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Adding two babies to our 4 kids may seem crazy, but it felt right

Writer Louise Leahy and her husband Duncan Maguire have six children between them and both feel that, although the prospect of such a large family was daunting at first, they now love the sense of belonging that they all have together.

"I was already a father-of-one and Lou a mother-of-three when we married three years ago," says Duncan. "Having two more babies may have seemed crazy to some, with such a large combined family to begin with, but to us it felt just right and, ultimately, it has helped blend our two families together very nicely. The older children have really taken on board being the 'big' kids in the family and everyone has a role to play, ensuring the mechanics of a large household work harmoniously.

"Being close in age, the middle three kids tend to hang out together quite a bit, playing and fighting in equal measure. Manni (2) has a soft spot for Josh (18), who has become a great older brother with a lot of patience.



"Along with our big family we also run Ukiyo – it's a dynamic business that keeps us busy, but it also gives us the flexibility to be there for the children throughout the day. And because our lives revolve around food and cooking, our children slot into that routine – be it at home or at work.

"I was an only child and Lou is a lot older than her sisters and brother, so I think we both missed out on sibling companionship as children. We both wanted big families, and what we love more than anything is the family time we have together."

Louise agrees: "Being part of a big family is quite demanding, but also exciting and great fun. You're never lonely and there is always someone to help you out or offer advice.

"We work to quite a tight daily schedule, which can mean some days feel a little too organised, with little room for spontaneity. However, if we didn't plan, life would become chaotic quickly.

"But we're fortunate that I'm naturally quite organised and Duncan complements this with his spur-of -the-moment gestures.

"Family relationships are built around the kitchen table and we make an effort to sit down to eat together at least once a day. We'd like to think that being part of a big family will mean that as they grow up, they can depend on one another and share their worries as well as their joys."