August 21, 2009

How We Get It Done

You've already seen my necessary room in this post. Now I will grace you with my thoughts on how we make do with so much family and so little square footage.

A few months ago, I walked down the hall as we were getting ready to tuck the kids in bed and saw them all brushing their teeth. It struck me as something I wanted to remember and I grabbed the camera.   There is often a lot of talk with curious onlookers about how we manage with so many in such a small house.  But really it has never been a big deal.

We do have 3 bathrooms in our house. The one in the basement rarely gets used unless we have house guests or the kids need to use the facilities, while swimming, so as not to drip through the house.

But this disclaimer should be out there. Our bathrooms are smaller than most peoples' closets. No joke. And yet we still all manage.

And I don't recall ever hearing much fussing over the issue. For one thing we are not very particular about does not mind others coming in to use the commode or sink while they are in the shower for instance.

For another we have rules of common courtesy. All showers or baths are taken in the evening. The three boys bath together. Ellie gets in with someone. No one is allowed more than 10 minutes for a shower unless they wait til the end of the line. If you don't shower at night than you must get up before the alarm and be out of the bathroom before the family starts getting ready for the day.

Plus, we don't shower as much as some. Not that we go around dirty...just that, for the most part, twice a week is fine for most people during the winter months. So Wednesdays and Saturdays are bath nights. And during the summer, kids are often in the pool in which case the Wednesday and Saturday rule applies most of the time there, too. If you need to shower more often or want to soak in the tub then you follow the rules of common courtesy.

And, if you feel so inclined, there is always the basement bathroom.

I think part of the success is that we start with the heart. Whining, complaining and fussing about waiting for the bathroom is already ruled out because of the rules that those attitudes are NEVER accepted in our home. Not just for the bathroom, but in all things, he who complains goes to the end of the line. We don't hear much complaining.

For normal teeth brushing, we often have 7 or more at the sink at once...and guess one minds or cares.

You know, I think it is up there with the whining and teenage rebellion issue. People expect to have problems or make problems of it so it becomes a problem.

After all this rambling, I decided to ask my kids what they thought on the topic of bathrooms. And here it is, in their own words.

Brianna says that she solemnly swears that with the 9 of us, and frequent house guests and many times others living with us, she has never wet herself.

KK says that privacy is not an issue and never will be.

Brianna says we don't close the door and don't mind us all being in at once. That's just how it is. I asked her if that bothered her and she said, "No, I don't care."

KK says again that privacy has never been an issue and never will be.

So there you have it folks.

Later that night, I asked Allen what he thought about the deal. He said, it is interesting that most of the time he is the only one that closes the bathroom door and that is so he can read his electronics magazine without being interrupted.

We have had a few funny bathroom moments over the years. We have strict rules that when we have company, the children are to use only the master bath (which is smaller than the one pictured and has no tub) so that the guest or guests can have the use of the bigger bathroom. As I said, we rarely close the door. When one of my boys was potty training, we had a lady staying with us. Was she surprised when this son came crashing in the bathroom on her! She wasn't bothered too much by it. The boy didn't even notice. I was mortified however.

While we were remodeling the hall bathroom, we had no door for a long while. Even after we got the door, we had no door knob for a very long time. We hardly noticed. Our company always did, though. I will never forget the gleeful squeal from a visiting girlfriend one day. "Kathleen! You have a door knob." I am not even sure that any one living here noticed it. And it had been up for weeks by then.

And then there was the time that we returned home from errands around ten at night. Emma was suddenly hit with a stomach bug. As she ran to the bathroom and got sick, a hose broke going from the commode into the wall. Water was running everywhere. Allen quickly turned the main off. I know what you are thinking. Good thing you have two more bathrooms. Wrong. The master bath was undergoing renovation and had no commode. And in the basement the wax ring was being replaced so the toilet was actually sitting in the bath tub. Of course it was 10 at night and all the hard ware stores were closed. If you don't come from a large family, perhaps you can not imagine what it is like when five children all suddenly come down with the stomach flu at one time. Fortunately, I've had a few years to recover from the trauma and can laugh at it now.

As the Nun's used to say when I was in school, "That's enough toilet talk." I will leave you with this thought from Bob Hope.

"I grew up with six brothers. That's how I learned to dance - waiting for the bathroom."


  1. That picture is priceless! It really is sweet! I grew up with 7 older siblings, and we only had one bathroom! I remember many days like that in our bathroom!

  2. We only have one bathroom and the five of us so at times it can get tricky. Our bathroom is tiny too. WE all learn to dance alot. LOL
    Love how the older ones are helping brush the teeth. so sweet.

  3. I remember how impressed I was that, during both of the occasions that I stayed at your place, I never had to wait to use the shower, or even the bathroom for that matter. It's a testament to how organized your family is :)

  4. Love the picture! Your girls are wonderful to help with teeth! Think how much time is saved by group brushing!
    Happy Friday to you!

  5. You have a busy and full life, but it looks so full of love and cooperation! You are blessed. Your family is beautiful!

  6. Laughing at your last line in the post!! ;o)

  7. Kat, That picture is priceless! It should be blown up and framed to hang in your bathroom forever. I love it. But sibling care and affection is definitely my weakness. You have put great love and respect into raising your children. It is very evident! I loved reading this,


  8. Kat,

    I love Christy's idea to frame your picture and hang it in the bathroom. Really cute idea. We pretty much have our own bathrooms for everyone. We have 2 1/2 baths, so it makes for some of those emergencies you had called for at the end of the post where everyone gets sick or people need to use them all at once.

    Love your parting line about how he learned to dance. Priceless.

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  9. Man, I can't imagine what your bathroom must be like. =0) We have three bathrooms (two up and one down) and all three have tubs. None are huge, but all are decent sized. Sadly, we sometimes have people in ALL THREE at the same time. Spoiled? I guess so!

    Your bathroom needs a sign that says "Grand Central Station.... take a number."

  10. I love your busy and fun life....what makes it so beautiful is that you can see God smack dab in the middle of if all

    .....thanks for sharing it with us.

  11. Love the picture and I love the love that is between them all! You are so blessed!

  12. Hi! I was stopping by from Michelle's blog.

    Growing up with just one brother, I always wished to be part of a big family. But I am glad I rarely had to wait for the bathroom. But then, it's one of those things that's only important if you make it.

  13. Funny! We have two and it works for us.

  14. That is such a funny picture and I guess your family is living proof that it can work!!

  15. I remember when you took this picture. That was months ago. If you you'ld like I could edit it for you? Luv Ya!
    p.s. KK's quote is great! So she does have some GOOD humor. Must get it from me.;)

  16. I totally understand. I grew up with 8 brothers and sisters and only 1 tiny bathroom. You learn to wait your turn!

  17. Kat~

    I just loved reading this post! I don't often have the time to sit and sift through blogs since school started, but I know for sure I'll hit yours first on my Saturdays!

    Love your attitude about large families. There's only four humans here but the doors tend to get shut to keep the four nosy dogs out!

    I grew up in a home where the door was always open...I am the only one that keeps the door open here; these BOYS all need privacy to read!


  18. Saw this post under the "labels" and had to come read it since it struck a cord with me, and our family! We have 3 bathrooms too. Kids one is downstairs with their bedrooms, but it is a big one, and generally is (more in the past years) full on Sunday mornings, or occasions. Our master bath is awesome, and I always said we bought the house for that reason. When the kids were younger, I combed 5 heads of hair in the mornings there. Have pictures of 5 little kids at once in our lovely big tub.