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Large Family Minimalist: How We Live with Less

The large family minimalist.

I am a minimalist by nature. Chuck commented years ago that if it were up to me we wouldn’t even have furniture…just a couple of pillows on  the floor. My response? Think of how easy it would be to clean! My friend Sara and her husband recently renovated an RV and now live in their tiny home with their two children. I’m just a wee bit jealous. Recently I was daydreaming about a minimalist lifestyle and suddenly I realized all the ways in which large families naturally live a minimalist lifestyle. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.

Large Family Minimalist. The surprising and humorous ways in which large families live with less.



The Large Family Minimalist can live with:

Minimal Supervision.

Let’s face it, no parent can watch six or ten kids every moment of every day. This form of large family minimalism allows kids to have the freedom to explore the world, stuff a goldfish in their wallet and wear their sister’s dresses. Want to teach independence? Have a large family.

Minimal Time in the Bathroom.

Truth: if you live in a large family you will learn to take two-minute showers, brush your teeth in 45 seconds or less and don’t fix your hair in there I need to use the toilet. This also has the bonus benefit of allowing you to use less water thereby saving the environment. You also learn to be flexible about where you evacuate and how to survive on a single roll of toilet paper.

Minimal Money Spent on Haircuts. 

Not only will you learn to cut your children’s hair because who the heck is going to pay $8-10 a head for ten kids, but I can almost guarantee with less supervision (see above) your child will learn to cut their own hair.

Minimal money in general. 

If you family is large enough, you too can experience less money. From smaller allowances and a nonexistent retirement, you can learn to get by on less, stock your freezer and manage hand-me-downs efficiently.

Minimal dinner leftovers.

Food and the large family. Anyone who grew up with half a dozen or more siblings can surely tell stories of there never, ever being leftovers. Years ago when we still had a small family of only 7 or 8 kids I was talking to the mother of 10 children. She was telling me about her and her husband’s weekly date night. She explained how she would buy a bag of fish sticks or chicken nuggets and tater tots, get out the calculator and divide the number of kids by the number of processed chicken and fish-like pieces. Yep, leftovers are rarely a problem in large families. On the bright side? You don’t eat mystery meal or have to deal with “Mom’s Special Casserole” at the end of the week.

Minimal Square Footage Per Person

The average family home was not built to house a dozen or more people. In a large family, you learn to manage with less square footage per person. This is great prep for life in China, apartment living, or a calm, comforting padded room. In fact, as a parent of a large family, you might just find yourself in a bedroom so small it fits your bed. And nothing else. I prefer to think of our room as a sleeping pod. It makes me feel ever so productive and worldly.

Minimal Pairs of Matching Socks (while simultaneously owning enough socks to start a monopod revolution).

Socks. We have no shortage of socks in this house. We have wool socks and cotton socks. Knee socks and crew socks and ankle socks. Superhero socks, sports socks, and Bombas socks. The only thing we are lacking is matching socks. In a large family, you quickly learn: two socks equals a pair.

So there you have it. You had no idea large families were actually minimalist, did you?

Did I miss any large family minimalist areas? Let me know in the comments. 



  1. Sarah

    Minimal organized activities. With a dozen or so kids, and only one parent who does day to day driving here and there, my poor children have been forced to play pickup rather than sponsored T-ball, ride horses around in the back yard rather than have 3x weekly riding lessons with Olympic trainers, play soccer barefoot and with older siblings to inform their dubious grasp of rules instead of coaches and preened soccer moms ready with Pinterest-cute snacks, and learn how to dance from video games instead of dance schools.

    Also minimalist TV. We don’t bother to restrict TV time. If I can actually get them to agree on watching any one thing, I call that a win and let it last as long as it can… which is usually about half an hour max, then they start negotiating whose turn it is to pick next. Everyone gets a little but nobody gets a lot.

  2. kdkaren

    These are hilarious. Though I only have three boys (11-14), we now rarely have leftovers, money, socks, etc. ourselves. I do buy copious amounts of deodorant though, lol 🙂

  3. Kristal Marie

    Too funny, I loved it. Great new take on minimalism ;). I’ve always said I would never want a large house because then I would have to clean it!

  4. Carrie

    Hilarious…and so true! I have dragged out the calculator many times for dividing French toast sticks, chicken tenders, ect. And the opening of packages of just about anything usually starts with “Mom, how many can I start out with?”.

  5. Litlmama

    Here all these minimalism articles were making me feel bad about not being more on top of minimalism with my eight kids age 3 months to 17 years old… And you just made me feel like a pro! Thanks for a truthful and funny perspective.

  6. Tammy

    Hahaha! I love it! You forgot about the names. I gave up! I call them number 1, number 2…!
    You forgot about all the friends so you never really remember how many kids you remember how many kids you really have.
    Once when mine were younger, i took them all to the zoo along with my grandchildren i have in between my youngest kids. My sins are bi-racial. We are leaving the zoo. Im doing a head count. I yelled “Did I miss anyone?” This little Blonde headed, fair skinned boy pops up and yells “ME!”
    I looked up in the mirror and knew instantly I had one who didnt belong to me. I went back to the entrance. The other family left without him. The also have a large family. The zoo called them to cone back! This boy just jumped in with my group!
    I have 5 sons at home now! We moved from a 1100 sqft home to a 900 sq ft home in December. My boys are complaining it is to small. Im going to move out! They are all 17-22 now. I told them that was the point. I didnt need a large house any more! Everyone went LARGE HOUSE! The other house was to small!

    • Renee

      Names, that struggle is real for sure. tHanks for sharing your struggles. And I totally agree about your sons! Too small? Move out!

  7. Donna

    Haha! Thank you so much, this made my night! I’m on my way to a large family: feeling slightly guilty that we are packing kids into rooms like sardines. But you just made it all better! Sleeping pods!

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