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Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family, A Paperback – February 18, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Have you ever seen a mom with kids hanging all over her heaped-up grocery cart and marveled at how she juggles it all? Have you ever wondered if you could do it? A Sane Woman’s Guide to Raising a Large Family is written from the practical, experienced perspective of a mother of ten. It has thoughtful, helpful answers to important questions, such as:

• Can a parent meet the needs of multiple children without drowning in sheer neediness?

• How can a moderate income stretch to include more children?

• How can you make space in your home work for you?

• What are some ideas for handling mountains of laundry?

• How can you preserve time for yourself and your marriage?

• How can you manage multiple children and their activities?

Whether your idea of a big family is three kids or ten, this fresh, commonsense approach to parenting will help you find peace of mind and joy in a big bustling household, and, most importantly, learn how a child can feel deeply cherished as an individual.

Mary Ostyn is founder of Owlhaven (http://owlhaven.net), a hugely popular place to share parenting tips and funny mothering moments. She has been published in Chicken Soup for the Expectant Mother’s Soul and in several magazines, including Christian Parenting Today, Adoption Today, and Adoptive Families. As mom to ten children―six of whom are adopted―she is a writer for Workitmom.com (http://workitmom.com). She lives with her family in Nampa, Idaho.

About the Author

Mary Ostyn is founder of Owlhaven (http://owlhaven.wordpress.com), a hugely popular place to share parenting tips and funny mothering moments. She has been published in Chicken Soup for the Expectant Mother's Soul, and in several magazines, including Christian Parenting Today, Adoption Today, and Adoptive Families.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Gibbs Smith (February 18, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1423604512
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423604518
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 13 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #344,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mary Ostyn is the author of FAMILY FEASTS FOR $75 A WEEK, FOREVER MOM: WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU'RE ADOPTING, PRACTICAL HOMESCHOOLING FOR REAL-WORLD FAMILIES, and A SANE WOMAN'S GUIDE TO RAISING A LARGE FAMILY. She, her husband and their ten children live in Idaho. Four of their children were born to them, and six arrived via adoption, from South Korea and Ethiopia. Ostyn has been blogging about motherhood, food, frugality, and adoption at http://owlhaven.net since 2006.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Wilson on July 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
I have 12 children myself, and in a nutshell, I loved the book, just like I knew I would. For one thing, the cover is awfully cute. Which has nothing to do with anything, but I thought I'd mention it.

More importantly, the book is solid. Solid advice. Solid balance. Solid practicality. Solid reassurance.

Mary totally made me believe I could truly raise a large family!!

Which is a relief, when you get right down to it.

Although I'm not 100% sure about the "sane" part. I think you (and I mean this in the most complimentary way possible) truly have to have a little bit of the insane in you to consider raising a family larger than the norm these days. That is, if "insane" can be defined as the audacity to go against the flow, live contrary to popular culture, challenge suppositions, and embrace your inner rebel.

But you know, it's all semantics in the end.

Mary's book addresses the very real issues of space and money and time in the context of hoards of children, but also delves into deeper issues of being emotionally available for both children and spouse, as well as the Myth of the Supermom (oh how I hate that one) and how to encourage sibling friendships.

I found so much sensible and soothing about this book; it was like settling down with a cup of tea and some really good chocolate (referenced multiple times as one of Mary's secret weapons for coping, by the way) and having a lengthy chat with a close, level-headed friend after a particularly tiring day. It refreshed my spirit and strengthed my resolve to do the very best job humanly possible with this parenting gig.

Which subsequently made me wish quite longingly that I lived next door to Mary, not surprisingly.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Meredith on April 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is the most practical parenting book I've read. Even though we only have 3 kids, I could have been using this commonsense advice since our first child.

You won't find a lot of fluff here, but you will walk away encouraged and armed with new strategies for dealing with real family life. Honest, sound information about what it costs to have a large family, balanced with ideas for stretching the average budget.

I learned that my kids need to work harder around the house, and I should focus on teaching my kids those skills instead of cleaning up their messes. I feel like we can move ahead as a team after reading this book!
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Kategal on March 27, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book cover to cover as soon as I got it - standing up while making dinner, in between folding loads of laundry, and finally - finally! - after my kids all went to bed at night. I greatly enjoyed Ostyn's funny, poignant, inspirational and incredibly useful musings on raising a large family. I didn't expect I would get any new parenting ideas, but I went away with quite a number of them. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the parenting superhero "Owlhaven" is a real person - she has just figured out what is essential when it comes to parenting her large brood, and what she can be a bit more relaxed about (children's rooms, laundry, for instance). This is a useful book for any mom looking for a bit more sanity in her busy world - no matter how many children she has.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Genean on March 14, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book gives a fly-on-the-wall perspective of how a large family runs--and boy does it run well! Coupled with Mary's offering of wisdom with such gentle grace and good humor, it is a surprisingly perfect blend between the practical "how-to" guide and the emotional support a best friend might offer.

This is now my go-to book after spending the past couple years sifting through dozens of parenting books. It stays on my night stand with a highlighter and notepad/pen. We currently have four children, ages 6 yrs down to 6 months old. We hope to be able to have one or two more.

I found myself nodding in agreement with nearly every page. Mary offers practical advice, as well as clear insights into the emotional life and social dynamic between children and also between parents and children. I now have techniques to try during a sibling squabble (have the offender apologize and do a chore/act of service for the sibling); how to handle a parent/child conflict of opinions respectfully (after child gives an initial civil response, he/she can state her opposing case once, after which the parent can decide whether or not to change their mind, then the child must accept the final decision); as well as insights into how to manage chores among children, track their progress, and how to navigate helping multiple children with homework assignments at once. There's much more, but these are the ones that immediately come to mind.

Another review criticized the fact that there weren't many cooking/shopping tips in this book. Mary's book "Feed Your Family on $75 per Week: and eat well!" addresses those issues. (It's another book I highly recommend; my grocery store price book has been so helpful.)

I'm buying copies of this book for my two sisters-in-law and will recommend it to my girlhood friends, as well!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By M. Schemanski on June 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
In the world's mindset, any more than 3 kids is considered a large family. When I mention that I have 6, I often get a look asking if I am insane! Nope, completely sane and in love with each one of them! I was so excited when a friend introduced me to this book by mother of 10,Mary Ostyn. Insight from a mom of many is always helpful.

"Not only is it possible to raise a large family without going broke or crazy, it can also be a joyous, deeply satisfying adventure"

Just how broke are we going to be?
Chapter 2 tackles the money myths of raising a child and takes a look at large family economics.

What about enough space for everyone?
De-clutter, make the space functional, and get creative. Even the small homes in America today are grand compared to many other countries! It is all about how you look at it.

What about time for activities?
Choose activities that are family oriented. Is it really necessary for all the kids to play sports and take music lessons? No it isn't. That is something they can do later in life if they choose, but often time there are enough siblings to play back yard sports with. The internet is super helpful in teaching music skills and languages even.

"People have a hard time seeing mothers of large families as normal" but we are! We aren't insane, nor are we supermoms. It takes the same characteristics to raise a larger family as it does a 'smaller' one, just maybe a little bit more of them. Important skills for each is inventiveness, flexibility, humor and patience.

This book is a valuable resource for families of any size. To take a step back and look at your household and how it runs. Cherishing those children whether 1 or 15!
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