Author Topic: Big family thread  (Read 3006 times)

caracarn

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Big family thread
« on: August 17, 2017, 06:23:24 AM »
Okits was nice enough to share an older thread about families with 3+ kids that started in 2014.  It has been inactive for well over a year so when I tried to reply to it, the forum genie suggested I start a new thread instead, given that the other one has not had a post in over 120 days (it was closer to 400 I think)).  I'm usually pretty good at following directions, so here I am!

Just as that poster noted, I have been here for nearly two years and noticed there is not much discussion about families about the standard 2 kids.  With my wife and I we have 6, ages 19 to 13, and therefore some of the advice on the forums, like buying a Prius instead of a minivan are hard to follow.  When I joined MMM we all went to the Toyota dealer along with a clown friend of ours, and even using his tricks of fitting a lot of people in a car, we could not get all 8 of us into a Prius comfortably.  Though the salesman enjoyed watching us try.  OK, this was actually a dream I had one night after spending three months reading sequentially through every post MMM had ever written but it still serves to illustrate some of the "nightmares" those of us with bigger families have.

So I'm hoping to have this become a common area for those of us with over 3 kids to share some of the unique issues of our choices to have big families and how we are doing.  The other thread was more focused on "how you do it".  I'm not looking to place any such restriction on this thread.  I just would like to have somewhere to go to talk with other biggies.  Maybe you just need to vent and find an understanding shoulder.  Maybe you need some vexatious problem mulled over.  Whatever you want, please post.  Hopefully we can keep this thread at least marginally alive consistently

Poundwise

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2017, 11:39:22 AM »
PTF, I can't say that I have any survival tips though.  I'm just nose above water with "only" 3 kids some days.

acroy

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2017, 11:58:21 AM »
Cool. 7 Mini Money Mustaches here
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Fire away!

A couple general thoughts:
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meatface

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2017, 12:02:05 PM »
Our grandparents had it easy with their big families back in the day when seat belts, car seats, and general safety were optional. They could just stack kids in the back seat, on the front bench seat, and on the front and rear dashboards. Nowadays, little kids must have car seats, which take up a shitload of space for many years. How do you even get out of the house?

hoping2retire35

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2017, 12:09:10 PM »
3, 5 and under and "thinking" about more.

It would be nice if minivans were a little more efficient but for the safety, ease and seating they are pretty hard to beat. I saw on craigslist a kia sedona 160k miles 2006 model, for $1900. no damage or whatever, looked normal.  There is a plethora of men within my circle of friends and family that are new dads and I tell them they need to come around to the minivan, they respond with something about it not being their style, I just laugh and remember some people are slow learners.

Curious what others do when on vacation and older/teenagers want to bring friends? seems like it would get complicated with several older teenage boys and girls and keeping them all segregated.

my only plan when we take the camper is let older boys sleep in the back of the E150 van and girls stay in camper. I would imagine  staying in a hotel becomes impossible/too expensive.

caracarn

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2017, 02:02:55 PM »
Well....oops!  My browser seemed to be stuck and was giving errors, yet somehow it seems to have posted three thread now, so hopefully the mods will get that cleared up.

Our biggest challenge right now is that we now have two at home who have jobs, but one "kid car" that they all share.  We may next year have three, and so on.  The logistics of this are getting a bit crazy.  Basically we have been using a family calendar on a white board calendar for everything for years.  We use a different color marker for each person.  These markers hang on magnetic chains from the bottom of the board so that anyone can add anything to the board.  School activities (luckily only one in sports this year in cross country in the middle school, rest are non-sport but still nuts on the schedule), and work times.  Each night or morning we basically need to have a planning session to determine where the kid car will be deployed at any given minute.  It literally has begun to feel like we're planning a military operation each day.  Most days it's fine, but some days it is just exhausting.  We want to avoid getting any more cars (three is enough) and my wife an I both work.  At times we call in reinforcements (staying with the military theme here), in the form of our regular babysitter, a retired lady who at times we just pay to provide another set of wheels to get someone somewhere (doctor, event, work, etc.).  She's reasonable at $10/hour and it tends to be cheaper than another car, but we will spend about $100-$150/month on needing here around for something (sometimes it is just to be home for a repairman, or our diabetic son who is still not quite responsible enough that we trust him for long periods of time, so when he is home sick for example).  My wife and I both work, though she is a teacher at a school so summer is a little easier as she is home.  We are back into school mode as of this morning with the kids off and with the added logistics of our 18 year old getting her first job at Chipotle, while our 17 year old continues to work at McDonald's. 

So that's our story of the month, or week, or day.  We'll see if something new pops up tomorrow (always seems to with multiple kids).  Hope to hear from ya....

Michael in ABQ

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2017, 10:22:35 PM »
Five kids here, from about 18 months to 9 years old. It's not out of the question that we might have one or two more. Just to make things more interesting we homeschool as well (just the three oldest now). I'm the sole breadwinner and my wife handles about 90% of the homeschool with me teaching math in the evenings.

