Well, four kids doesn't seem like a huge family to me - it feels full and good, but normal too. I say that, and then when I see a family of six walking along, my reflex is still to say - oh that's a big family. Until I count them, and realize that is what my family is looking like.
I do notice a few tell-tale signs that our family has grown. Here are a few things that clue me in to the fact that even if we aren't a huge family, we aren't a very small family either.
- I load and unload the dishwasher at least twice a day, and that is with strong efforts to conserve from creating any excess dirty dishes and aside from hand washing pots and pans and such.
- a few grocery items just don't go as far. We go through almost an entire gallon of milk each day (think three kids who drink milk at three meals and I use it to make their oatmeal in the morning and then if Matt or I happen to want a glass or I need it as an ingredient in baking/cooking, well...) We can go through almost an entire loaf of bread in one lunch if we all have sandwiches. We can also go through an entire bag of tortilla chips in one lunch as well. I'm learning how to stretch ingredients to make them go farther these days.
- laundry is never, ever, ever, caught up
- if we all go out to eat, we are going to have to ask for a table for six (one highchair, one booster for a little while) - thereby making our wait longer and our options fewer (few restaurants have booths that hold six). Needless to say, we won't be going out as much - mostly because of the cost. Although, we have found some good ways to cut cost and eat out with kids).
- often recreation = $$$ It is definitely much more costly to take six people to see a movie or to an amusement park or even on a relatively inexpensive trip if it requires lodging. For now, we're the kind of family that has to plan ahead for these things and save them for special occasions. We're learning to take advantage of a lot of great free recreation activities.
- babysitting - first, paying for someone to watch 4 kids is more expensive. second, finding someone who you trust to take care of all four kids at the same time can be difficult. third, it is just less convenient. A good friend or regular babysitter might be called upon fairly frequently to watch one or even two kids on short notice so that mom can run to the grocery store, the gym, or have dinner with her husband. But, I couldn't ask someone to take four kids in that same way because I know what that entails regarding time, energy, and flexibility. It definitely needs to be planned on and prepared for ahead of time. Thank God for wonderful grandmas!
- carrying stuff - this especially applies to a larger family of younger children. I've definitely noticed that we're lugging around more stuff. Even when we streamline as best as possible. In the winter, four coats, scarves, mitten sets, and hats is very bulky. Just try going to a friends house or a restaurant and see how much of their coat closet this takes up! In the summer, we're loaded down with bottles of drinking water, sun hats, sunglasses, etc.. to keep up with. Not to mention a short trip to the pool - with all the towels, toys, floaties, snacks and drinks to carry along, you'd think we were going to the beach for a week to look at us. Of course, there is usually a packed diaper bag in tow too - the more little ones there are, the more bulky the bag.
There are more examples then these. And maybe these all seem like things that are rather undesirable, but it is just the result of there being more. There are more people and that requires more of almost everything, that's for sure. But it also means that there is more of the good stuff too - the special moments, the baby kisses, the funny and unique personalities. More bedtime snuggles, more triumphant moments, more laughter, more people to play a good game together, more hands to help.
My own experience with our size family has been that it is a whole lot less convenient, but very very satisfying too.