Wednesday, August 5, 2009


NO, this is not an announcement! =0)

I don't know about you mom's, but I am constantly thinking about #3, what my future "final" family is going to be like and specifically, the road getting there. Ever since having #2 and finally adjusting to more than one child I wonder how the third, fourth, etc will be. (No, I don't know how many kids we are planning on having=0)

The point of this post is not to inquire about what is right or wrong about the number of children to have or how often. That is a personal matter with many different variables and situations that have no right or wrong answer. My wish is to get general feed back about how to handle having a "large" family/multiple children...

What is your experience or opinion on having a "successful" aka functioning "large" family? (Now a days it seems like 3 or more is large...)

What is fact and fiction about easiness or difficulty of the X number of children? (Some say two is the hardest others say 3...)

Do you think about this same issue? Or am I the only one out there?


Courtney said...

Wow...maybe I am the only one. Sorry if this was too personal...?

Tannie Datwyler said...

No, it wasn't too personal at all Courtney (at least I didn't think so). I think it is a valid question. Readers just aren't commenting as much as they used to.

I've been thinking a lot about this since you posted it, and I'm not sure that there is a fits all answer to having a successful family (of any size for that matter).

I think some good advice I could offer would be to stick to your vaules (so if you are religious, make sure you are teaching those principles from the start) and to stick together. Spend a lot of time playing together and working together. ESPECIALLY the working - I think that really has the capacity to bring families together.

I also think that parenting books are sometimes really handy too. Especially if you can read something that relates to having a big family - it might give you ideas and spark some things. I'd suggest Raising Up a Family to the Lord by Gene R. Cook.

I hope that helps.... a little. :)

pawlyandsandy said...

Well I'm personally a fan of larger families. I've heard others say that once you have 3 it really doesn't matter how many you have, you can do it or it's pretty much the same. I think having your children around 2 yrs apart is good. Some would argue that that's too many young kids at once, but speaking as the youngest of 5 and my closest sibling being 4yrs older and the oldest 10 yrs older. I'd say having them closer builds a healthier family of close sibling relationships.

Yeah, I don't know how to do it though. I'm not really sure our parents, or parents of large families would say they knew what or how to do things. You just work with what you are given.

A friend of mine, from a very large family. Said she loved it because it helped the older ones mature more as they helped out with the younger ones and I think that's what having a big family is all about. Helping and loving each other. I figure the more kids, the more helping hands and the more fun.

Megan said...

I don't think this is too personal, I've just been thinking of my response before writing it!

I have 4 siblings and for the most part the four oldest in my family are 2-2 1/2 years apart and my youngest sibling is 4 yrs. younger than the next sibling. I agree with Casandra's comment about having children 2 to 3 years apart. I agree that it makes for closer relationships between siblings and they always have someone close to their age to hang out with. I've also heard once you have 3 or 4 kids, you can basically handle more if you decide to have more.

I also agree with Tannie, that you should start teaching what standards and values you expect you kids to live by as early as possible and that it makes it easier down the road.

Great topic Courtney!

Universitybabe said...

I have not left a comment before now for two reasons. One, it is a lot of work when my to do list is already longer than my day. Two, my family is everything and I guard it closely, so putting "us" out there is scarry. That being said, Here are my long and rambling thoughts on Large families. I am the mother of four children under the age of 5. Five days a week I take on another, almost two year old, for about 6 hours a day. So for the majority of the week we are a family of 5 kids five and under--a lot of little bodies full of boundless energy. For my family organization is HUGE. Shoes, clothes, one on one time, meals, bed times all of it has to be organized. By this I don't mean strict rules but more flexible order to our lives. You hear "pick your battles" a lot but really, that is what I have to do all the time. Am I going to worry about my son wearing the pink tutu of his older sisters? Not unless he starts showing preferance for it. Am I going to freak out about if we miss a nap? Not unless I am fed up with the chaos and need a few minutes to put myself back together. But, I do refuse to feed them until their mess is picked up--sometimes, they miss lunch. I do insist on them sharing responsibility for household tasks like emptying the dishwasher of anything but glass, putting silverware away, bringing down laundry, sweeping up crumbs after a meal. I can not do it all, the work is good for them, and we are able to enjoy many things we otherwise wouldn't if we didn't move like this. Our first priority is our standards. My husband and I hold high expectations of our children and only lower them when the children prove to us that it is too much. To function, well we just have to roll with the punches. Sometimes one child has a hard day and cries a lot. Some days they all take turns crying and I have a lot of figurative "fires" to put out. Yet other days, it is me crying. If you want a large family, do it. Just know that it is a lot of work. A lot of work. (I hear the blessing increase as much as your capacity to love increases with each baby) You have to be willing to stand firm, and yet be willing to flow at the same time. One of my toughest challenges is that for all the work I do there is no recognition of it. I have to give myself the "kudos" quite often that I am doing a good job, and I have to seek approval from my Heavenly Father so often that I think he gets tired of me asking "Am I doing right? What do I do about this? Is this what you want?"

