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"We have 3 types of meals." What it's like having 10 kids during the school holidays.

At 35, Rachel Martin has spent a total of 54 months, or four and a half years, pregnant.

When she met Troy, now 41, she had four kids, and together they went on to have another two.

But Troy was also a single parent of four. Combined, the Melbourne couple are parents to 10 kids – seven of whom are school-aged.

There’s Jaiden, 18, Ethan, 17, Elijah, 16, Caleb, 14, Baden, 12, twins Jade and Rori, both 11, Ebony, 11, Elliott, 2, and Sebastion, 1.

So what, exactly, is life like in a household of 12? And how on earth do you keep 10 kids entertained during the school holidays?

Food: “We’ve become very relaxed.”

Speaking to Mamamia, Troy and Rachel said their average weekly grocery bill is around $350.

“We love to shop at Coles and get most of our items from the weekly specials. We prefer the click-and-collect option so we can shop online and see exactly how much it will cost us before we check out. It also means we don’t grab those impulse items off the shelves!


“We’ve become very relaxed about dinner time over the years,” they said. “Because there are so many of us, and we only have an eight-seater table, we are spread out over the entire kitchen/dining area, with a few kids at the table, a few on the bar stools, one in the high chair and Mum and Dad usually standing in the kitchen.

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“Food wise, we have three types of meals. Either dished into bowls by Mum or Dad, help yourself style with all the food in the middle of the table, and once a week we do ‘make your own dinner’ night so Mum and Dad get the night off and the kids can eat whatever they want from the dinner food in the pantry/freezer/leftovers.”

Activities: “One of the benefits of having lots of kids, is that they always have someone to play with.”

For Rachel and Troy, booking the kids into lots of activities meant taking away from family time, and having the kids away from their parents and each other for far longer than they wanted.

“We made a decision to cancel extra curricular activities and spend more time together, which allowed us to spend the money we had budgeted for activities on family outings and adventures,” the couple said.

Once a year, the family of 12 go on a big holiday, with everyone included. For the last two years, it’s been to Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

“This takes a lot of planning and we have jam-packed days for the entire school holidays, which is why we are quite lazy in comparison during the rest of the year’s breaks,” they said.

During the school breaks where they’re not travelling, the kids keep themselves entertained by playing board games, baking, watching movies and vlogging. “One of the benefits of having lots of kids, is that they always have someone to play with,” the couple said.

 

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All set up in our hire car at MCO and on our way to Krystal!! Yummmm

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“For the most part, we just continue our usual routine during school holidays. The younger ones play together most of the day and the older ones have a tonne of homework (especially Elijah and Ethan who are doing their VCE and have part-time jobs). The kids will often organise their own play dates and outings with school friends during the holidays also.”

Some of their favourite holiday activities are:

     Family Masterchef – We bake at home and vote to see who made the best treats!
     Shopping – We spend time window shopping and see who can get the best/most items for $5
     Bush walking – We take a local bush walking track when the weather is nice
     Visit Dad at work – We sometimes visit Dad at work and have lunch together
     Board games – We have a huge cupboard full of different board games that we play together
     Visit family and griends – We spend time with grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends

Chores: “We have a ‘family command centre’.”

Three girls and seven boys no doubt create a significant amount of mess around the house, so for Rachel and Troy, everyone pitching in makes things “much simpler”.

“We strongly believe kids should help out around the house, according to their age and capability,” they said.

“We also believe kids need to learn the basics of looking after themselves and how to keep a home, before they move out into the real world.”

Generally, the couple try to get each child to do one chore a day. They have what they call a “family command centre” where Rachel writes everyone’s chores on a whiteboard, and they’re able to rub it off once it’s done. “The chores are fairly simple,” they said, “from taking the rubbish out, to feeding the pets, or vaccuming the floor”.

“Once in a while, usually every second Saturday or so, we will do a ‘Team Clean’ where we all pitch in and work together, quickly cleaning the whole house in about an hour. This creates such a fun team environment and then we can all relax for the rest of the day and enjoy our weekend in a nice clean house without the pressure being all on one person to do everything.”

Discipline: “Everyone knows what is expected of them.”

Having 10 kids – five of whom are teenagers – could be a recipe for disaster in terms of discipline.

But Rachel and Troy said they believe having a lot of household rules has helped them avoid major behavioural issues.

The kids “probably have more [rules] than most people,” the couple said, “but in order for a family of 12 to run smoothly, we need to”.

 

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Home from the holidays ????????????????

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“Everyone knows what is expected of them, whether it be personal behaviour, getting along with each other, or chores.

“On the occasions where discipline is needed we generally take away electronics or internet access for a time, as usually the kids have spent too much time on their electronics which is why they are acting out in the first place. We always talk with the kid/s afterwards to make sure they understand what happened, what behaviour caused the discipline, what they could have done differently, and make sure we are all happy with each other again before we go on with our day.”

They agree that over the years they’ve had to compromise their differing parenting styles in order to best meet the needs of their kids. “We have become very balanced in our parenting over time, not allowing too much freedom, but just enough that each child has the space and independence to become their own person,” they said.

Overall, Rachel and Troy “love having a big family,” and it’s something they both always wanted.

Even with the chaos, they “wouldn’t change it for the world”.

Featured image via Jamie Lou photography, which you can follow here.

For more about Rachel, Troy and their 10 kids, you can follow them on YouTube, Instagram or Facebook

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