This Is What It's Like to Raise 16 Kids in 1 House

Reback family

Raising a child can often feel more like running a marathon over Legos than a walk in the park. We tip our hats to fellow moms in the race -- especially parents of families so big they'd give the Brady Bunch a run for their money. Lyette Reback happens to be one of those parents. She is the proud mom of 16 children, and we're in awe of the way she juggles life and motherhood.

  • Lyette and her husband David's kids range in age from 22 years to 18 months, and include four kids they added through the miracle of adoption.

    Once an only child, Lyette says becoming a mom of 16 certainly wasn't what she had planned. "I think people forget that I didn't just wake up one day to 16 kids," Reback tells CafeMom. "At one point, I was a mother to an only child, then I had two. Then three."

    More from CafeMom: Quiz: How Many Kids Can You Handle?

    So, what does a typical day look like with 16 kids?

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  • When it comes to family meals, Lyette says getting everyone together often looks more like a "fire drill than a fancy state dinner."

    "We try as hard as we can to sit down to as many meals a week together as we can," Reback tells CafeMom. "Summertime is crazy because sports practices can start as early as 5 a.m. for some kids and go as late as 10 p.m. for others. Meanwhile, [having] football games for five of my sons and swim team practices for 10 children on a local league make evening meals a bit of a jockey too."

    Ideally, the mom says, anyone who's home at mealtime is supposed to eat together at the family table. But that doesn't always happen.

  • "I try and keep it to [cooking] one meal that takes some time to make and two simple meals a day," Reback reveals to CafeMom.

    Lyette's go-to simple meals include tacos, grilled chicken and veggies, and spaghetti, which Reback admits her clan would devour every night if she let them.

    "In a perfect world, I have my menus and shopping lists made out ... But then there's real life. I just try to roll with it as much as I can," she adds.

  • Still, this mom says she stays engaged by making the most of time spent around the table as a family.

    "Every meal I try to ask them, 'What did you love about today and what did you learn today?'" Reback tells CafeMom. "At breakfast we usually try and cover a current event or two. I ask them to form an opinion and be able to defend it. I always want to teach them to see both sides of every story."

  • Getting the kids to bed is often a tag team effort between Lyette and husband David.

    "I tuck in the nursery kiddos first by reading a book, singing my horribly off-tune version of 'Amazing Grace,' and saying prayers over each one as I give my last kiss and snuggle of the night," Reback reveals to CafeMom

    But while Mom is away, the gents will play. Lyette says David is "usually in the boys' room roughhousing" at bedtime. "By the time I come into the boys' room, they are all out of breath and exhausted from tussling with Dad," she adds.

    With such a big and active family, that doesn't sound like that's such a bad thing.

  • As for coping with stressful times, this mom says she harnesses the power of prayer and tries to always use her "inside voice."

    "I try really hard not to yell," Reback admits to CafeMom. "But, I have to be honest -- I am a bit excitable and I don't always use my inside voice. No one would ever describe me as calm or patient."

  • And, as you might've guessed, there's never a dull moment with the Reback family -- like trying on a dress in a fitting room with 10 kids!

  • But this fun-loving group also enjoys a few rituals, like daily Bible study and weekly family movie nights.

  • And they do half marathons and triathlon competitions that give us major #goals.

  • They're also notorious for taking impromptu road trips without a moment's notice.

    "It would definitely surprise people to know that we do quite a bit spontaneously," Reback tells CafeMom. "Road trips can pop up with less than a day's notice. The adventure of it all is something my kids truly love."

  • Curious what this mom does for "me" time? The answer might actually surprise you.

    Lyette has a nonprofit, Believe With Me, that brings hope and help to Gold Star families whose loved one paid the ultimate sacrifice.

    "My favorite 'me' time is serving those that have served our country and working alongside other families, friends, and especially the young people that come to serve our Gold Star families," Reback explains to CafeMom.

  • In fact, the entire Reback family finds time to give back, either by helping military families or collecting resources for international missions.

  • Raising a child isn't an easy process -- let alone raising 16! -- but Lyette stays positive through it all and lives her life without shame.

    "We've been through some seriously tough stuff with some of our kiddos ... and I am not stupid enough to think that there won't be harder times ahead," she tells CafeMom. "But I didn't get into having kids because I thought it would be easy. We have this huge family because we seriously LOVE children, and we think that the awesome possibility each child brings is worth the risk of love, effort, and hope to prayerfully make a serious difference in the world."

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