Universitybabe said...

Fact and Fiction--they are all hard! With number one you adjust to packing, tending and caring for more than just you 24/7. With number two you adjust to planning ahead more, dividing attention, sharing time, and worrying about how you are scaring #1 for life by throwing #2 into everything with them. When you get to #3 you learn how to perfect "the look" since you don't have enough hands, you learn priorities, you learn what you really value and how to fight--and win every time (losing takes too much energy.) When #4 comes along, you get down to necessities and know how to get straight to the point. You learn how to delegate--and be happy with someone elses idea of how that responsility should be done. You learn the vitality of taking time to regroup for yourself. With number five, well, you get the gist--you are always learning and adjusting and figuring out what works best for you and your family--When you have four and think back to when you had one it looks easy--but like giving birth your vision is out of focus and the edges are blurred the true pain and struggle are forgotten. You can't focus on it anyway you have today to deal with.

My opinion on distance between children-- I heard it put this way once, "What is the apropriate space between children?....Far enough apart that they can't touch each other." I like having my children close (preferably ~20 months to 2&1/2)I told my MIL this way I got out of the diapers and potty training and challenging stuff fast instead of dragging it out over twelve or so years. (Her oldest and youngest of the 4 are about 12 years apart.) My kids are into the same kinds of things and going through similar challenges, they are great peers and I love it.

Don't get ahead of yourself, take it one at a time live this moment until the next and then don't look back but live that moment. I blog to cope a lot of the time (as well as to keep record of my family, since I print off books so that we have hard copies and pictures) You can find my ramblings here:

I put up a post a couple of months back about how the public responded to my family in one adventure and you can find that post here:
scroll down to the couple of posts from May 11.

My final piece of opinnionated advice, you can be velcro and "borrow" good that you see in other families but be your own family and do everything with your own flare. Don't exptect or try to be a copy of someone else but always adjust things until it fits you, your kids, and your family. There is only one you and there is only one of your family.

Chris and Laura said...

I grew up in a family with 7 kids...six born within eight years, then an eight year gap and one more. So while I can't necessarily speak from the parent's perspective, I can comment on the sibling side of things!

It was (usually) really nice to have a lot of siblings around--there was always someone to play with when we were little, or someone to talk to when we were supposed to be going to bed...all those things that you can't do with a friend all the time. For the most part, I really enjoyed it. Now, having more kids does mean more opportunity for fighting and sibling rivalry, but I think that's just part of the territory and not something that should have any kind of large influence on the decision of whether or not to have more kids.

There were a few things I remember my parents doing that I think helped a lot in managing a lot of kids--and they can be applied to families of any size, really. One was the Star Program, and one was dates.

Here is how the star program worked: Each day of the week, one child is "star". That child automatically gets quite a few privileges/responsibilities that day. One, they would say all the prayers at mealtimes, as well as family prayer. They got to choose first where they sat in the car or at the table--remember how there was always that one "best seat" that everyone wanted and the rest really didn't matter? Well, the star would always get that seat and no one complained because they knew they would get their turn when they were star. Also, if Mom or Dad had an errand to run and could take one kid, they would take the star. Again, no one complained about who got to go because they would for sure get their turn, so there was no worry of being left out.

This system worked really, really well for our family. Of course, if you have exactly seven kids, it doesn't work as well because then each person is always star on the same day of the week, which would make it a little less fair (Saturday star always gets to run the errands, Sunday star never gets to go anywhere but church, etc). Our family does have exactly seven, but by the time my youngest brother came around, the rest of us were old enough that we had mostly outgrown being star. But with six little kids between 4 and 13, it was perfect.

The second thing my parents did was dates. One, they would take us on dates occasionally. They weren't ever any huge deal, but we would go out to eat (fast food, usually) and then maybe to a dollar movie or out to a park or something. Having that one-on-one time, even when it wasn't every often, was always fun and made us feel like we were still special even though were so many of us.

