The Reality of Having Four Kids

Have you ever been curious about what it might be like to cross that line from a “normal” family size to a “large” family? 

I used to wonder myself – until we crossed that line a few years ago.

Having four kids has changed my perspective on just about everything I thought I knew about parenting!

And honestly?

I think it’s a little funny that four kids is considered a “large” family today.

Census data from 2017 shows the average household size was 3.14 people in 2017.

So at 6 people, I guess we’re twice the average-

-although before the 1920s, we probably would have been considered a “small” family!

graphic of mom in a minivan and three kids in the background with text overlay- Here's what it's really like when you're a mom to four kids.

It’s all relative, right?

(Pun totally intended.)

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Having Four Kids: What it’s Really Like

So you think you’re ready for the adventure?

You might be surprised at the ways having a big family will change you as a person and as a mom.

Here’s some things you should know if you’re thinking about having four kids (or more).

Image of lower half of woman standing outside resting her hand underneath her pregnant belly, holding the hand of her husband. Concept of planning a large family.

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You might become a hermit (and love it).

Getting out of the house with 4 kids requires a wedding-planning level of orchestration.

By the time you get all the sippy cups and snack cups and diaper bags filled and shoes located and teeth brushed –

-you’ve spent half of your energy for the day.

And then, as soon as everyone is buckled into their seats, someone will need a diaper change.

And the process starts over.

Therefore, you will learn to save your energy for only the most necessary outings.

This is especially true if you have toddlers and babies in the mix!

Mom getting baby into car- concept of the hassle of getting four kids ready to go in the morning!

And some quick errands just aren’t worth the unbuckling, unloading, loading, buckling…

…you get the picture.

I’ve learned to be a master at meal planning and avoiding unnecessary errands (or those that I can put off longer!).

However, as a mom of four kids I have learned to appreciate the times we DO get out of the house as a family.

And I have learned how to be prepared for almost anything.

Most days, though, I’m pretty content being at home where NAP TIME can happen.

And shoes are optional.

As a matter of fact, if I can order food online – even better.

Image of packages on front porch of a house- concept of grocery delivery for big families.

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Staying awake will become your superpower.

I won’t lie:  not sleeping for years on end is rough.

Being pregnant, having newborns and breastfeeding for about 6 years total means a lot of lost Z’s.

It’s not that way for everyone, I realize.

Some moms manage to make magically sleepy children.

God bless them.

But at my house, sleep was hard to come by for several years (and is still often the case).

Mom and baby sleeping side by side in a bed; concept of sleep deprivation with several children at home.

I am amazed though, how my body adjusted to such little sleep during those years.

It just becomes the norm, and you can somehow function on grossly deficient sleep.

(Although, you can find baby sleep help here –FYI.)

Just remember these words:  Jesus and coffee (in that order).

These days, my youngest mostly sleeps all night.

(Except when a new tooth is making an appearance).

And I look back on those long months and years and actually miss those late night snuggles.

Some of the hardest parts of parenting can also become some of the most memorable.

Related: Real Baby Sleep Tips from an Expert Baby Whisperer

Image of four kids in a pile on the lawn, playing and smiling. Concept of considering- should I have four kids.

A King size bed is mandatory.

I used to be one of those parents who was determined to get the baby to sleep in their crib.

But… the babies always seemed to have other ideas about this arrangement.

We finally upgraded to a King size bed after baby #3.

That was when I realized that co-sleeping was so much easier than getting up and trying to stay awake for feedings.

Even after our babies have transitioned to a crib, our kids seem to take turns waking up at night.

And one will inevitably end up in our bed.

At this point in life with 4 children…

…it’s just easier to stick them in the middle of the jumbo bed, and avoid the family pretzel scenario.

You’ll care much less about what others think.

I used to worry about taking my kids out in public.

(When we DID manage to go somewhere).

I fretted about what other people would think if they threw a tantrum or, you know, acted like a toddler on occasion.

Four kids later, I’ve relaxed a lot and just realized that kids will be kids, as they have always been.

It’s kind of part of the human child DNA.

