5 Reasons Why I’m Not Cut Out to Have a Large Family (And Why I Have One Anyway)
When people find out that we have a five children and I stay home with them all day, I get a variety of responses.
A relatively common one, especially when they see that our gang isn’t an out of control bunch of rowdy hooligans, is something along the lines of “You’re amazing!”
Really, truly, and sincerely. I’m not. I don’t have any mothering super powers and I’m no better than the next mom who is giving it her all.
People tell me that they couldn’t have such a large family for a variety of reasons, and I can generally relate to every single one. In fact, I would even venture to go so far as to say that I’m not really cut out for this whole large family mothering gig.
1. I’m Not Patient Enough.
I get impatient with my children like any other mother. I struggle with the length of time it takes a preschooler to find matching shoes or finish her food or use the bathroom when we’re in a rush to get out the door.
On my own, I simply do not have enough patience to deal with a house full of children. Sometimes I lose my patience in a big way, too.
But through the course of motherhood, and as more children have joined our family, God has been so faithful to grow in me a more patient heart. I still ask Him for help when my patience is wearing thin. There’s a lot of room for patience to be increased in my life!
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
2. We Don’t Have Enough Money.
It’s echoed through our culture over and over that children are so expensive. I suppose they can be, and I suppose that to the world’s standards, we don’t have enough money for the size of family we have.
Our children don’t get new clothes, we don’t run them to multiple classes and lessons through the year, they don’t get their own electronic devices, and we don’t do big vacations. We’ve made the choice to live a simpler, more frugal life that’s within our means.
Our family of seven is mainly supported by a teacher’s salary with some supplemental income from pastoring and Lilla Rose. We may not live large, but God has been so faithful to abundantly meet our needs and provide for our family when we’ve been in a season of lack.
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
3. I Don’t Have Enough Energy.
Sometimes I’m exhausted when I wake up, I’m exhausted come afternoon, and I’m exhausted by the time the crew is in bed. Motherhood can just be plain exhausting!
This was hardest in the earlier years of motherhood. I was so hung up on how much sleep that I wasn’t getting that, truly, I had made sleep an idol. I also let the lack of it steal my joy in parenting young, precious, irreplaceable souls.
Yes, I realize that sleep is vital to our health. I’m not downplaying that. But I also believe that God has grace for us during the phases of life when sleep is just harder to come by. There are always naps, right?
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
4. I Can’t Handle the Stress of So Many Children.
Any job that demands time, energy, attention, and care around the clock will cause stress. That’s certainly motherhood, and I’m not immune to it.
But would you believe me if I told you that I was much more stressed with two or three children than I am now with five? I was.
With two children, I was still unsure of myself. I didn’t have much help. I was outnumbered while caring for them.
But with five? I have help from my older children. I’ve also become much more comfortable doing things in a way that works for our family, even if that means being a bad homeschool mom and getting up later in the morning.
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
1 Peter 5:7
5. I Don’t Have Enough Time.
We all face the challenge of using our daily hours in a way that makes the most of them. Sometimes I really fail at that. I stare at my phone too much and I forget to look into the eyes of my children and experience life with them.
It can be a challenge to connect with my children as individuals during our day when I let myself become too distracted by the constant noise that’s just a screen tap away. I mean, I really don’t need to know about pop culture when I need to tend to the culture in our home.
Instead, when I unplug and look up into the loving little faces around me, I often find that there is plenty of time to show them the love they need.
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Clearly, I’m not cut out to have a large family. But as God has sent more children into our home, He’s also provided me the extra grace for it.
I know it is an older post, but thank you for this. I needed to read this today. To be reminded to look away from my screen and into their precious little faces. “The days are long, but the years are oh so short.”
I’m so glad it helped you, Liz. It is an older one, but I keep it available for a reason. I sometimes need the reminder, too!
We have five children too; and I wish I could have had five more. The best part of having children (any number) is that, generally, they grow up! Have five adults around is the best reward for all the hard years of mothering. They are now my best friends and we love getting together. All of them are interesting, capable, loving, fun individuals. I’ve learned so much from them over the years and continue to do so as I learn about their interests and vocations. I recently had the thought come to me that if a woman wants to be a better mother, she should have more children. The more you practice, the better you get at something. Children grow quickly and having more children gives us more practice at the character development God wants us to have. Thanks for sharing your thoughts; keep up the good work.
Love your thoughts, Rozy. And… I’ve added 3 more children since writing this! 🙂
I really needed to read this. My husband and I are convicted of having God be in control of our family size. I guess I was worried that I’m not “good enough” to do that, even though I really want a lot of kids. I have one baby and have loved every moment. Thanks again!
Glad this was helpful, Mrs. H!
