Large Family Bedrooms – Ideas to make the best use of the space you have

Arranging Large Family Bedrooms | RaisingArrows.netSince having children, we have lived in 9 different houses.  Each time we move, we have to consider which children will go in which bedrooms and how those bedrooms will be configured to best accommodate everyone in there.

Today, I want to share with you some of the ways we have configured bedrooms, as well as ways other people have done it.  I’d also love to have you chime in with your ideas and suggestions to help out other readers!

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When we had our first child, we lived in a 2 bedroom apartment.  He had his own room.  We had our next child in a 3 bedroom house.  They each had their own bedroom.  We moved again and had another child.  This time it was a 2 bedroom, causing us to actually have to think about where children would sleep.

The master bedroom in that house was very small, so there could be no baby in the room with us.  In the 2nd bedroom, we had a bunk bed for the two older children (boy and girl) and a crib for the new baby (girl).  I had originally used a partition like the one below to separate the two “sides” of the room…a rather fruitless attempt at trying to have a “nursery” atmosphere.

The reason I say “fruitless” is because the partition just took up room…precious room.


The next move was to another 3 bedroom.  We had 2 more children while living there.  During the nearly 3 years we lived there, we had many different configurations:

Configuration #1:
Bedroom A – bunks for boy and girl
Bedroom B – baby in crib

Configuration #2:
Bedroom A – bunks for 2 girls
Bedroom B – twin for boy, crib for baby

Configuration #3:
Bedroom A – bunks for 2 girls
Bedroom B – bunks for boys
Master Bedroom – crib or bassinet for baby

The first set of bunks we owned were shorter than normal and wooden.  The second set was metal.  I’m not fond of metal bunks, so when we moved from there, we gave them away.


The next house had 4 bedrooms, but we only used the 3 upstairs.  While living there, we lost our daughter, Emily, and had 2 more little boys.

We started with a boy room and a girl room.  When Emily got sick, we moved her into our room in a “moses basket” on the floor next to my side of the bed.

After Emily passed away and our next little one was born, I kept him in our bedroom until he was about 4 months.  He then moved into the boy room that had a twin bed, a mattress under the bed that we pulled out for the 3 year old, and a crib.  The girls’ room continued to be the wooden bunks.

For a short time after our 7th child was born (and before we moved again), we put the toddler in a toddler bed in the girls’ room and bought another toddler bed for the 4 year old, making the configuration in the boys’ room – toddler bed, twin bed, crib.  Looking back, it would have made better sense to continue with the mattress under the twin.  It would have saved a lot of space.  We eventually got rid of that second toddler bed.


The next house was also a 4 bedroom that we only used 3 of.  We only lived there a year and did not have any new babies while there.

Configuration:
Bedroom A – girls in bunks
Bedroom B – Twin and 2 toddler beds
Master – crib for baby

When the baby got to the place where he was waking up every time Ty or I rolled over in bed, we moved him to the walk-in closet in a playpen.


The next house we again only used 3 bedrooms and had another baby while there.  We had two different configurations while living there:

Configuration #1:
Bedroom A – girls in bunks
Bedroom B – queen bed for my oldest, bunks for the next 2 boys, and a toddler bed
Master – baby in playpen

Configuration #2:
Bedroom A – girls in bunks, baby in playpen at the foot of bunks
Bedroom B – same set up as #1


In our current house, we use 4 of the 6 bedrooms.  They are configured this way:

Bedroom A – girls in bunks
Bedroom B – King bed for my oldest (this room also doubles as a guest room) and twin for the next boy down
Bedroom C – bunk for 5 and 4 year old boys and toddler bed for 1 year old


The next house will be a 3 bedroom.  I am planning to configure it this way:

Bedroom A – girls in bunks, toddler bed for 1 year old
Bedroom B – XL twin for my oldest, bunk for 8 and 5 year olds, mattress underneath that can be pulled out for the 4 year old
Master – baby in playpen


Some other options I have seen…

Triple bunks

Mattresses lined up side by side to create more bed space for several kiddos

Pillow chaise beds – these are especially compact and work great for lots of littles!


I do want to mention a few other things before turning this post over to my readers to give their ideas…

#1:  Walk in closets as “bedrooms”

Most closets do NOT have vents in them, so you do not want to close off the closet.

You will need to be certain EVERYTHING is out of baby’s reach.  You don’t want clothing or racks falling down on baby!

