Having large families
-Why we have chosen to have them.
Leslye- We chose to have a large family because we believe it is a way that God blesses people. Children are a lot of work and take patience and selflessness, both of those attributes are lacking in our world today.
Cassandra- We truly believe that children are a blessing. I do not take for granted that God has given us six children. I have seen women bear the burden of infertility, so I am so grateful that God has allowed me to be a mother. Also, the world seems to view children as a burden, where we see them as a blessing.
-Some of the comments we receive
Leslye-Are you done yet? Are they all yours? Do you know what causes it? You must not have a TV. I can barely handle the kids I have. Good luck with all those kids. You have your hands full. And the most bogus one was ‘did y’all rob a daycare?’ Crazy people!
If you have a big family I am sure you have heard at least some of those before. And if you have more children, no doubt you will likely hear all of those comments when you go out with your family. I try to keep things light when responding to the comments. Knowing that this might be the only time they see a large family in action.
Cassandra- Better you than me, I would go crazy! Did you bring some of the neighbor's kids with out shopping? (Because that sounds like so much fun!) Do you know what causes that? How do you afford it? I remember the days when everyone had large families! You must have so much fun! You are one brave woman!
-Benefits of having large families
Leslye- Kids learn people skills long before adulthood when they are a part of a large family. More hands, more hands for holding babies and helping around the house.
Cassandra- Well, you will never be lonely, that's for sure! It teaches children responsibility, and how to look out for each other. I love watching my sons be protectors to their little sisters. It's fun, and never boring around our house! We also need to be raising families to glorify God, and training them how to bring others to Christ. More and more Christians are choosing to limit family size, and in doing so, we are limiting our influence on this wicked world.
-Are we done yet? ;)
Leslye- No, I hope we are not done yet. When I kiss my baby and smell his sweet smell, I hope that God would be gracious to me and give me more! So many women I know that have had their tubes tied regret it later. I am only 30, I can’t imagine being “done”
Cassandra- I certainly hope not. I am at a point in my life where I have learned contentment. If God chooses to bless me again, I will be so very happy and excited. If he doesn't, I will accept that, I am content with my six children. I am 37, and I am noticing a change in my fertility. I have had two miscarriages back to back in the last two years. If God does choose to bless me again, I will bask in every pain and trial that pregnancy brings. The six times that my new baby has been placed on my chest right after birth are the six sweetest times of my life, there is nothing like it.
Cooking for large families
-Groceries for big families. Budget, thrifty shopping, etc
Leslye- Some of the stores I shop at are Aldi (best price for milk and eggs), Walmart (of course, they have a good organic section), Sprouts (only shop the sales), and co-ops like Azure Standard for buying organic in bulk.
Cassandra- If it wasn't for Aldi, I would be in trouble. I live in small rural Illinois. I have no big stores like Trader Joe's or Costco, or even Sam's. I get all of our food at Aldi, and some health items at Kroger. I can bring in quite the haul for $150- $200 a week at Aldi.
-Some thrifty meal ideas.
Leslye- We love roasted broccoli and jasmine rice! We eat that for lunch a lot! Quesadillas ALL THE TIME, nachos, enchiladas (a staple). My kids love beans and rice. So thankful for my instant pot!
Cassandra- Almost every week we do homemade pizza or pizza bread. Tacos almost every week. Lots and lots of chicken dishes. Stir fry. Breakfast for dinner a LOT. Pancakes, eggs, french toast, etc. Rice and beans.
-Teaching your children how to cook
Leslye- Teaching a child to cook can take a long time, longer than it will take you to prepare a meal yourself, but the benefits are worth every minute you spend teaching! Foods that my kids can make are: eggs, pancakes, french toast, chili, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, enchiladas, quesadillas, nachos, burritos, fried potatoes, and roasted veggies.
Something I want to mention too is that sometimes you will end up teaching your kids to cook out of necessity. There have been times when I was unable to make meals because of health reasons. My kids rose to the challenge and started making simple foods. I taught my son how to make fried and scrambled eggs and he was only 7 years old. He was making eggs for everyone in our family. What a huge burden lifted off of me during those difficult times. Recently I injured both of my knees. My 9 year old daughter took initiative in the kitchen and she has been cooking breakfast every day and coming up with meals all on her own from ingredients that she found in the kitchen, she is learning on the fly, and that is great! She has been a huge blessing. Your kids can learn a lot from you by just watching you as you work in the kitchen. You can have them in the kitchen with you helping with very minor things. They will be picking up all sorts of knowledge, that might be useful if you cannot cook for some reason, like in this case.
Cassandra- Having them in the kitchen is the best way to do it. It's a pain and annoying at times, especially if you are in a hurry, but them watching you is the best way to learn. Abby and Chloe can both make meals on their own now. If you train them to have a dish or two of their own, then that's at least 2-4 meals a week you don't have to cook! It's great when they finally get to the point where you can just let them loose in the kitchen- but be patient. You will have many ruined dishes and maybe even a burned floor (don't ask) a time or two.
-Planning the menu
Leslye- Menu planning is important so you keep your budget. You could do a meal plan around themed dinners for each night of the week. Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Pasta Wednesday, Soup or Chili Thursday, Pizza Friday, Casserole Saturday, Crockpot Sunday. Keep several favorites in rotation.
