The news is out – Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are reportedly having another baby. That makes four for the celebrity couple, who conceived their last child via a surrogate after Kim experienced two high-risk pregnancies. The pair are already parents to Chicago, 11 months; Saint, three; and North, five.
The new addition, rumoured to be due in May, will see them join the ranks of other supersized families such as the Beckhams (four), Jools and Jamie Oliver (five) and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who last month reached a custody agreement over their brood of six. This week, Gordon and Tana Ramsay announced she is pregnant with their fifth child, while Abbey Clancey revealed she and husband Peter Crouch are also expecting their fourth.
But in the real world, away from the A-list teams of nannies and babysitters, children are expensive – and you don’t need to have your own to know that.
To start with, there’s all the new baby paraphernalia, from prams to cots to baby carriers... not to mention nappies and nursery costs.
The latest statistics from The Money Charity – the UK’s financial capability charity, which updates its data every month – states that it costs an average of more than £30 a day to raise a child until the age of 21.
Which leaves us asking a very important question: do you have to be rich (or famous) to have four or more kids? And if you’re neither of those things, then how do you manage? We spoke to two parents of big broods to find out:
Alli Sturgess, 38, has four children aged 10, seven, five and one.
In the Orthodox Jewish community we have boxes and boxes of ‘grown out of’ clothes and toys ready to hand on to the next child. We also have a service called, ‘gemachim’, which are borrowing groups run by individuals. There are hundreds of them. I can borrow maternity wear, baby items and even baby furniture – and hand them back when I’m done.
People donate to these when they don’t need them anymore. My friend just started a ‘nappy gemach’, where people give half-packs of nappies when their child has suddenly grown out of that size. I rely lots on Facebook and WhatsApp selling groups, eBay and charity shops which suits me as I love the hunt for bargains – and I love to sell on them too to get some cash.
Beautiful lessons have been learnt by my children: that we can’t have everything we want, we can’t have the best of everything as someone will always have better, money and things don’t buy happiness, happiness is being happy with what we have.
In my experience, kids get used to what and how much you give them and how you frame it. We hardly ever eat out so that’s a major treat. My kids generally only have sweets and chocolate on our Sabbath to keep it a treat. We save meat dishes for then too, so that keeps them special. We also buy cheaper products such as sausages and burgers.
We have a seven-seater car with a roof rack for when we go away. We’ve never bought a new car, only used. Two of my children have never been on an aeroplane as it’s too expensive to fly with six of us. We are saving for two years’ time to go abroad to Israel when it’s my eldest’s bat mitzvah. I’m selling lots of stuff to build up money for that and putting a bit away each month.
I’ve had to be very creative over the years to cut costs"Alli
We stay in Gateshead for our holiday and rent a friend’s place for a couple of weeks. We’re fine with it as all we need is a beach, countryside, a few new places to go and most of all, each other!
The biggest challenges of having four children for us financially is school fees. At most Jewish schools, you need to minimally pay for the Jewish lessons even if the secular education is state-funded. There’s also a lot of washing and packed lunches to make. I now make those two days ahead so I have a day off.
You have to juggle a lot of people’s needs but it makes you very organised and clever with time management. And the older ones take care of the younger. My eldest, who is 10, loves to care for my one-year-old and read bedtime stories to my five and seven-year-old if I’m with the toddler.
I’ve had to be very creative over the years to cut costs. It may sounds cliched, but my children are happiest when they’re with their family or friends. We don’t do many expensive outings. I’ve learnt kids like the park more than most places!
Carla Pedonomou, 36, has three children aged 13, eight and seven – and is pregnant with her fourth.
Having a fourth wasn’t an easy decision and now one which has been met with the slighting irritating question, “was this an accident?” – charming! However, after having my first at 23 and the subsequent two only 16 months apart, while in the midst of a house renovation and bereft with the loss of my dad, there has always been a feeling that I missed out on time to just sit and sniff my baby – which sounds weird, I know!
Then, coupled with the fact I’m now clucking for the first time in my life and EVERYONE around me is at one or another stage of the baby game, I couldn’t help but feel compelled to dive in, one last time.
The financial side played a small part but I’m pretty savvy, quite organised, not particularly frivolous, creative and not afraid to get my hands dirty – so having to divide the monies wasn’t too much of a concern.
My health was probably the largest factor in the should/shouldn’t we. With a history of DVT [deep vein thrombosis], pregnancy isn’t something that should be considered lightly but I’m a pro now and pretty experienced in jabbing my tummy with a needle every day. I knew I could do it.
I certainly haven’t been shopping for me for a while"Carla
We have had to invest in a small bus and my ‘creative’ room will be no more... it’ll have to become a nursery, now. We don’t have any baby stuff anymore so will literally be starting from scratch – but this only excites me!
I have already subconsciously been saving and I certainly haven’t been shopping for me for a while – but I don’t care. I really don’t need that ‘stuff’ anyhow. It’s the idea of sitting at a table surrounded by my children and their children in the future that gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling.
[Read More: What To Do When Your Toddler Hates Your New Baby]
The eldest took the news far better than I thought she would, for a 13-year-old, and the two smaller ones jumped at the offer of them sharing their room (gender dependent!) It was very sweet and very encouraging as my children all get on pretty well. I was worried that the pending arrival may rock the boat.
The lack of ‘me’ time may become something I need to focus on – I cook everything from scratch, I don’t have a nanny, my mum does any babysitting and I clean my own house. Although the work I do is sporadic by choice, I am at home which I am so thankful for. I love being available for my family and I know this is a true luxury – even I couldn’t justify a cleaner now.
The future feels busy, chaotic, loud and hard work at times but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”