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11 Things Every Member of a Big Family Experiences

Source: Rachel Smith

Did you grow up in a big family? There were four of us kids, all our names starting with M. We grew up in a homeschool community, where families were notoriously large. Our family of six looked small next to our pastor's family of eight, or our girls club leader's family of 11. It wasn't until we moved and became the only homeschooled family in our church that our family started receiving attention for being large. If you grew up in a family with four or more kids, I'm sure you can identify with these 11 things every big family experiences.

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1. The attention

'Are you Catholic, or something?'

Strangers seem to believe that when your parents decided to have a large family, they also signed up to be the recipients of constant, unsolicited commentary. Being homeschooled meant that my mom received even more attention when she showed up at the grocery store at 10 a.m. on a Monday with all four kids tagging along. It's like we couldn't make it through a single errand or family dinner out without hearing, "Are they all yours?!" "Boy! You have your hands full," "Are you Catholic, or something?" or my personal favorite, "Do you know what causes that?"

2. Personal space? Privacy? What's that?

Each time you are talking mom stuff with friends and the topic of kids needing their own rooms (so they can have privacy) gets brought up, you can't help but eye roll so hard. When I wanted privacy growing up, I shut myself in a closet with a book and flashlight.

3. You have a family closet

The family closet is basically a pimped out laundry room with baskets, shelves, drawers and space for hanging clothes. This is every mom-of-many's Mona Lisa, the solution to all her laundry woes. When a family closet is functioning perfectly, clothes are washed, ironed, folded and stored all in this space.

4. Every day is laundry day

Laundry day is a thing mothers of large families reminisce about fondly, nostalgic for the laundry of years past when there were only a few bodies to clothe. In the home of a large family, every day is laundry day.

5. Two (or three) cart shopping trips

Mom's meal planning notebook looks something like a football coach's playbook.

Yeah, we see you staring at our caravan of carts in Costco. Are we stocking up? Actually, this is just food for exactly seven days of breakfast, lunch and dinner (which we know because mom's meal planning notebook looks something like a football coach's playbook).

6. The chaos (and joy) of family meals

Now that I'm a mom, I'm convinced that my mom deserves a medal for managing to get everyone around the table at the same time almost every night each week. Seriously, mom. Wow.

7. Chore charts and TV schedules galore

The pantry door and refrigerator were littered with bright, laminated posters detailing who cleaned what and who used the computer when. Some families may have even had a punishment poster that very clearly stated what privilege you should plan on giving up if you decided to cross mom.

8. Built-in babysitter

If you were the oldest in a large family, you were most likely mom's favorite babysitter. My family wasn't large enough for this strategy, but I knew many families growing up who employed the buddy system. When adventuring out of the house as a family, each older kid was assigned a younger kid to keep track of. Genius!

9. The early bird gets the ... warm shower

You better believe we learned to set our alarms if we wanted to catch a warm shower.

10. The family meetings

In my home, my mom's announcement of a family meeting left everyone nervous. Were we in trouble? Were there new chores?

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11. You know there is a playmate around every corner

Friendship with my siblings is just one factor that made growing up in a big family way more good than bad.

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