Balancing the Funny Farm {What It’s Like Having a Big Family}

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I love telling people I have five kids. The reaction on their face is priceless. Probably because it’s rare in society today for people to have more than two or three kids. I mean having a big family 40 years ago was common, just like everyone in the 80s had a waterbed. Yet, no one has had a waterbed in decades…

It’s the same with big families in 2021.

big family

When people hear the ages of our children, they also assume we’re divorced (ages 15, 13, 11, 3 and 1). Nope! I’ve been married to the same sweet man for 17 years. I never once thought I would have a big family. We are both from two-kid families and our parents are the same. We planned for two little people and then had a surprise third. And then, one day we changed our mind.

As I got older, I really started to miss having a baby. I guess I forgot about flaming hot nipples thanks to breastfeeding, or what it’s like to have a baby with a 105-degree fever or dumping poop-filled Dora undies in the trash during potty training. I refuse to wash poop-filled panties when Walmart is down the road. I’m cheap, but I have standards.

So, we took the plunge to have #thefinalfour. And then God laughed, like belly laughed, and gave us sweet Andrew at almost 42.

How do I balance the funny farm?

I’m lucky, really lucky because I work full-time in health care as a director. My job is wonky at best. I’ve been called in at 4 a.m. for a crisis. I’ve been running events at midnight. I worked 70-hour weeks at the height of COVID while pregnant. Here’s my secret sauce: build your bench deep and wide.

My husband works part-time, which means he’s at home a few days a week to take care of the yahoos (what we call the babies). I also have retired parents who live 1.5 miles from our house and my in-laws just moved 1.2 miles away. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and believe me, it does. I’ve been stuck at work and had co-workers drive my kids home from daycare. I’ve organized carpools five moms deep so I don’t have to drive to cross country practice six days a week. My mom picks up the kids from youth group every Sunday. I have built a village and network of family, friends, co-workers that is as deep and wide as I can because I can’t be in five places at once.

I also believe in outsourcing anything that you HATE to do (but can afford). For me, that’s cleaning the house. I won’t pay for groceries to get delivered or for someone to mow my lawn. But scrubbing floors and bathrooms? That’s worth my hard-earned paycheck.

So that’s the best advice I can give anyone working full-time with a big family like ours. Grow your bench however you can – family, friends, co-workers – regardless if you have two kids or a funny farm like me.

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