We've managed to fit everyone into a Toyota Sienna we bought used about six years ago, shortly before number three came along. One more and we'll have to move up to a full size van.

Right now we're focused on finishing up an emergency fund and saving up for a down payment on a house. Preferably a 5-bedroom as we've got the three oldest boys in one room now and it can get pretty crazy in there. It would be nice to get our oldest into his own room. We're renting a 4-bedroom now but would like to move into the mountains outside of the city. Commute would be about the same but cooler in the summer and some actual trees and space for the kids to play in. Unfortunately 5-bedroom houses are rare and generally out of our price range. I'm very debt averse so hoping to save up a decent down payment and not borrow too much.

I just read through a thread about college and I'm glad that many of our kids want to follow in my footsteps and join the military. If they join the National Guard they shouldn't have to pay much out of pocket. Otherwise I'm not sure how we'll manage to save up much for college while still paying off a mortgage and saving for FIRE.

Poundwise

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2017, 06:05:58 AM »
I love having 3 children. The greatest regret I have about this family size, though, is that by having a third child, I created a middle child.  And even though I know I should give him more attention, I still end up neglecting him relative to the others, who somehow by personality seem to demand more time and resources. He bumps along, very well-liked among his peers, mediocre to good grades, his only wish in life to play video games all day while his big brother and little sister zigzags in extremes (either excellent or terrible, getting awards or getting detention) and suck all the air out of the room. 

How does everyone invest fairly in each child? I've heard some people set aside a special time for each child, but in our busy household no day is like another, and keeping a set schedule does not happen.

hoping2retire35

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2017, 06:53:44 AM »
poundwise,

Just consider your schedule and when you can devote undistracted time with them. My oldest son has a hard time going to sleep right away, so I lay in bed with him for 15-30 minutes every night. When I drop off the older two, when I have mondays off, I hang out with the younger son for a few hours, we usually get groceries at Sam's.

Keep the tv monitor off, and talk to your kids in the car; find a physical activity for the whole family and each parent try to take some solo time with different kids, sometimes they are moody and only want mommy or whatever, don't worry about those times; just keep trying stuff and they will come out.

DD can be moody, I am still trying to figure her out; thinking of working on a craft with her...

caracarn

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2017, 07:22:15 AM »
poundwise,

In our case we have the added complication of not having the kids all the time due to the shared parenting situations after divorces.  We deal with things as they come, basically having conversations individually as they come up, perhaps taking them to a school activity they are involved in provides some one on one time on the drives, but beyond that nothing specific.   It is just too hectic.  It does not seem to be doing any harm not specifically carving out time, but I guess time will tell.  I'm just not sure how we could really carve out specific time with the kids.  First most are only here half the time, so that cuts out a lot of hours that would be available to an "intact family".  Then two of our kids have jobs, one is away and tends to want to be left alone, two others and some of the ones with jobs also have one or two school activities they are a part of.  A great example this week is on Wednesday we have once child working 4-8 the other working 6-10:30 another child needs to be at orchestra practice from 7 - 8:30 another has cross country until 5:30 and then needs to be at his orchestra practice from 6-7.  Most of our time is spent shuttling kids round or planning out where the kid car will be and what it will be used for.   In this example our current plan is that the one starting work later will drop off the 4 PM worker who my wife or will will later pick up at 8, and depending in if they are out right on time either drop her at home and then head to pick up the 8:30 orchestra player or head over after the worker pickup to also grab the orchestra player.  My wife (who tends to get home earlier and more reliably than me) will get the runner from his practice to orchestra practice and then again one of us will need to swing by and pick him up at 7.  Even limiting the activities to 1-2 per child still creates a LOT of activity with 5 at home. 

NeonPegasus

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2017, 08:07:00 AM »
PTF. *Only* 3 kids here. I hate minivans and we're bumping along just fine in our '08 Highlander, even though it doesn't have much trunk space when the 3rd row is up. When we go on family vacations, we throw suitcases in a travel bag on the roof. That's still better than a minivan IMO. And yes, I've driven my father in law's Odyssey many times. I hate how it handles and how big it is.

Poundwise, my middle kid is not the easygoing one but what helped me was to have a 15 min block of time set aside every day. What really made it work was that there was a "legit" purpose to that time - home speech therapy. I noticed that DD2 was always really excited about her speech therapy time. The other kids didn't interrupt (well, the 3 year old tried to) because it wasn't just game time or something like that. Perhaps disguising the time as something more boring/necessary will make it easier to commit to.

Michael in ABQ

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2017, 12:10:36 PM »
We tried doing some activities but after half a season of Soccer with me coaching two teams including one practice a week and three games each Saturday we quickly decided it was not worth it. None of our kids are very athletic and although I played some sports as a kid I've never really cared much about them. It basically guaranteed our entire Saturday would be devoted to getting ready for Soccer, attending the three different games (sometimes with one of the games at a different park or at overlapping times), and then recovering from a morning/early afternoon out at soccer. That was before our fifth child too. Our Sunday would therefore be taken up with Mass and grocery shopping.

