Cheaper by the Dozen – A Father’s Perspective.

You have HOW many kids? Don’t you own a TV ?? Haven’t you worked out what causes them?? ……………Over the years I have come to expect the clichéd responses to the simple statement “We have six children!”. Well guess what ,my wife and I love having six children. They are our greatest blessing.

Not a day passes that I am not grateful for the joy,the fun,the memories,the countless unique experiences and yes the challenges we have had raising them over the last 26 years. Sure it’s been hard work at times; it has meant sacrifices on our part as parents and on the part of the children,but the benefits have been overwhelmingly greater.

Our home is always filled with activity, it often feels like Grand Central Station with a departure and arrivals schedule to match! It has regularly been the hub for the neighborhood kids looking for someone to play with and the scene of many great parties and extended family get togethers ; Our children have learned to share (not always willingly at first!) ; they rarely get a chance to be bored;-there is always someone to talk to ,to play with or to share the experiences of the day with.A shoulder to cry on over sad events and an ally to laugh with over the fun events..

The younger children have benefitted from having older siblings to help them with schoolwork, sporting activities,including coaching and umpiring their sporting teams ,Organising social events- taking them to movies,sushi trains and concerts.In turn our older children have become experienced babysitters and even decent nappy changers!…. and having younger brothers and sisters has kept them level headed-nothing keeps you grounded in reality as much as being totally embarrassed by your youngest brother in front of your friends!

Raising the children has kept both Maria and I young (well young at heart at least!). It has not allowed us to focus on the negatives of“getting old” , although it has made us appreciate the immense value of “peace and quite”!

Perhaps the most important aspect of having a large family from my perspective is that it has increased my love and admiration for Maria, my wife. I have witnessed the love she has shown the children; and I am constantly inspired by the amount of work she does running “Team de Leeuw” all done with total selflessness and compassion.

“Cheaper by the Dozen” …I’m not sure…….. but “Better with a Half Dozen”-Definitely!!!!!!!

–The following are a collection of images of my family (the de Leeuw family)—

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The memories of Margaret Stapleton

Marg

I love being a part of a large family. I’m the second youngest of 6 siblings – 4 boys and 2 girls. As a young child a family of at least 5 children was common where we lived and everyone new someone’s brother or sister so you couldn’t really get away with much without someone knowing. People were always keeping an eye out on you even if they didn’t know you personally they knew who you belonged to.

As I’ve gotten older I appreciate my family more. I consider us a close family but in saying that we don’t necessarily contact each other on a weekly basis but you speak to one of the brothers or sister and they’ve spoken to one of the others so you’re kept up to date on what’s happening throughout the family. I’m lucky….our family actually like each other.

But it wasn’t quite the same when we were younger. We lived in close quarters in a three bedroom house….one room for mum and dad, one room for the boys and one room for the girls, one shower over the bath and one toilet. Yeah one toilet and shower between 8 of us. You just had to learn to share or be prepared to be attacked because you were taking too long. Dignity didn’t come into it. “It’s my turn. Get out” and somebody would burst in. The house was too small for much privacy but we would play for hours outside, coming in only when the mozzies came out. There was always jostling for room and fighting over whose turn it was to wash up (that’s when you raced to the toilet and stayed there until the washing up was finished), feed the dog, sweep the floor , set the table etc. But it all got done, every day, and that’s just how it was.

The phone was in the hallway of our house and everyone had to pass through the hallway to get to anywhere. No such thing as a private phone call, which was particularly hard when boyfriends and girlfriends were on the scene. We all knew each others’ business even when you didn’t want to. Closed doors muffled the conversation but you could still hear quite well, especially if you stopped breathing and held an empty glass to the wall or door.

Christmas was especially chaotic. There were presents for each of us, for all the relatives and all the neighbours. Rum balls had to be made, Christmas tree put up and decorated, (about 1000 times depending on who liked what) kitchen chairs had to be scrubbed, windows washed and so on. The day itself was always full of noise, with people calling in and out all day. I still hate a quiet Christmas and I can only sympathise for those who have no-one or very few to share it with.

