Over the next couple of months, we’ll be looking at how some great kiwi families celebrate and the first family is the McAllister family. I find large families fascinating and I think the McAllister family, with 14 children, is particularly amazing!  Mum, Jane also runs the successful company Dimples and in this post, we hear a bit about how it all works. 

1. Let’s start with telling us a bit about you – what do you do and what are your interests?

My passion has always been about babies, helping and supporting mothers with newborns and caring for babies. I love being involved with any newborn baby and enjoy helping with bathing and giving advice with setting up good sleeping routines and general mothering help.

I am heavily involved with running my Dimples business and am always designing for the next season ahead, thinking of new ideas. I love the creative side of my business which has always been my favourite hobby and passion.

2. Tell us a bit about what makes your family great.

I love the the size of the family, it is always busy and there is lots going on, never a dull moment!

I have always been a busy person and really enjoy being around all the hustle and bustle of our large family.  The great thing with a large family is watching all my children grow and develop, it is an ever changing dynamic and now I get to enjoy all the grand children that are coming along. All my children have a great rapport with each other and we all support one another in our different challenges that day to day life brings.  We all share our experiences and problems and everyone benefits from being able to talk and have support from so many family members.

We all pitch in together to help when a family member is unwell, is moving house, gardening work needs doing or for babysitting. We are a family who comes together in the hour of need and this is a really special part of our large family.

3. What your family’s favourite things to do?

We have weekly get togethers at our family home and everyone contributes to a pot luck dinner which is like having a christmas feast every week. The adults can have a good catch up while the grandchildren all play together.  We often all meet down at the park for a family game of cricket or soccer followed by a BBQ. It really is so much fun and we certainly have a lot of laughs.

4. You’ve got pretty large family compared to most these days- can you tell us a bit about your experiences with having a large family?

Great Kiwi Families: McAllister Family
Jane and Sam McAllister and children – Andrew 41, Marcus 40, Felicity 38, Chris 36, Emma 33, James 31, Victoria 29, Isaac 27, Rebecca 25, Elizabeth 22, Nicholas 19, Charlotte 17, William 15, Hamish 12

The family is large now and has kept growing over the years as my own children came along then followed by grandchildren so it has been an ever changing and developing family unit. I have grown alongside my children because I was a young mother, and I have had the joy of experiencing all of the different stages of my children’s development. I have learnt to be flexible and be open minded as the family has grown and have found my own ideas are continuously changing and developing. I have a wealth of knowledge through my own experience of having such a large family and hope that this can help my own children and grand children as they grow, to cope with life’s ups and downs.

5. How does having a large family affect how you live your life?

My life is certainly very busy and has got busier over the years, so I really enjoy any quiet time I do get. I need to be organised, flexible in my time table and ready to help with day to day family dynamics. I have learned to not sweat the small stuff and to pick your battles.  Make the most of the good times.

6. What advice would you give other families about having a large family?

Having a large family is not for everyone. It is a big time commitment as well as a financial commitment so I would not necessarily advise it but for me it was a natural progression because I love the mothering, nurturing and home making experience. I have loved every stage of having a large family and certainly have no regrets. I love the busyness of family life, family members visiting and of course being able to enjoy the new babies born into the family.

7. Finally, we’re getting near to Christmas – tell us a bit about how your family celebrates.

We have a big get together on Xmas day with lots of fun activities. We have back yard cricket and swimming. Because the family is so large we do not exchange gifts but all contribute to hire a big bouncy castle which all the family members can enjoy.  We celebrate with a Xmas dinner and have a lot of fun with all the family around.

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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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Big families were the more the norm back in the day, for Pakeha and Maori. The Tawas in Taranaki had twenty children. I can name at least a dozen families in Stratford where I grew up with from five to thirteen children. But there wasn’t a norm really and then as now families were all shapes and sizes.

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