Every family is different. No family size is better than any other. We personally, however, LOVE the fullness of adorable little people in every corner of our home, the hum of children’s voices, always someone to play with, the kitchen, a rotating door of tasty meals throughout the day to nourish us all. Having a large family is our personal preference. It is also gift from the Lord….and we absolutely LOVE it! Although I am constantly learning new and better ways to care for all the special people in our home, here is my Realistic Guide to a Simple Large Family Christmas.
Video: Realistic Guide to a Simple Large Family Christmas
How do you realistically do Christmas for a big family?
- Seriously narrow your to-do list.
- Don’t put the Christmas expectations of an average size family on your large family.
- Order gifts online.
- Keep up with your regular chore routines.
- Allow older kids to help you with projects.
- Accept imperfections.
- Understand that your attitude is EVERYTHING.
Neither I nor my husband come from a family as large as ours. So learning to manage the day to day demands of a large family has been something new to us in general, let alone at Christmas time when the stakes are even higher. In our home currently, we have nine kids from age seventeen all the way down to our nineteen month old cutie pie… and another little blessing due in just a few weeks!
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Dynamics of a Large Family
Big families are a unique dynamic. While every family is busy this time of year, in my opinion, big families are more of a survival kind of busy. A one day at a time, keeping everyone fed, clothed, and meeting the individual needs of each child-kind of busy. With more people comes more of everything: more stuff, more meal prep, more people going in different directions, just MORE.
BUT our needs and abilities are different. When I see what other average size families have time for… many of those things we used to have time for when our family was smaller, I am reminded how different our lifestyle is. If we did all those same things, our kids would be rushed around, half-fed, with no clean clothes to wear. We would have little time for each other and our lifestyle would be very harried. It just is not feasible for us. If you are a mom of many, maybe you can relate.
I believe you can keep Christmas very simple and still have a meaningful holiday with your large family. You don’t need to unnecessarily guilt yourself into feeling like you have to do ALL the things. You don’t have to have matching pajamas, perfect decorations, or plans to attend all the local Christmas performances to have a meaningful Christmas. You can stay home. Watch movies together, listen to Christmas music, bake cookies, play board games. Your Christmas can be simple and still be wonderful.
Here is a Realistic Guide to a Simple Large Family Christmas.
#1 Seriously Narrow Your To-Do List
The count down to Christmas is ON! All moms feel it. We have our lists and they are our masters. But, have you been realistic about what you can actually accomplish?
We have a lot on our plate this year with a baby due just after the holidays. On other Christmases we have had less on our plate and were able to do more, but this year is not that year. This year needs to be a simple Christmas. My to-do list is short. On this list I have very obvious things that most people wouldn’t even think to put on a list, but I have learned that some years I have to lower my expectations. Here’s my list for this year.
- Buy tree and decorate with the kids.
- Hang lights outside.
- Make cookies together.
- Go out to eat with the whole family at a nice restaurant (Christmas gift).
- Send Christmas cards to family and friends.
- Buy gifts for the kids and our parents.
- Create picture calendar from Snapfish.
When you look at your to-do list, are you expecting too much from yourself? If you want to have a simple and meaningful Christmas with all your favorite people, then you may need to seriously narrow your list. There will be other seasons when you may be able to do some of those projects you have always wanted to do, but consider how too many things could take the joy out of the holiday for you…and the whole family.
#2 Don’t Put the Christmas Expectations of an Average Size Family on your Large Family
No matter how much I tell myself not to do this, I still do it. I put the same Christmas expectations of other families on our large family. When I see what other families are doing or what my kids’ friends are doing, I want to do all of those things! Giving gifts to co-op and church teachers, fun Christmas outings to concerts and local events, hand made gifts and projects for the kids to make. These are all fun and there are times when we can do some of those things, but that time is not this year.
There may be fun experiences that you want to do with your kids…going to performances, concerts, sports games, local entertainment, etc. Or maybe there are projects, etc. you want to do, but Christmas may not be the best time to feel like you should do those. Pick other less busy times throughout the year to plan those kind of things for your kids. Or plan those types of things on a Christmas year when you have less on your plate.
#3 Order gifts online
This may seem very obvious and something everybody does, but it really makes all the difference for a large family. Other than taking our kids our to shop for their person (they do a secret Santa among the siblings), we order almost all of our gifts online.
