If you’re one of many, we’re sure some of these experiences will ring true for you!
Growing up with eight siblings was certainly a blessing — even if I didn’t always appreciate it at the time. Now that I’m in my 40s, I can look back at my childhood and appreciate all the hard work and sacrifice my parents made, and I can certainly say that their openness to having such a large brood was the greatest gift I was given.
So in honor of all the parents who’ve provided their children with enough brothers and sisters to form their very own basketball team (with a few subs!), here’s a nod to some of what’s special and unique about growing up in a large household.
1. BEING CALLED BY OTHER NAMES
When you’re being called by your mom to come and help, you’ll be called anything but your own name. My mom used to go through the list of kids in birth order until she eventually got to my name. I was lucky — at number 5 she didn’t have far to go. As for my baby sister, well, she had to wait a good few minutes ’til her name came up, and even then, sometimes the dog sometimes got a mention first!
2. GETTING USED TO NO QUIET TIME!
Trying to find some time alone was always tricky. Even when having a shower, you were bound to be interrupted by an older sibling trying to get ready for something they believed to be more urgent, or a younger sibling wanting to say “hello.” The great thing is, this prepared me for my life as a mom when having time alone is a luxury not to be taken for granted (although, after five minutes of silence I can start to feel lonely!).
3. SHARING A ROOM (AT LEAST UNTIL THE OLDEST LEAVE HOME)
Bedrooms were always a hot topic in my family. Who had what room and with what sibling? Only a couple of siblings — the two oldest — had their own rooms. I shared mine with older and younger siblings at different stages of my childhood, and each new roommate brought something unique to the room. Not only did this help us all bond, it also meant we had to confront any issues straight on, and also share a few secrets.
4. EXPERIENCING THE JOYS OF HAND-ME-DOWNS
I can still remember my older sister’s purple cardigan that I had my beady eye on for a few years. The feeling of satisfaction when it finally ended up in my hands was immeasurable. I didn’t care that there were a couple of moth holes, or that the arms had stretched a little. I was wearing my big sister’s cardigan!
5. AND THE JOYS OF GETTING YOUR OWN CLOTHES!
Christmas often meant getting a brand new dress. Yes, brand spanking new, never worn before! These little one-offs were cherished, and when they were passed down to younger sisters it almost felt like entrusting them with a newborn baby. It certainly taught us to be grateful for the things we held precious in our lives, and it still does today.
6. CONSTANTLY BEING KNOWN AS SOMEONE’S SISTER OR BROTHER
As the 4th person in my family to attend the same high school, for many years I was only ever known as “Sian’s sister.” Added to the fact that there’s a strong resemblance between all of my siblings I was also known as “David’s sister,” “Robert’s sister,” and occasionally “Jonathan’s sister.” One thing’s for sure — I was never called by my own name. At the time I used to feel annoyed, but mixed in was a whole lot of pride, and a sense of belonging.
7. RARELY FEELING OFFENDED
With a large number of siblings comes an even greater opportunity to laugh and joke around — often at the expense of each other. Siblings are quick to lovingly point out all your flaws, which only steels you for life in the big wide world.
8. GAINING SHARP NEGOTIATION SKILLS AT AN EARLY AGE
Between bartering your way into getting the last cookie and convincing your parents that you need the car more than your sister, you gain more impressive skills than a hostage negotiator.
9. BEING EXCITED FOR THE 2 OCCASIONS YOU GET TO OPEN THE ADVENT CALENDAR!
One of the issues about having a number of siblings is that it seems to take forever to have your rare turn at the Advent Calendar. Worse still is on the odd occasion that you go to open the door on your special day, a younger sibling’s already done it so the rest of the morning is spent reorganizing the schedule.
10. HAVING ENOUGH PEOPLE TO PLAY BOARD GAMES WITH
This is a biggie. When you want to play a board game (or any other game) there are generally enough people you can persuade to join in. However, with numbers comes extra potential for bad sportsmanship and disputes about whose turn it really is. But, this is all useful training in conflict management.
11. REALLY APPRECIATING YOUR BIRTHDAY
The one day in the year you truly are the belle of the ball is your birthday. On that day your siblings make that extra special effort for you, and you also get to have your favorite meal and cake.
12. ALWAYS KNOWING YOU’VE GOT ARDENT SUPPORTERS
I can remember an occasion when I was being bullied by a girl at school for being part of a large Irish family, with all the usual insults being flung at me. I mentioned this to my sister and the next day I was on the playground and my four older siblings were by my side. That day all bullying stopped.
13. HAVING AN EXTRA SPECIAL REASON TO ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS
In large families the best bit about the vacations was not about going away somewhere special, but finally being reunited with older siblings who’d gone away to college, or even dared to move away from home. While this meant you might have to give up your room, you didn’t care if it meant time with your big brother or sister. After all, everyone being together meant your family felt complete.
And as adults …
14. ENJOYING ENDLESS CELEBRATIONS
Between marriages, baptisms, births and all those other special family occasions, there’s rarely a month that goes by without something to organize, or someone to celebrate. And with the next generation growing older, these celebrations will just continue to grow and fill us all with joy, and extra little ones running around.
From having ready-made godparents, to providing a mentor or a caring ear, your children will always be cared for and loved by a multitude of (sometimes opinionated, but always well-meaning) aunts and uncles.