Wednesday, 28 March 2012

How Many Kids? The Benefits of Growing a Large Family

How many children "should" each family have? Obviously, each person's answer will be unique, and the reasons that lay behind their answers even more so.

I was an only child until I was fifteen. Then, my dad had my half-brother and half-sister with my step-mum. I didn't see very much of them, and don't feel like much of a big sister, even though they are always happy to see me now I'm 24, and they are 9 and 5. It was lonely and insular, growing up living alone with just my mum, and I often wonder whether all only children are similarly awkward with people as I can be. Now I have a daughter, I try to spend as much time around other kids as possible, to counteract the fact that the majority of her time is spent with her mum and dad. I always wanted to have two kids, but now I have one, I am wondering if two is enough!

Dave, Indy, Trilby and I went to the park recently, and had a great time playing with a whole group of kids. Trilby ran around with them for over an hour, and they completely exhausted him. Indy watched all the kids running around with her dog, and talked to me in her babbling way. I felt so happy and it made me yearn for the large family I never had.

I've read some interesting stuff about how after three kids, they don't cost much per child, or take extra time, in a book called Selfish Reasons to Have More Children. I don't know if that's true, but it seems that the benefits would often outweigh the pitfalls.

Having enough money is one of those constant worries for most families. I guess if you have supportive relatives or keep all the kids' clothes for handing down to siblings, having lots of kids doesn't have to be "too" expensive. Buying in bulk, cooking from scratch, growing your own vegies and many other thrifty practices I highly endorse seem to go hand-in-hand with large families. The values taught by practices borne of necessity are important: don't waste resources; be imaginative; know where your food comes from and what goes into it; make what you can; work as play. (I will go into each of these values in depth at a later date, because they are each a post in their own right!)

We also need to keep in mind that kids increase joy, and these personal, emotional benefits are often more important than having lots of money. Material possessions are less important than most people think, and most people own more stuff than they need or want. Kids don't need toy computers and plastic dolls when you can paint pictures, make rag dolls, make a house out of a cardboard box, play with LEGO, dance, kick a ball, sing or blow bubbles. Pets are excellent for using up kids' seemingly boundless energy, and they don't cost a lot in comparison with video games or shopping trips! A camping holiday is more fun for families than an overseas trip that requires oodles of preparing, packing, immunisations, plane tickets, passports...It's easier to save this money for the things that are really wanted and needed. A garage sale of all the stuff that you realise is cluttering up your home might provide the funds to buy the tent and pay for the trip!

So how many kids do you think is too many? I just want more people to play with! It's fun being a mum, most of the time, and I'd like a few kids to call me their mum in my lifetime!

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