#2:  Not using a crib for baby

This is a bit of a paradigm shift for many parents.  Our culture has gotten so used to huge cribs with fancy bedding that it is hard to give up that “nursery dream.”  However, when you don’t have the room for such sizable pieces of furniture, you look for other ways to give your baby a proper bed.

Our favorite newborn sleeping accommodation is the Snugabunny from Fisher-Price:

It folds up for traveling, it keeps baby snuggled, and I can put it anywhere in any room easily.  From there, we use a playpen.  Don’t overdo the bedding and blankets.  We prefer Carter’s quilted playpen sheets because the quilting makes them very comfy for baby without being bulky.  You can get them in velour for the winter and cotton for the summer.

Another issue that needs to be addressed is where to keep clothes in large family bedrooms, but I’ll address that in another post so this post doesn’t get any longer than it already is!

Now, it’s your turn!  What are some creative ways you’ve configured bedrooms to make them work for your family?  Looking for more Large Family Living ideas and tips?  Check out my Large Family Pinterest board and the Large Family Living page here on Raising Arrows!

Get Your DrinkBands in Time for the Holidays! {GIVEAWAY}

If you read Raising Arrows regularly, you know how important DrinkBands are in our house.  In fact, just the other day, I mentioned them in my post on having a Minimalist Kitchen.

DrinkBands Giveaway!

DrinkBands make having a minimalist kitchen with a large family possible because it saves me on washing glasses constantly.  Everyone leaves their glasses on the counter for the day, and we wash them at night.  Everyone has a color, so they aren’t dragging 50 glasses out of the cupboard over the course of the day and I know exactly who has misplaced theirs.

When company comes, we add an extra set of DrinkBands (often the Camo Pack or Party Pack).  Our family’s set of DrinkBands are now personalized too!  It makes me smile to have mine say “Mama” and Ty’s say “Daddy”. :)

Do you have guests coming for Thanksgiving?  What about Christmas?  Well, now is the perfect time to snag a great deal on DrinkBands and be prepared for the holidays!

CLICK HERE TO ORDER!

And guess what?!  Two Raising Arrows readers are going to win DrinkBands!  I’m giving away a set of 9 Regular Personalized DrinkBands and a set of Camo DrinkBands!

All you have to do is enter the giveaway below.  (email readers click through to the post to find the giveaway!)  Winners will be announced on Saturday, so hurry!
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Leaving the Big House on the Prairie

Last week, I mentioned there were some major changes going on around here.  Not sure if any of you guessed what those might be, but now that we have told all the people who needed to be told first, I can tell all of you…

We are moving.

Leaving the Big House on the Prairie | RaisingArrows.net

We are leaving that big house on the prairie because Ty took a promotion that has us moving VERY soon.  It will be a professional move, so I won’t have as much work to do as some of our other moves.  (See my series on Large Family Moving for some of my favorite tips and tricks for moving!)  We are hoping to be somewhat settled before Thanksgiving so that we can truly enjoy the holidays.

We’ve made a lot of friends here, so telling people was very difficult, especially considering the very small window of time in which we were leaving.  We have been in the area nearly 4 years (even though we have moved several times within the area), making this one of the most emotionally difficult moves we have had to make.

There are some really great things about the area we are moving to.  The homeschool laws are fantastic.  Our house is surrounded by beautiful big trees.  The neighborhood is hilly and serene.  The home is owned by a homeschool family (and was owned by another homeschool family before that).  We have friends nearby, and much of our family will still be close enough to visit.

My friend, Candi, said, “You move more than you have babies!”  She’s right.  This is move #13 in 18 years.  Some were due to college and some were due to rentals being sold.  Some were job changes and some were job promotions.  We never take moving lightly.  It’s not something we just up and do one day on a whim.  From the outside looking in, I’m sure it seems a little crazy, but we have seen so many things line up that we are confident this is where God wants us right now…just as the big house on the prairie and the 11 houses before it were where God wanted us then.

Can a Large Family Have a Minimalist Kitchen? {Kitchen Tour – Part 1}

Back in March, I wrote a post about keeping your kitchen clean.  I mentioned in the post how reducing clutter in your kitchen helps tremendously, but I’ll be honest, sometimes clutter lurks in places you forget about, or sneaks onto your counters, and sometimes it shows up in the form of a gift from a well-meaning someone who brings it into your kitchen and leaves it there.  Before you know it, the kitchen has been overrun by things that do nothing but take up space.

