wardrobe in half so she’s not ruining everything.) Me, I still love getting hand-me-downs from people. Haha!

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