I too have 5 children, and what you have said is true. I was a stay at home mom until my oldest twins went away to college. I wouldn’t change the choices I made and felt I didn’t sacrifice anything. I always said god gave me what I could handle and they were the precious gifts that I was blessed with to teach and protect. My youngest is now 13 and life is much easier but still miss them when they were all little.
Thank you for your article I can relate to.
Thanks for weighing in, Patty! I love hearing from moms whose children are older because it reminds me to cherish the days when my house is noisy and messy. 🙂 If you can believe it, we actually have 8 children now! I’ve been reminded again how incapable I am at mothering my crew the way they need, but with God I can do all things. Blessings to you and your family, Patty!
Unfortunately my kids are the out of control loud bunch of hooligans and it’s not for lack of trying. I’m a single momma with 6 kiddos and they have their own struggles medically and people wise.
Whatever tips you have on maintaining order and peace particularly in stores or public settings I’m all ears because I get so sick of everyone telling me I need to control my kids when some days end in such sadness because I’ve been trying to get them to calm down or etc. They are full of energy and life and I definitely agree I don’t always have energy to keep up but I love them and am trying so hard to instill respect and calm in our home.
Hi Mei. I’m sorry mom life is such a labor for you right now. I don’t feel like I can give you much advice because you’re doing an incredibly hard, hard job raising 6 children by yourself. If it helps give you hope, my mother-in-law was also a single mom to six, five of them boys. She had her hands full, too, but always made it a priority to pray with her kids every morning and night and always take them to church, even when they didn’t want to go. Now that they’re all grown and stable, productive adults with good family lives, they’re all thankful that she did what she could. Keep loving your kids, be as consistent as you can, and look for healthy, godly people who can come alongside you and support you and your kids. I’ll pray for you now.
I’m the mom of 8 amazing kids, and I can say, all 5 of these reasons apply to me and are why I should not be so blessed… Thank the Lord, He knows better what is good for each of us. He makes up for our lack! I’m blown away now as I see my older 4 as young adults and to see the amazing people they are. I’m blessed to still have 4 to raise, while most of my peers are empty-nesting. And I now have the blessing of twin granddaughters and another grandbaby on the way. I am glad I knew that God knew better. It has been hard…but definitely worth it!
Jennifer, I just love hearing from mommas like you who are a little further up the road. It is so encouraging and gives me an idea of the extra joys I can look forward to when I’m in a new stage of life. (Though of course, I do like to tease my oldest that she’s not allowed to think of marriage until she’s 35… and I’m actually not 35 yet… 😉 ) Thank you for sharing from your heart!
As the 2nd oldest of 6 kids I know things can be expensive, exhausting and just plain tiring. I’ve had my fair share of ramen that we got on sale, clothes that were handed down 3 or more times, bedrooms with 3 kids (all girls) in at one time, tiny houses, and no bathroom time. Personally the bathroom time is the hardest since that’s where I like to have some ME TIME. Now, the toddler follows me in and the others are knocking at the door.Having a big family can cause some major stress but the same people who stress you out are the same people who comfort you in your times of need. I can’t imagine my life without any of my siblings. For instance, the same toddler who follows me in the bathroom also sits in my lap so I can read to her, Lets me rock her to sleep, watch some tv together and just be silly together. The 8 year old who drives me up the wall with her non-stop questions lets me paint her nails, give her pedicures, cook together, and comes to me when she learns a lesson the had way and just wants some love. My brother (13) who is too big to show affection taught me how to play some of his video games while I taught him patience(I wasn’t very good). But the thing that will hold us all together is when our parents die(I don’t want them to mind you). Who knows you better than your siblings? although friends are great they can never quite fill that gap. You crave family that knows you inside and out and while friends are fun family is loving and can share memories to ease the pain a bit. I’ve gotten off topic but the main message is: BIG FAMILIES ARE GOOD!!!!! money may be tight, there may not be enough tp but you find life’s little miracles when you look to god for guidance, he will open doors for you if you ask. They may not be obvious but he can turn tragedy into blessings. God bless.
So sweet to hear from a big family sibling! Thanks for taking the time to share the blessings of being in a big family.
Praise the Lord for leading me to this, amen He knows it’s just what I needed to read, great use of His word!! Thank you for this. I have 4 children and have been struggling ever since the 4th came along. You put it all into great perspective and I do know the Lord wants me to go to the throne of grace more.
You’re so welcome, Stephanie. Be encouraged. You’re probably doing a better job than you give yourself credit for.
Love this so much! We have 4 kids (and I could see a #5 happening, if it is the Lord’s will). I NEVER thought I would have 4 kids growing up (I actually said I wanted no kids at one point!), I thought all of these things were true of myself but with each child God has grown my heart, my desire, my patience and trust in HIS ability to equip me.
I’m glad you could relate, Leah. I definitely never saw myself with a large family, either! I just figured motherhood would be too hard. It’s certainly not easy, but we do grow into it.
