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12 questions about eight kids

Bobbi McCaughey answers viewer questions about raising septuplets and 9-year-old Mikayla

Question: Hi Bobbi, congratulations on eight years raising all those children. I have five of my own. My question for you: How do you stay organized and how do you save money on groceries? Do you do coupons, etc.? Do you have any tips on how to cut expenses?
--Melanie Darnell, Clarksville, Tenn.
Bobbi McCaughey: The way I stay organized is to try to do the same things on each day – for example, Monday is always laundry day. And I have the kids help with as many things as they are able.  To save money on groceries, I buy generic as much as possible.  We have a store called Aldi here and it saves us an incredible amount of money.  I don’t use coupons because they are usually for things that I wouldn’t normally buy. Also, when I find something on a really good sale, I try to buy quite a bit of it. Like when I find hamburger on clearance at Walmart, I will buy all of it and put it in the freezer in one pound packages.

Question: Could you please give us a look at your average day— when it starts, where you all go, and how it ends?
--Jerry Scheller, Redding, Calif.
Bobbi McCaughey: An average day is really quite uneventful now that they are all in school.  We get up at about 7 a.m. and leave for school at 8 a.m.. They arrive home at a little after 3 p.m. and we settle down to get homework completed and work on verses for Awana (Bible-centered children's and youth ministry). When that is completed, they can play until supper time which is at 6 p.m. Then we get pajamas on and get teeth brushed. Bedtime is at 7:30 p.m.

Question: Dinner time must be hectic. Do they all eat the same things or do you make them different meals that they like to eat? 
--Ellen, Griswold, Conn.
Bobbi McCaughey: Since they were very small, they have been required to eat whatever I have prepared. I am not a short-order cook. As a result, they will eat anything that is put in front of them.

Question: What kind of car do you drive to fit all your kids?  
--Emily Baker, Menlo Park, Calif.
Bobbi McCaughey: We drive a 15-passenger van.

Question: Do you find caring for all of your children more challenging now or when they were younger?
–-Janet, LaPorte, Ind.
Bobbi McCaughey: In some ways taking care of the kids is more challenging now.  We don’t have to do as many things for them anymore, but there are more times when teaching is required.  It is so cool, though, when you have been stressing some point and they finally get it!

Question: Do the septuplets understand what it means to be septuplets, or how unusual it is?
Natalie, Kansas
Bobbi McCaughey: The kids will talk about being septuplets and will introduce themselves that way, but they don’t realize that it is anything special.

Question: I often wonder how you and your husband have time for each other for one-on-one closeness. I love all four of our children but we always have mommy and daddy time. What do you and your husband do on your mommy and daddy time?
-–Jennifer, Roswell, N.M.
Bobbi McCaughey: We have always had an early bedtime for the kids so that we will have time for each other in the evenings.  And about every other week we will get a babysitter and go do something.

Question: Is it difficult getting a babysitter?
-- Joyce Samuels, Louisville, Ky.
Bobbi McCaughey: We have quite a few teenage girls who really enjoy watching the kids so the only challenge is fitting into their busy schedules.

Question: I have a set of twin girls born a few weeks before your children. One of my daughters has cerebral palsy and uses a reverse walker like your two cuties. You can imagine how excited my daughter gets when your two come on the TV screen once a year during the Dateline special. My question for you is this:What are some chores I can ask my daughter to do that she could do alone in her walker? She really wants to help, and sees her twin do so much to help me, but I am having a hard time thinking of things she could do successfully with her limitations.
--Su Haeberlin, Juneau, Wis.
Bobbi McCaughey: Nathan and Alexis have chores the same as the other kids. They both make their beds. They don’t have to be perfectly smooth, but they can at least pull the blankets up. They wipe down the cupboards in the kitchen and put away the silverware from the dishwasher. They also like to help wash the dishes and can do the easy ones like cups and plastic plates.

Question: How do you handle the comparison that your challenged children may have with their siblings? How do you boost their self-esteem when they are cognizant enough to realize the differences between themselves and their siblings?
-- Catherine Hughes, Hopatcong , N.J.
Bobbi McCaughey: At this point, Nathan and Alexis rarely view themselves as different from the other kids.  It isn’t often that we hear them say “I can’t do that.” They just seem to realize that there are some limitations and they accept that.  Their brothers and sisters have never asked why they need walkers and braces.  This is just who they are and they don’t see them as being different. And we don’t treat them any differently. We have the same expectations for them as we do every one also.

Question: I am wondering if the change from home-schooling to public school went smoothly. How do you mesh your children’s secular education with your religious views? (We are a home-schooling family.)
-–Belinda, Minn.
Bobbi McCaughey: Mikayla is still home-schooled because she prefers it.  The rest of them were only home-schooled for pre-school. They love school and look forward to it every day.  WE do have discussions at home about things that they have learned that day.  We want  to make sure that they know that not everything they will hear at school is Biblical and that sometimes they will need to answer a question correctly at school but know in their heart that it isn’t right.

Question: I’ve been praying for your family for the past six years. Do you have any specific prayer requests?
-- Natalie, Kan.
Bobbi McCaughey: The specific prayer request I would have is that Kenny and I can remain consistent in our teaching and discipline of the kids. Sometimes we just get so tired that it seems easier to give in.  But, we know that will only create more problems in the future.

Watch Dateline Sunday, Jan. 15, 7 p.m. to celebrate their 8th birthday with the kids.