So I thought it might be fun to answer the questions we hear most often, by category:
As you can imagine, a household of 13 individuals produces lots of laundry! Currently we have one large capacity front load washer, and one large capacity dryer. We put quite a bit of mileage on those appliances each year. Laundry day is EVERY day. If I am out with appointments one or more days during a given week, the catch up can be challenging. Four of the older kids do their own laundry, each on an assigned day, including their bedding and towels (each kid has their own towel). The number of loads varies on the events of the day: diaper/catheter malfunctions mean additional bedding/pillows - as was the case yesterday. We use homemade laundry detergent and instead of dryer sheets we use wool dryer balls.
People are always curious about how I cook for a large family. I remind them that I stared preparing meals for a much smaller family, and just learned to make more as we grew one (or two) at a time. Meals are planned. There is no "winging it" when you cook for 13. I plan for a week or two weeks at a time, trying to arrange meals based on the calendar (meaning if one of the kids has a specialist appointment, then it's usually a simple meal that can go in the crockpot, like a soup). We have 4 crockpots of varying sizes. We also have 2 bread machines that are used to make dough for pizza, rolls, breadsticks, English muffins, etc. We eat lots of soups, casseroles, pasta/rice dishes.
Last year my husband moved us to a completely electronic calendar. Initially I resisted giving up my old fashioned paper calendars, but it has been a huge improvement. We both have a calendar on our phones and on the iPad at home. Whenever we add an event, it immediately uploads to ALL the calendars. Technology is awesome! I schedule follow up/routine appointments when I am at the doctor/dentist/orthodontist/specialist with the kids. It's impossible to keep track if I don't get it on the calendar immediately. We have eleven kids in 8 different schools, 6 different districts, so keeping track of schedules is essential.
We try to be very conscious of how much we put on the calendar. Not every person can do every event that comes up, or it would result in complete chaos. For instance, my one daughter is finishing up her cross country season, just in time for my two seniors to start practice for the school play. Two of our kids participate in special olympics bowling, but practices are just Saturday mornings. There seems to be a natural rotation so that everyone gets to participate in some activities that they enjoy. It's also been very helpful having two additional drivers in the house!
Part two coming soon.