Why Having Six Kids is Easier Than Having Three

During our recent trip to Italy, there were many times we’d be walking down a cobblestone street and be greeted by an Italian exclaiming,  “Complimenti!” when they saw our six kids.  And back home I have had moments when a stranger looks at me with my kids –like I’m some sort of hero — and says “I don’t know how you do it with six kids”.

Believe me, there are a lot of other remarks that I have received that weren’t so complimentary, but the point remains that many people look at a mother with six kids and think that they are some sort of phenomenon, a walking Saint, perhaps part angel-part human?  Either that — or they think you are nuts!

I have to dispel those myths right now!  The nuts thing is harder to disprove, but I can prove that having six kids isn’t anywhere near as hard as it was to have 3 little kids — it really isn’t!  So, my hats off to all of you mothers of littles who don’t realize just what heroes you are!  

The truth is, the summer after having my 3rd child was one of those lost summers — I was like Grandma Moses rocking away on my rocking chair in the kitchen — trying to recover from a very difficult delivery, attending to three kids ages 4 and under, just hoping to survive until my husband returned home from work — that was the point I should have been receiving all the praise for having kids. Because it was really, really hard!

You mothers with your first or second or third child, all under the age of reason, you are the women that I tip my cap to because you are in the most heroic stage of motherhood!  I’m going to assure you that it does get easier!

To prove my point, I offer you my 7 Quick Takes: Why Having Six Kids is Easier Than Having Three

1. All the Unnecessary Gear That Weighs You Down:

Oh the gear I had with my first child!  I couldn’t leave the house without 20 diapers, 2 extra outfits (you never know when they’re gonna have 2 blow-outs) diaper ointment, 5 favorite toys, blankets, snacks, sippy-cup — you name it, I had to be prepared!

Just look at this picture at World Youth Day, 2002.  Yes, that is all of our gear for just one day outside!  You would have thought we were preparing for an expedition to the North Pole, Irish flag and all!  Yes, that is our baby pop-up tent, enough food and water for a week, blankets, baby backpack, ginormous stroller — and we didn’t really need any of it.

I remember jumping on the bus early that morning with a family with 5 kids — also on their way to World Youth Day.  I overheard the husband saying to his wife, “Did we bring diapers?”  I remember being shocked — just shocked! I couldn’t believe how relaxed they were about everything and I was a stress case!

Because I had like 20 diapers for the day, we gave them a few of ours.  So, you see, God provided for them!  And now, we are just like that same family with 5 kids.  We are so much more relaxed and we often run out the door without anything — no extra diapers, no shoes, no snacks — and we are just fine without all that stuff!

World Youth Day 2002. Take a look at all our gear! And what's up with the clunky clod-hoppers I was sporting?
Take a look at all our gear! And what’s up with those clunky shoes — this wasn’t an expedition to the North Pole. 

2. Older Siblings Are the Best Form of Entertainment:

If you only have little ones, you might still be at the “always fighting stage” so I get why adding another child to your own little world wrestling association might not seem like such a good idea.  I get that — because I still have certain kids that fight a lot — and sometimes we are all about to lose our minds with the screaming that happens.

But I promise you, when you see the laughter that happens between your kids or the inside jokes or the great big bear hugs that happen, you quickly forget all that other stuff.  My littles are so entertained by their siblings that it has made my life so much easier than when it was just me trying to reason and deal with 3 little kids below the age of reason!

Early in our marriage, my husband coined a term that turned out to be so true:  “There is no greater gift to give to your child than another sibling”.  This doesn’t mean I advocate having as many children as you possibly can, no matter how overwhelmed you might be feeling — not what I’m saying here.

Rather, it’s good to be reminded that all the things in the world don’t really satisfy the deepest longings of the heart like another child does for a family.  That’s all.

3.  Live-in Babysitters:

This one is huge!  It’s so much work to find a babysitter, call a babysitter, drive a baby-sitter, and pay a baby-sitter, that it really stopped me from getting outside of the house for those little breaks that make a big difference.  I can actually go out to exercise or pick up groceries all by myself because my older kids can now babysit!

Before I had kids, I never knew how amazing walking through a grocery store all by myself could be.  I never knew how nice it was to grab a coffee with a friend and sit quietly and have a conversation.  I never knew how much fun it was to grab a few beers on a Saturday night with my husband.  I never appreciated these things — but now I do!

So not only do I have amazing babysitters who my littles are incredibly comfortable with (they are siblings after all) but I appreciate my time outside all the more.

4. Saving Time and Money on Toys:

This is sort of related to the gear, but it deserves it’s own category.  I used to have so many toys that I thought were necessary to keep my kids happy.  I spent hours reading reviews, spent precious money on nontoxic toys, and freaked out when the favorite toy got misplaced –only to realize that these things brought very little joy to my little ones.

You know what brings joy to my sixth child, besides the already mentioned siblings?

Potatoes — that’s right, small potatoes — preferably yukon gold and organic for when he starts to eat them. 🙂 Potatoes are a go-to entertainment for this kid.

