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Issues affecting larger families...
Isn't it interesting that both our political leaders have chosen to have larger families, in this day and age? The more I find out about the larger family environment, the more it becomes apparent that they can be a very dynamic way to grow up - I should like to find out just how many of our "movers & shakers" come from or have larger families...
You can't help being aware as soon as you have 4 children that you have stepped outside society's accepted "Norm". Total strangers often feel free to comment on the size of your family, often, but not always, with the kindest of motives. Certain smaller newspapers seem to perpetuate the image of the feckless fertile; workshy no-hopers who live in 9 bedroom council houses and receive thousands of pounds of taxpayers money each week. Chance would be a fine thing!
- British houses traditionally have 3 or, if you're lucky, 4 bedrooms and it's considered very unfortunate for your children to have to share rooms, (though mine generally opt to sleep in together anyway!) Planning regulations, never mind finance, mean that you'll be lucky to get away with adding the rooms that you need to your home, and building a house suitable for lots of inhabitants is rarely allowed, though extravagant use of space is fine for "executives." "Dining rooms" are so small you'd be lucky to fit a table and chairs in together, never mind sit anyone down in it, despite the fact that most kitchens are too small to eat in. No wonder TV dinners are so prevalent!
Cars are built for a maximum of 5 people, and "people carriers" don't actually have room for any of those people's belongings when all the seats are up. Many of the older models are not in fact reinforced where the extra seats go, as they're not really designed for permanent use. We blew our transport budget on a VW transporter van with a minibus-type conversion (we don't use all the seats) which had never been commercially owned, therefore we didn't have to pay VAT on her. But insuring her was a bit of a nightmare, with most companies alleging that she didn't exist, or that she must be a commercial vehicle, and we had quotes ranging from a very reasonable £200 to in excess of £900. The extra room she offers has been a Godsend up to now, but the older children are getting to the terminally embarassed stage and keep begging us for a "normal" car.
Washing machines are currently designed to fit under worktops & attack small loads of lightly soiled clothes with horrible chemicals. I was faced with large loads of very mucky clothes, and children whose skin did not tolerate said chemicals well. The day our machine blew up for the second time in a month after washing 7 loads in one day, I also blew a fuse. I contacted various commercial suppliers and ended up with an American machine (standard domestic issue over there!) which is mainly used in hotels over here. It washes 3 times the load of my old one, in half the time, twice as well, and with its matching drier cost less than good quality EU ones. However I did have to carve up my utility room to fit it in as it's a toploader, and the drier has to live in the garage. (See [http://www.electricshop.com/ ElectricShop.com] (recommended by Victoria Bulezuik) and [http://www.applianceonline.co.uk/ AppliancesOnline] for where to buy...)
These are the issues that have particularly struck me as being different for us as a larger family. What's been different, or difficult for you? How have you tackled it? What are your favourite resources? Below is a link to a discussion board so we can share our problems, solutions & ideas.
Here's a link (click [http://www.pilgrimbible.org/tacoma/ssbigfamilies.html here]) to an interesting article by Pastor Bryan Pollock of the Pilgrim Bible Church in Tahoma, USA, showing that life is much the same for big families over there...