The other side of that was that my parents would always go on a date by themselves on Friday night. We all knew that Friday night was date night, and we couldn't interfere with that. I think it was really good for my parents to have that time just the two of them, because they always came back more ready to handle us, working together as a team. Even then, I could tell a difference on the occasional weeks they didn't go. Things were always better when they did!

So, there is a little about my experience. I've heard that going from 2 kids to 3 is the hardest, for a couple different reasons. One, the parents are now outnumbered by the kids. Two, you only have two hands and you can't easily hold three kids at the same time. That said, I'm still working on number 2--I haven't even tried that yet!

I know that a lot of this is mostly personal preference, situation, etc. But I think it's good to think about the different aspects of having multiple kids early on while making plans. Life doesn't always turn out how we plan, of course, but it's good to at least have an idea of where our families are headed. Good question, Courtney!

Jared and Delia said...

WOw! Rebecca....your comments were amazing and so informative. Thank you! Courtney, you are not the only one to think about this.

I come from a small family of just two children and we have just two children ourselves at this point. I personally feel that a large family is good. I want one...if that will happen is yet to be determined.

I think that a large family provides more opportunities for work, since the parents NEED the help and everyone has to pitch in. There is more opportunity for learning the meaning of sacrifice and compassion. Larger families often don't have the resources to give every child a Nintendo DS and a cell phone - which I think is good! Everyone has to sacrifice, do without, learn to share. This may seem like a boon to a teenager but it creates a crucible where good character is more easily born.

Just having two children is tiring to me, but the blessings outweigh the struggles. My kids are 3 1/2 years apart. We wanted them closer but they come when they come. They get along really well so far. Will they be best friends when they grow older? I don't know. For now it is easier than having one child in many ways. They play with each other and keep each other out of my hair so I can do the dishes. They keep each other entertained in the car now. The 4 1/2 year old can be a second set of hands for me sometimes, bringing in some groceries and grabbing things for me that are out of my reach.

The things that make me exhausted just thinking about are potty training and well...potty training. Hate, hate, hate cleaning up poop outside of a diaper. So...if I could clump all our kids together like Rebecca than I would just be doing this for a couple of years and then be done with it. I like that idea. It doesn't translate into real life for us. I won't lie. Having young children make going to school for my husband very difficult. Having a pregnant wife and then a newborn make it almost impossible for him. Our timing often ends up coming out how it will benefit the WHOLE family or in the case of our second child just when the Lord sees fit to send them. Each family is different though.

Really...realizing that we can decide what we want but that may not be what the Lord has in mind or what will actually happen is humbling. I know of a mother who wanted all her children close together and to have a large family. She had 3 children in four years and then was diagnosed with breast cancer. She now can't have anymore children. Another friend I have wants children so badly but cannot right now. I have other friends who have successfully had three children but are now infertile. Realizing that there are so many road blocks that we can approach, we must try to pray about our decision and then do what we feel we are supposed to do. Just do the best you can and don't set a number of children on your ideal family or on your happiness. Make your ideal family now and then any additional family member you can add to that mix an even greater blessing.

Tannie Datwyler said...

I like all the different thoughts and advice - this is a great topic!!

A couple other things I thought about. In reference to the question of how far apart your children should be, I think that again that is very personal. I like what was said about clumping it all together to get through the hard years. At the same time, I love having a little baby around I think it would be good for me to have them a bit more spaced out so I could enjoy those baby years for a while.

Other things that might make you stop and think are things like the health of your family and body and finances. What it if isn't possible to have them close together? Like Delia said - they come when they come.

I think that the biggest thing for me is trust in the Lord. I don't really like answering the question "how many kids do you want to have?" because I never have an appropriate answer. I want a big family, though I don't know how many kids that means (I usually give some vague 4-6, or more if that feels right answer), and more importantly than that I want what the Lord wants for me.

I've thought a lot about the spacing between my next two kids. My first two are 2 years apart, and I've liked that. However, my husband is in school right now and I'm not entirely sure if we can have another baby as soon as I'd like because our finances (and insurance) are so unsure - not to mention that we don't even know where we are going to be in the next year or so.

The other thing that has given me pause is this - my husband comes from a moderately small family (3) and I come from a large family (7). I asked my mother-in-law once how she knew that three kids were right for her. She said this, "I had my first three just 2 years apart each and at that point I had a 4 year old, a 2 year old, and a newborn - I needed a break! By the time I got done with my break, there was too much space between the youngest for me to want another." That's made me think that if I want a big family and don't want to be overwhelmed, then maybe I'd better give myself a few years inbetween 2 and 3. Only you and your husband can be the judge of that.