Our oldest does a weekly archery class part of the year with some cousins but his aunt picks him up so it's not very disruptive. I'd like to do Boy Scouts or something similar (I was an Eagle Scout) but that's about it and would only be one or two at a time.

I've made a tradition out of taking each child on a hike on the morning of their birthday to see the sunrise. I started with their fifth birthday and with my oldest being nine we were able to go on a pretty decent hike in the mountains. My six year-old we go on a shorter and easier route (especially since an incident with a cactus last year). Other than that it's been hard to do much individual time with each child. When that occurs it's usually because the others are being punished, i.e. they can't ride their scooters in front of the house because they were fighting so it might just be me and one child.

BAM

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2017, 02:14:15 PM »
Nine kids here, ages 2 years to 20 years. Oldest two are in college. They will both make it through with no debt paying by themselves. DH and I provide their car/car insurance and then food/etc when they are home. Otherwise it's all on them.

Cars: we had a 15 passenger starting with number 7 (2009) until July when we sold it. We now have a Suburban with a front bench seat (seats 7 youngers, my husband and I) and a Civic (oldest two take this to college). We don't use our cars much - live in a very bike-able town. DH and oldest 2 take bikes to work (when they are home for the summer). Other kids bike or ride the free town bus. I drive the 1-2 times needed a week or take the bus. We are working on getting me set up on a bike but since I'll have 2-3  (70-100+ lbs) on the back and our town is hilly, it's proving tough to get a workable solution (an ebike cargo bike is in the works). Anyway, when we go somewhere with all of us, we use both cars - rarely happens since oldest two are away for much of the year and will both graduate next spring.
We did get in a great vacation this summer before selling the van though so that was nice - last time to travel all together.

Time with individual kids: doesn't happen here. That would be crazy impossible! Some things we do instead: keep an eye to see who is needing 1:1 time and getting time for that. We find that our youngers (4 are 10 and under) demand more of our time during the day so they go to bed earlier. We then get time with the oldest 4-5 (12 year old goes to bed early some days since he needs more sleep than the others). The kids seem to provide the attention needed for each other to a certain extent. We will take one kid to run errands, etc. My DH hunts/fishes with the olders - either in small groups or alone - which gives him more time with them (the oldest 5 are all boys so we find this to be esp important).

We do homeschool so that decreases the out of house/school issues.
We also limit activities but in different ways. Younger kids get some activities - but it is specific to giftings/interests (ie 15 year old takes violin but I wouldn't dream of paying for it for 16 year old since he has no interest/talent here). Once they are in high school and can get places on their own, they may do more activities. We refuse to do any activities that kill family time - our family time is much more important than any activity.

So glad to see a big family thread here. It is very different with more kiddos.

caracarn

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2017, 02:33:03 PM »
BAM, that all sounds really great!  We do keep an eye out for that needed 1:1 discussion when someone seems to be down etc.  It can be a challenge and we do our best.  We certainly do not push our kids to get involved in anything, it is all initiated by them, and as I mentioned at times we have had to say "you need to pick just two activities" to not have someone monopolize the available logistics.  It's worked so far.  This (we hope) will be the most challenging year, because two more will transition to college next year, with likely one of them living away from home at least, so that will lower the high school activity calendar and at the same time take the juggling down to four. 

BAM

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2017, 03:34:47 PM »
Caracarn, I think the activity area is where homeschooling benefits us. Most homeschoolers do things in larger age groups so I can more easily involve my kids without driving me crazy. In CO, we used to do a soccer/park day. The soccer covered ages 5/6 to end of high school, little kids played on the playground, moms visited. Covered everyone in one 3 hour afternoon a week. I don't know how people do it with multiple kids in multiple activities.

Michael in ABQ, I do like that hiking idea. May have to try to put that into practice here.

Poundwise

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2017, 12:56:36 PM »
Everyone, thanks so much for your input re: giving enough attention to each kid.  Our summer schedule has been fairly relaxed, so I have had some time to play board games with my middle son (the thing he really likes me to do with him.) But typically these games take a long time to play and get interrupted frequently, so sometimes it's bedtime when he points out sadly that I never finished playing the game with him. And, I'm afraid that sometimes I get cross and rant that my parents never played games with me, why does everybody always want me to play with them instead of with each other?

Anyway, I guess parents with large families have to fit things in where they can! The main lesson that I'm learning is that everybody needs to do less. We signed the kids up for very little camp this summer, and they still seem to be having fun, don't complain about being lonely, and it saves us time and money.  Basically a good thing except when they are fighting.

I guess kids from a larger family can lose in terms of having lots of activities and resources invested in them, but they can gain in terms of learning responsibility, socialization, etc.

Poundwise

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2017, 01:06:13 PM »
poundwise,

Just consider your schedule and when you can devote undistracted time with them.

