What It’s Like… Coming From A Family Of 13

Hello Everyone!  I’m starting a new series here on the blog called “What It’s Like” each of the posts will be sharing on some aspect of my life.  This first one is about my family life.  I’m the oldest of 11 children which is an experience I know not many people are familiar with.  Hopefully this post gives you all a peek into my life and I’m also going to be debunking a few misconceptions about large families along the way.

You know the show “Cheaper By The Dozen” that depicts a family of 14 people as a chaotic mess of continual mishaps, pranks, and bad attitudes among children?   If you haven’t watched it, in my opinion you haven’t missed anything whatsoever in the realm of good entertainment.  I’ve never been a fan of either the original or the sequel to it because I feel like it is demeaning, and paints an extremely inaccurate picture of what life in a large family is really like.


Being firstborn in the family gives me a unique perspective because I have gotten to witness our family’s growth from average size, (my brother Chris and I) to having a total of 6 brothers and 4 sisters.  It has been quite a journey over the years and we have had a lot of different adventures and experiences as a family that I feel have only been enriched the more members in our family there are.  You know the saying “The more the merrier” ?  Well it’s absolutely correct!

The first place I want to start is with with what seems to be one of the most common things  people wonder about;  that is if more children means less love for each of the individual children.  While it’s definitely true that some children in this world receive less love from their parents than others, I strongly believe that the cause of that is misplaced priorities by parents, NOT family size.  What I’ve seen and experienced coming from a large family is that if anything each individual receives MORE love because there are more people present to pass it around.

Coming from a large family means a lot of dynamics are different than in a family of a much smaller size, but likewise many things are still the same. One of the biggest differences is how you utilize time. You have to learn to be very efficient with it in order for the household to run correctly.  Schedules are the best thing ever and help everyone stay on track with their daily tasks.  We also have SOP’s (standard operating procedures) which is just what it sounds like.  They are procedures for operating on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis that everyone knows, and dad and mom retain the right to change or alter as the situation may call for.

The buddy system is *the bomb*,  and pairs an older child with a younger one.  Responsibilities for the older child include anything from helping the younger buddy complete their daily tasks, to keeping track of that child when the family is out and about.  Since the youngest is now 5 we don’t utilize the buddy system so much on a daily basis but we definitely still do when out among crowds.

There are times where the bulk of an entire day is spent working through interpersonal relationship dynamics.  Days like that can be hard and emotional, but they always end in hugs, I love you’s, and forgiveness if need be.  And it is days like that, during which sibling and family bonds are strengthened even more.  Those same strong bonds formed in the fire of difficulty, are also the very reason that you don’t want to mess with or hurt anyone from our tribe.  We’ve been through too much together for any one person to have to face adversity on their own.  When someone is hurt, we all feel it deeply, and when someone is happy, we are happy with them.

A larger family size means you have the capability to accomplish A LOT in a very small span of time.  There are times when we work like a well oiled machine getting things done…  and then sometimes, not so much.  But that’s just life. 😉

Every birthday is a party, whether other people are present or not.   And it is rare that you ever get lonely or don’t have someone to talk to.  Often, the difficulty is in trying to talk to a sibling or parent one on one without anyone else present.  We all like to know what’s going on with each other!

You never leave anywhere without doing a sound off or head count.  Because we’ve done this on a consistent basis there has only been ONE SINGLE instance of a child being left somewhere (yes we did go back and get her).

Trips of any sort, and vacations are kind of a big deal.  Our family has been blessed to have an RV to travel in since I was about 6 years old, which is when there were 5 of us children.:)  That has really made traveling cross country a lot easier and we’ve had the opportunity to do quite bit of traveling in past years.  Packing for 13 people can be quite the ordeal but we have streamlined the process and are able to get packed and down the road in less than 24 hours when needed!  Well oiled machine remember?  Chaos does occur at times.  Sometimes in the form of a sporadic dance party complete with loud music. Sometimes in the form of sparring matches in the kitchen resulting in someone being taken to the ground and put into a BJJ choke hold. Sometimes in the form of melt downs and a messy house.  Sometimes chaos happens more than I or anyone else enjoys, but chaos is definitely NOT on a daily basis.

Some people wonder if you have less opportunities being raised in a large family because of finances.  While in some cases that could be true, (everyone’s financial situation is different, regardless of family size) I’ve held the opinion for quite some time, that being raised in a large family is one of the very best ways a child can be prepared for adulthood. You have to learn what the meaning of the word “share” is and practice it every day.  You learn that the world does not revolve around you.  You learn how to take care of others.  You learn how to interact with, work along side of, and maintain relationships with multiple different personalities.  Things are definitely different in a large family, but different doesn’t mean bad!

Overall, being raised in a large family has been an awesome experience for me, and one I wouldn’t change for anything!

What size of a family did you come from? 

Were you able to relate to any of these things?  

Did anything in this post surprise you?

Until next time!

2 comments on “What It’s Like… Coming From A Family Of 13

  1. I come from a family of eight which is quite a bit smaller than yours, but I can still relate. We ALWAYS did a count off before leaving anywhere. Except for that one time….

    It’s funny you brought up Cheaper by the Dozen- I’ve thought the same thing. They’re so chaotic! It’s ironic because in the book the dad was an efficiency expert- literally! The book is written by two of the Gilbreth children about their family growing up. It’s nothing like the movies; I think you would enjoy it.

    • Hi Lila,
      I’m sure you can relate!
      It seems like once families reach about 6 children not a lot changes in family operations the more children that are added from there. :b

      I’ve never read the book but I bet you are right, I probably would enjoy it! I saw the old cheaper by the dozen movies that must be based off of them. They are a family favorite with us!

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