I wouldn’t change coming from a big family for anything. You lean to adapt to changes and make the most of what you have (and before it gets ‘borrowed), You learn to share and to fight battles only when you have to. You also learn to compromise and eat fast so you don’t miss out. Sad times are shared as well as good times. I love the fact that there’s always someone you can go to for help or advice or just someone to go out with. Give me a big family any day over a small one.

By Margaret Stapleton

Family Portraits

While doing this campaign I have been sent some beautiful photos of other large families from my followers and friends and I have decided to share them in the hope that they will not only be appreciated but also in the hope that people will see that larger families are a lot more common than you may think…

The Varga Family

The Varga Family

Three of the four Prsa Siblings

Three of the four Prsa Siblings

The Saba Siblings and their cousins

The Saba Siblings and their cousins

The Pendlebury Sisters

The Pendlebury Sisters

The McClymont Family

The McClymont Family

The Hudson Family

The Hudson Family

The women of the Marinkovic Family

The women of the Marinkovic Family

The de Leeuw Siblings

The de Leeuw Siblings

If you are part of a large family or have more than the average two kids yourself we would love to hear from you! Send us a picture of your family so we can keep spreading that large family love 🙂

The memories of Menno Kohler

***The following post is from the perspective of my Oma’s (grandmothers) brother and his experience of growing up in a large family

menno

Menno Kohler

And his sister my Oma :)

And his sister my Oma :

“My parents raised our (large) family in the former Dutch East Indies, but after the Indonesian Independence, we moved back to The Netherlands.

Our family consisted of 7 persons: parents and 5 children. A large family indeed.

I always considered that as a benefit; to me and to my siblings, but also to my parents; a lot of education work has been taken over by us.

We, the kids, formed sort of a mini-society: there was always someone to play with, or to fight with! Someone, listening to, or protecting the other one. We learned and taught each other how to win and also how to lose. We learned to share, to give, but also, when it’s time to take!

Not only up-down (I happened to be the eldest brother) but also the other way around: my younger siblings taught me a lot.

We taught each other how to survive in real society, in the years to come.

But while we were messing around, our (wise) parents listened to and observed us. They let us argue, fight, play, win, lose, cry and laugh……and by the time we agreed to disagree, mom or dad explained to us who was right and why. This is what I mean with: ‘taking a lot of education work out of our parents hands’. And none of us felt an unequal amount of attention or affection from our parents, (although, there are always feelings of jealousy and indignations between siblings).

 But of course we did experience the disadvantages and criticism of being a large family.

Such as:

+  both my parents had to work hard, when we were young, in order to pay for things such as our education.

+  The “Why-questions”: religion? indifference? fathers vanity?

+   The accusation of being antisocial: “look at it in a broader perspective: we people of this planet have to protect this world from overpopulation.”

 

Looking back to our youth in a large family, we are all content and grateful.

3 of my siblings emigrated to Australia, 60 years ago, and raised happy and successful families themselves.

Me and my youngest sister stayed in Holland, also happy and grateful…well, mostly!”

Memorable large families from Film and Tv

Having a large family can at times be kind of like living in a circus and over the years large family antics have made their way into some very memorable movies and TV series. Here are a few of our favourites;

#1 – Cheaper by the Dozen (2000)

Our name sake film and a remake of the 1950 film of the same name, provides a humous look into the lives of a family of 14.

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#2 – Sound of Music (1965)

A classic large family movie, I have always wished that my family would spontaneously burst into song like the Von Trapp’s.

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#3 – Yours mine and Ours (2005)

Another remake, this film offers a humours look into two parents attempts to blend two large families.

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# 4 – Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

Another classic large family film which included some very impressive song and dance routines.

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# 5 – The Brady Bunch (1969-1974)

This TV series surrounds the everyday lives of a blended family with six kids and is another memorable large family.