I do my best to set the expectations for their behavior and if needed, we make a quick exit.

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A young mom and her preschool-aged son sitting in a movie theater, talking. Concept of taking kids in public.

But I am not going to feel guilty for having 4 kids with me in waiting rooms or the grocery store or wherever we DO need to go.

Yes, it’s difficult to go places, especially when you’re potty training a stubborn toddler, for example.

But it’s unrealistic to expect that moms can have a baby sitter on-call for every little outing.

We live and learn, and we walk REALLY fast through the grocery store.

The noise level is intense!

Stop by my house, and at any given time of day you might find one kid crying, one yelling …

…and then the kid who’s naturally pumped up by chaos has to enter the room singing show tunes in the middle of it all.

And it never fails that when I’m on the phone, EVERYONE will need to ask me All The Important Questions of Life.

Thank goodness for texting, right?

A mom with three daughters surrounding her at the kitchen table, playing with her hair, being wild and mom looking calmly bewildered. Concept of the craziness of having four kids.

There are moments I want to hide in the bathroom.

(Ok, I actually do that).

But when the house is quiet, it’s a strange feeling.

I have realized that the “noise” is really the background music of my life.

And as crazy as it makes me on certain days, I’m still thankful for it.

Your kids will have built-in friends for life.

There’s really no valid excuse for boredom when you have siblings.

In my mind, this really is one of the biggest benefits of having four children:

Watching them grow together, play together and learn to love each other.

Yeah, they’re going to fight.

They’re going to destroy each other’s stuff and act like they can’t stand each other at times.

But when it comes down to it, they’ll stick up for each other.

They’ll share their snacks when they’re not thinking too hard about it.

And they’ll cuddle up together with a book and melt your heart.

A mom and her four kids laying on a bed and reading a book together.

They’ll teach each other to color and ride bikes and even how to pick the locks on all the bathroom doors.

(True story).

They’ll have a special bond that can’t be replicated in any other relationship in life.

And as you watch their crazy escapades, it will make you remember why you wanted a large family in the first place.

(Or, why it isn’t SO bad, if you still need convincing!)

Related:  How to find that elusive One-on-One Time with Kids in a Big Family

Happy Family of six posing outside and playing on an old abandoned boat in a field. Concept of- Having four kids - is having a big family even realistic today?

You’ll lower your standards in a lot of ways.

Before kids, I had a strict Saturday-morning cleaning schedule.

I mostly ate balanced meals. And I was always punctual and reliable.

(Now, I rely on simple family routines more than “‘schedules”.)

Over the last 13 years though, I’ve learned that :

  • houses will keep;
  • nutrition balances out eventually (I hope?)
  • and less commitments make for a much less stressful mom-life.
Mom in a bright white kitchen smiling and holding her toddler in her arms; concept of relaxed mom- the chores can wait.

With our first kid, I would panic if the baby ate something off the floor…

…by the fourth, my only question is, “Is it food?”.

Just kidding (sort of).

You realize, after a few kids…a few more is totally do-able.

I’ve heard this from multiple moms and I am in agreement:

The hardest transition is from baby #1 to baby #2 (especially if they’re fairly close in age).

Each transition after baby #2 gets a little easier.

Yet, so many moms wonder, is 4 kids too many?

Does life really get THAT much more off-balanced after three kids?

Mom and dad and four kids standing in a row against a white background. Concept of happy large family.

Is there really a huge difference between 3 or 4 kids?

In my opinion:  nope, nope and nope.  

The 3 versus 4 kids debate

Experience is the best teacher, truly.

After the second kid, you learn what is necessary and what isn’t; what to REALLY worry about and what to let go.

(Yes, it’s like that Luvs commercial.)

Going from 3 to 4 kids was honestly an easier transition than 1 to 2, or 2 to 3.

Image of pregnant mom with 3 kids, with text - Ready for 4 Kids? 8 Fun facts you should know.

Four child families really don’t function THAT much differently.

And in my opinion, the benefits of having a large family far outweigh any (perceived) negatives.

Having four kids also means more helping hands, more built-in playmates…

…and, honestly, more fun!

