Living in the Bay Area in California, it’s not particularly common to have a large family. It’s expensive and homes aren’t huge, and many families have two working parents. It can sometimes be hard to see the advantages of a big family.
And, to be fair, there are lots of crazy parts to it, too! I mean, 5 kids – currently at ages 9, 7, 5, 3, and 7 months – is a lot. Things get LOUD. Messes happen. Children bicker and sometimes complain about sharing. One-on-one time is hard. And, to be abundantly clear, we are so fortunate that we can afford to care for the children we chose to have. We’re lucky that we have the resources to be able to raise a big family.
For all the craziness and challenges, there are at least as many advantages of having a big family. Of course, kids can learn EVERY SINGLE one of these things with fewer or zero siblings. There are so many opportunities to learn! And I 100% advocate having the family size that’s right for YOU, whether that be 2 kids or 1 kid or 0 kids! There are so many wonderful things about families of all shapes and sizes.
That said, these are a few things that we love about having a lot of kids and that large family life provides us lots of opportunities to learn. Here are some of our favorite big family advantages!
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Benefits of a Large Family
1) Communication and social skills.
Whether my kids are in full-time public school (as they normally are) or are being homeschooled (what they are currently), it’s wonderful to have a whole host of of friends and frenemies right at home. Because there’s always someone around, they learn to both laugh and play and communicate positively, and also get lots of experience communicating negatively.
Yep – even those negative communications are learning opportunities. That practice is so helpful for them, and it’s great for them to have a safe space to learn to communicate effectively. They come to know that name calling and tantrums don’t usually succeed in getting them their way, and they learn to resolve conflicts with multiple people and personalities. We love using these journals with our kids to help them express themselves privately to us, too – it’s a great way to reap the benefits of lots of siblings but still connect individually.
2) Opportunities to practice selflessness.
We’re really fortunate that we can provide enough for our children. None of them is fighting for food or needs to worry about not having enough physical resources. Because they have their basic needs met, they are able to practice selflessness with each other when they don’t get everything they want.
Because we have a lot of kids, we simply can’t address everyone’s needs right when they need something all the time. They must learn to wait – it’s just part of being in a large family. Likewise, with a large family, you’re not always going to get your own room or personal restaurant meal (family style forever!) or activity choice or even preferred time to practice your instrument. The advantages of a large family that come from that are that you learn to compromise and listen to others, and sometimes have the opportunity to sacrifice your preference for the good of a family member.
3) Learn to appreciate others’ interests and stuff.
Along that line, another advantage of a large family is that you learn to sometimes temporarily lay aside your interests to focus on those of a sibling. I LOVE that my kids get the opportunity to learn from their siblings’ interests.
One child could not care less about baseball, but has learned a few things about it since he has a brother who is obsessed. Another never would’ve considered reading the American Girl books if his sister hadn’t been reading them, too. It develops their sense of curiosity and allows them to choose to be interested.
And, of course, it means that stuff can be reused across multiple kids and interests! That baseball glove can be passed down, and so can that little violin (my 3 year old is already asking to play it!). It means you can buy nicer quality stuff knowing that you’ll get plenty of use out of it (like our favorite kids hiking backpack or baby carrier). And that amazing kids bike that’s still in perfect condition? Will definitely continue to get plenty of use.
It also means you can easily buy stuff in bulk! Like our favorite baby body wash that we buy in the biggest size possible.
4) Learn to be self-sufficient and contribute.
Kids in any family can learn skills and contribute to the household. But it becomes even more of a necessity with lots of kids. This is definitely one of my favorite advantages of living in a big family!
All of our kids have certain responsibilities and chores through our family economy system, and they learn young to contribute in meaningful ways. My older two kids make dinner once a week, and even my newly minted 3 year old helps sort laundry.
Even better, a major advantage of a big family is that the older kids learn to help out with the younger kids, and the younger ones learn by watching the older ones. My older kids can change diapers and get the baby dressed and buckle little ones into car seats. And my younger ones are great at patiently learning from and enjoying the older kids’ activities and interests and books. They see their siblings helping them, and they learn to help, too.
There’s just no way our family could function if everyone didn’t help out and take care of their responsibilities!
5) Fun and friendship.
Sure, big family life gets crazy sometimes. (Often.) But it’s also really dang fun. There’s something so special about watching your kids make up random Ewok dances together. (I have no idea.) It means that whether we’re at home or traveling together, there’s always a friend around. It means we have places that are special to all of us as a family, as well as places that are uniquely special to each of us.
It means we have enough people to play big board games and have mega dance parties. We can polish off leftovers in a snap, and make our own (fantastic, hilarious) road trip entertainment. It means holidays always feel full and fun and exciting. And there’s always a friend close by to talk to or giggle with.
So there you go – some of our favorite benefits of a big family! How about you? Do you or would you have a big family? Or do you prefer small (or solo) family life? All are wonderful and have true benefits!!