I love to shop local whenever I can because supporting small business is important to me. During Christmas season, however, I have to let this go. My husband and I shop online in the evenings to get gifts for the kids. You can still support small businesses online! Physically going shopping for gifts is a huge time sucker. Shopping online saves us so much time, plus we can sit together with popcorn and kombucha (our snack of choice) and make plans for what we want to get for each child. It’s almost like a date!
#4 Keep up with your regular chore routines
If you are a mom of many, maybe the following scenario is familiar to you. I have had people say both of these things to me.
“How do you keep your house so clean?!”
AND someone else at another time,
looking around…trying to be nice, “How are you are SO laid back?!”… which we all know translates to “I wouldn’t let MY house go like this!”
The truth is that if someone shows up when we are in the thick of our routine of chores and rhythms, then our house generally looks pretty good. However, if someone pops in after we have been away for a few days, or when I’m in the middle of a project, or trying to do something other than the every day work: making meals, running laundry, and picking up…well, there’s a pretty good chance they will walk in on quite the mess!
This rule applies even more to Christmas because we tend to have our focus on projects other than the daily maintenance and housework. Big families are messy! When I hear a young mom with 1 or 2 kiddos talk about how quickly the house can get destroyed, I inwardly snicker because, really…it’s just not the same!
Keeping up with your regular house work and chores will help keep your ship afloat this time of year.
If you’d like to read more about how we manage the house work in our home, I share more about it in 10 tips for How to Homeschool a Large Family.
#5 Allow Your Older Kids to Help You With Projects
Every year I make and order an online picture calendar. It is a good deadline for me to collect the best pictures of the year and print them out in a booklet for the family to enjoy through the years. Over time, this project has become bigger and bigger to me. One year, I procrastinated more and more until I was beginning to wonder if I could pull it off. All the while, my older girls had been asking me if they could do it. My type A self kept saying no. They couldn’t do the way I wanted it done. But then I realized that if I didn’t let them do our calendar that year, it wasn’t going to get done! I decided to give them a go. Guess what? They LOVED the project! Sure, I had to tweak a few things, but they saved me so much work. Their help was a major contribution to our Christmas preparation!
What are some things your kids can help you with? Count your Christmas work as part of your homeschool day. These are life skills…important tasks that need to be done every year at this time.
Here are some ideas of things your kids might be able to help you with.
- Wrap gifts. They don’t have to be perfect!
- Address and stamp Christmas cards.
- Make cookies.
- Teenagers can tackle your gift list by shopping online, putting items in your cart for you to review and purchase.
- Decorate the tree.
- If some of the clutter that accumulates during Christmas season overwhelms you, offer to pay your kids to do jobs….match socks, clean out your Tupperware cabinet, organize a drawer.
#6 Accept Imperfections
In my opinion, accepting imperfection is THE ticket to a simple Christmas. It’s good to have a plan, to be organized. But unless you intend on running your large family Christmas like a factory operation, all things will not go as planned!
No matter how hard I try, there is always something that’s missed or not quite how I want it. One section of Christmas lights keeps going out. The four and six year old pull the brass trumpet ornaments off the tree and start up a band. Somebody’s gift isn’t going to be delivered on time. The kids are all fighting over who gets to open first. I thought I made the gifts even for all the kids, but I missed one for a child.
When you have a lot of people, it’s messy. The more people, the more problems. As the proverb says, “Where no oxen are, the crib is clean.” Lower your expectations and be okay with just being together this time of the year.
#7 Understand That Your Attitude is EVERYTHING.
Draw strength from the Lord. You can have a peaceful heart in the midst of flawed plans and fighting kids. Your calm, accepting demeanor can have such a positive effect on your kids, your husband, your home. Your attitude about Christmas, Mom, is catchy. Let it be one of gratefulness. Look around and really see how blessed you are that God has gifted these children to you and your husband. Be in awe that the God of the universe condescended to mankind, took on human flesh, became a baby. The King of kings “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant”, lived and died to save a hopeless world. Though He was rich, He became poor. For you. For the world.
Keep the right perspective this season. Your attitude is EVERYTHING.
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Hi, I’m Sheri! I am a Christian saved by grace, married to my high school sweetheart, and a thankful mom to ten incredible kids. I’m a former public school teacher who never thought I would someday be a homeschool mom! Drawing on 13+ years of homeschooling experience, follow along to find help for getting started, tried and true homeschooling advice, life skills learning, simple Morning Time ideas, and interviews with everyday homeschool moms just like you!