Return of the Big Family

Beginning in the mid-’70s and in decades following, American popular culture declared 2.5 children and a golden retriever the “ideal” family. But among the current generation of young marrieds, many have decided that bigger is definitely better as more couples opt for expansive broods. Emily Smith, a Mobile mother of five children under age 6, laughs,  “A friend of mine recently shared a blog post that spoke to the inevitable question every parent with more than two children will routinely hear, ‘You have your hands full, don’t you?’ The writer’s response sums it up perfectly: ‘I do have my hands full, and I am so thankful that they are!’”

From left to right: Wes, 5,  “Rowdy Rascal” • Lyle, 1,  “Laid-back Fella” • Emily,  “Biking Babe” • Baby Mary Blythe (due at press time) • Charlie, 2,  “The Challenger” • Emma Krouse, 6,  “Mama Hen” • Jason,  “The Outdoorsman”

The Smiths

Everyone has their favorite weatherman, and we know whom the Smiths love: their very own patriarch, Fox 10 meteorologist Jason Smith! This family of seven is constantly taking on the outdoors and exploring what makes the South so beautiful, which is not surprising since Jason also hosts a local fishing and hunting show, “Fox 10 Outdoors.” While he and wife Emily did a lot of camping before starting their family, hiking has become the group event that brings these seven Smiths together. As the kiddos get older, though, the parents hope to return to the beloved pastime. Jason says, “I’ll have to get some more utensils and equipment, though – I’m used to camping and cooking for two, not seven!”

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From left to right: Katie,  “Mrs. Git-er-done” • Camille, 5, “Miss Sassy” • Luke, 3,  “Luke the Builder” • Jude, 7,  “The Funny Guy” • Audrey, 4 months,  “The Baby” • Scott,  “Pastor Man” • Emma, 10,  “Mom’s Right Hand” • Tilly the dog

The Moores

The Moores count their blessings as they gather up their five children (including one infant) and get ready to start the day. Scott, a pastor at Trinity Family Church in Trinity Gardens, and stay-at-home mom Katie have become adept at wrangling their lively crew. “One of the most satisfying moments is when Scott and I feel as if we’re on the same team and in the same game, and we just enjoy looking at the crazy, fun bunch Jesus has given us, ” Katie shares. One child takes to feeding baby Audrey and another helps to dress a younger sibling for church; this family may be large, but their hearts are definitely larger.

From left to right: Charlie, 8,  “The Triple Threat” • Sam, 5,  “Mellow Man” • Henry, 2,  “Evil Knievel Jr.” • Virginia,  “Chill Mama” • Garner, “The Cool Dad” • Annie, 11,  “Artsy Annie” • Jeanie, 2,  “The Spirited One”

The Jeffreys

Entertaining so many little ones can prove to be a challenge, but for the Jeffreys, the going’s only gotten better. “Having one child is the hardest, and after two, the more there are the easier it is, ” matriarch Virginia Jeffery shares. “All the children just help entertain each other.” And with many evenings spent creating various crafts under the direction of eldest Annie, the five Jeffery siblings do just that. Whether they’re painting a blank canvas or experimenting with construction paper and glue, the act of making masterpieces together grants them endless enjoyment (even if they have to vacuum afterward).

From left to right: Luckett,  “Good Ol’ Dad” • Roux the mischievous pup • Lilly, 10,  “The Performer” • 
Heather,  “Peaceful Yogi” • Ben, 9,  “Nothing But Net” • Luckett, 15,  “Lucky Dog” • Dixie the dog • Marie, 13,  “Servin’ Up Cool” • Hartley, 16,  “Social Butterfly”

The Robinsons

To Luckett and Heather Robinson, managing a family of seven comes naturally, as each of them grew up with their own large families. “Every other year, we go to Seaside for Easter with my dad’s seven siblings, the grandparents and the 15 grandkids, where the total head count is more than 30, ” Heather says. And when all those kiddos grow up and get involved in each of their own activities, time management becomes an important skill. For the Robinsons, whose children participate in nearly a dozen different extracurriculars (count the kids … that’s an average of two per child!), shuttling back and forth from sports practice and drama or music classes definitely takes a scheduling miracle. But in the end, coming together for an evening meal is the perfect time to unwind from all those commitments and to focus on one another.

Wonder what it's like to feed a family of seven? These four busy moms tell all. 
Click here for recipes and tips for serving up home-cooked dinners for a crowd.

text by Chelsea Wallace • photos by Major Adam Colbert

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