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Everyone asks me, “Six kids, how do you do it?” I usually tell people it’s not that hard. I’m lying through my teeth, but I don’t ever want to discourage someone from getting a big family the way we did, so I make it look easy. I have found a nice strategy that has helped, and I jokingly refer to it as “Divide and Conquer”. Here is how it works.

With a big family, you still have to complete the day to day activities that any other family has to do, but just with a lot more kids. So where it may not be a big deal to run to the grocery store for most families, for a big family it can be pretty stressful, not only to buy groceries for eight people, but also to have your spouse up and leave you with a handful of kids for two hours all alone. This was a bigger deal when the twins were infants and all the other kids were a little younger and helpless. So as a solution, we would divide up for trips. Some kids would go out, some would stay home. When the twins were infants, they usually got left at home and the older four went out. Even going to church on Sunday, it was sometimes easier to take two cars. One car for kids who could get ready on time, and then the late car. Otherwise, we could never get anywhere on time.

Now that the babies really are not babies any more and the older kids are actually helpful at the store and at home, we don’t do it for the same reason. Now we do it more for quality time. In a large family, we all kind of fit into our little roles and the children’s personalities get a little boxed it. But we noticed that kids are like chemical reactions. Each mixture produces a different result. Take the oldest and the youngest together, and for some reason things always get wild. Take the youngest only, and they come out of their shell a little, but also get along like they never do at home. I think that children need to get out of the group format from time to time to help them communicate to us, and to figure out for themselves, their individuality.  Even if you only have two children, I bet that you will find this to be true. Ideally, you should try to give each child some one-on-one time during the week, but in our house, it’s not likely that you will ever get that opportunity. When we do get a chance though, we take it.

I’ll always remember how stressful it was when they were all so young and we felt so overwhelmed that I really did mean conquer, or at least survive. But now, I see it as a way to get to know my kids more personally. They are growing up faster each year, and before long, if I’m not careful, I will box them into the personality they use to fit into the family setting, but I may not really know them at all. I think that is one of the issues teenagers have with their parents. If you only see your children in one setting, you may not be aware of how much they change and develop in personality and interests.