5 Minutes for Books:
A Sane Woman’s Guide to Raising a Large Family

It’s not too late to enter the 5 Minutes for Books Mother’s Day giveaways. You have until April 30.

Should I start this review out with the disclaimer that I have two lovely children — the “perfect family” one boy and one girl, and I plan on keeping it that way. I reviewed this book because I know a lot of you out there either have large families or are exploring the idea of having a large family (I wrote a bit more on my blog Snapshot about my love for large families, and why I only have two children. Check it out and let me know your thoughts about family size). I also know Mary Ostyn** personally, and wanted to help her get the word out.

Because I know Mary, when she told me the title A Sane Women’s Guide to Raising a Large Family, I thought it was absolutely perfect, because she IS perfectly sane. She seems “normal” — not like someone who would choose to raise ten children! Okay, now that I’ve perhaps alienated all of you with a large family, and maybe piqued the interest of those of you who do not have or want a large family, can I move on to the official review?

I found this book completely delightful. Mary’s sense of humor and love for children came through loud and clear. If you are familiar with her blog Owlhaven, you probably would have expected this.

For those of you who don’t “know” Mary, or who don’t think that a book about raising a large family would have anything to offer you, let me give just list a few of the bits of information that were helpful or encouraging to me:

  • What do you do if you and your spouse don’t agree on family size?
  • “Frugality is not deprivation. Frugality is freedom. Frugality gives options” (page 23)
  • How to handle children’s activities
  • Children’s Chores
  • Encouraging Sibling Friendships

The reason that this book is so readable and so helpful is that Mary manages to write about the way she does things — what works for her — without alienating those of us who make other choices. She’s a co-sleeping, homeschooling mom of many. I’m a “babies-in-their-cribs,” public-schooling, happy mother of two. We disagree on many parenting philosophies, but I know that her choices are right for her, and she doesn’t presume that her choices are right for everyone.

Enter to win your own copy of A Sane Women’s Guide to Raising a Large Family by leaving a comment here. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s column.

Read Mary’s tips about How to Raise a Reader in our On Reading column at 5 Minutes for Books.

**Mary was my roommate in the Dominican Republic when I went last November with the Compassion Bloggers. A new group just arrived in India today. Please follow their journey. Pray for them. Learn more about the country and the children in need over there.

The grand prize winner of the Welcome, Little One $149 is #79 Marlena U.

The winners of the Welcome, Little One book are #51 Karen, #111 Krystal, #104 Kathy D., #86 Adrienne Gordon.

The winners of Things I Want My Daughters to Know are #30 Deborah Wellenstein, #33 Mozi Esmes Mommy, #51 Barb.

If you didn’t win, you can still enter to win this novel and a bunch of other books over at the 5 Minutes for Books Mother’s Day Giveaway (open for entries through April 30).


  1. says

    I have seven children ages 13 to 8 months and would love to win this book–even though I think I’m still pretty sane…

  2. says

    I plan on having many bebes, whether I have to birth them or adopt them. This might give me a look at what I’m up against.

  3. Charlene says

    Thanks for a great review. You have me interested. We have seven but it does not feel “large” yet.

  4. says

    Very tempting…..I wonder if she’ll bring out a sequel on how to manage when you elderly relatives move back in with you as well as adult children returning with their spouses…….now that would be my kind of a book.

  5. says

    I’m definitely interested in this book. My husband and I want to have a large family, at least six children. And my husband says he can see himself actively fathering into his 60’s!

  6. Tiffany M says

    I would love to win this book. I am currently pregnant with my 5th child. I am the oldest of 12.

  7. Jessica says

    This book looks ah-ma-zing! I’ve always wanted a big family… It’s tough to help people understand why!

  8. LisaMarie says

    We are expecting our 6th child this June. Never did we think we would have a large family. LOL This book would be great!

  9. Shelley says

    I’ve only got four, but I’m sure I could find some useful information. Thanks for the chance to win!

    saz AT chainreader DOT com

  10. Jody says

    My 4 kids definitely keep me busy and I can always use advice for those who have “been there.”

  11. says

    I would love to read this book. I have seven children between the ages of seven months to nine years old. A large family is an amazing blessing, but sanity can seem to be a hard thing to find on some days.

  12. Darcey says

    I would love this book. Though my family isn’t that big, 3 kids, I consider it big since we also have 2 kittens and a dog. (Do I get to include my husband?) I also love to read about how big families deal with everything.

  13. Maureen says

    I grew up the oldest of seven siblings. We are all pretty close in age (10 1/2 yrs is the age spread).
    My mother was also one of 8 siblings.

  14. says

    I *only* have four sons, so I’m not sure if that’s considered a “large” family, but I could definitely use some sanity-saving tips! I’m sure this book would be very helpful.

  15. brandlyn says

    I dont have that big of a family but this book would certainly be interesting with the kids I do have.

  16. Shirley says

    This book looks interesting and I will have to read it. I think being that I am only a mother of 4 who is homeschooling, I don’t think I qualify as much as many of the other moms. It can be challenging being a mother, but for me it’s been hardest being alone the last 14 months with two special needs children. My husband comes home next week and I cannot wait! I think I will be much more SANE when he gets here. Good luck to all of you hoping to win! Thanks for sharing the book. :)

  17. says

    I just had my fifth boy, and the #1 question I get is “Oh… were you trying for a girl?” because everyone assumes that’s the only reason someone would dare to have 5 kids 😉 I’d love to win this book!

  18. says

    We are adding #6 to our family. We have two birth children, a daughter from China, two boys from Ethiopia, and a daughter waiting in Ethiopia. Most of the time I am pretty sure I am not sane but that’s OK because I love my life.

  19. Serena says

    Oh, I so want to win this! I’ve been trying to get my hands on a copy for the past few weeks!

  20. says

    I’d love to win this. I have 3 kids now, and have been feeling very convicted to let God decide our family size, but my husband doesn’t feel the same, so I’m leaving it in God’s hands to work on my husband’s heart if it’s His will.

  21. Stefanie Hartman says

    I definately need to read this book right away. We have an extra large family and will be adding more soon. Blessings to all mothers and grandmothers for their Mother’s Day!!!!

  22. Linda Chaput says

    Looks like an interesting book.It could change our minds on large or small family.

  23. says

    I would LOVE to win this book!! I don’t think I have a large family (only 4 kids) but from the reactions I get in public most people think I do. Maybe it’s because they are all under 6 that people feel overwhelmed by them. :)

  24. Tawnda says

    I would love to have this book… I am one of 10 that my birth mother had… I can’t even begin to imagine it… lol

  25. Erin says

    I’d love to win this! We have 3 so far, and we’re hoping to add several more in the next couple of years.

  26. israel y says

    We are working on kid #1, expected to arrive this summer and I would love to read this book!

  27. says

    I agree with the quote from the book that Frugality gives freedom! The more money you save, the more you’ll have to spend! This is a wonderful giveaway book, and thanks for the chance to win!

  28. Molly Capel says

    As a mom of a kind of big family (5 boys), I would love the chance to read this book.

  29. Cynthia Mercado says

    Would love to read this book! I have 7 children from 28 years to 5 years.

    mercsmercado at yahoo dot com

  30. Jessica says

    This sounds like an excellent book for me to read and pass along to my mother.

  31. Barbara Rawe says

    Raising children is no easy task! Might as well laugh yourself through it! Happier healthier kids….saner parents

  32. Barbara Rawe says

    Raising children is no easy task! Might as well laugh yourself through it! Happier healthier kids….saner parents