Took the words right out of my mouth… And oh the blessing of comradery. Thanks for blessing my heart tonight. And, hey- I live in northern OH too. Big God, Small world…. Have a blessed Easter weekend.
Glad to offer some encouragement, Cindy!
I never believed large-family mamas when they said these things. I mean, it sounded so patient and perfect, like they knew what to say, and they were so confident in saying it all. Clearly, they did have it together and were just trying to make the rest of us feel better.
But now I have 5 and I know it is all true. 🙂 Not special, not magical, not extra patient, don’t have ninja-time-use skills. Just another mom, who happens to have a lot of kids!
It’s so true. It reminds me of the first time I met a friend who at the time had 8 or 9 children (she has 10 now). I think I had 4 at the time. I was certain that I was about to meet the mother of all mothers and was convinced I’d leave being amazed at her perfect home. It was such a relief to see a real family! I left feeling like moms with large families are just like moms with smaller ones. We’re all doing our best to make good decisions for our own homes and families.
This is wonderful! Sometimes people tell me that they couldn’t handle 5 kids, and I say, “Sometimes, neither can I!” We aren’t super women just because we have 5 kids (or whatever your magic number is!). We struggle and try and fail just like any other mother.
Thanks for laying it out so honestly here. It’s hard to be honest about the struggles of raising a big family when the world already seems so bent on making you a martyr.
Ha ha… I like that answer! I might have to keep that tucked in the back of my mind as a fun answer to that comment. I think it would help us relate to moms who have fewer children. Family size definitely doesn’t equate mothering abilities!
Thank you for sharing this. I have an older stepson, two little ones and a dog. I don’t consider my family large such as some of my friends. I have felt they must have it more together for me because I get stressed with just this! And I’ve wanted to throw in the towel some days and wonder what the heck is wrong with me. It’s good to know it is such a universal struggle!
Definitely a universal struggle! Don’t we all feel inadequate with mothering sometimes? I sure do!
I totally could have written this. I have known for years that I’m not cut out to be a mother of five. And homeschool. With a Ph.D. that’s not getting much use (in the way I expected, anyway). I still cry at night when I don’t get more than 4 hours of sleep, slug my pillow and curse, just like I did with the first. But you are so right–the days are so much easier now than they were with 2. I’m so much more confident in my skin and oh, how hard it would be to have just a toddler and a baby without my two older kids to love on them and help me out. Homeschooling a large family is my vocation–it’s taken me 7 years to realize this, but I’ve found strength and fulfillment in this calling.
I always like to point out that I have more help now with a bigger family. Things were definitely more challenging in many ways when there were just two very little ones! What is your PhD in? That’s quite an accomplishment!
It’s in ancient Greek/Roman archaeology. I still get to teach from time to time as an adjunct, but what I’ve found my degree gives me in an unshakable confidence. I KNOW I can teach my children, and I LOVE what I teach my children (history, grammar, Latin!). Most most importantly, because I’m very aware of the flaws of incoming college freshmen, I have a good sense of the bigger picture in education. It’s led me to a (relaxed) Classical model, with reading, reading, and more reading. I’m halfway between Charlotte Mason and Susan Wise Bauer 🙂
We take the same type of approach to homeschooling! I love that my children are getting a more academically challenging education than I had, though I wish I knew Latin so I could help them with their Latin work. I think it’s just fantastic that you can bring that angle to homeschooling your own children.
Thank you for this post. I’m a homeschooling mom to eight children. I love them dearly, but in no way do I feel adequate to be a mom to eight children. Thank God He’s there to help and give us wisdom and strength. I never know how to answer people who call me a Supermom. I always wanted a lot of children but never knew how much work they would be. 🙂
Definitely no Supermom here, either! I think that no matter how big our families are or what our special skill and interests might be, we all feel a bit of inadequacy as moms. I sure do!
You spoke my heart. I feel almost exactly the same way. Thank you for sharing.
I’m glad it was a blessing, Denise.
Oh! So enjoyed reading your thoughts. I have 7children going on 8 and have received so many compliments about how I manage my children that I often laugh to myself and think if only they knew… But Thank You for your post it has truly reminded me of the quote “No greater success can compensate for failure in the Home”
That’s a great quote, Selina. Do you know where it’s from or who said it?
Yes! I had to make sure I get my source correct before replying Kirsten??? I may have incorrectly quoted him! Sorry.
It’s a quote by David O McKay “No Other Success can compensate for failure in the Home”
My husband just had his vasectomy reversed last Monday. We were very young (21-23) when we decided the “perfect” family was 4 because it was cheaper to travel… When we returned to the Lord in 2012 one thing our billions the Holy Spirit convicted us off was the idol of wanting the “American Dream”. Fast forward to 2016 and were praying for a family of 5 children. We’ve learned that material possessions are not as much of a blessing as children. Last night I was thinking about money again and I woke up to this blog. Thank you because I have this saved on my phone to read now as a reminder.
