What to Think about Before your Family Becomes “BIG”

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When I was pregnant with my fourth baby, I started to realize it can be a game changer. Once your family grows past that traditional four-to-five-person family, suddenly many things aren’t really set up for you. In all my online searches, there were a few things that never came up.

The Family Car:

Once the fourth baby got here, we quickly realized the car situation was a tough one. Our basic SUV was closing in on us. We didn’t think about traveling with the whole family and the luggage, the snack cooler, the car seats,etc. Now it wasn’t just fitting six people in the car. It was six people and lots of stuff!

We were forced back to the drawing board. Weighing the pros and cons of different vehicles. We needed space. Do you just add a luggage rack on the roof? Are there longer vehicles that can fit more stuff but, don’t drive like a boat? Ultimately, we ended up with an SUV that gave us an extra foot of space in the back for luggage but, wasn’t too large for me to drive. Different models offer different rear space. Test them all if you go the route of upgrading the car. But, there are also a ton of great luggage rack options out there if you don’t upgrade.

Everyone will choose something different but, it’s something to consider BEFORE you have to add another carseat. Those days of a five person car are out the window and it is much easier to shop for a new car or have a plan before the baby arrives. Don’t be like us and wait until it all can’t fit!

Along with with the topic of cars, don’t forget to think about renting a vehicle on trips too. It will usually add significantly more cost to rent a larger car that can fit six or more and lots of luggage. Not to mention, if they actually have one on hand to rent! Book in advance or be comfortable taking long road trips. Check out my post about how to survive a long car ride with the kids. It’s a fun one.

Hotel Rooms:

Hotel room

How is a traditional hotel room set up? Well, it normally is a king bed or two queens. Sometimes you can get a sleeper sofa in there. Once you become a family of six, booking a hotel room can be challenging. Especially if your older children don’t want to share sleeper sofas, like ours. Sure, you can find two bedroom rooms or connecting rooms sometimes. This is very hard to find if it’s a last minute need though.

If you are going on a trip or taking a long car ride and need to stop, just know finding the right hotel room, with a reasonable price, can take a bit more effort. Gone are the days of just booking a quick room without worrying about the bed setup.

Keep a running list of the hotel “brands” that have worked for you. Typically, chains have the same type of room setups in their hotels. Try to book in advance or directly from the hotel website. This prevents a “travel” site from giving you the wrong bed setup or not having enough occupants listed on the booking. Yes, we have had hotels question this.

Your Bedroom Setup:

I chuckle a little as a write about this topic. It’s another one that we didn’t think about before having the fourth baby. Now my poor husband and neighbor have carried three, maybe four, different beds up and down stairs in our home.

Unless you have a five or six+ bedroom house, everyone is not going to have their own room and a guest room may not happen. I thought that far ahead! We decided to keep a guest room and have our girls share a room. Our boys are so many years apart they really needed their own space. One, so the baby could nap and two, so our older son had his privacy.

Great, now you have kids sharing a room. Decision made. Not! The girls were excited to share a room, but do you know how many bed options are out there? Bunk beds, loft beds, slide beds, trundle beds, two twin beds…what do you choose? How do you merge their personalities together? Do you split it into two different styles? If there is one vanity, do you now need two? There are so many things we didn’t think about when preparing for kids to share a room. You want them to feel like they still have their own space and personality. So, be sure to think it through. That way you don’t end up changing it 50 times, like us, and when you have a newborn baby.

The first go round at a shared room…

Now we have also realized that as they grow the setup can change. Different phases call for different set ups and maybe there comes a point you don’t use that guest room you thought you needed.

Eating Out:

Great, you want to take the family out to dinner. Such a wonderful experience and family bonding time. Well, you better call ahead or be prepared to wait a little extra. Traditional tables or booths fit four people. Most places will have to pull together tables to accommodate a larger group or family. We have found that it’s better to call ahead and make a reservation so that we don’t have a group of hungry kids waiting.

Also remember to check your receipt! Some places automatically add gratuity of 18% or more for large groups. We have been to several places that didn’t tell us that and we almost paid 40% gratuity.

Family eating

There are lots of other things to think about as your family expands. Furniture, toothbrush holders, towels, stockings, and many many other little things. Most of them you figure out along the way. These are some of the big ones that we wish we had been a little better prepared for.

Check out my post on choosing the best cruise ship room for your big family!

-Kristy M., Mommy to Many

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