One of the favorite go-to "toys" yukon gold potatoes! Hours of fun!
One of the favorite go-to “toys” —  yukon gold potatoes! Hours of fun!

You know what else, an orange makes for hours of entertainment at a conference — again preferably organic for when he begins to eat the skin, after throwing it on a dirty floor for an hour.  Don’t worry, my doctor assures me dirt is very good for a baby!

Thank you Lord for fruit shaped like bright orange balls!
Thank you Lord for fruit shaped like bright orange balls! Now I can listen to these talks!

And let’s not forget how entertaining plants can be.  This one was a little messier than I would have hoped for my cream colored carpet — but there’s no denying it is far more entertaining than any of our other hand-carved wooden toys 🙁

You heard of a mic drop? Well, this is a baby version of a dirt drop :(
You heard of a mic drop? Well, this is a baby version of that — oh, no you didn’t!

Let’s just say he wasn’t so happy when I began to take his nice big pile of dirt away 🙁

Let's just say he wasn't too happy about me ruining his fun. :(
Not too happy about me ruining his fun. 🙁

So what I have learned is that kids are entertained by whatever is around them — and most especially whomever is around them.  We just don’t need a whole lot to keep them happy.  I was way overthinking it when it came to toys and stuff.

5.  Closing in on the End of Child-bearing Years Makes You More Grateful for the Kids you Have:

Honestly, there were moments when I dreaded the thought of getting pregnant — not because I didn’t love the kids I had already — but because I was on the edge of exhaustion and couldn’t imagine adding any more chaos to my already chaotic life.

One day I’ll write more about NFP — because it’s amazing — but I now look back and see that God met me every single time I needed Him to.   There were definitely times when I first discovered that I was pregnant that I felt overwhelmed — but a few days of prayer and getting my mind around it would quickly change my fears and worries into gratitude.

Now I realize it’s pretty darn amazing that I have been able to have 6 children grow inside of me, to give birth to them, and to enjoy their presence in our lives!  And if there are more to come, that would be a blessing too!

6.  Maintaining a House is Easier:

Part of our  Homeschooling model is to teach our kids the life skills that they will need to function in this world.  In my opinion, knowing how to maintain a house and cook a few meals is part of those essential life skills.  No matter what they are being called to, knowing the basics will benefit them and the people that they live with.

When I had three little kids, it was just my husband and I who could clean our house.  It was so much to do and I always felt overwhelmed by the monumental messes that surrounded me — it was just too much for 2 people to handle!

And then, all of a sudden, the older ones started to be able to help.  It is amazing how motivated some of my kids are when people are going to be showing up at our house for dinner — I never thought that day would come!

In our house, everybody over the age of reason (the Church says that’s 7) has a job to do.  And honestly, cranking up some fun tunes and working side by side with your kids can actually lead to some fun moments.  I’ve busted a few moves while cleaning with my kids — and I’ve also found threatening to bust those moves when their friends are around is a great bargaining tool with teenagers.

7.  Better Perspective That All the Hard Work is Worth It.

Raising kids is sort of like a crap shoot.  You just sort of try what you think will work and hope for the best.  It can leave you up stressing at night over whether or not you are messing up your kids — because you just won’t know for years whether or not they are going to turn out okay.  When you have only littles, you tend to worry a lot more about every decision you make for them because you’re just haven’t seen the results of all your hard work.

Now, a lot of the foundation is there, and I just have to keep trying my best and leave the results to God.  I’m letting go and realizing that I just have to try to put their hand in God’s and slowly step back and see how they do.

And now that I have some kids who are older, and I have been able to see how amazing they are, it makes me a lot less worried than I used to be.  I’m not saying that they are perfect, but what I am saying is that I really like the young men and women that they are growing up to be.  Honestly, I can’t imagine life without them and there would be a big fat void if any of them had never been!

I would have missed out on a lot of life if I hadn’t said yes to raising these 6 crazy kids.

Looking at this place for the first time? Priceless.
Who could have guessed just how amazing this life with 6 kids would be?

Well, hope this encourages somebody out there — especially those of you who are just at the beginning of raising kids — don’t worry, it’s gonna be great!

~Have a Great Weekend~

Linking up with Kelly.

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14 thoughts on “Why Having Six Kids is Easier Than Having Three

  1. I love this! We are rounding a corner with our oldest two being 10 and 11. Even though they are not teens yet, there is such a difference have a couple who are really and truly helpful with chores and little siblings. I love your blog!!

    1. Hello Jennifer!
      Yay for rounding that corner! 🙂 It’s like a different world, isn’t it? Thanks so much for reading and commenting – it is very encouraging to me!