Thank you for sharing a bit of your heart, Ana!
This is the perfect article! This is exactly how I feel with our 5 children. Every day is a new day the Lord has made and every day He is working in me. He makes me who I need to be.
I’m glad it was a blessing, Shawna! I often have to remind myself that God’s mercies are new every morning for this challenge and blessing of mothering many children.
I stumbled across your blog tonight and have been so blessed by it. I am currently expecting baby number 5 and also homeschool. I have been struggling with the news of this pregnancy so this couldnt have come at a better time. I know the Lord has great plans for our family but I often feel that I am not able/qualified to raise up 4 or 5 children! This was a great reminder to me that I alone, am not able, but He is! And with Him I can.. Thank you!
Hi Whitney! I’m glad you found me! This is funny… last night my husband and I were cleaning out things my mom brought over from my school years. I came across an essay where I said I couldn’t imagine having more than three or four children. Ha! Apparently I felt inadequate then, too. None of us are able on our own. I think we’re all uncertain of ourselves many times! We all have to depend on God’s grace and wisdom to navigate this big job of motherhood.
Thank you for the encouraging word, discovered through a repost on Facebook by a veteran missionary friend. This article will be very encouraging to my wife, also mother of five. (Incidentally, I am finishing up a sermon outline on Psalm 127–on the last verse–to preach to a young church in a far-inland city of China.)
God bless you and your wife as you do the Lord’s work in China! I’m glad this was a blessing.
We had five boys in 5yrs…Daddy works a lot(I’m sitting up waiting for him to get home from a 5 day trip)…they are 9,7,4,and the twins are 3 so they aren’t a ton of help and we live far from most family. We just moved near my cousin and she offered to take the boys so we could go to dinner(it has been over 2yrs since we had dinner alone!). We homeschool …it is a ton of work…but I think it is a work that keeps me honest:)…and Disney Land is for Honeymoons!:):)
Date nights are a huge blessing when you have a larger family! Thats so great of your cousin to offer babysitting for you.
Oh I am expecting number 4 and I really am glad for public school and mother’s day out program. I have been pregnant and home with all 3 kids all summer and I am about to lose my mind. More power to those that can homeschool their kids but I remember loving school and I don’t want my kids to miss out on it. But this 4th was a surprise. A surprise I cried over because I was so overwhelmed with the 3 boys I already have. I know I will love this child as much as the rest but this is not what I wanted for myself or my family. I am from a big family. One of six siblings. But I saw what it did to my mom. I never wanted that for me. I love working but because of this 4th I can’t anymore. Now I’m just an over educated stay at home because the USA does not support families with daycare. I miss grown ups and me time. Can’t wait for school to start.
Hi friend. I pray that as your new baby comes, the Lord will help you sort through your feelings and the right direction for your life and family. There are certainly seasons of mothering that are harder than others. Best wishes to you.
🙁 moms need to be educated To be a stay at home mom balancing bugit when one income is coming in can be a challenge…I work my self with 3 kids but I did stay home for 5 years…being a working mom is much easier than a stay at home..mostly mental don’t look down on it it will be gone so fast
I have 3 all under the age of 5 it gets so hard at times but so worth it love them so much. If u live in cali northern part by chance contact me [email protected] id love to give u a free facial to get you some relax time =)
Thanks for your offer, Krystal. That’s very kind! I’m actually in northern Ohio, so not really a quick trip away. 🙂
It is definitely challenging when there are multiple children in the needy stages of childhood. Now that my older children are more capable, things go smoother because of their help! You’re in the trenches for sure, but like you said, it’s so worth it.
Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!
Thank you so much.. My husband and I truly believe we want God to pick our number of children. Coming from large families ourselves, we see the blessings. Now with three kids I am so exhausted with parenting a stubborn toddler(s) and a sweet newborn in tow. I am encouraged to read that phrase, “it’s easier with 5 then 2 or 3.” Better days are ahead! 🙂 thanks for the encouragement! ! God bless you!
Oh it does get easier, Kay! I remember feeling so overwhelmed sometimes when we had just 2 or 3. It’s hard to imagine any more some days at that stage! Keep taking it one day at a time, and you’ll find that things start to fall into a pattern, especially as your older ones get to about 5 or 6 years old. That’s always a big turning point, I feel like.
That sounds like me. Glad to know I’m not alone! 🙂
You’re definitely not alone, Raia! I don’t know of many moms with large families who feel really cut out for the job.
Even though we only have 3 children. I can really relate! I also went through a time when I made sleep an idol! I know exactly what your talking about. It was so freeing to give it to God and now my sleep is much better! PTL! I enjoy your posts keep it up!
Thank you, Kari! I’m glad you could relate to some of the thoughts here. 🙂