Maybe early mornings. I usually wake up first to get a little me-time, and then my husband or middle son are next to wake up.  We sometimes chat a  little at breakfast, which is peaceful and nice.  As I think about it, though, when I am talking about investing time in my middle son, I think he needs me to look over his academic work more... he seems to fly under the radar.  Wonder if I should try working with him a little in the morning, or will he simply stop waking up early so he can avoid this?

It's very interesting to see how you all with 5+ kids manage the cars/activities shuffle!

BAM

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2017, 02:24:51 PM »
Poundwise, maybe you should play a quick game with him in the morning to get in your special focused time with him right off the bat. Do the homework later during the time when you have been playing a game with him.
One of my friends has a child that wakes early and they usually go on a walk together (her kids are older so she can leave for a bit). She finds that it gives him the time with her that he craves and he does better the rest of the day.

As far as your long games that you leave and come back to, is there a place you can put them where they are out of the way and won't get ruined so you can come back another day? Have a running marathon over the course of a week even though you only play for a little while each day? Might give him something to look forward to as well as let him know that you care about getting that time with him even if you can't do it all right now.

caracarn

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #18 on: August 23, 2017, 07:00:01 AM »
Poundwise, maybe you should play a quick game with him in the morning to get in your special focused time with him right off the bat. Do the homework later during the time when you have been playing a game with him.
One of my friends has a child that wakes early and they usually go on a walk together (her kids are older so she can leave for a bit). She finds that it gives him the time with her that he craves and he does better the rest of the day.

As far as your long games that you leave and come back to, is there a place you can put them where they are out of the way and won't get ruined so you can come back another day? Have a running marathon over the course of a week even though you only play for a little while each day? Might give him something to look forward to as well as let him know that you care about getting that time with him even if you can't do it all right now.
I do know my parents and us (only two of us) used to do puzzles this way.  There was a card table we set up in our basement and we'd work a puzzle for weeks on it a little bit every few days.  It let people do something together, maybe talk once in a while, and also offered a time for an individual to work on it themselves and many times someone would walk by and join in, so it served as an informal gathering place.  Have not done that with our kids now (I did during my first marriage, but they were younger and so the puzzles were easier and solved in one sitting) but that might be an option to.  We absolutely have done the board game thing continuing over several days for something like Monopoly or Risk.  Our games all tend to be multiplayer with a big family so many can join.  Another thing we got turned on to about a year ago was a electronic game Jackbox Party Packs.  There are three of them now I think (we own two).  Basically you run it on you computer, but we hook a laptop up to our TV in the living room with an HDMI cable.  You then use your cell phones to play (log in to a website and enter a code on the screen).  You use wi-fi so not sucking data out of the phones.  Kids love it, and it is one of the relatively regular things we partake in (I'd say about once a month) and they usually initiate.  It is also a great party game for friends and family.  They ran a sale over the holidays last year (we found out about it at a New Year's Eve party last year) and we got both packs for under $30.  At this point it's probably provided 50 hours of family time over the year. 

Poundwise

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2017, 11:27:04 AM »
Poundwise, maybe you should play a quick game with him in the morning to get in your special focused time with him right off the bat. Do the homework later during the time when you have been playing a game with him.
One of my friends has a child that wakes early and they usually go on a walk together (her kids are older so she can leave for a bit). She finds that it gives him the time with her that he craves and he does better the rest of the day.

As far as your long games that you leave and come back to, is there a place you can put them where they are out of the way and won't get ruined so you can come back another day? Have a running marathon over the course of a week even though you only play for a little while each day? Might give him something to look forward to as well as let him know that you care about getting that time with him even if you can't do it all right now.

This is good advice-- thank you! One reason we haven't done this previously is because our youngest can't resist the impulse to mess with any game pieces left out. Even if she doesn't stuff them in a sock hidden in a closet or drop them into a radiator, she will re-arrange them on the board to her liking.  However, as I think about it, we deserve one toddler-free room in the house.  Maybe I will make our study a locked, invitation-only room, and then we can leave a game board in there.

On the subject, does anybody here have parent-only rooms? I remember as a child, we only seldom enter my parents' bedroom and never played there. It was just the way things were done. However my kids run in and out of every room in the house, which means chaos everywhere.

Poundwise

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2017, 11:28:34 AM »
There was a card table we set up in our basement and we'd work a puzzle for weeks on it a little bit every few days.  It let people do something together, maybe talk once in a while, and also offered a time for an individual to work on it themselves and many times someone would walk by and join in, so it served as an informal gathering place. 

That sounds like fun and I look forward to trying it when my youngest is a little older!

acroy

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #21 on: August 28, 2017, 11:30:49 AM »
On the subject, does anybody here have parent-only rooms? I remember as a child, we only seldom enter my parents' bedroom and never played there. It was just the way things were done. However my kids run in and out of every room in the house, which means chaos everywhere.

yes. Our master suite is off-limits unless they are told or are granted permission to enter therein ;)
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slappy

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #22 on: August 28, 2017, 12:15:49 PM »

Keep the tv monitor off, and talk to your kids in the car; find a physical activity for the whole family and each parent try to take some solo time with different kids, sometimes they are moody and only want mommy or whatever, don't worry about those times; just keep trying stuff and they will come out.

