Growing up as the oldest of eight kids wasn't easy. In fact, at times it was downright harrowing! I still wouldn't trade it for the world though, and my siblings are now among my best friends. Here are my eight tips for surviving a big family, in no particular order.

1. Make friends with your siblings

Even though you may at times want to disown them, you're kind of stuck with your siblings. So it's in your best interest to befriend them - at least the ones closest in age to you. That way, if the younger ones gang up on you, thereʼs always someone willing to back you up. Oldest vs youngest water balloon war, anyone? Also, on family vacations you have someone to escape the rest of the family with. This is very important if you are among the oldest and far too mature and refined to be seen with the little ones.

2. Learn to eat quickly

Forget chewing... learn to inhale your food. With dinner a finite resource, it will definitely work out in your favor to a) grab as much food as you can from the serving bowls, and b) eat as quickly as you can in case you didn't grab enough and need more. Otherwise the food might somehow disappear into other mouths, sadly leaving you to scrounge around later for a snack.

3. Have a sense of humor

Sometimes laughing is the only way to get over something. I don't know how many times my things were ruined by well-meaning (or not so well meaning) younger siblings who just wanted to be like their big sister. Adorable right? Not so much to my 15-year-old self, but now I know better. Itʼs better to laugh at spilled nail polish than cry or yell. I wish I had known this bit of advice back then, but now those stories are the funniest, right?

4. Be forgiving

This goes along with the last point. Forgive and forget...It's much easier than holding a grudge! Remember that forgiveness is a choice.

5. Communicate

Communication is key in a large family! There are so many different schedules and things to keep organized. Make sure to speak up when you need something (the squeaky wheel gets the oil, right?), and always talk things through. Misunderstandings can get out of hand really quickly, but if you communicate your point of view clearly and calmly, it can definitely help the overall atmosphere of the home improve! Be willing to listen to another family member's point of view as well.

6. Learn to find a bargain

Of course, with eight kids in the family, money was tight, so it kind of forced me to become an excellent bargain shopper. Thrift stores, garage sales...yeah, I rocked them all. Itʼs a skill that is still handy to this day though my husband sometimes doesnʼt understand why buying holiday napkins on sale will save us money in the future. But it does. I swear.

7. Be a peacemaker

I disliked conflict growing up (OK, I still do!), so I would usually try my best to keep everyone happy. Be a calming influence and not the instigator of conflict. Believe me, everyone will be much happier!

8. Do your part

We always had chore assignments, and though admittedly I wasn't always the best at doing them when I was a teenager, in hindsight I now see why they were so important! Parents of large families canʼt do it all " they need help! If everyone pitches in, cleaning up from dinner can go quickly. I remember some good times cleaning up the kitchen with show tunes blasting in the background and dancing around with my sisters! Cleaning doesnʼt have to be boring " you can have fun while you work if you have the right attitude.

Being in a large family has its challenges, but it has its rewards, too. Follow these tips to make the best of the situation.

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