Podcast: Raising a mega-family

Best of Both World podcast with Laura Vanderkam

I have long been fascinated by very large families. I think it stems from my interest in logistics; more kids means more logistics, and there are always tips to pick up.

This week, Sarah and I welcomed guest Shila Henderson, a mother of ten — now some of them grown, but she still has five teens at home — to the Best of Both Worlds podcast. She talks about her experiences, her large-family hacks (socks! how do you sort the socks??) and creating one-on-one time when you’ve got a real brood.

Henderson has worked in various capacities while raising her children. She was a home daycare and preschool teacher for many years, worked as a lactation consultant, and for the past 12 years has been leveraging her personal expertise as she does work with child welfare, foster care, and adoption placements.

Working while raising such a large family (including a few children with special needs who were adopted at older ages) has not always been easy. But as she told us, reflecting after her interview, “The boundary for love and service doesn’t stop at my front door. I can make a difference for other children and I feel called to do that. I LOVE both of my jobs, I adore the children I work with, and of course I love my own children. It’s an absolute orchestra of being organized, managing schedules, making each of my children feel loved and special— and sometimes failing and falling short.” She is particularly cognizant of making sure that her children who started their lives in orphanages feel showered with “mommy love and mommy time.” As she says, “It’s hard. But I feel called to serve both my family and others.”

In lieu of a Q&A we read the response from a listener/blog reader on what to do — practically — before getting pregnant with kid #1. While I generally don’t like such lists, because you can travel, pursue hobbies, spend time with friends, etc. AFTER having kids too, this list was more along the lines of “get life insurance” and “figure out your company’s leave policy” and “peruse high-end used baby products on Craigslist/eBay.” Please give it a listen!

One thought on “Podcast: Raising a mega-family

  1. Loved the podcast – lovely speaker but also thank you for your listener’s “before pregnancy” list – this is so helpful for my planning!

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