New Channel 5 documentary Me and My 10 Kids: Mega Families takes a look at Britain’s biggest broods
Every parent knows getting little ones up, fed and dressed in time for school can feel like a military operation.
But imagine getting TEN small people out of the front door on time every day.
For two families, that’s their daily reality as they open their doors to show how they clothe and feed their brood, not to mention keeping their homes in order with some of Britain’s biggest families.
There’s Sonia O’Lachlan and her nine children – Nicola, 19, Leah, 17, Shannon, 16, Keon, 14, Erin, 13, Kye, 10, Cana, seven, Lewis, five, and one-year-old Lexi.
The huge family live in a four bedroom council flat in Southampton.
Not only does Sonia raise her huge family alone, she’s also expecting baby number 10 – another boy.
She explained: “Some people say they’re allergic to condoms. I can’t say that because I’ve never used one.”
Morning’s start early in Sonia’s home – around 6:30am.
And there’s an added obstacle when it comes to breakfast, the mum-of-nine only has three bowls.
The kids have to eat in shifts, and as soon as one group finishes their breakfast it’s the turn of the next trio.
There’s one further problem for Sonia’s little ones, the bathroom sink is blocked up so they have to wash and brush their teeth in the kitchen.
But then they’re all out the door and it’s time for the heavily pregnant mum to get some peace – or not.
Instead she heads to the supermarket with her two eldest daughters, Shannon and Nicola.
With so many children to look after, Sonia has to rely on benefitsm which includes £460 child tax credit.
She has to make her money stretch with £179 going on rent and £130 being spent on food every week.
Sonia explains: “I have to buy everything in bulk. My money all goes on the children.
“It goes in their bellies and for anything else I can afford to pay for them. It never goes in my back pocket.”
And the soon-to-be mum of 10 is determined her children will eat well.
She cooks everything from scratch and all the plates are cleared at the end of every meal.
Sonia said: “You don’t give children a choice about what they eat, otherwise it’d be like I was running a restaurant.
“I make everything from scratch, it can sometimes cost a little more but then I know what’s gone into it and I want them to eat well.”
And being almost nine months pregnant is taking its toll on Sonia.
She admits she’s suffering with back ache.
And then there are the risks of having so many babies – high blood pressure , haemorrhaging and a more dangerous delivery.
When her baby boy stops moving in her womb, the busy mum is rushed to hospital with her whole brood crossing their fingers everything will be OK.
Meanwhile, Jo and Tommy O’Rourke already have their 10 children – and despite their sometimes chaotic life, there are plans to add to their family.
The brood, who live in Barnet, north London, include Mitchell, 15, Lauren, 13, Joe, 11, Riley, nine, Regan, also nine, Tommy, eight, Ashley dean, six, Freddie, four, Danny, two, and one-year-old Niamh.
Each morning is run with precision, children and fed and dressed while Jo makes a huge number of lunches.
She goes through seven yoghurts, 14 slices of bread, two packs of ham and a whole load of fruit and veg.
Jo explained: “We spend most of our money on food.”
And simple trips to the barbers become an epic mission as all 10 children get their hair cut at once.
And the family have a huge mini bus to carry their brood around, especially when mum and dad collect them at the end of every school day.
Jo said: “The mini bus is our lifeline, we’ve been on many holidays and trips in it.
“After school, routine is key. They get in, go upstairs and take their school uniforms off and fold it neatly with the next days socks and underwear so it’s ready to go for the morning.”
Mealtimes can be chaotic, but Jo and Tommy say they wouldn’t change it for the world.
And as soon as the plates are cleared away the tiny army of cleaners get to work, each with their own chores so the house is spick and span before the family head to bed.
It’s while Jo and Tommy prepare that evening’s meal that the mum-of-10 drops her bombshell that she wants one more baby.
Stunned Tommy says: “You said this after the last one. You said it after number five, then you said you’d stop after we got to double figures.”
Episode two of Me and My 10 Kids: Mega Families is on 5Star on Monday at 9pm