6 Secrets to Staying Sane With Kids -- From a Mom of 16 (VIDEO)

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Kathy BessmerBeing a one and done mom, sometimes I look at my friends who have a bunch of kids and I just watch with an open mouth. I say this with 100 percent sincerity: these women amaze me. Things that make me frantic with just one kid don't seem to faze them at all, and I always wonder if they're privy to some great secret of the universe open only to people who have several kids.

I want to know that secret!

Fortunately, some of these moms are willing to share. Take Kathy Bessmer, a mother of 16 (SIXTEEN!) kids, who recently did an interview with Omaha.com about how her family functions.

Most of us don't have 16 kids, would never have 16 kids (Bessmer herself admits she wanted a big family but never planned on 16 ... it just kind of happened thanks in part to the adoption of three of her brood).

But after reading the article (check it out to see photos of all the kids and how flat this woman's stomach is!), I think I may have a handle on at least a few things those of us with fewer kids should/could be implementing to make life less frenetic. These are my favorites from the Bessmer home:

1. Give kids their own space, and make THEM responsible for it. The basement in the Bessmer home belongs to the kids, and THEY have to care for it. They also have to make their own beds; she refuses to touch them. Technically, my kid has a playroom (shared with my office) and a bedroom, and she's responsible for cleaning each, but I'll admit sometimes I get fed up and just do it for her. I need to stop that! If Kathy Bessmer can, I can too.

2. Don't be afraid to get help. Bessmer is blessed with the gift of music, and she teaches her kids how to play instruments ... but only to a point. The family pays for music teachers as the kids get older. Lesson in there? Just because you CAN do something for your kids doesn't mean you HAVE to. It's OK to farm some of these things out to give yourself breathing room.

3. Make time for yourself. Would you believe a mother of 16 still goes to the gym pretty much every day? I have one kid, and I never get to the gym.

4. Teach them how to do things themselves. I suppose this goes hand-in-hand with the aforementioned "give them a space and make them responsible," but I was impressed to read that Bessmer's 16-year-old is called "Mom" by her friends because of her aptitude at sewing, baking, and balancing a checkbook. Sometimes we forget that our kids COULD do more for themselves, if someone just got them started.

5. Watch your finances but take a vacation. The Bessmers have 16 kids. They make their own laundry detergent at home to save money. But they STILL sock money away every month to take a family vacation.

6. Write things down. Most of us don't need a color-coordinated schedule like Kathy Bessmer (this thing is a work of art!), but to be a mother is to know that your brain is not quite what it used to be pre-kids. Don't be ashamed of the need to put it all down on paper. It may just save your sanity!

Check out this awesome mom in action:

Soooo, do you think you could handle these tips from a mom of 16?


Image via Omaha.com



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miche... micheledo

I needed to be reminded of #2. Just because I can, doesn't mean I should or I have to!!! And I love #4. If the kids love doing something, why not let them take it over, or help with that?

Baby #6 just turned one week old at our house. I cannot imagine 16!!!!!!

cleig... cleigh717

Sixteen kids? I cant imagine going into labor sixteen times. I imagine you qould get used to it by numbee ten I guess. Lol what income bracker r they in? Not even brangelina have 16 yet. Excuse the typos I have fat fingrs! Im educated, I swear!

craft... craftycatVT

I have a tip for her...stop having so many darn kids! Great that she adopted 3, but really the cut-off should be two biological children per couple. Almost all problems humanity is facing right now are because there are too many of us!

And quit acting like women who pop out a bunch of kids are saints or something. It's actually a very selfish thing to do.

nonmember avatar Laura

Ahh, here we go, whenever there is an article about a family with more than the "normal" number of children, the hateful comments start. What business is it of yours how many children she chooses to have? Ironically, many people I know who are "pro-choice" denigrate the choices some women make to have large families. There is nothing selfish about giving the gift of life to a child, I would have to say this mom sounds pretty unselfish and seems dedicated to making the lives of her kids pretty great. And they seem to be self-sufficient and are instilling hard work and responsibility in their children. "Almost all problems humanity is facing right now" is not because there are too many of us, but I do think judging people's decisions is one of them...

Tia Reid Spencer

Wow craftycatVT! How exactly is the amount of kids that I have affecting you? Please enlighten me. You see, I am mother to 5 beautiful children, I am not on public assistance and I take care of them on a server's wage. So please, by all means, give me your narrow minded opinion on how this is affecting you again?


guess i,m doing it all wrong..but i,m single mom wth 3.

nonmember avatar Michelle

Heck no, I couldn't imagine myself with 16 kids!!!! Three was enough for me!!

nonmember avatar Tiff

I'm a mom of 2, but my parents had two biological children, my dad had one daughter from his first marriage, and they adopted 7 of us (myself included), and fostered many more (89 kids over 27 years). I always admired how my mom handled us, and we were brought up in a happy, loving home. She always made an hour every day for herself to just sit and play her guitar, but the rest of the time, she was taking care of us! I say this mom of 16 is awesome! I could never do it, I'm all done having kids, but I have admiration for people that can and do make big families work! Kudos to her!

Jt Myers

The problem isn't people having all this many kids. Look at the Duggar's and their "19 and Counting". Both them and the Bessmer's make lots of money and can afford to have that many kids. The real problem is people who can't really afford to have kids having them, such as Octomom, who before becoming famous was on welfare with the six she already had.

nonmember avatar crystal

I am the mother of 6 I do not see myself has selfish. First of all I had my oldest 2 children 3 years apart then the next 2 came one after the other while being on birthcontrol I then had my tubes tied and had twins. God picked the number of children I had not me. I was going to adopt and not have any of my own. I work hard everyday to provide for my children. Shame on you for putting down someone for having more then 2 children. Just because you couldn't handle it.

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