So, when I saw a post on Pinterest that begged me to take a look at one woman’s minimalist kitchen, I couldn’t help myself.  What I saw made me sigh happy, clean counter, sighs.  But, it also made me wonder…

Can a large family live without a lot of extra kitchen appliances, dishes, tools, and gadgets?

In other words…

Can a large family have a minimalist kitchen?

Can a Large Family Have a Minimalist Kitchen? (plus Kitchen Tour Part 1!) | RaisingArrows.net

I will start off by telling you that kitchen gadgets are NOT my thing.  They hold no appeal for me, so you won’t find a lot of that type of thing in my kitchen, minimalist or not.  In fact, in nearly every area of my life, I tend toward the minimalist category.  Decluttering is cheap therapy for me.  I like to throw things away.  But everyone knows a large family naturally accumulates more stuff than a smaller family.  More people bringing in more things, not to mention outsiders who figure you need more stuff since there are so many of you, can easily overtake a large family kitchen.

I was determined to take the minimalist approach to the kitchen, and run with it – just to see how far I’d get.  I can definitively say that you ABSOLUTELY CAN HAVE A MINIMALIST KITCHEN in a large family, but there are a couple of things you have to take into consideration.

1.  Have the RIGHT SIZE of tool for the job.  You will waste a ton of space if you are trying to accommodate a large family with 3 too-small pots, rather than 1 perfect-sized pot.  Don’t hang onto items that don’t really fit your family.  Upsize and declutter the too-small things.

2.  Purge often.  Because of the sheer number of people in a large family household, you have to be on your toes with sorting and getting rid of things that don’t truly belong in your home.  If you receive something that is a better fit, get rid of the item it replaces.  And don’t look back!

OK, let’s get started with the tour…

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Can a Large Family Have a Minimalist Kitchen? | RaisingArrows.net

This is the main wall of my kitchen.  This is by far, the largest kitchen I have ever had; however, it has a few tricky spots I’ll point out as we go.

On the far left, you see a glimpse of an antique ice box that holds our teas and my Bosch mixer.  While I use my Bosch often, I decided it was not often enough to warrant counter space.  On top of the ice box is a glass pitcher, a flower arrangement my 10 year put together (she has a real knack for home decor), and a plate for fruit.  These things are all decorative and functional.

Working our way to the right, you’ll see a counter space that has a basket for bread with a butter dish next to it.  I could get a bread box, but that’s not something I’ve ever owned, so until I do, a basket works.  I also hung my hot pads on a 3M removable hook next to the stove.  (I LOVE these hooks!)

Above that counter space is my Baking Cupboard.  I have had a designated Baking Cabinet/Cupboard for years.  If you bake a lot, and you can spare the space, I highly recommend doing this.  This is also where our often-used seasonings go, so they are quick to grab when cooking up meat and other dishes.

Below that counter, are casserole dishes, cookie sheets, and other baking dishes.  Here is a list of exactly what I own:

I could rid of the items we don’t use often, but for now, I like to have them on hand for the few times I do want to make something that calls for one of those pans.

Next, is the stove.  I do not keep anything stored in the oven or in the drawer below (except the broiler pan that belongs with the stove…and never gets used).  On top of the stove, I have a tea pot.  This would not necessarily have to be there, but I like the way it makes the stove look all homey. ;)

Above the stove and microwave, is where I keep olive oil and olive oil spray, along with my knife sharpener.

Can a Large Family Have a Minimalist Kitchen? | RaisingArrows.net

The next counter space over has an upcycled utensil holder made by my friend Char at New Life Treasures.  It holds a few wooden spoons, an assortment of spatulas, whisks, tongs, a ladle, and a couple of other utensils.  I was brutal and got rid of any utensil that didn’t get used regularly.  If there was something that didn’t get used often, but I still thought ought to be kept, I moved it to a container in a cupboard – more on that in another post.  I will say this counter top space is also where clean dishes go to dry.  We hand wash any dishes that don’t fit in the dishwasher as well as any dishes or knives that are not supposed to be put in a dishwasher.  I use an XL Envision Dish Drying Mat to put the overflow dishes on to dry.

