How do you manage the logistics of getting out the door?
Do you consider screaming, yelling, jumping up and down, and stomping a reasonable management technique?
Well let’s just say that is one of my weak spots and move on to the next question.
Do you take all of the children to the grocery store with you? How many carts do you use?
I used to haul all of my children everywhere I went and we were quite the circus. Thankfully, I have reached a sweet spot in this parenting journey. Polar Bear is mature enough to be left home with a sibling or three for short periods of time.
However, I consider the grocery store to be a fantastic class room. Because of the lessons that can be learned, I like to have at least some of my children with me when I shop. I also try to respect Polar Bear’s need to do school work and his willingness to watch his siblings. I don’t want him to become resentful and I don’t want him to lose school time. So, I usually only leave him with one or two siblings.
As far as how many carts I need, that is determined by what kind of grocery trip it is. When I was stocking up before Sweet Pea arrived, we went to Aldi’s and filled two carts with paper products, canned goods, and frozen foods. If I have a bunch of coupons and Giant is having great sales and gas point deals, I may need two carts. Generally speaking, we shop once a week, use one cart, and don’t fill it all the way. While my children are great eaters, many of them are still little. As there are more teens in the house, I am certain I will have a trail of carts following me through stores and our grocery budget will reflect that increase.
How does a large family afford and manage activities?
I don’t know how other large families do it, but I can tell you how we have evolved. About six years ago, our oldest two were participating in homeschool PE, a sculpting class at the Y, soccer, and little league baseball. When my dad was diagnosed with leukemia, we decided that we needed to clear our schedules in order to spend more time with Dad.
My husband and I married because we wanted to spend time together. If we had our druthers, we would work together and spend all day, every day, together. Watching my dad battle cancer and eventually lose his life amplified that desire to spend as much time together as a family as we can. It caused us to choose activities carefully and resist peer pressure a little more.
My husband works about 30 minutes away every week day. When he gets home in the evening, he has about 3 hours before the kids are supposed to be in bed. When our children were in sports, Hubby would take one child to practice while I took another child across the county to a different practice field. It was painful to have our family divided like that multiple nights of the week. As we evaluated our choices, we pulled out of activities that involved only one child and required all other family members to either stand by and watch or stay home. While we were dropping activities like soccer and little league, we picked up activities that allowed us to participate or serve as a family. For instance, when we began working with the youth program at our church, our children were welcome to attend. As we took over the leadership of youth group, our children began attending Pioneer Club which meets at church on the same evening.
Currently, Polar Bear and Hubby are gone once a week for youth group activities. I have a bible study and women’s ministry meeting that each meet monthly and as I help start a new Birth Circle in King George, I will be out once a month for that as well. Other than that, we stick with family oriented activities that allow us to be together. Some examples include our science co-op, care group, and book club all of which allow all of our children to attend.
I think activity management is something that is always in flux in any size family. There are sports leagues and activities out there that may be more compatible to large families and that is something we are looking into. We will likely re-join the Y next year and get our children into Homeschool PE again. For this school year, with this being Polar Bear’s first year of high school classes, getting back into a solid school routine and balancing school with a newborn has been enough.
That is the end of my little series on how our household runs. If there is something I didn’t talk about that you would like to know, feel free to ask.