It’s 8am, and the older girls wander down with a basket to the hen house , it’s time to feed the chickens and collect fresh eggs! There is laughing and giggling and they are all excited to reach down and pick up fresh warm eggs! It’s a great start to each day and they are the kinds of moments we love in our life. There is pure fresh happiness, a house full of little girls and a handsome little boy and a wonderful husband. It really is a daily adventure.
My husband Mark, 36, and, I live in a little rural town near Canberra with our nine children, yes, that’s right 9 children! Eight girls, and one boy! Their names are: Georgina, Charlotte, Franchesca, Abigail, Catherine, Elizabeth, Rose, Martina, and Michael.
We have a busy, but well-managed household. Every day at our house we always fun, full of love, joy happiness and laughter! Living in a rural town is lovely, but it also has it’s disadvantages too. We do not have any shops and travel 45kms to get groceries and other normal day items.
A lot of people ask me “how do you cope with a large family” or “do have a TV? Or “Your husband must be a CEO!”
I always say that although life is hard it’s hard for the right reasons. A large family is a blessing a truly wonderful experience. Honestly it’s really not that bad, we just do what we have to do and draw strength from our Christian Faith. We have hard days like anyone else, and sometimes life throws some difficult challenges our way, but I would not have it any other way! We have also been very smart, and fortunate, with our finance. We purchased our home in an affordable and up and coming area and only 45 minutes from the Capital Canberra. My husband works full-time and I stay at home looking after and home schooling the children. Life is good!
At 1:30 pm we stop our busy day for some lunch and some garden play! The children absolutely love being in the garden with the animals! I capture these special moments on camera , as really, every day is a special day! I know that my husband and I will cherish these moments forever!
As a family of 11, 1 dog, 7 hens, 2 ducks (and a few spiders and snakes), it is very important to shop around and find the best deals! We do our grocery shopping once a fortnight at Aldi and we set a budget of $500- $600 for our food shopping. Petrol money and bills money is kept separate, However, I do keep some extra money aside for any other extra expenses we have throughout the fortnight. We buy 48 litres of milk, 3 kilogram blocks of cheese, 3 pouring creams and 2 thickened creams. That’s a lot of dairy!
I like to meal plan for the fortnight. I think it is very important to meal plan. We do sometimes shop at Costco, Coles and Woolworths to see what’s on special. For Sundays we often buy a really big pork and cut it in half. We cook 1 half for Sunday roast, and then use the other half the following Sunday. otherwise we buy 2 chickens. We boil the left over’s and use it to make a curry the following night.
If you want to save money on petrol, birthday cakes or other items I recommend going to your nearest Costco store. (if you have one) You can find some of the best deals here.
We shop around for the best insurance policies. We have an awesome deal at Saint George Bank for our vehicles (through Alliance), and home and contents insurances. We bank with service one for our mortgage and main accounts, and so far we have found them the best bank to deal with. They also are very good to bank with, if you have a larger family, they treat you fairly from our experience.
We save money by not buying too many luxuries and finding the best deals. We have seven hens and two ducks which we free range and get a good quantity of eggs. We also have been growing some vegetables and fruit which has been really great for us!. Another smart way to save money is by opening up a Christmas club account with your bank. Ours does not let you withdraw the money until November 1st. We try to put $150 in the account once a Month. Holidays are ad hoc when we have available funds but we normally get away for 2 weeks per year.
We are not penny pinchers, dole bludgers or anything in between. We work hard, save money and do the right thing for our family and community. We are not big spenders either. We always make it work no matter what! No one ever goes without. We are adaptable and able to adjust our budget needs if and when we need to.
When it comes to buying clothes and shoes I like to shop at places like Kmart, Target, Best & Less, Big W and even charity shops like St Vincent De’Paul. My mother in law is a hairdresser and often cuts the kids hair for me which is wonderful and a big benefit for us. Not everything has to cost money, like days out etc, why not take a picnic in the park or go to your local botanical garden? Lakes, beaches national parks and bush walks are also great ways to enjoy time with your family. Be creative with your ideas. Kids will absolutely love that!
After the birth of my 9th child, I decided that I wanted to lose weight and lead a healthier lifestyle. I did some research and came across the Keto diet. I have been doing this diet now for almost 9 months, and I have lost 23 kilos. I hope to lose another 8 kilos over the next few months! I am feeling fantastic after shedding so much weight! If you would like to know more about the Keto diet and how it has helped me then see my social media including blog for my experiences.
Or typical day is very busy but after baths, dinner and other activities we are now finished and snuggled up on the, very large, lounge together. We talk about our day, how we are all feeling and what the new day will bring. We look at our tribe with so much pride, love and joy it makes us so happy!
At 8:30 pm it’s time to be tucked into bed and get comfy with bedtime stories. My husband and I use this time to reflect on our day, discuss the future and enjoy each other’s company.
We (my husband and I) feel so incredibly blessed to have our family. We thank God for our blessings and graces. We are no different to anyone else. We are part of your community. We are Australians.
Claire Louise Hooker XXxxXX