Because each child is so different, you get to see a range of personalities and emotions and talents all under one roof.

If You’re Still Wondering, Should I Have Four Kids?

With four kids, there is literally never a dull moment.

And this is the beauty of large families that society often misses:

The crazy, noisy, chaotic, messy beauty of sharing your life with these people you’ve brought into this world.

Having any number of kids changes you.

Having four stretched me in ways I never imagined.

As it turns out, I needed stretching. My perspective needed a better panoramic view.

My capacity for love and self-sacrifice needed to expand, too.

So even when money is tight, I’m thankful for having a family to spend it on.

I’m grateful for God’s provision that always meets our needs.

Even when I wish I could eat a candy bar without dividing it up 5 ways, I wouldn’t change a thing.

(Pro tip:  eat that chocolate AFTER bedtime.)

Even on the most trying days when I’m tempted to hide in that closet and drink my coffee in peace…

…I wouldn’t trade this life for any other.

And although managing multiple kiddos can be a challenge, it’s by far the best challenge I’ve ever accepted.

Image of kids holding hands in the sunset across a field. Concept of -can you have too many kids?

“How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.”

-Mother Teresa

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Image of four kids in a pile-up on the lawn with text overlay: The benefits of having four kids - or more!

Originally published 12/11/18, last updated 5/12/23.

51 thoughts on “The Reality of Having Four Kids”

  1. Totally relate!!! The thing about sippy cups and all that jazz to get out of the house. My word, YES! Love this!

  2. This was really entertaining to read, family pretzel in the bed made me laugh. I will have my second in about 6 months and I’d really like to have a big family. Im glad to know it will get easier. Totally agree that having a family to spend money on is so worth it even if you don’t have much.

    1. I know this is an older post, and you may already have the answer to this on your blog, but just wondering how you & your husband decided how many children to have/when to be “done” so to speak. My second is 6 weeks and it seems we haven’t really decided yet what to do. I had hoped when the dr handed her to me I would feel like “ok this was the last time”. But I didn’t. It’s a struggle for me to make such a final decision as we experienced infertility before our first who is 2, so after her I was content if we had more we had more, if not then fine. Turns out I was even able to get pregnant with my second while breastfeeding. Never dreamed! I find myself feeling the same way this time. I’ve just been looking at blogs, especially those who have more than 2, wondering how you come to decide and how you manage it and also wondering how your own mental health might play a factor in the decision (like PPD for example).

      1. Congratulations on the new baby, Brittany 🙂 Honestly, I think only you and your husband can decide these things, and there’s probably no formula one can use to determine the perfect number of children. It seems that often God chooses for us, through our circumstances. He knows the desires of our hearts and what we really need, so seek Him first. I wrote a post about our 4th child being our “surprise” baby, and she definitely was! I mostly wrote this to encourage those who are expecting maybe “more” kids than they had originally planned, or are on the fence…that children are indeed a blessing and God will provide. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it. That probably doesn’t answer your question at all, but maybe it gives some insight into how I felt then, how we feel now and how we manage it: with a kingdom perspective. (At least that’s what I strive to do, imperfectly!)

  3. So excited to find your site! I’m now on the end of raising a large family, having now 3 married, 1 left at home, and 3 grandchildren with another on the way! Life was definitely challenging at times! We also home schooled the entire time, and have successfully graduated all 4! Truly God’s grace and mercy saw us thru, and that same grace and mercy keep us going now! Keep encouraging young moms in today’s world! Heaven knows we need all the help we can get! I am sharing your blog with all mine!

    1. Your words are a blessing to me, May. I don’t look forward to our kids growing up at ALL! I know that will be another season and we’ll be just fine, but I’m trying to remind myself these are some of the very best days, even in the chaos. 🙂 Thank you so much for reading & sharing!

  4. Thank you so much for detailing it out. I feel like I’m obsessing over how much more I could really handle emotionally. I have 3 and I’m struggling with self care (mummy life absorbing me) and I’m becoming anxious. I putting far too much pressure on myself because I want to be super mum and prove to hubby I can manage 4. The more I try to control it, the less control I have. So after reading this I think I can let go a bit. Thankyou 🙂

  5. I laughed as I read this – all so true – except I don’t have four kids, I have 8! (Currently aged 3-17, and I work full time. I very much to relate to “lowering your standards”!)