Cassandra- This is not my forte. I feel like I get stuck in a rut. Especially when I shop at one store all the time. I would love to see some of your menus! I always have my basic meals- Pizza, tacos, chicken thighs with veggies, breakfast foods, ham and potatoes. I would love some fresh ideas.
Laundry for large families
Leslye-I have about 3 loads a day. I usually wash one load at night and my kids switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer. I almost always start the loads because for some reason my kids always wash crayons...My kids fold the laundry once per day and put it all away. I help some, maybe hanging the clothes that need hung up, etc. I do fold the laundry by myself once a week with a trash bag next to me for those clothes that are unloved (been through the wash several times without being worn), too small, clothes with holes, and stains. I have a family closet which has worked very well for our family for over a year. It is a 16 cube organizer from IKEA . Each kid has 2 clothes bins with their name on them. They do not need much more clothes than that. I once was watching a video that a mom of 12 made about her laundry system. A friend of mine with 7 kids wrote in the comments that she only has 1 laundry basket. I just had to ask her how she manages that! She told me that she lets her kids wear the same clothes again the next day as long as they don't have stains and/or they are not smelly. She has a "gym" type outfit for her boys that they wear several days, as long as they are staying home. She has a certain number of clothes for each kid and she only has a few dress clothes for them as well. So I went through my kids clothes bins. I filled a huge 55 gallon trash bag full of things that my kids didn't need. Now I have 2 dirty laundry baskets...woot woot!
Cassandra- My method is basically this- Don't sort, throw all the clothes and a color grabber in the washer together, have the children switch the clothes for you, and do at least two loads a day. I have the kids start it, switch it, and bring it to my bedroom, where I fold it, and they all put it away. As long as I do two loads a day, I stay on top of it. My ironing gets done like this- I throw wrinkled clothes in the dryer. Voila. Wrinkle free.
-Getting the children involved
Leslye- Start the kids out early, teach them how to sort the laundry and how to use the machines. You will be glad you did!
Cassandra- The kids are the main reason we have so many dirty clothes to wash, so yes, the children definitely help do it. The only thing I do is fold it all.
-To make your own soap, or not?
Leslye- Honestly I do not like the smell of homemade laundry soap. I have tried it but I just can't stand the smell. I don't think it really got the clothes clean either. I have tried so many “natural” laundry soaps. They just don't get our clothes clean. The clothes always end up having a funky smell to them. I use Tide. Most moms that I talk to that have used all natural laundry detergent, always go back to Tide. I also use Arm & Hammer, works well for smelly laundry. There is a natural laundry soap that works...if you want to smell kind of like a hippie. Haha! It is called Zum laundry soap. I really like the smell, but it is very strong. Maybe it just works to cover up the smells...
Cassandra- I have tried my own soap, and while it was cheap, I did not like the smell, nor how well it cleaned the clothes. I felt it did not get the stains out, and when you have kids, you will have stains. I can afford a bag of Gain pods every other week, so that's what I do now.
Getting places on time
-Sunday morning routine
Leslye- I need to wake up a couple hours before everyone to get all of my stuff done first. I usually get myself ready, then work on the little kids while everyone else is getting ready. We make sure we set out all of our clothes the night before. It always seems like we can't find shoes and the hairbrushes on Sunday morning, so it is best to find those things the night before. For breakfast we started a tradition of getting sausage rolls on our way to church. Works well for us! We plan to get to church 45-30 minutes early. This is totally possible if you have a big family, but it takes planning the night before.
Cassandra- My routine starts on Saturday night. When the kids were younger, I would get all the clothes, and especially SHOES, laid out the night before. We are always missing shoes if I don't, and yes, we have made Wal-Mart runs right before church for clearance shoes, on the days when I wasn't prepared. I also think ahead for the meal. We eat our big meal at lunch. Many times we eat out, but on tight weeks, I prepare something at home, usually in my crockpot. I always get up two hours before the kids, so I have time to drink my coffee, read my Bible, and get myself ready. Two hours is imperative. Any less than that, and I feel rushed. We keep breakfast simple...it's usually, uhem, doughnuts. Sundays are crazy for us. We do what we have to do.
-Any other appointments
Leslye- Not sure if I mentioned this in our live discussion. But a simple way to get somewhere early in the morning is to have the kids get ready the night before and sleep in their clothes. It is especially helpful when you have a lot of little ones. I remember a time when our budget for clothes was almost nonexistent. We had 4 and 5 kids growing like weeds. I would wake up super early on Thursday mornings to be at the Goodwill before it opened for "Dollar Day." Anything that was a certain color tag was only $1. You can't beat that. I used to buy the kids coats during the off season and shorts in the winter, blankets in the summer. The trick was to get there right when it opened at 8am.
Cassandra- Same basic concept. One huge thing in our household is that we are NEVER late. It is one of my husband's pet peeves when people are late, and he always says, "A McMurtry is never late". Because of this, I plan accordingly. I always aim to be ready at least 20 minutes before we have to leave. This is my window that allows for toddler meltdowns, discipline, lost coats, shoes, lost keys, bathroom emergencies, etc. It works for me.
One thing to remember is while we are offering advice, and showing you how we do things, every family is different. Some things work for me that won't work for you. Also, different families have different priorities. Music is a big deal in our family, so all of the children take music lessons, which means more running around for me. And more money in the budget towards lessons. Some families might think music is overrated. And that's fine. You do your life the way your husband wants you to, and the way that he feels God wants you to. Just try to enjoy your husband, your children, and the life that God has given you.