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Whats are your most memorable large families from film or TV we want to know leave a comment below !

The more siblings the better!

From research I have conducted into the ways in which large families have been portrayed and spoken of across different media outlets, especially in print media, it has often been said that younger children in large families have a high potential to suffer due to a variety of factors that are commonly associated with larger families. Some of these factors included the idea that more children means a greater strain on financial resources so children from larger families often miss out on things that other children have. It was also suggested that parents were incapable of giving all of their children the same equal amount of attention and affection and that younger children are more often than not the ones that suffer because of this. Now I am not here to completely reject these theories as I obviously do not have the means to however, I have asked my youngest sister to write in her own words how she sees life as the fifth child and how having older siblings has influenced her everyday life. Hopefully this will be seen as another way to view large families in a more positive way and will hopefully highlight some insights you maybe hadn’t thought of before…

Gabrielle with her little brother Peter :)

Gabrielle with her little brother Peter 🙂

Benefits of having a lot of siblings

by Gabrielle D

As being one of the youngest of six kids, people think you’re always pushed around and that it’s a loud and noisy household. Although our house can be a bit of a jungle sometimes, having older siblings makes you build a thicker skin and moulds you into a young adult that has already had experiences of the real world. Not only do you learn a lot from them but also you pick up tips along the way i.e. if one of them says no you simply move onto the next sibling, or having the advantage of numerous cars to wash makes you a big profit.

The experiences I have had with my older sisters are more like memories, they treat you like you are their baby doll, and take you out to spoil you (then complain about how you made them broke.) However with all these outings and treats comes that moment you realise that they can also help you with school, job interviews and sporting opportunities, so you don’t have to rely on your parents all the time.

You are always entertained and have someone to talk to, although they may not listen. But the bond we have and cherish is much thicker than some smaller families, because their always there and we always work together.

Dear Mum & Dad

My Heros

My Heros

Since starting the Cheaper By The Dozen campaign I have often spoken about the benefits of being a part of a family with more than the average 2 children. However, being part of the ‘children’ and ‘siblings’ categories myself, it often becomes easy to forget just how much work is involved in making a large family function. Earlier this year my parents went overseas for their 30th wedding anniversary and I offered to look after my three younger siblings for three weeks. Now i knew it was going to be interesting and busy, but the amount of hard work that was actually involved made me appreciate even more everything my parents have done for me over the past twenty one years.

Now I was only looking after 3 children, and one of them was already 17, and after those three weeks I felt like I could have gone into hibernation for a year. I have no idea how my parents managed to look after 6 kids and to be honest not go insane in the process! As much as I have loved growing up with siblings all around me, I feel like it wasn’t until I was left in charge that it really dawned on me just how loud, chaotic and crazy it must have been for my parents when we were all growing up under the one roof especially when at one point there was 4 teenagers and 2 under 10 at the one time! My parents are my role models, my inspiration and most of all my heros. The strength and love they show to each and every one of us is something I hope to give to my own children in the future, I know that without them I would be lost.

So to my Mum and Dad and to all the parents out there wether you have one child or six, thank you for everything you do for us, we know that at times we may act like we don’t appreciate you and all that is involved in being a parent, but we love you and you truly are our heros.

Living with more than the standard family ticket of 2 adults and 2 children

Stephanie with her younger brother enjoying the beautiful weather in Sydney

Stephanie with her younger brother enjoying the beautiful weather in Sydney

By Stephanie Prsa

When responding to the standard “getting to know someone” question of how many siblings do you have? And when replying with 3, making the grand total of 4 children in my family, many respond with a “oh wow, there’s a few of you”. Besides these comments and the fact that we had to have a Toyota Tarago as a family car whilst growing up, I personally never thought having the two extra children around was ever “too much”.