^^^
That seems like pretty solid parenting advice in general! I love it!

caracarn

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #23 on: August 28, 2017, 01:07:37 PM »
On the subject, does anybody here have parent-only rooms? I remember as a child, we only seldom enter my parents' bedroom and never played there. It was just the way things were done. However my kids run in and out of every room in the house, which means chaos everywhere.
Yes, our room is not one for them to gather in.

BAM

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #24 on: August 28, 2017, 07:49:22 PM »
There are certain times our kids are allowed in our room and many times they are not. I do sort the youngers (age 10 down) laundry on my bed for them to fold and put away. We also pray with them in there before sending them to bed. And Christmas morning is in our room reading the Bible first thing. Otherwise, they are not allowed in unless they have permission.
We also have other areas that are not allowed for toys - the school "library" (they can come in and out to get things or read but it's not a toy/play area, other than some board games), mostly kitchen/dining other than for some board games although they don't usually choose the dining table since it has to be cleaned off for each meal. Even with it 8 ft long, it still gets crowded : ).   

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #25 on: August 28, 2017, 08:19:51 PM »
Might be slightly out of place here as a non-parent but I'm kind of curious to hear perspectives (with an eye toward my own distant future, maybe). I grew up the oldest of four siblings and recently became the oldest of eight as my parents are in the process of adopting a sibling group out of foster care. Four at a time twice!

So, not parenting a large family, but learning to be a part of one. And maybe could still adapt some advice in the vein of building relationships with young siblings as an adult.

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #26 on: August 28, 2017, 09:05:20 PM »
Right now we're focused on finishing up an emergency fund and saving up for a down payment on a house. Preferably a 5-bedroom as we've got the three oldest boys in one room now and it can get pretty crazy in there. It would be nice to get our oldest into his own room. We're renting a 4-bedroom now but would like to move into the mountains outside of the city. Commute would be about the same but cooler in the summer and some actual trees and space for the kids to play in. Unfortunately 5-bedroom houses are rare and generally out of our price range. I'm very debt averse so hoping to save up a decent down payment and not borrow too much.

If you're buying the house, you won't need to limit yourself to a ready-made 5-bedroom as you can change the layout without worrying about a landlord.  You can get a 4-bedroom that has a basement or attic with the potential to be finished (or already finished) and build a fifth bedroom for your eldest there.  If you're moving into the mountains, then a house on a slope could have nice, large windows into the basement.
Because your toaster got hacked because you tried to watch porn on your blender.

6-year CPA currently on hiatus.  Botched this.  Working again. 
Go soak your beans.  You know you keep forgetting.

caracarn

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #27 on: August 29, 2017, 08:22:13 AM »
Might be slightly out of place here as a non-parent but I'm kind of curious to hear perspectives (with an eye toward my own distant future, maybe). I grew up the oldest of four siblings and recently became the oldest of eight as my parents are in the process of adopting a sibling group out of foster care. Four at a time twice!

So, not parenting a large family, but learning to be a part of one. And maybe could still adapt some advice in the vein of building relationships with young siblings as an adult.
We are a larger than 2 family partly because of blending.  Fostering to add is a bit different, but similar in that they are now part of the household and not born into it.  I think in your case, given you are a sibling and not a parent it will be a bit different, and even for you parents they do not have to deal with the dynamic of another parent led household that may have conflicting rules to your as we do.  So it is a lot closer to a nuclear family in its dynamics and barriers than a divorced/blended family is. 

Looking forward to helping with advice and learning for you as well!

Dee18

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #28 on: August 29, 2017, 08:49:26 AM »
Quick suggestion re games: Yahtzee is one you could stop and later begin where you left off, since there is no board, just score cards. Our current favorite game is Sequence...by taking a photo of the board we can put it away and then set it back up in minutes. 

caracarn

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #29 on: August 29, 2017, 09:11:51 AM »
Quick suggestion re games: Yahtzee is one you could stop and later begin where you left off, since there is no board, just score cards. Our current favorite game is Sequence...by taking a photo of the board we can put it away and then set it back up in minutes.
The photo idea is interesting for some board games.  Will have to keep that in mind.  It's amazing how difficult it can be to shift paradigms.  I grew up when we did not have cell phones to snap pictures, so to me a picture just it not a tool that jumps to mind for many things (though I do use them to send 'what I am seeing' to people as I do a home improvement project and need advice).  I wonder how many other issues in life I have that could be made easier by the instant access to a photo device that I do not need to take the film out of, wait for three days to develop and then go look at it......

Tass

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #30 on: August 29, 2017, 03:56:39 PM »
Might be slightly out of place here as a non-parent but I'm kind of curious to hear perspectives (with an eye toward my own distant future, maybe). I grew up the oldest of four siblings and recently became the oldest of eight as my parents are in the process of adopting a sibling group out of foster care. Four at a time twice!

