Raising more than your average 2.1 children isn't for the faint of heart. Everything in our great land is designed for a family of four.
Hotel room reservations, four-top tables at fast food restaurants, gas-efficient cars, 3 bedroom homes, things that come in packages or multiples of four in the grocery store. I mean, really, you're taking a leap from the standard when you branch out beyond 2 children.
We were crazy enough to go three beyond that standard. And who knows what the future may hold! We have an ache in our hearts for adoption, too.
But how does one manage to survive and thrive with an entire handful of children on one income? Look no further...
1) Transform your attic into your own personal consignment store.
You may not believe me, but I've maybe gone clothes shopping for my children like ten times in eleven years, since finding out I was pregnant the first time.
We all know that people are ultra generous and excited for baby number one. Then when baby number one gets a sidekick, people are eager to shower you once again with gifts for this acceptable baby. And if babies one and two are the same gender, then it's perfectly fine to have baby number three, as long as that baby is the gender you're lacking. And if that baby is the missing gender, then you'll also receive another shower of blessings with the unspoken condition that you don't have any more after this one.
So when I need some clothing, I shop upstairs first. If I don't have it, then Jesus usually always comes thru. No lie. Someone at church will randomly come up to me and say "I have such and such size of this gender clothes. Do you want them?" ("DO I WANT THEM?!....Of Course!!!") Or, the best times are when Mike will just come home from work with a big box of clothes from some random person. It's funny how God just knows our needs and loves to surprise us with the provision.
And, sometimes, a grandparent will randomly bring this or that item I'm looking for without knowing I was looking. Also, God. But my last resort is always a trip to my local consignment store. And if you don't shop consignment for your kids, you're missing out. Like WAY missing out.
2) Give them an early bedtime and make them share rooms.
Early bedtime = the electricity usage stops, as does the raiding of the fridge and parent leisure time begins as we raid the fridge and use the electricity for once.
I always tell my children, "you will never have your own room: in college, in marriage, at summer camp, so you may as well get used to it now."
A smaller house makes for less mess, less reason to buy more things, and the lessons that come from sharing spaces.
3) Grow your own food (or at least have some chickens that poop out delicious eggs)
I like to say that, at this point, I have the deepest, greenest green thumb around. But it's not true. In fact, if my thumb is even slightly green, it's the lightest and most pukey green shade ever.
So when my efforts fail me year after year, I just lean on my chickens for help. When your family can put down a dozen eggs a day easy peasy, then you may as well just have a chicken zoo in your backyard. We never have to run to the store for eggs, and if the fridge gets raided a bit too much, there's always eggs here. Always.
4) Buy a house that already has its own park/playground land in the backyard. That'll save you a lot of gas in trips to the park.
5) Buy the biggest capacity washer and dryer out there and do three loads at once.
This one just explains itself, y'all.
6) For goodness sakes, shop at Aldi.
If y'all don't know about Aldi, let's get educated. Because, some genius over in Germany or something decided to make a grocery store with almost free prices, in an non-overwhelming environment, where half or more of the products are organic in nature and make my eyes bulge when I see the glorious prices.
And if you don't wanna venture out and deal with the bringing your own bags and bagging your own groceries thing, then spend twice as much at Walmart grocery and allow someone else to shop, organize it, bag it, and put it in your car for you.
I'm totally down with both. Cause we all need a money saver and a sanity saver grocery option.
7) Use paper plates and cups.
Cause normally, houses only come with one dishwasher. And if you aren't excited about hearing it run three times a day, then paper plates.
8) Be ultra generous.
If you're always looking to make a buck, then you're missing out. So many times, I can't even count how many times, God has met us right where our needs are at the exact time we have the need. In other words, we've been just handed so many things for free. Decent things, such as brand new couches, a king mattress, toys for the children that were barely played with, gift cards, packs of diapers/wipes/and meals just show up on occasion. And so Mike and I constantly reciprocate those actions to others. If we have something of value, we don't sell it, we give it away. And I'm not talking about dumping our crap at Goodwill and Salvation Army.
God has always always always come thru. If we are in a financial pickle, an unexpected raise comes or my dōTERRA check is way more than I expected. Even like the other night, we didn't expect to get our dinner paid for. I mean, we certainly haven't been punished by having more than your average number of children. In fact, we've been the receivers of even more than we ever imagined. We are the richest people I know and you wouldn't think so if you saw our bank account!
So, it is very very possible to live this crazy life with one income. And the key is just to be content with what you have, and to give more back than you've been given yourself. That's it.
If God decides to add to our family in the future, I won't be worried how He'll do that, or if our circumstances at the time will be just right.
God is always faithful. Test Him in this. He will never fail you. No matter what size family He gives you!