Another example is a very dear friend of mine who is pregnant for the 3rd time and her 3rd will be just two years behind her 2nd (and it was the same with the elder two). She told me that they wanted to have their number 2 and 3 about three years apart, but they felt that it wasn't right. They felt the need to have another baby sooner and I know they got that impression from praying and sticking close together and to the spirit.

You do what is right for you, but don't only trust in yourself. Trust in what feels right and what the Lord tells you is right.

I hope my ramblings make sense Courtney.....

Most of all - remember that no family or parent is perfect. And only the Lord knows our struggles and our successes perfectly. Don't ever be tempted to judge someone else, and in the same vein, don't even feel judged!

Christina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christina said...

A lot has been said about large families, learning to work, and spacing children close for better relationships. I think the same things can be achieved with a smaller family and children spaced several years apart. I've seen very large families whose kids don't get enough attention and end up in trouble. And if you've ever watched 18 Kids and Counting, you've seen a large family run like a well-oiled machine (with well-adjusted children). Ultimately, how many you have and how quick or slowly you have them depends on YOU.
Personally, I couldn't retain my sanity and raise lots of kids. It wouldn't matter anyway, because we have fertility issues and only have a small number of embryos frozen.
I think the most important thing is that we respect each other's choices and not jugde someone else for choosing to have a kid every 2 years or wait 5. Like others have said, it's a personal decision.

Courtney said...

WOW!...WOW! What INCREDIBLE comments! I love hearing of frist hand experiences as the child and parent! Thank you! Thank you everyone!

Anonymous said...

I think something else to think about is this - if you are in the situation where both you & your spouse have to work, will you have the emotional & mental ability to have more than what you have now? For instance - I have 3 kids
(6 1/2, 4 & 1). I went back to work full time teaching school last year & I commute down to Ogden (an hour from our home). My husband got laid off from his construction job & had to find something else & all he could find was working in the oil fields 3 hrs away (Rock Springs, WY). I'd LOVE to have at least 1 more, but, I have to stop & think how much of a toll it would take on me since I am the one basically raising our family right now. We don't know how long my husband will have to work in the oil field & it's really hard for him to be away from the kids as it is. If we had another one I think he'd want to quit his job & move back home so he wasn't missing that too. Then we'd have the problem of finances. So even though enlarging our family is something we'd like to do & we like to have them about 2 yrs apart, I just don't think it's possible right now without me losing my sanity!!

On another note-I was really worried about going from 2 kids to 3. However, the personality of my first 2 are such that they have been fantastic with #3. My daughter is old enough to actually be of help & once my 4 yr old figured a few routines out, he was more help than hinder as well. I think that if we had another one within the next year than #3 would do just fine with #4 (partly because of his personality & partly b/c I know #1 & 2 would know how to help out!

On The Go Family said...

As for spacing of kids, I don't think there's a magical formula. I think you have to go with what feels best based on your disposition as a mother, your husband's/familiy's availability to help, living circumstances, etc.

Our two kids are two years apart -- exactly. To be honest, we felt a bit pressured after the first to move ahead with a second and we gave in to the social pressure and got pregnant. That first year was really hard. We were living overseas when our son was born, but had to move back to the US when he was two weeks old. We didn't have time to buy a house, so for two months, I lived with family members while he tried to get things set up in our new home. When we did finally all move in to our new place, it was the dead of winter and very, very cold. We spent months alone in our basement, not really meeting people and feeling very alone.

I often think back on that and wonder if under other circumstances, the two year gap would have been fine. Who knows! Though it was hard, we don't regret having our kids close (though we haven't followed suit with a third.) Now they are 3 and 5 and great playmates (with some occasional fights).

As for a third ... my husband has been in grad school the past two years (on top of working full-time) and we decided to wait until he's finished to continue our family. I've essentially been a single parent while he's in school and it's been a real challenge. This decision felt right and has confirmed by the spirit numerous times. I think if we had had a third while he was in school, I would have gone over the edge.

We have certainly felt the social pressure to continue our family as those around us have, but I'm so happy we have stuck to what feels right for US. I'm a little sad that the spacing between two and three won't be close (at this point, we're looking at at least a four year gap) but waiting has been a huge blessing for us during this challenging time. I've loved the time I've had with my two kids as they are both now potty-trained, almost napless and able to do a lot of fun things that wouldn't be possible with a baby in tow. It has been so rejuvenating to me as a mother.

As for number three? School ends in December (hooray!) so we're getting closer. I'm confident that through the power of the spirit and as we evaluate our own circumstances, we'll know when the time is right.