  2. Thank you moira for taking the time out of your busy days to write posts. They are lovely reads and breaks in a Mother’s Day that assures us that we are not wAlking this path alone.
    Blessings Madeleine

    1. Hello Madeleine,
      Thank you so much for your comment! It is really encouraging to me to keep going and I definitely write hoping that it will encourage mothers who are just like me – we are not alone, are we? And perhaps there’s a lot more like us than we would ever imagine. Thanks again!
      Moira

  3. Thanks for this! We’re expecting #6’s arrival in Spring, and all the others are under age 9, for now. But it really is true that older kids learn those life skills to help out, and the kids keeping each other entertained is HUGE. A large family can be a lot of work, but God also increases your ability to handle it all 🙂

    1. Mel, I gotta say, you just might still be in that heroic stage of motherhood! 6 Kids under 9? That means you have a lot of littles! I salute you because you are amazing! Just keep moving forward, or sit still for that matter — you deserve it! 🙂
      God bless you and your upcoming delivery!

  4. Great post – thanks for this. I have said all along, once you pas through the “four or more” club, it gets easier and you care less about that people say or think. In our first two years of marriage, like everyone else we knew, we had two kids. Then in the next seven years, we had five more. Once you have seven, eight is no big deal, once you have eight, nine is no big deal, once you have nine… I can also tell you one of those blessings we did not expect was how valuable your kids will be to one another as they become adults. Last year we had four children enrolled at the University of Dallas. They all chose to go there (our eldest graduated from there in 2009). But it was pretty amazing having them there at the same time. Two of them graduated last May so two are still two there. But we have a Junior in HS who wants to go there as well. In fact, all six of our eldest children were accepted to UD and I believe the five we still have at home will want to go there as well. Keep up the great work! “The greatest thing you can give your children is a little brother or sister.”

    1. Michael, that is so encouraging to hear! We kind of have a similar story at Franciscan U – there were 3 together at one time, and then 2 more soon after. Anyway, I have to say I am sure your kids appreciate your sacrifices to get them off to a good Catholic College, or they will some day! I know that I definitely appreciate what my parents did for me, and I hope to be able to help my kids to do the same one day. Thanks for the comments and keep going — I’ll try to do the same!

  5. At one point I had six under six! We just had #10 & the oldest is 16! It is so much easier & fun! Three babysitters, two who can cook dinners, & many cleaners. They have built in playmates & friends for life! I the 9th of 11 and my siblings mean the world to me. My kids say they can’t wait to have a group text with yer siblings like I have with mine! There is no better gift! Keep up the words of encouragement! It does get better!

    A.M.D.G
    Regina Peek Vivanco

    1. Regina,
      Thanks for your comments! A group text with siblings — technology at it’s best! I’m just about to have a licensed driver who can’t wait to volunteer her chauffeuring services 🙂 She’s already plotting the ways she can make that her job. He, He.
      God bless!

  6. I have three children, 5,3,and 1 years old. I would like to have more but I wonder if I will be able to keep up. I am tired all the time. I had dreams of a big family and now I don’t know what to do. I pray about it and I can’t decide if it is God calling me to have more or is just me. Some people tell me( specially my mother) that I need to stop having children because I had three c-sections and a miscarriage, and if I die it will be my fault to leave my children without a mother. I just went to the Dr. For a physical exam and I seem to be in good health, just some sort of arthritis. I have a strong desire to try to have at least one more but they scare me. How can I know if it is the will of God to have more? Thanks for your post. I really needed to read something like that, to cheer me up.

    1. Wow Fabiola that is a hard situation to be in! First of all, I’m not a doctor, so check with your own doctor — but it doesn’t sound like your doctor is warning you of any life threatening issues? Maybe your mom is really concerned and sees how tired you are and doesn’t know how to properly express it–so she goes the fearful route to try to make you stop. I know women who have had multiple miscarriages and upwards of 8 c-sections — so it is doable. The key is to find a good prop-life doctor who will help you to make informed decisions and not put you in any danger at all.
      But medical issues aside, it’s okay to take a break and love the kids you have right now, especially if you’re feeling tired and exhausted all the time! The church gives us NFP for a reason, so don’t feel guilty about taking a break until you are feeling stronger and more capable of the physical demands of lots of littles. Maybe you’ll wake up one day and realize that you aren’t as tired as you used to be and your littles are at a better stage, etc…and then maybe it will be the time to try again. Discuss these things with your husband and — of course — pray!
      You ask the question that Christians ask all the time — how do I know God’s will? Well, my only suggestions is that you find a time to pray every day — maybe go to adoration for a half hour a week if you can — and slowly, over time, your prayer time will help you to recognize God’s voice and His promptings in your heart. Also, if you can talk to a good priest about it, he might be able to share some wisdom too. It sounds like you are an amazing mom trying to do God’s will. Don’t worry. Love those kids you have. Stay close to God and it will be fine.

  7. Thank you for this article. We lived this dream – 4 boys and 4 girls in the 1980’s and 1990’s, now as I see how inhospitable our society has grown toward healthy sized families it is heartening to see the small groundswell of push-back from you 21st Century non conformists. Keep it up, and build a better world one baby at a time. It’s a blast isn’t it?

    1. Deacon Forest,
      Thanks for your comment! Oh I love that, “21st Century non conformists” — I bet you’re a pretty amazing Deacon! We need good Deacons out there — so glad to know you’re out there preaching the Word and encouraging people to embrace this crazy, amazing life! God bless!

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