Four Is The Magic Number

Photo taken by White Rabbit Studios
Photo taken by White Rabbit Studios

As much as I want another child…in theory…I’m also content with the family I have because I’m constantly being reminded that the many things in life are designed for families of four. It’s hard enough to work around one extra person, not sure how I’d do it with two extra.

Simple example? Your basic restaurant table/booth. Most are designed for four. Yes – it’s easy enough to put a chair on the end of a booth, but for tables? You have to move two together. And then we’re taking up two tables.

Not to mention feeding five people at a restaurant is stupid-expensive. Which is why we go out to eat as a family – maybe once a month.

Basic sedans? Four people comfortably. We bought the minivan a month after Wes was born, which was when we needed one because I was driving a sedan prior. And although they can seat 5 people – you don’t really want to push that capacity often because, when you do? No one is happy.

Food packaging: NOT FOR FIVE PEOPLE. As the little ones get older and start eating bigger servings at dinner we realize that very few items in the grocery store are designed for families of 5. Package of 10 tortillas? Nope. We made quesadillas last night and I didn’t get any. Pork tenderloin? Barely enough. Someone always ends up getting not quite as much as they could eat. 1lb of hamburger meat? Not enough for hamburgers for 5 people. 1 can of veggies as a side? Not enough for five people if everyone actually likes the vegetable.

Lucky, my kids hate vegetables, so it works out for us!

One pizza? Not quite enough. Two? Too much. Some with Rotisserie chicken from Publix. And don’t even get me started on “family entrees” in the frozen food section. Those are only big enough for my family if we also serve THREE sides to go with it.

And if I’m lazy enough to cook a frozen entree from the store? I don’t want to have to cook three sides too.

Most recreational places from bowling to Putt-Putt? Family Four Packs. Of course – just like with restaurants – even four people at any of those places is too rich for our blood. So, we’d be skipping them regardless of the number of people they put in a discount pack. BUT STILL!

I know several of you with families of 5 or more. Do you notice the disadvantage anywhere or with any packaged items? Do you find yourself always cooking too much or not enough? Do you go out to eat as rarely as we do? And most importantly of all – Do you have a minivan? Do you love yours as much as I love mine?

12 thoughts on “Four Is The Magic Number”

  1. Swistle – Thistleville – Swistle lives with her husband Paul and children Robert (born 1999), William (born 2001), twins Elizabeth and Edward (born 2005), and Henry (born 2007). Email: Swistle at Gmail dot com. "Swistle" rhymes with "thistle."
    Swistle says:

    I do love my minivan, yes! Although it’s not quite big enough now: it seats 7, and there are 7 of us—so it’s back to the 5-in-a-sedan problem.

    YES, I’ve definitely noticed that the world is set up for families of four. It’s QUITE annoying to me. Special Family Deal—but only if you cling tightly to the average! And it’s not like I expect everything to be set up for a family with 5 children, because that’s still pretty unusual—but TONS of people have one child or three children. TONS.

  2. Hotels – they won’t let you book a standard room with five people in it. I usually just book online and say there are four (not that we stay in hotels very often but sometimes it’s necessary). This summer we were using our zoo membership to get reciprocal admission at an aquarium, except they only let you use it for four people! And I do love our minivan!

  3. Yes love our van! We have 4 boys, so 6 total. With 6, its less obvious then 5, you just get moved to the one big round table, or its less obvious you’re taking up 2 tables, because there are more! And the way my boys eat, I’ve just can’t buy packaged food, I cook lots. We can eat a box of frozen waffles (10! There you go–2 for each!) in one morning, so I either make my own or buy at Costco.

  4. We are a family of five and have run into that problem many times. We live overseas and the hotels here are made for small families (4 or less). We are going to Disneyland Paris and although our resort hotel room is big enough for all of us, the hotel we have to stay in on our way was not. We had to get two rooms because we couldn’t find anything to accommodate all 5 of us. We make our own pizzas (really easy!) so that’s not a problem. But recipes are always four servings or 6 servings, never five. We usually have leftovers and plan a leftover night into our week. Also the amount of fruit my children consume is amazing. Fresh fruit/produce is our biggest expense.

    And I hate my minivan. Would rather have an SUV but the minivan is temporary while we are in England (it’s small and fits nicely on our narrow, winding, country roads). Once we are back in the States I am SO getting an SUV!

  5. Someone once said ‘You will never regret the children you have, only the ones you don’t have”. I don’t remember where I heard it but it made perfect sense to me. It sounds like you are on the cusp of trying to decide whether or not to have another. And, for the record, my folks had my youngest brother late in life. I remember feeling lonely when it was just James and I but once Micah came along, it was awesome. Two always feels a little lonely to me, I can’t help it.

  6. We have 5 kids. Three are teenage boys, a family pack of anything is a snack for them. Today I was at the store and saw a sign ” new family pack Tortilla’s” I eagerly pulled them off the shelf….they held ten 🙁 sigh. I told the store manager who was walking by ” family pack for who?”

  7. With 4 kids, we often go through a package of anything in 1 sitting, and my youngest isn’t even 2. But even numbers make things easier, somehow! And while I don’t love my minivan, we just drove from Pittsburgh to Orlando and I don’t know how we would have done it in any other vehicle.

  8. We are a family of 5 but my dad who has dementia lives with us too so that makes 6! I feel like I cook for a mess hall! We do only eat out once a month or so as a family and it is usually cheap like Mexican or deli. But we have fun things like family build your own pizza night or make your own stir fry nights and we like that better than eating out anyway. Not so much hassle. Top it off with movies from Redbox and you have an evening of fun!

  9. Vacations are always geared to families of 4 also. We had a hard time trying to get to Jamaica and having all of us in one room. Luckily, our travel agent was brilliant and worked it out so we had a crib / playpen in our room which was the only way the resort was going to allow 5 of us (or 3 kids, depending on how you look at it) in 1 room.

  10. I had 3 kids (they’re 28, 25, and 22 now, all out of the house), and I didn’t notice this. Maybe that’s because I never felt like leftovers were a problem; they always get eaten, either as someone’s snack or someone’s lunch.

    We never had or felt like we needed a mini-van, either. For a while there we had big old (cheap) gas-guzzling American cars (New Yorker, Newport, Malibu Classic…), with back seats that fit 3 adults. But most of the time we weren’t all piling into the car at the same time; someone was working, or at school, or staying home, or doing another activity.

    We didn’t eat out a lot, but most booths seem to be a little on the wide side with enough room for 3 on a side — at least around here. When the kids were little, fitting an extra seat at a 4-top wasn’t a big deal; when they were older, either we didn’t have all of them with us, or we had an extra friend or two. Most restaurants don’t seem to have a problem seating more than 4; pushing two tables together is a non-issue.

    As far as packaged food goes, I’m the type that always likes to have extra on hand of things we used a lot like tortillas, taco shells, etc. I don’t plan meals based on how many items are in a package; if we’re down to less than one package of something, chances are I’ve already bought a backup. Meat comes packaged in all sizes, not just 1 lb. But 1 lb was usually enough for the 5 of us because I’d always “stretch” it by saute’ing onions and garlic with the meat before using it in a recipe.

    I guess maybe I got so used to dealing with having a family of 5 instead of 4 that all these things didn’t bother me, didn’t feel like discrimination or even an inconvenience.

  11. Taxis designed for 4 people. We always have to wait for the Taxi van. Hotel rooms, only sleep 4 some won’t let you do a fold out bed so they force you to get another room. Hotel packages, stay at the hotel and get 4 breakfast tickets and 4 tickets to the zoo. Don’t even get me started on amusement park rides. Someone always has to go it alone.

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