So, not parenting a large family, but learning to be a part of one. And maybe could still adapt some advice in the vein of building relationships with young siblings as an adult.
We are a larger than 2 family partly because of blending.  Fostering to add is a bit different, but similar in that they are now part of the household and not born into it.  I think in your case, given you are a sibling and not a parent it will be a bit different, and even for you parents they do not have to deal with the dynamic of another parent led household that may have conflicting rules to your as we do.  So it is a lot closer to a nuclear family in its dynamics and barriers than a divorced/blended family is. 

Looking forward to helping with advice and learning for you as well!

There is a bit of taking over from other parents who had different rules/expectations, but yes, we are growing into a nuclear family dynamic over time. I also live out of the house and across the country, though, so it's been an interesting challenge in making sure I'm still involved at the family at home, and learning how to connect with kids I don't necessarily see very often.

Michael in ABQ

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #31 on: August 29, 2017, 04:49:27 PM »
Right now we're focused on finishing up an emergency fund and saving up for a down payment on a house. Preferably a 5-bedroom as we've got the three oldest boys in one room now and it can get pretty crazy in there. It would be nice to get our oldest into his own room. We're renting a 4-bedroom now but would like to move into the mountains outside of the city. Commute would be about the same but cooler in the summer and some actual trees and space for the kids to play in. Unfortunately 5-bedroom houses are rare and generally out of our price range. I'm very debt averse so hoping to save up a decent down payment and not borrow too much.

If you're buying the house, you won't need to limit yourself to a ready-made 5-bedroom as you can change the layout without worrying about a landlord.  You can get a 4-bedroom that has a basement or attic with the potential to be finished (or already finished) and build a fifth bedroom for your eldest there.  If you're moving into the mountains, then a house on a slope could have nice, large windows into the basement.

Basements are pretty much nonexistent around here, attics as well. Mostly flat roofs, though in the mountains there's more peaked roofs for shedding snow. I'm interested in building new but I think that would probably be too expensive. I'll definitely be looking into it as we save up money and get closer to being able to actually buy or build.

Michael in ABQ

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #32 on: November 21, 2017, 01:19:37 PM »
I've been thinking about starting a website/blog focused on the challenges encountered by big families, i.e. finding a vehicle that can fit three car seats across or hold more people than a minivan. Looking for some feedback to see if this is something that there might be a demand for and areas that you've struggled with finding good information. I know we had a hard time finding information on fitting three car seats across in our minivan but eventually found a car seat blog that had some information on which kinds of car seats were relatively narrow.

caracarn

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #33 on: November 21, 2017, 02:06:49 PM »
I've been thinking about starting a website/blog focused on the challenges encountered by big families, i.e. finding a vehicle that can fit three car seats across or hold more people than a minivan. Looking for some feedback to see if this is something that there might be a demand for and areas that you've struggled with finding good information. I know we had a hard time finding information on fitting three car seats across in our minivan but eventually found a car seat blog that had some information on which kinds of car seats were relatively narrow.
If you are asking if that might be helpful, sure.  If you are asking would I pay for that type of information, no.  I do not run into too many challenges that I cannot figure out in some way and have never had the experience that I felt like it was missing and wishing someone did it. 

This thread did not even get that far.   

Bourbon

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #34 on: November 21, 2017, 02:52:09 PM »
PTF. *Only* 3 kids here. I hate minivans and we're bumping along just fine in our '08 Highlander, even though it doesn't have much trunk space when the 3rd row is up. When we go on family vacations, we throw suitcases in a travel bag on the roof. That's still better than a minivan IMO. And yes, I've driven my father in law's Odyssey many times. I hate how it handles and how big it is.

Poundwise, my middle kid is not the easygoing one but what helped me was to have a 15 min block of time set aside every day. What really made it work was that there was a "legit" purpose to that time - home speech therapy. I noticed that DD2 was always really excited about her speech therapy time. The other kids didn't interrupt (well, the 3 year old tried to) because it wasn't just game time or something like that. Perhaps disguising the time as something more boring/necessary will make it easier to commit to.

Only 3 here but on our way to 4.   I hate SUV's.  Currently driving a free one, but will be either taking a seat out of it to make the mini-3rd row more accessible or am looking at moving into a Ford Transit Connect wagon or a Ford Flex.  Anything that can hold us all that isn't the full on SUV.

mousebandit

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #35 on: November 21, 2017, 10:24:01 PM »
Sahm homeschool mom here with 4 littles at home (5-9 yrs old), and 2 big boys out on their own.  We do the SUV thing, have always had suburbans.  Although I did pitch the husband on getting a "commuter" car for me and kids, since a lot of our miles are done with just us, and we don't need to fit everyone.  He is not exactly mmm-minded, and wouldn't go for it.  We did bump up from the 96 burb with bench front seat and 280,000 miles to a 2001 with captains seats in front and second row.  Gotta say I love it ($4500, 89,000 miles). 

