I Had No Idea Raising A Big Family Would Be This Hard

by Caila Smith
Originally Published: 

I grew up as an only child, vowing to become a mother to a Cheaper By The Dozen-sized family. It’s not that I didn’t have a great childhood, because I did. It was just a little lonely with no siblings to call my own.

Well, thank you Jesus for not granting me 12 right off the bat, but I do have a third of that prediction. Little did I know that my husband would be an only child as well and here we would sit, two only-children raising four children.

Although I can’t speak for him, for me, this big family thing is harder than hard.

First off, my kids have two volumes and two volumes only: Loud and Louder. Like all kids, right? No, you’re dead freaking wrong. There’s something special about my kids, okay? Truth be told, I’m a little concerned. You guys, I think they came to us with megaphones installed into their voice boxes.


There’s no such thing as an “inside voice” around here. And heaven forbid I tell them to tip-toe anywhere, because it surely sounds like a whole stampede of elephants is stomping around at all times.

This “loudness” is new to me. I didn’t know a big family would or could be so barbarically high in decibel range. Growing up with just my mom meant the only time things got loud was during our occasional disagreements. So naturally and regretfully, the noise causes my anxiety to skyrocket into rage. I’m working on it, but it still happens from time to time.

I’ve come to learn that I need to remind myself I will miss these days. There is no controlling the fact that my kids will be kids. So whether the household is happy, mad, excited or sad, it’s loud AF 24/7 around here. In the car, at our house, at Nana’s house and at the grocery store…. there is never a moment of peace and prosperity.

Speaking of the grocery store, that is a shit house of a calamity. I never truly guessed how much a big family was going to cost to feed. I swear, I’m running a flippin’ short-order kitchen around here. They inhale the food in my refrigerator like it’s their job.


My mom used to make huge batches of chili and we had leftovers for days when it was just us. Now, I make the biggest batch I can muster, and it doesn’t live to see the end of the day.

The clean-up on those nights, is… well, atrociously heavy. My four-year-olds do what they can to help out around the house, but let’s be honest, they can be uber lazy, especially when it comes time for clean up. They act like their entire body has turned to mush the second I start singing, “Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere…” (Don’t make me go on, you know the rest.)

What used to be an ungodly mess to me as an only child is now twenty minutes worth of clean-up time in my mom-of-four eyes. Now that I truly know just how messy four kids are, I know without a shadow of a doubt that my house will never be clean until they leave the nest.

Something always needs to be done. I swear, I trip over just about as many little toys as I do little human bodies. A spring cleaning to me, as an only child, really only took a day. But around here, I’m still checking off my to-do list from last spring’s checklist.

My expectations for motherhood had to be tamed, as I can’t haul four kids around as easily as my mom could with just one of me. But at least my kids won’t feel the loneliness I once felt. They won’t have to pretend that they have a kick ass relationship with some “make-believe” sibling, because they already have it. Each one of them has that, times 3, with one another.

Although the days are never dull, and they are always hectic, LOUD and expensive, we are all happy. We all love each other, and we always do the best that we can.

I’m an only child raising a huge, obnoxious and batshit bonkers family. But guess what? They are my huge, obnoxious and crazy family, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

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