Answers to Big Family Question #1

Thank you to everyone who answered my friend’s question about large families! The question(s) were:

What are some of the things you have chosen NOT to do as a large family?

What are some of the thing you have chosen to do as a large family?

Here are some of your great responses:

Laurel said…

We have an extra-large family (13 children) …

We DO NOT allow the children to play sports all year long. We stick to baseball and track in the spring. (High school kids can also choose a fall sport, if they can provide their own transportation.)

We DO NOT take the whole family out for fast food, unless we are traveling. If we are going to pay to go out, we take the family to a sit-down restaurant so that we can enjoy extended time together. (Sometimes the 15+ crowd chips in on their dinners, so that we can go out as a family.)

We DO NOT watch television.

We DO NOT have any video games (handheld or on the t.v.) We allow very limited educational computer games.

We DO NOT take many airplane trips as a family … but we LOVE extended road trips. (We’ve been to 35 states already.)

We DO NOT (hardly ever) stay in hotels with the family (we’d have to rent 3 rooms). We LOVE our tent trailer that sleeps 9, and we add a little tent when the whole family is along.

We DO NOT go to Disneyland. But, we LOVE to go to Southern California and play on the beaches.

We DO NOT have big family birthday parties. We enjoy celebrating as a family, with the occasional friend or two joining us.

We DO NOT celebrate Christmas with a lot of presents. We LOVE to celebrate with a focus on time together (games, movies, fellowship w/friends, etc…)

We LOVE to go camping.

We LOVE to go on Family Mission Trips. (We’ve taken all the kids to Los Angeles and New Orleans.)

We LOVE to play board games and card games.

We LOVE our annual trip to Family Camp for Thanksgiving.

We LOVE our annual trip to a friend’s cabin on Coeur d’Alene Lake. We LOVE to waterski.

We LOVE to take day trips to … the park, the beach, the lake, the zoo, etc….

So, while we may not do the same things that smaller families do (Disneyland, airplane trips, hotels, restaurants, snow skiing, …) we do not feel that our kids are missing out at all. We have a LOT of FUN with our extra-large family.

Laurel 🙂

KT said…

Our family is half the size of yours, but we don’t eat in ‘real’ restaurants, because of the cost, and because the ET kids are such picky eaters they will just waste the food.
We find lots of free outings!
We play board games and things like madlibs together.
We prepack food for trips out, to save $$.
Sometimes I selfishly feel sad that I cant buy a new outfit I see for one child, but we cant efford it for all the kids, so we mainly do garage sales and hand me downs. But the kids could care less, they seem to have more clothes then they need. And Meya LOVES thrift shopping with me 🙂
Its hard to find time to snuggle with just one child at a time, because the others get very jealous.


Erin answered the question on her blog, but I grabbed a few paragraphs to share with you here.

– We don’t buy our kids cell phones. I don’t think kids needs them until they are old enough to drive. It floors me how many kids in the middle school and even the elementary schools have them. I have told my kids that when they are driving they will have one to use, but before then, it isn’t happening.

– We don’t pay for school pictures. They are usually crappy pictures anyway, and they are way overpriced. We take pictures of our kids and order prints off of Snapfish or Shutterfly.

– We don’t have TVs in the kids rooms. We have one TV, which is the family TV in the living room and we watch it together. We also have one small, portable TV that can play DVDs but has no channels.

– We don’t have new cars (or multiple cars). In fact, we’ve never had a brand new car. We have only one car, and it is a 15 passenger van out of necessity. Josh would love a Jeep or a truck, but we just don’t have the money for it.

– We don’t have horses. This may be the one thing I consider a sacrifice on my part. I grew up riding, and my horses were my passion for a long time. I sold my last horse shortly after Nathan was born, as I didn’t have the time to ride him daily as he needed, and we didn’t have the money to care for him. If we didn’t have such a large and expensive family, I definitely would be involved in horseback riding again. But, there is plenty of time for me to get back into it, and as much as I love horses, I would choose kids over horses any day. 🙂


Signe also answered the question on her blog, which you should visit, but I grabbed two paragraphs to share here:

Things that we do because we are a big family: we hang out together. We play board games, we dance, we play team sports, we sled, we swim, we take family vacations with our extended family. We make use of Grandparents. We support one another. We all go to the same school which as been a huge blessing. When my little ones start kindergarten, Mads will be a junior. I love to have them all at assemblies and class plays. They go to a small private Christian school, which by the grace of God gives discounts to large families.
I try not to do too many activities that involve six people waiting for one person to do something. That said we do do a lot of waiting. We wait at the doctor’s office, we wait for kids after school, we wait for people to find all of their shoes, we wait… It is a great lesson in life because there is always something to wait for. We take turns. Someone is always first, and someone is always last. We work on being gracious on both ends.

Julie wrote:

Things you have chosen not to do as a large family:
Family outings, trips, camping, hiking (esp. all together) have been very limited as our family has grown. This is because of finances, logistics, and trying to limit a lot of changes for newly adopted little ones.
Things you have chosen to still do as a large family:
We have chosen to continue family music: ministry, concerts, recording. Even though this requires a lot of energy, planni
ng, etc, and is challenging for the little ones, it is very important to our teens and is also a small way to speak Jesus to seniors, families, or whoever is listening.
Julie B: Mom to 13 (9 bio, 4 adopted from Liberia) ages 2,3,3,4,5,6,7,10,12,14,16,18,19

We have had a full-to-the-brim weekend with everything from Russ working lots of hours to a Thanksgiving gerbil show (photos to follow), so I am going to let my friends answer for now and I’ll share my answer in my next post. Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond. I’ll post my next question soon.

Tomorrow we head to the “sort-of big city”, 1 hour and 45 min. away, to take Noah, Samuel, Rusty, and Ladybug to the orthodontist. The good news is that I get to go to Target and I have a pretty big list compiled. It will be fun to enjoy being with some of my big kids.

Sweet Pea and Mimi are continuing to recover from surgery. Thank you to everyone who has asked.

I’ll be back!


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Cat and Mark
    November 24, 2008

    I love Target. We live about 5-10 minutes away from home. It would honestly be hard for me to move far away from it.

    How sad is that?

    Enjoy your trip!!! 🙂

  2. Anonymous
    November 24, 2008

    Great input….Thanks, Lisa!

    Lisa H.

  3. Jen
    November 24, 2008

    Is it strange that we already live like the advice given but we are a family of 4.. going on 6 in the next couple months? Sweet post, keep it going.


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