How do you all do on your food bills?  I have a really hard time keeping ours down, even with batch cooking, etc.  I tend to stockpile and hoard food, and even when I have a very full pantry (think multi-year food storage, lol), I still buy in bulk and just keep putting more away.  I am easily over $1000/mo on food, usually more like $1200.  No aldi stores here, either, sadly. 

caracarn

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #36 on: November 22, 2017, 06:24:58 AM »
Our food budget for 2017 averages about $500/month for seven (keep in mind blended family so not all kids are here all the time to that can make a bit of a difference, although before they hit teens appetites were less for sure).  If I go back to include 2016 in YNAB that jumps to $800/month but that included times when we had eight as the oldest was not off to college yet. 

Biggest shifts we have made is to buy in bulk, Instant Pot and find a lock produce market.  My spend at Sam's for groceries compared to grocery store is 95% Sam's/5% grocery.  I only buy things like ranch dressing and buffalo sauce that we do not use in vast quantities at grocery.  We got an Instant Pot last October.  December of that year was $900 but that includes buying food for the holidays and making cookies etc.  Other than that we never had a month above $700, and some were as low as $350.  We found the IP got us off the processed food/prepackaged meal treadmill which was our normal situation before where I'd get a bunch of frozen meals at Sam's because we had no time to cook with both working.  With a diabetic child who we strive to keep on a regular dinner time around 6 PM we did not have the luxury of coming home about 5:45 and then taking an hour to scratch make something.  Now it is a lot of chicken, pork and some beef tossed in the IP.  Buy the meat at Sam's for a lot lower than grocery (about $2.39/lb for chicken versus $4.69/lb at the grocery store).  Additionally we came across a market on the way from work that sell fresh produce at dirt cheap prices.  $0.39/lb for bananas, not more than $1.29/lb for apples and many times $0.99 versus having to wait for the once every other month sale at grocery for cheap apples.  I can walk out of there with two bags of produce for under $20.  Also everything there that is not per pound is much larger.  Watermelon that was the same $3 I could get for at the grocery was easily double or triple the grocery store size.  Same type of thing with honeydews and cantaloupes.  I believe the same $20 I get now was between $40-$60 at the grocery mainly because I'd need to buy more of the grocery items because they were smaller.  Apples are normally $1.99/lb at the grocery, bananas are $0.55/lb at either grocery or Sam's.  We have an Aldi's but do not need to go there because the other options provide better quality food and only slightly elevated levels and our grocery bill seems pretty good.  We also mix in Amazon at times for non-perishable if they have a better price.  I do make sure I keep an eye on all the prices at all the places I go as sometimes Sam's is more than the grocery on something, or the produce store is not such a good buy (for example cherries first showed up at $4.99/lb this year.  We're much more fresh and way larger than the grocery but hard to justify over the $2.99/lb there, so I waited). 

So that's how we went from $1,000/month or more early in 2016 to an average of $500 in 2017 feeding basically the same crew of seven.

ETA:  One other thing that may be driving up your spend is to not overbuy.  When you talk multi-year of something, we certainly find with kids especially that the thing that you can't keep in stock no matter how much you buy this month is now something they will not eat.  I use what would be referred to as a kanban system for anything where when I take the last xxx I place it on my Sam's list.  I go at least weekly if not two times a week so we rarely if ever run out.  We go through 3 gallons of milk a week for example, so sometimes I buy 4 sometimes 2, depending on what the stock is.  Suddenly this week they have all decided to stop eating bread, so I have two full loaves still untouched that I bought last week.  Usually I'm always on the verge of running out.  Lately "prison rice" has made a comeback (white rice mixed with cream of mushroom soup, 5-6 minutes in the microwave, stir it up and eat) in our house where it had fallen out of favor for nearly a year, so I will need to buy another box of 8 cans of soup shortly because we just placed the last three cans in the kitchen from the stock in the basement.  I also do something I believe I came across in one of MMM's early posts and use rolled oats instead of pricey cereal for the bulk of my breakfast.  3/4 cup Quaker oats (bought in 10 lb box from Sam's for $10) and 1/4 cup of Raisin Bran (also in bulk at Sam's for $6 for two bags).  Lowered the cereal cost way down (I eat this same thing for breakfast every morning and I'm the biggest cereal consumer in my house) and no noticeable enjoyment change.  I also figured out a simple work lunch thing I have done for the better part of a year now.  Canned chicken breast (6 cans at Sam's $10, each can lasts about a week), that I shred with a fork in a tupperware container and mix with Frank's Buffalo Sauce (grocery for a large bottle $4, lasts 4-6 cans depending how much I pour in).  I take that mixture and place in flour tortilla (Sam's pack of 16 for $3.68 so lasts a bit over 3 weeks) and sprinkle about 1/4 cup of Mexican cheese blend (Sam's $13.96 2 pk 16 oz) and I've got a wrap that is just as good as the buffalo chicken wrap I can buy pre-made for $7.99 at the local grocery store.  Now I admit the grocery store one is bigger, but I do not need all those calories.  This is 321 calories according to MyFitnessPal.  I get I'm a little "unique" in that most people would hate eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day for years on end, but the variation at dinner and on the weekends (though the breakfast mix is 365/year) keeps me happy, but perhaps some creative thinking about how you can figure out a low cost plan could help.  We make most of our meals with maybe a total of no more than 30-40 things I buy regularly.  You can do a lot with just cooking chicken breasts in the IP and topping them differently.  Most times we just make them plain and let everyone do their own thing.  Some like it plain, another will add BBQ sauce, another will add slice of cheese, another will make a side of prison rice and cost it with that.  Harder with they are 5-9 versus 13+ when they can jump in and help but you can certainly drive down costs by not stocking years of goods (you might want to set yourself a challenge and just "eat down" your stores.  Might not have to buy much of anything for 6 months!) and also figuring out inexpensive meal options.  Two massive hits at our house recently were French Onion Chicken from Pressure Luck web site and Italian Penne Chicken from another pressure cooker website.  Kids thought both were incredible and I think they were both hugely cheap and very flavorful.  Topped with mozzarella (Sam's again) and using mostly onions, couple cans of Progresso french onion soup and various spices and Texas Toast (Sam's) might have been a $4/serving and that might be high.  the penne only used 2 pounds of chicken (made a double recipe since there were seven of us) and two packages of pasta (Sam's bulk pack), two cans diced tomatoes (Sam's) and some more spices was also about $1 - $2 per serving as we made this last for several days with 2-3 people eating each time.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2017, 06:49:44 AM by caracarn »