Above that counter is where our plates and bowls are kept.  I have 3 small plastic bowls and 3 small plastic plates for my little guys.  I have 6 more plastic bowls that work well for snacks and such, along with 8 pottery bowls that match the 8 dinner plates I have of October Franciscan pottery.  I also keep 3 deep bowls in that cupboard that work well to mix small batches of things.  Besides the 8 dinner plates, I also have 8 smaller Corelle-type plates.  Typically, when the table is set, Mommy, Daddy, and the two oldest children get large plates, and everyone else uses the Corelle or plastic smaller plates.  Sometimes, depending on the meal, we all use the smaller plates.

Can a Large Family Have a Minimalist Kitchen? Kitchen Tour!| RaisingArrows.net

Excuse the horrible photo.  I was taking it with my phone and there was no making it look pretty.  You can see below the sink there is a cupboard and another right next to it.  These hold cleaning supplies.

Next to those cupboards, you will see the only drawers in the kitchen.  They are small and shallow.  Very strange setup for such a large kitchen, but we’ve made it work.  The top drawer is silverware and extra DrinkBands for guests.  The next drawer contains kitchen towels.  The 3rd drawer contains Bosch attachments, gadgets we actually use on a regular basis (pastry cutter, apple corer, beaters, etc).  The bottom drawer used to hold plastic storage container lids, but I’ve decluttered enough of those that it currently stands empty! *gasp*  It will probably end up housing my drying mats (yes, I have more than one) or some of the less used kitchen gadgets that are put away on the opposite side of the kitchen (another topic in Part 2).

The counter top above those drawers is the dirty dish holding area.  That is where all the dirty dishes go until my Dishwasher Helper takes care of them after every meal.

And lastly, the cupboard above that counter is where glasses go.  We have two glasses for each person, colored coded with their DrinkBand.  There is also a place for sippy cups, and a box that holds plastic reusable cups that my husband takes with him on his daily commute.  I use a box for these because inevitably, someone would open the cupboard door and out would fall all the plastic cups!  I do have a few extra glasses for when company comes stored on the top shelf as well.

I will be sharing what is housed on the other side of the kitchen along with the island in a later post.  Feel free to ask any questions and offer ideas for other readers to create a more minimalist kitchen of their own!

Posts in this Series:
Can a Large Family Have a Minimalist Kitchen (with Kitchen Tour Part 1)
Minimalist Kitchen Tour Part 2

Want to read more about Homemaking?
Check out my Homemaking Basics!

Homemaking Basics | RaisingArrows

How We Feed Our Family of 9 with 2 pounds of Hamburger

How We Feed Our Family of 9 with 2 pounds of Hamburger + Unstuffed Cabbage Roll recipe | RaisingArrows.netWhen I wrote about my bulk taco seasoning recipe, I mentioned we only use 2 pounds of ground beef for our family of 9, and that I only started using the second pound about 2 children ago.  Several of you were shocked and wanted to know how this was possible, so I thought I’d write a little bit more about how we manage this.

First of all, THIS is what 2 pounds of ground beef/hamburger looks like (plus some onions from our garden…more on that in a moment):

How We Feed Our Family of 9 with 2 Pounds of Hamburger + Unstuffed Cabbage Roll recipe | RaisingArrows.net

The skillet is a 15″ cast iron skillet from Lodge.  As the meat cooks, we season it and often throw in onions and/or peppers to add flavor.  From here, the possibilities are endless!

Let’s say you are doing something with a Mexican flair…
Add tomatoes, beans, rice, and some type of sauce (tomato sauce is the most often used one here).

Italian?
More garden veggies, noodles, and sauce.

Sandwich meat?
Oatmeal, veggies, beans, lentils, and yes…sauce!

And don’t forget CHEESE!  We use a lot of cheese, sour cream, and veggies to add to our meat to create a heartier meal.

You can easily double the amount of pasta or rice you put into a dish and still keep the ground beef amounts the same.  Casseroles and stove-top meals (like the Unstuffed Cabbage Roll recipe below) are the easiest to stretch.  We rarely do something like meatloaf or a meat by itself (unless we are cooking up steaks, pork chops, or homemade brats).  Meatloaf can be bulked up with oats or rice, but not many in my family are fans of meatloaf, so I don’t even bother.

We often make quesadillas for a quick lunch (<—take a look at that post – it’s from when I was pregnant with Baby #7 and there’s a sonogram picture!)  We will start with the 2 pounds of hamburger meat, but when that runs out, we finish off with cheese-only quesadillas.  And again, we encourage the kids to add sour cream, lettuce, and salsa to bulk up calories.

