What Were You Thinking?!


This is the article you have been waiting for...at least I hope. So many of you have sent questions about life in our large family.. the #donnellytribe. I get it. You are curious. Some people with large families complain about the many comments and questions of others, but not us. I find that it's a great opportunity to share our faith and encourage other parents. We all need a little inspiration along the journey.

So here are the questions everyone asks us about life in a big family



Are they all your children?


YES! I gave birth to six children and we adopted four children. And the rest of the kids in the pictures well, when you have lots of kids your family tends to attract other kids and we apparently attract them in herds.


Are your kids all with the same man?


YES! Walter and I have been married for 26 years. Seriously, with a hot Italian man-his kisses still make me weak in the knees, why would I need another?!


Haven't you heard of birth control?


Why yes, and I highly recommend that some people use it. (Sorry for being a little sassy but seriously??)


Are you planning to have more children?


We are very happy and fulfilled with our large tribe but our hearts are open to whatever God plans for our lives, even more children.


How many kids do you have now?


Our large family is blessed with ten children! I know it may sound like a lot but maybe I am just getting used to all of the noise!


Is your house a mess?


Hmmmm... clean is such a subjective term. Yes, we are basically organized. But please don't look closely at the baseboards, my stove currently looks like an explosion took place, and we give names to our mountains of laundry. But remember, no judging!


How are you paying for your kid's college tuition?


I'm considering having each child sell a kidney. Just kidding! Actually, Walter and I don't feel that we owe them a paid college education. They all must work hard for good grades, apply for scholarships, and work part time jobs.


Are you crazy?


(I'm so glad my hubby is not answering this!) But YES...crazy in love with my big, loud, messy family.


How can you afford to feed all of your kids?


Food is a huge chunk of our monthly budget. But we have learned some secrets for feeding such a large family.

  • Buy food in bulk especially non perishable items such as canned food.

  • Grow your own garden! Its practically free food right in your back yard!

  • Buy from your local farmer's market. This not only gets you fresh produce, it also helps your local economy grow.

  • Keep basic recipe items on hand such as seasonings, sauces, dressings, toppings, flour, and other essentials. These little things are cheap alone but the prices add up when you need a few for a recipe!

  • Make as much food as possible from scratch! Eating pre-made foods and fast foods will really cut into your food budget and are often unhealthy.

  • Buy a butchered cow and pig yearly and keep it in a freezer to last a few months. Our family prefers local meat. Being organic and grass fed makes the meat taste better in my opinion.

  • Teach your kids to hunt! My husband, father, and kids all provide us with much needed deer and turkey meat!

  • Always plan your meals for the week ahead of time so you know if you need to go shopping.

I know this sounds basic, but it's very time consuming and one must learn to be creative. We can't always afford what a recipe may call for so we have learned to supplement. We eat the basics-I make special meals for birthdays and special occasions. Make lots of soups and breads-it's healthy and it fills them up. We rarely purchase lunch meat and I dare say that most of my kids have never experienced a Happy Meal. BUT...I make meal time a priority-especially on Sundays. A time to talk, connect after a busy week, and enjoy each other. It's not always what's on the plate but who is at the table!


How do you afford birthday and Christmas gifts?


We believe that children don't always need the latest and greatest items on the market. We usually get a small gift for their birthday (usually cash for the older kids) and celebrate with a special meal and cake together as a family. We end our birthday celebration with a birthday blessing prayer. As for Christmas, my parents give each child cash while my in-laws fill the stockings. Walter and I purchase three items for each child. Why three? Well, I figure that Jesus received gold, frankincense and myrrh (3 gifts) and if it's good enough for our Savior I'm thinking that it's good enough for the Tribe...and it fits my budget. And we don't always buy new items.


For example: One Christmas I spent the summer searching yard sales for outside play equipment. We spent all Christmas Eve (after the kids were in bed) putting an entire playground together (thankfully we lived in Florida at the time and it was warm outside). My neighbor asked if we were opening a Daycare! Another time, when the girls were little, I searched all the Thrift Stores and filled a treasure chest full of dress up clothes and jewelry. They loved it! Be creative, don't get into debt over Christmas, and focus on making memories-not just buying gifts.


Do you and Walter ever get alone time?


Apparently, I mean we did create lots of "blessings!" Seriously, yes-we love laying in bed watching a good movie or simply talking. We love to yard sale together, go to antique shops, and even Home Depot together. It's about spending time together.


How do you pay for the doctor bills?


First of all, we have GREAT health insurance. But I can honestly say that our children get a yearly physically and are rarely treated by the doctor the rest of the year. Only two of my ten children have ever taken antibiotics. No, it's NOT because I'm a germaphobe. I think children should play outside daily, run barefoot and get dirty...and only the stinky teens need daily showers. Before you panic and call CPS on us let me explain: There is tons of research out today that states children in large families have a stronger immune system because they share germs. (yup, they have occasionally used the wrong toothbrush Research shows that kids in large families have less food allergies, fewer cases of cancer, lower risk for obesity and lower rates of depression. Research also suggests that they will have a stronger emotional intelligence, hit life mile stones sooner (crawling, walking, etc) and have a better gratification deferment (in other words they can wait their turn).


The most asked question that we receive: "Do you know what causes that?"


I assumed they mean all the kids. So yes, and we really enjoy it!



Being in a large tribe is not as expensive and chaotic as one may think. Okay...it's kinda like a scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding (minus the Greeks) at times, and yes, we must live on a budget but there are benefits of a large family. Just to name a few...

  • Children learn responsibility-everyone does chores in our house

  • They will inherit a sense of humor-sarcasm at it's best and you learn not to get offended

  • They will be skilled in forming strategic alliances- Oh yes, they will band together for the common cause (if you don't have teens yet this might shock you)

  • They will learn humility-there is nothing like your sibling embarrassing you and taking you down a notch to keep you humble

  • They will learn the art of compromise-you can't always have your own way...heck, you can't always have your own bed in a large family

There are thousands of benefits of a large family. There is always an abundance of human interaction, always someone to play with, and lots of love to go around. I hope I was able to answer some of your questions and encourage you along your parenting journey.


What are your thoughts about large families? Did you grow up in a large family? What questions do people constantly ask you? Let us know in the comments below! We want to hear what you guys think! If you enjoyed this article, spread the love and share it with the social share buttons below!


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#parenting #bigfamily #amothersguidetoparenting

About Me

Welcome to our home, my name is Michele. My husband, Walter, and I have been happily married (most of the time) for 28 years. My husband is the Pastor of Strong Tower Church while I work as a Critical Care Nurse. Together, we have been blessed with 10 beautiful children.

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