hoping2retire35

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #37 on: November 22, 2017, 07:14:59 AM »
I have noticed as long as I can make one trip to SAM's a week for $120-130 we usually don't have to go anywhere else. Anytime we walk into a grocery store it is going to be $50, so it is best just to avoid the trip all together.

Kid commute-fingers crossed on an upcoming job offer. If it works out Ill be taking the kids to school in the morning. Right now it is the 2003 econoline; great when it is filled with people and stuff or pulling a trailer, but at 16 mpg hwy it is a bit over the top for 4 people. After considering some other options for commuting (while keeping the econoline) we would only save ~$250 a year in fuel at the most. Insurance and taxes would negate those savings meanwhile we would have equity tied up in more car inventory. Those big SUVs suck gas but when you can find one that's 10-15yo for cheap they are hard to beat.


Michael in ABQ

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Re: Big family thread
« Reply #38 on: November 22, 2017, 10:54:07 AM »
Our "grocery" budget for a family of 7 is $1,250 per month. That includes basically all food and other things bought at the grocery store/Costco including diapers and wipes for our youngest, soap, shampoo, razor blades, etc. That's even with the cost savings of doing about 60-70% of our grocery shopping at the Commissary where I can get chicken breasts for $1.79 per lb and apples for $0.99 to $1.29 per lb. Commissary is every two weeks and usually we fill up two carts and it's about $300-350. Costco is maybe once a month for milk, eggs, some produce, diapers, and a few other bulk items. We fill in at Walmart for milk, produce, and miscellaneous things that come up but rarely spend more than $100 in any trip.

My wife has celiac disease and has to eat gluten free which is pretty expensive, i.e. $6-7 loaf of bread, $5.00 a pound for pre-made gluten free flour and still pretty expensive for bags of rice flour, oat flour, etc. The rest of us eat a mix of GF foods (i.e. GF pancakes and waffles for breakfast) and non-GF.

My wife cooks almost all of our meals from scratch. The kids might get a frozen pizza once a month and we eat out at Chick-Fil-A once or twice a month if we've got a long day of errands planned that go through lunch time. We used to be pretty strict about not buying any pre-packaged snack foods but decide to trade money for time/convenience of giving our toddler an applesauce squeeze from Costco that might have cost $0.40 per unit rather than trying to spoon feed him from a big jar of applesauce where the same serving might have cost $0.10. Same with some other things like fruit leather and some granola bars that all of the kids will readily eat and are much easier to pack and distribute while on the road.

I would like us to make more large meals like a casserole that can last for several meals but inevitably most or all of the kids won't eat it and my wife and I get sick of having it for leftovers for a week straight. Our 6-year old son is particularly picky to the point that he's gotten dizzy and sick a few times from not eating. I tried saying "This is the meal we're all eating, take it or leave it, and no other food/snacks." But he would literally go a whole day without eating more than a few bites of food so we finally gave in and will let him have some snacks before bed so he's not starving at least. Other times he'll eat an entire homemade hamburger.

I had to go to Smith's (Kroger) last night looking for fresh green beans and a few other things and I just cringed at every price knowing it was usually 50-100% higher than at the commissary. Not every item (milk about the same, produce a bit more but better quality/selection) but just about anything in a package.