I would say I am used to it, and could never imagine it any other way, and even though the others drive me crazy sometimes, most of the time they aren’t so bad and there is never a dull or quiet moment when we are all together. I find that living in a larger family has greatly impacted the values and beliefs I have today. I feel that I am more compassionate and understanding towards other people’s personal situations. Being the oldest of four children meant that my parents always looked to me to set an example for the others, help look after them and be the free babysitter. This was something I did not enjoy as we grew older, as living with so many people under one roof personality played a big part and clashes were very intense as you could imagine. Besides the clashes, the fights and hatred towards certain siblings, I can safely say I’ve arrived at 21 being the best person I could have become. Having the larger family also means you have the bigger support system that you may need, and even if you can’t confide in certain family members, you can always find someone in the family that you can.

Another reason I believe that a larger family is good to have is that you learn to appreciate and deal with many different people. One of my sister’s has Down syndrome, she is no different from an average teenage girl, she still likes her boy bands, music and clothes, however her speech is not so great and communicating is hard. Having her in my life has helped me and my other siblings to be patient, as well as understanding to anyone who suffers from a disability and the people who care for them. Having the ‘extra’ siblings has also brought out my maternal side and I think has definitely prepared me for the future for when I decide to have my own children. I couldn’t see having a family any other way and feel that I myself will also go against the norm of having 2 children when the time is right!

You know you have a large family when…

– Your family car resembles a small bus or when it can be referred to as ‘a people mover’

– All your family members are not covered by a ‘family pass’ at public events and you have to pay for two family tickets

– People mistake your family as a tour group and start following you around at museums

– Dinner time resembles the movie 300 with arms and legs flying everywhere battling it out for food.

– You have to use two or more trollies when you go grocery shopping and you take 30 minutes just to go through the check out

– You get pizza for dinner and the lady on the phone says “oh so your having a party”

– You have to hide and label food from your siblings so that there will be some left for you when you get home

-The oldest sibling can be mistaken for the youngest sibling’s parent

– You are rarely called your actual name on first try, instead you are referred to as all of your other siblings names and maybe even the dogs name if your lucky

How do you know that you are part of a large family ? ?

Please stop asking me that!

My siblings and I

Growing up in a large family is something I personally cherish very much. Having five siblings is not something you see everyday and it is often a point for criticism from passers by. Although I can understand the ‘normality’ and practicality of having only one or two children as life would be a lot cheaper and most likely quieter. However, as I see it life would also be a lot more boring and dull. Now you may think I am bias and I guess I’d have to admit you would be correct, I am one of six kids and the noise and specific quirks (and smells) that come as a result of living in a large family household are things I have become accustomed to over the last 20 years.

Not only have I become accustomed to a larger family life but I have also become way to familiar with the discrimination and derogative comments and stereotypes that are often attached to large families within our society.

Stereotype One: All large families must be home schooled freaks!

There have been numerous occasions that I have told someone I have five siblings and their first comment is “Oh wow so your homeschooled?” Now I know that TV shows such as 19 kids and counting have played a significant part in fueling this first stereotype, but let me set the record straight, myself and all my other siblings have all attended ‘normal’ schools and Universities. Although I do know some large families that home school I also know small families who home school as well. My point here is that no, we are not all home school freaks so please stop asking!

Stereotype Two: “Oh so you’re religious?”

This would have to be one of the overarching stereotypes about large families in today’s society. Many people have made this comment to me over the years and I am still baffled every time someone says it. I think it is because society has become accustomed to the notion of the smaller, the better, the more affordable and practical. However, whether someone is religious or not should not define them and they should not be looked down upon simply because they have decided to have more kids. When someone makes this comment to be now my response is to say “why does that matter?” although a simple response its interesting to watch people stop and actually think about it and a lot of the time regret making their comment in he first place. It is not that I am ashamed to say whether or not they are correct that I say this, but it is because I am trying to make a point, if it is wrong to judge or make a stereotypical assumption of someone based on race, gender etc. then is should also be wrong to make the same judgments and assumptions based on how many people are in their family.

Just once I would like someone to say “Oh wow that must be so much fun,” oh well heres hoping!