4 Irish Women With Large Families On Forward Planning, Finances, & Finding Time For Themselves

STELLAR chats to Ireland’s Real Gals.

Anna Teague had her first child at 24, now ‘fifty-something-fabulous’ and a mother-of-five, she says making time for yourself is so important.

“If you asked me when I was a child how many kids I wanted I would have said five. Ironically, as I’m now divorced, I never saw myself walking down the aisle the way some friends fantasised about their wedding days. But I always wanted to be a mam.

When they were children, in order to stay organised, I just wrote everything – and I mean everything – on the calendar in the kitchen. It was the only way to keep up with school, hobbies, play-dates etc.

I think a lot of the misconceptions about having large families are true. A lot of women end up losing themselves as they prioritise family to the detriment of our own wellbeing. You are juggling a lot and that’s even before you add in work and other commitments. Don’t sacrifice yourself for your kids, they won’t appreciate it. Do what you want, (study, work, socialise) whatever lights you up, prioritise your own self-care. You will be a better happier mother because of it and that is such a great inspiration to your kids. I started yoga when my second daughter was born and that really helped me have time for myself and navigate all the ups and downs that come when you’re the mother of five.

The biggest struggle is time, trying to make sure you’ve enough for everyone and yourself. Making sure that you give them all the same attention is hard as they are all dealing with their own stuff.

The fun and craic is the best part of a big family, we really had such a laugh. Holidays and days out were always fun, the slagging was ferocious! Friday nights were sacred in our house, movie night, down to Xtra-vision, treats and chill out. It was always my favourite night of the week.

I also love seeing that when one of my kids is going through something they all band together and have each other’s backs.”

Ciara Dempsey has five boys made up of teens, preteens, young children and babies all under one roof.

“There’s myself, my husband Kevin and our five boys. Every day is different, there’s always somewhere to be and something to do, but we wouldn’t change it.

When I was a teenager, I used to say I might have two children tops, but after my first son arrived, I became so in love with being mammy…I knew I wanted more. Myself and my husband come from large families so I suppose we both love a house full people, love and madness!

People are having children a lot later in life [these days] which I think contributes to having less children. They have careers so they are more practical in thinking of how children will fit in with the life they have made for themselves. Also, when starting a family later, age comes into play!

In this day and age [finances are also] a big factor for people. Of course, for every child we have, we need to ensure we can provide everything they may want or need as an infant and growing up! We are fortunate we are able to do so.

The biggest struggle is lack of time to be honest, every day we could do with an extra ten hours. It’s a lot in day, meeting five children’s needs, maintaining our home, washing, cooking and making sure you give each child the attention they need. Mothers should remember you’re only one person, so embrace the chaos don’t fight it. Choose your battles, one day you’ll clean all your floors but maybe not one bed was made, and that’s okay because once you look around see healthy smiling faces looking back at you that’s all that matters.

Love, as cheesy as it sounds, is the best part. The voices that fill the house everyday with laughter, conversations or fighting, you’ll never feel lonely. I love seeing them together, knowing they have each other it means the world. A busy home and all the different personalities in each of them… I love it all.”

Corrina Stone didn’t always want children, and is now thrilled to be a mother of eight.

“My husband and I have eight children aged from 16 down to new-born. We’re based in Athy but travel the world together and show other families how to do so via social media.

I actually didn’t want kids! It was only after we were married a few years and had bought our dream home that I changed my mind. The number of children we wanted wasn’t something we’d initially discussed. Surprisingly, I found it very difficult to get pregnant. We were diagnosed with unexplained infertility, but before we took the next step on our fertility journey, I decided I needed a break. At that stage, we were trying for three years. I needed to switch off for a while and reconnect with my husband. It was while we were on a weekend away in Germany that I conceived twins naturally.

Having had twins first, then three under two, I can attest to it being as much work as having four, five or six children. Once you have children, you’re always busy regardless, you just make it work. It’s a lot of organisation but I have our routines down to a fine art.

Of course, finances have to be considered and so is having enough room in our house and vehicle. We’re very lucky that our home is a large house is the countryside and I drive an MPV. But it most certainly isn’t easy. Being a parent is a full-time job in itself. Having a large family takes more organisation, but it’s also more rewarding. The number one thing I do as a parent is mind myself as well as my family. My sister and I also have a Facebook group where we help other Mums get out the door, Mums on the Run (with or without the little ones!)”

The biggest struggle is finding a good family movie that everyone will watch for movie night! But there’s always laughter in our house and I love seeing their individual personalities develop as they grow. Seeing the world through their eyes as we travel is also a major bonus. Life isn’t what I thought it would be, but with 8 children I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, so are our children.”

Jane Harney is a proud mother to six children aged between 15 and 24.

“Myself and my husband Brendan had four boys first and I thought I was finished, and then we tried again and I got two for the price of one. I also had my first girl with my twins Gemma and Jonathan.

Being totally honest, I never planned on having a big family. I never even thought about having children until I was married. My husband grew up in a family of 14 children while I had a family of four. A big family takes a lot of planning and organisation especially when they were younger. I was often referred to as ‘mum’s taxi’. Now that they are getting older and some are driving, it gets a little easier. You never stop worrying about your children no matter how old they are, it’s a mother’s natural thing.

I think people are having less children now as women are more career driven, as well as this, there’s a lot of pressure on young people trying to get on the property ladder. It takes two people with good jobs to get a mortgage. In some cases, people may have problems conceiving. I took this for granted and only realised how lucky and blessed I was to be able to have six healthy children. Sometimes [having less children] is not by choice.

It’s also important to look at your finances. Most children go to college now and need the support of their parents well into their twenties. If both parents are working, creches can be costly and there seems to be problems trying to get a place. There are very few incentives now for big families.

The biggest struggle is finding time for you. It’s important to make some time for yourself each week, whether it’s going for a coffee or having a blow-dry. And don’t forget about your friends, sometimes these things take more effort after having children.

The fun and enjoyment you get as they grow up seeing the different personalities that they get from both parents is the best part. You’ll never be lonely, no money could buy the love you get from your children. My advice would be that it is also very important to have a partner that is willing to work with you while having family, it works better as a team.”


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