Good morning. After seeing the picture of your beautiful family I thought an interesting post would be a description of what a household of 6 kids is like. I am only on my second and would be interested to read your thoughts on having a large family.
Well, Ari, I think that’s a great idea. However, I don’t feel qualified to write such a post. For two reasons:
1. I only have six kids. There are families in my community with 8 or 10 or even 12 kids. Now THOSE are big families. Compared to them, I’m an underachiever.
2. (and this is the more important point) I don’t do any of the work. Mrs. Balabusta is the one raising six kids.
Here’s what MY life is like:
I get up and shower and use my supersonic toothbrush. I go to minyan. I eat a bowl of frosty flakes and take care of biddness. I drive to the hospital. I see a bunch of patients. I go to the clinic. I see a bunch of patients, check email, and leave idiotic comments on people’s blogs. I drive home and listen to either horrible talk radio or myself singing slightly off-key. I eat the delicious dinner Mrs. B. has prepared. I wash some dishes. (Hey that’s my big contribution.) I take various kids various places. I teach one of my teenagers to drive. I may go to the Kollel. I come home. I give the psychotoddler a bath and put her to sleep. I play some video games. I fall asleep watching Monk on the TiVo. Repeat Ad nauseum.
So you see, you really want to find out what happens between the time that I leave the house and the time I return home. For that you should probably ask Mrs. Balabusta.
However, from a purely logistical standpoint, I will say that procedurally, we don’t do things much differently from when we only had two kids. Anything more than three, and you’re outnumbered anyway so it doesn’t matter much. The main difference is in terms of volume and duration. We do laundry continuously. There’s always a load going somewhere. There are a lot more dishes to do. There are more bags of groceries to carry in. Tuition is astronomical. We had to buy a full-sized van for transportation.
Looking at the picture of the kids, you might think they all arrived at once, that we had 6 little kids scurrying around in all directions like a bunch of Tasmanian Devils. The truth is we had at most 3 small kids at one time. As the older kids got bigger, we gave them more responsibility and they contributed more to the workings of the house. So all the older kids can baby-sit, sort, wash, and fold laundry, clean and cook. About the only thing they can’t do is take and deliver phone messages, but I don’t think that’s a function of the number of kids in the house, since I don't know how to take and deliver phone messages either.
So, in answer to your question, a medium-sized family is fun but challenging. If the kids are acquired incrementally, then you really don’t notice each individual addition. And I think the kids are a blast. Our Shabbos table is a non-stop laugh fest. The kids entertain each other. They really are their own best friends. I think this will be something they carry with them when they leave us (which, BTW, three of them will do in the next 2 weeks).
Each child is different from his or her siblings. I can’t think of any one of them that I could have done without. The only downside that I can think of (other than financial, obviously), is that it becomes hard to spend individual time with each kid. You do start to relate to them as a group. I have the good fortune of being able to do specific tasks with many of them (driving for the older two, piano and flute lessons with the others, etc.), but as Doctor Bean alluded to on his blog, you have to work to make this a priority.
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.