  6. Heather Leonhardt

    I was just wondering how you manage quality one-on-one time with each kid? We have three and I work full time. We’d love a 4th but I worry that I’ll be taking away from each of them somehow. Things like working on learning to read, etc. How do you give all 4 that time? Would love to hear, thanks!

    1. That’s a great question. One of the small things I do for one-on-one time is tuck them in separately (even the 13-year-old!) and spend time reading a devotional or book with each of them and talking. It makes for a long bedtime process some nights, but so worth it. We also have appointments for each child like eye doctor, dentist, orthodontist, eye doctor etc (which are an hour away) and we use those days as a “day out” to do some shopping or whatever that child wants to do afterwards. When I go grocery shopping, I take turns taking a different child with me (one at a time) so we can talk. I think I’ve worried about this less and less with each child, though, to be honest. It tends to work itself out, but intentional planning is still a good thing when you can work it in! 🙂

  7. Hi Brandi. I’m from Poland and have 4 children. Thank You for this text, great text. It’s all true. “Jesus and coffee” – I take this idea. Best regards

  8. Haha! I am totally nodding my head and “amen”ing as I read through this! I also have four kids, ages 4 years (almost 5!), 3 years, 22 months, and 3 months! It’s a crazy busy life- I am eternally grateful for Jesus, coffee, and that king size bed! Lol

    1. Lol! Hang in there! I have four kids that are 20 months between each of them. They are now between ages 5-10 and it has been a crazy adventure but so worth it when I see how close they are! It does get a bit easier as they get older, different challenges but overall, so so worth it!

  9. Yep completely agree.. I have 3 kids 4years 3years and 1 year old. I struggled to find how to care for two 2 kids. But after 3rd I know when to feed them and put them to sleep. The best part is their play time. When They all play together it’s really nice to see. Though they are too young they help me in small things.

  10. Check to all! Mama to four boys, 4, 3, and twin 15 month olds. We are starting to emerge ( only slightly) from our hermit status. The noise level amazes me. But you are spot on — all so worth it!!! May I also add to Jesus & coffee? A glass of wine in the evening and good eye moisturizer also helps!!!

  11. Loved it … !!!
    Could relate to every single bit of it
    My elder is 6.5, then 5 and then 1.2 twins.
    A chaotic environment we live in 🤣

    1. Well there are, of course, negatives to having any given number of children, or no children at all…or for pretty much any life situation 😉 I really wanted to debunk some of the “large families are a huge expensive impossible feat” rumors in this post, ha! Honestly, one of the hardest things is getting everyone to bed at night! But I’ve learned to enjoy the time spent with each one of them after a long day so I just build extra time in at bedtime. Eating out in restaurants is another negative- I’d much rather dine in these days! If I had to do it over again – I’d change nothing at all. 🙂

  12. I am a mom with 3 kids, planning for the 4 child but whenever people see me, they keep saying I shouldn’t have anymore kids which is very annoying. To the extent that a teacher told me not to have anymore children 👶 which she was insisting and forcing me. Just want to know if you have experienced such situations before thanks

  13. I enjoyed reading this. Way to go family of 6. I also have 4 kids and the ups and downs of everyday life is tiring but enjoyable.

  14. Thank you for this. Just found out we’re having the #4 baby on the way 😬.. I know it will be tough, but I will embrace this blessing from HIM with all my heart.

    This blog is so fun, and I feel motivated and grateful rather than be scared and be worried. So thank you 🤍

  15. Really enjoyable read. My wife is pregnant with our fourth. It is something we sort of “planned” but now that it is upon us, we’re finding it difficult to cope with the craziness of having three toddlers already and society’s expectation of small family size. I work at a university, and the environment is especially kid-unfriendly, so it has been especially hard. It’s refreshing to know we’re not alone and perhaps not entirely insane!

