large family chaos

7 Ways We Manage Large Family Chaos

Managing chaos in our family is an ongoing, ever-evolving process. The examples I am about to list for you will likely change again between now and Christmas. Sometimes that is necessary. It’s also noteworthy that not all families with lots of kids do these things or even feel they are necessary. Every family must find their own groove. But if chaos is your thing, groove on!

1. Assigned Seating in the Car

I know what you’re thinking, “How very institutionalized of you.” Ha! Get in line. Even our own parents thought this seemed over the top at first. And for some families it probably is. However, our kids have thrived on structure because structure in their lives before us was nonexistent.

This is one of the first things we implemented right after our kids came. We didn’t have years for our children to “grow into” their rightful place in the car. In fact, at the time we didn’t even own our suburban. We bought that only months before we committed to three more! We had a Chevy Equinox and a Subaru Crosstrek. So they had to share the bench that was available.

The day we bought the suburban. Little did we know we were going to outgrow it in a few short months.

And speaking of chaos, we discovered very quickly that randomly picking a seat was not going to work. There were so many meltdowns about who would sit “behind the driver”, which kid had to sit in the middle, and the car seat is “leaning on my side and I’m smooshed all the way against the door!” So yes, assigned seating was a lifesaver. No, they did not like it for the first week, but they got over it. Now there is no fussing about who gets in first, who sits where, and whose turn it is to sit in the middle. It worked with three kids and now it works with six. We have only changed the configuration once in the last year.

2. Keeping Consistent Bedtimes

Bedtime seems to be something of a taboo subject these days. There seems to be multiple extremes when it comes to putting your kids to bed. People tend to be passive aggressively judging us when we say our kids have a regular bedtime. Of all the things I thought our parenting would be picked apart for, making sure our kids got a good night’s sleep was certainly not one of them.

Bedtimes are something that we decided on in the beginning and something we have remained consistent on since. We have only changed them as our kids have gotten older or mature enough to handle a different time. Currently all of our kids, excluding our 13 year old, go to bed at 8 p.m. sharp, even on most weekends. Our 13 year old goes to bed at 9. (Occasionally we indulge in a big movie night and stay up late. However, most of them can’t hang.)

All of our kids get a full night of uninterrupted sleep and have no problem getting up in the morning to start the day and get ready for school. I simply flip on a light, tell them “time to get up!” and walk away. They handle the rest on their own. The cherry on top is all of our doctors who are so pleased they are usually in disbelief. It really makes a difference in the overall demeanor of the household as well as their ability to concentrate.

3. Introducing What We Refer to as “Shower Train”

Shower train is dual faceted. The add on is a newer addition. When our second set of kids moved in, we had to ramp up the operation. Things were starting to look like…well, chaos. So brace yourselves when I tell you this:

We get 6 kids through the shower, ready for bed and their rooms cleaned in one singular hour. You read that right.

Oh, and do not let me neglect to mention that we have one bathroom and a 30 gallon water heater.

Shower train typically starts around 6 or 7. That really depends on when supper was finished.

We found that our children were seemingly unable to get their rooms cleaned at a reasonable time. So shower hour {like that?} implemented cleanup team-up.

It worked! Now when the time comes, our kids run through the house (we are still working on the running) screaming, “Shower train has begun!” The first kid takes a 10 minute shower and the other five work on cleaning their room. This continues until all 6 showers are completed. And better yet, if they run out of things to put away…they dust, clean mirrors, organize drawers or vacuum. Trust me, it works wonders.

4. Color Coded Chore Tokens

About a year ago we started a far more structured chore rotation with the kids. It was the most beautiful spreadsheet I had ever seen. Completely organized, perfect rotations and color coded! But the spreadsheet is dead now.

It started out great! The kids were super encouraged and ready to make some moola! (We were paying an allowance in an attempt to encourage saving practices) But after two weeks of our genius system working, the kids were over it. So, with our beautiful spreadsheet dead and buried, we now expect basic chores to happen and pay them with tokens when they go out of their way to be helpful.

We purchased our tokens on amazon and they came in six different colors. Each color is assigned to a particular child, that way no one else can mistake tokens for theirs if one gets dropped. It also fixes any need for us to have cash on hand at all times. Each token is worth a set amount of change. Right now, ours are set at $0.75 each. Everyone gets paid at the same time, either once a week or every two weeks, just like in the workforce. (It’s my belief that it may help with the need for instant gratification as well.)

5. Kitchen Cleanup

Kitchen clean-up is a relatively new thing we are trying. You see, I was growing increasingly frustrated with the kids leaving dirty dishes out, dirty napkins on the table, dropping food on the floor and leaving it, and piling the trashcan until it overflowed into the floor. Sometimes the milk was left out and sometimes lunch meat was put in the fruit basket and forgotten. Then they would just walk away, expecting me to clean up after Hurricane Eat-and-Done.

So instead of losing my temper over and over about the mess, we decided to change things up a bit, and so far it seems to work really, really well! Now, everyone waits until the last person is done eating and then all 6 of them help each other clean up the kitchen. They sweep, wipe counters, empty and refill the dishwasher, take out the trash and clean off the stove. It takes them 15 minutes, but we have eliminated waste and everything gets put in it’s proper place! Plus, Mom and Dad get a break!

6. Weekly Menu Planning/Grocery Pickup

Let me be perfectly honest with you when I say that I hate grocery shopping. I didn’t like it before six kids, and I do not like it now. Menu planning isn’t at the top of my list for fun either. However, I can tell you that this has made our weeks go by much more smoothly. So on Sunday night or Monday morning, Garrett and I take turns planning the menu for the week. We have been writing it down in a grid pattern and adding ingredients to the list as we go. Once we are sure that we covered everything we need, we plug it into the grocery app. There are currently multiple ways to order your groceries online. We had previously taken advantage of a grocery delivery service, but our replacements and produce were getting worse each week. Therefore, we went back to grocery pick up.

We are currently using Walmart because, despite the fact that I love Kroger, Walmart’s prices have been better. So far we haven’t had any issues with our food or the replacements they give us. We pull up, call the number and they come out and put our groceries in our trunk. The worst part about weekly grocery shopping is that our refrigerator isn’t big enough. The best part is that it isn’t necessary to shop with a boat load of kids in tow. Ha!

7. Dedicated Laundry Days


We saved this one for last because this may have been the most life changing of all of our chaos killing pursuits. Before, we were swimming in laundry. We would do 3-5 loads, get burned out and then the kids were complaining about where their favorite pair of pants were.

Now, we have assigned each of the kids their very own, dedicated laundry day! Since we have six it just worked out at one day per. Our day is on Sundays. The kids are expected to take their week’s worth of laundry to the washing machine in the morning and switch it in the afternoon. Then they put it away that evening. It has worked wonders in our house. Everyone is responsible for their own washing and everyone has plenty of time. (We have them throw their sheets in with their clothes.) This is the one and only thing that we haven’t had to change or adjust since we started it. And it only took about two weeks to develop the habit!

How about you? Is laundry something that takes up a lot of time at your house? Share how you manage busy schedules at your house in the comments below!

May the Lord bless you and keep you!



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