Another thing we do is set out bowls of “sides” that add an element of fun to the meal.  It is not uncommon for there to be pickles, black olives, or a bowl of cut up cucumbers on the table to serve as finger foods to supplement the meal.  Sometimes I serve a traditional side (mainly for the evening meal when Daddy is home), but usually for lunch, the main dish is supplemented only by the extra finger foods.

And in case you are wondering, yes, I do serve snacks.  Around 3 o’clock is snack time and it helps to carry everyone through to suppertime.

Now let me give you a real life example from a meal we had a couple of nights ago…

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls | RaisingArrows.net

I set out to make the Trim Healthy Mama Stuffed Cabbage Rolls from the book, but realized too late they were supposed to be in the crock pot for 7-9 hours!  (Please tell me I’m not the only one who does stuff like this!)  So, I went with an unstuffed version from a recipe online.  Of course, there’s no way an online recipe is going to contain the right amounts for our family (unless of course, it’s from my own stash of Large Family Recipes), so I set out to tweak it.

The first thing I noticed was that it had 1.5 – 2 pounds of meat listed to serve 5-6 people; however, the cabbage was supposed to be a small head with the addition of only one small can of tomato sauce.  That’s where I grabbed my bulk.  The cabbage I used was large, and I used 2 cans of sauce, but could have used more if I wanted a soupier mixture (which works really well when putting it over something like rice or noodles!).  I could have added other veggies too like zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant or peppers.

Because this was going to be a THM-friendly dish, I had my son cook a large pot of rice as a side for the children.  If you aren’t watching your carb intake, then cook the rice and add it right into the dish itself.  You could even turn this into a soup by adding more tomato sauce and some water or broth.

And that was our meal.  Everyone tanked up and there was only a tiny bit of leftovers that Baby Creed will eat for lunch tomorrow.

Here’s my large family (with only 2# of ground beef) version of Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls:

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe (stove top using a 15" skillet) | RaisingArrows.net

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, diced
2 cans diced tomatoes (or fresh)
2 cans (8 oz each) tomato sauce
1 cabbage, coarsely chopped
seasonings to taste

In a large skillet, brown ground beef with onion and season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic, or other favorite seasonings.  Add in the diced tomatoes and the tomato sauce and mix.  Next, add the chopped cabbage and rest a lid on top of the pile of cabbage to encourage it to steam and cook down.  (I promise, it WILL cook down and fit in your 15″ skillet.  If you don’t have a large skillet, transfer the meat to a large pot before adding the cabbage.)  Once the cabbage cooks down a bit, stir to mix the meat and sauce in with the cabbage.  Continue to cook down until cabbage is tender.

Now, it’s your turn!  How do you stretch your meat?  What sorts of things do you add for bulk and calories?  And don’t forget to mention how many you are feeding!

Homemade Taco Seasoning {in bulk}

Homemade Taco Seasoning {in bulk} | RaisingArrows.net

We eat a lot of Mexican food here.  It’s often an easy meal that requires few ingredients.  I’ve never been one for using those little packets of Taco Seasoning you buy in the store, but I do like to add some sort of seasoning to the ground beef we use to make our Mexican dishes.  This usually consists of chili powder and cumin, salt and pepper, but I was never satisfied with the taste (especially when the kids did the cooking/seasoning!).

I ran across a taco seasoning recipe on Pinterest that was just about right, but as always the portions were WAY too small.  I don’t want to mix up seasoning EVERY time I cook!

After a few tweaks, Ty has declared this DELICIOUS – so, here’s our adapted recipe in bulk form!

Homemade Taco Seasoning {in bulk} | RaisingArrows.net

Bulk Taco Seasoning
4 Tablespoons chili powder 

9 Tablespoons paprika 
3 Tablespoons cumin 
2 tablespoon onion powder 
2 tablespoon salt (we REALLY like RealSalt)
5 teaspoons garlic powder 
1/2 teaspoon cayenne or ground red pepper

Mix well and store in a sealed container.  I just use an old seasoning container with a “new” handwritten label.

I like to just shake it on the meat and eyeball it, but if you want to be super scientific, use about 4 tsp per 1 pound of ground beef.

Quick Note:  I try to only use 2 lbs of hamburger for our family of 9 no matter what the dish is, and I only made the transition from 1 lb to 2 lbs a couple of children ago.  This is just one way to save money when you are cooking for a large family.


Speaking of large families…

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