    1. Congratulations Nick! Welcome to the crazy (not really) club 😉 I understand the struggle but I also know the joy and the richness of big family life that some others will never understand. How fortunate are we?

  16. This makes me feel more at ease we have a 3 almost 4 year old 11 month old and expecting twin girls this month so I’ve been nervous

    1. Ah, take heart! It won’t be easy-as-pie, I am sure, but it will be worth it. Sometimes I wish our kids were a little closer in age because there are definite advantages. Congratulations on your pending arrival!

  17. Agree totally, except for the coffee part, I’m a tea drinker ^_^. We have 2 close together, 7 and 6 and twin babies, 15 months. It’s tiring, fulfilling, frustrating, amazing and fun.

    1. I am probably equally addicted to tea! lol. Those are perfect adjectives you have chosen. 🙂 And thanks for adding to the conversation. It’s important to me that people find encouragement in this space.

  18. Just found out I’m (very) unexpectedly pregnant with Baby #4 and have been in a daze, browsing Pinterest for a little encouragement. This is exactly what I needed… thank you so much. ❤️

    1. More than welcome 🙂 I have several friends with 4 kids (or more), and we are thriving and loving our surprise babies. It will be a precious story to tell your #4 someday! Thanks for stopping by.

  19. Thanks for the encouraging words! I needed to read this. We have 8, 6, 3 years old and now expecting our 4th shortly after summer. I’ve been filled with so much worries about how I am going to cope. I really pray and hope that life will get easier with having 4. I’ve read having four makes it easier as they can play in pairs and no one is left out. I depend solely on God for provision as he’s always been there for my family. One thing I struggle most with is the society’s small sized family standard, what is the definition of a small family really? No one know!

    Blessings xx

    1. Our 4 do tend to “pair off” especially since there’s a gap between the first 2 and the last 2. God will supply our every need, and I’m thankful for that too!

  20. I had to comment. My life can get crazy and although my kids aren’t close in age, (12,11,5 ) it was crazy. I have always worked, studied attended kids activities and I would leave sometimes the house not perfect but not messy. I have learned to not be perfect yet SO expects a clean home all the time. I just found out I’m expecting my 4th in 2021.

    1. That’s hard when there are those expectations. Sometimes we bear a heavy load as moms, but I do think we will be rewarded for our efforts. The best thing I’ve learned to do is pray for help and strength when I feel like I’m drowning! Congratulations on baby #4!

  21. I’m wondering how holidays will ever happen with a family of 4? And being able to afford one! I’d love 4 kids but I also want my children to be well travelled like I always was and I think if I had 4 that’s nearly £3000+ every time we go away 🤣 is love to hear thoughts on this… we’d also love a camper van but with 6???

    1. Oh, there are always trade-offs with a big family for sure 🙂 I think it all comes down to planning, saving and choosing your priorities. I know some big families that travel consistently. We have found that shorter/closer trips are easier and less stressful, but as the kids grow we hope to do more long-distance trips.

  22. Hi! My 4th boy is just 2 months old and I couldn’t agree more! Having 4 boys is amazing. Challenging, but amazing! I just found your blog and cannot wait to jump in! 💜

  23. Hi! I know this is a pretty old post so not sure if you still get notified of comments but here i am… hubby and i have thee beautiful babies (3 under 5) and while we ultimately give God control, hubby is good with the three we have. I am on the fence about a 4th and most days excited about the idea. Other days I think “i can hardly manage the three I have, why would i want more mouths and buns to wipe?” So while I’ve been praying for God to do his will and I know he provides, I struggle with this idea in my mind, mostly I worry about bandwidth. How do you manage to give all your children the love and attention they need?

    1. Hi Brittany! I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all answer to your question, but I will say that God seems to give an extra measure of grace and patience and all the needed things when he allows our families to grow. I struggle with these same things, but I still couldn’t imagine life any differently at this point. I see God’s heart for his children as I face the challenges and joys in raising each of our (very different) kiddos. I think as we submit to God’s will, he will guide us in the right direction in all decisions, including our family size. Hope that helps in some small way. You seem to have a wonderful perspective already. 🙂 God bless!

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