Mega-challenges for Megafamilies

Most parents find it tough getting their kids up and out of the house each morning but what if you had 16? Imagine having to get nine children to four different schools. Is it possible to feed 161 mouths under one roof, twice a day? How do these so-called “megafamilies” work? And what’s it like to be part of such a huge clan? Across three continents, three very different, amazing families are finding their own ways to cope but in California a lack of space is pushing The Casons to breaking point. So are these megafamilies efficient units run with military precision… or is it simply chaos from the moment the day begins?

At Lake Elsinore in southern California, Christi and Dave Cason have 16 children living at home. Jessica 22, Chad 20, Dalton 19, Austin 17, Bailey, 15, Gage 14, Kaylee 12, Harper 10, Emma 9, Rebekah 8, Trevor 7, Walker 6, Morgan 5, Laura 3, Sawyer 2 and Nathaniel 1. Dave works as an infrastructure engineer for a telecommunications firm and Christi is a stay-at-home mom. Every morning Christi has to get 9 of their children off to 4 different schools then manage 4 under-5’s for the rest of the day while she juggles the household chores.

The family currently lives in a three bedroom, one bathroom rental duplex which they have completely outgrown. Six girls currently share one bed and Christi is close to breaking point as she struggles to manage the lack of space. The family has been house-hunting for over two years and finally Christi and Dave think they’ve found a new home that’s big enough to suit everyone. Moving with 16 kids will take some serious organization, so can many hands make light work or will the stress of it all tip Christi over the edge?

Baktawng village in north-east India is home to what is thought to be the world’s largest family living together under one roof. 67 year old Ziona Chana’s polygamous family of 161 comprises of 39 wives, 32 sons, 19 daughters, 12 daughters-in-law, 26 grandsons, 28 granddaughters, three granddaughters-in-law and one cousin living at home. The challenges are very different to that of the Casons: just feeding so many people twice a day requires efficient organization and relies on co-operation. Largely self-sufficient, the women raise pigs and chickens and grow all their own vegetables. The men take on paid work to buy whatever the family cannot provide for itself. Structure and shared responsibility is key to how this megafamily functions.

In Carrickmacross in Ireland, The Maher family of 13 runs like clockwork. Paul and Edel Maher have enough kids for a soccer team: nine boys and two girls and they are all soccer-mad. Eoin 13, Cian 11, Darragh 10, Cathal 8, Conor 6, twins Oisin and Odhran 5, Fionn 4, Aisling 3, Cillian 2 and 7 month old daughter Sadhbh. The kids tell us how they think their family works from having breakfast and getting to school to sharing with so many siblings. Teamwork and humor are Paul and Edel’s secret weapons to keeping their megafamily on track but it doesn’t always work.

Through the experiences of the Cason family during a typically stressful time for any family – the prospect of a house move – the film explores how these three very different families tackle the basics of everyday life. What are the challenges they must overcome and how do they do it?


Tune in to Megafamilies tonight, Tuesday, July 10th at 9P et/pt.


  1. ChristiCasonMomof16sofar
    Lake Elsinore Ca
    July 10, 2012, 3:31 pm

    Tank you so much, love the blog post, can’t wait to watch it tonight.
    Christi Mom to 16 Kiddos hoping for #17

  2. Amanda Crowell
    Ada, Ok USA
    July 10, 2012, 11:09 pm

    @ Christi
    Just wondering, why so many? Watching the show now and your pretty amazing. Just curious! Lol!

  3. sandra
    United States
    July 11, 2012, 2:14 pm

    she should coupon….it would cut the cost in less than half and it is just like buying in bulk. She is the ideal family for couponing…

  4. Beth
    Winnetka, CA
    July 11, 2012, 8:18 pm

    I missed it, Does anyone know if it if going to be on again?

  5. Natalia
    BC, Canada
    July 18, 2012, 12:15 pm

    I’d love to know when this series will be showing in Canada. Can you help? Thanks!

  6. Chris Corondoni
    Lake Elsinore
    September 5, 2012, 9:18 pm

    hahah i know somebody famous ;p

  7. Mary Chrisette Plan
    September 14, 2012, 6:31 pm

    I so admire you Dave &Christi Cason for keeping the family organized. i am a mother of 2 here in the philippines, my kids have their own nanny (but still so tiring) and yet they always seek me for attention,. super salute all your efforts. don’t mind the haters. just be strong for the family! 🙂

  8. Razib
    February 9, 2013, 5:09 am

    I have seen the show . Really amazing . I wanna be a part of cristi cason family . Her daughtes r so beautiful & i also did like her as mother-in-law . So , i wish if i could be boyfriend of one of ur daughter .

  9. Christi Cason Mom to 16
    Lake Elsinore Ca
    February 16, 2013, 9:27 pm

    AWWWW thank you so much. We are so happy and super excited, #17 is due in October 2013, woohooo :):)

  10. Couple Pregnant With 17th Child
    May 9, 2013, 12:10 am

    […] image: National Geographic, middle and bottom image: The Cason Crew / […]

  11. Mary Barratt
    Rhode Island
    June 9, 2013, 4:45 am

    I read on anther site that the Carsons oldest daughter just had a baby, it does not mention anything about her beginning married. If the Duggars and the Bates can raise a large family teaching that you save sex until marriage, why couldn’t the Carsons? They failed their daughter.

  12. Robert
    Costa Mesa, CA
    August 6, 2013, 5:42 pm

    This comment is directed at Mary Barratt above.

    First of all, they are CASONS, not Carsons. It helps if you actually care to read. Second, I work with Dave and he is a really caring and responsible person. Who are YOU to call him and wife a failure. Please do us a favor and shove that “holier than thou” mentality up you know where.

  13. Asarel
    November 26, 2013, 1:39 pm

    Just saw this documentary on Sunday in Germany. Wow! Christi is my new hero… So unselfish and willing to give so many things up for her kids. Reminds me of my grandparents (who also had many children) All children are a blessing no matter how they are born 🙂

  14. ChristiMomof17
    Lake Elsinore, California
    December 26, 2013, 2:00 pm

    Hi I am Christi Mom to 17 now 🙂
    Our 17th was born 10-15-2013 weighing 8lbs 6ozs, a beautiful boy, our 10th Son Vaughn Robert Dallas.
    10 boys and 7 girls, wohooooo so far……
    Thank you so much Robert ((((BIG HUGS))))) and thank you Asarel!!!!
    We were on The Doctor’s TV show aired 11-19-13 and airing again here in the U.S. 12-27-13. I want to wish you all a soon to be Happy New Year.
    Christi Cason and 17 Kiddos!!

  15. ChristiMomof17soon18
    Fort Wayne In
    June 19, 2015, 12:05 pm

    16 of our 17 kids moved with us to Fort Wayne Indiana. Our oldest in Married and they are expecting their 2nd baby and moving here next month July 2015, we are also pregnant with #18 and I am due 12 days after my DD Jessica, she is due 10-31-15 and I am due 11-12-15, and they will be living with us, so we will have the WHOLE family under one roof for about 8 months, so 23 people under one roof, super excited. We love Indiana and are working with a producer in hopes of doing another TV show.
    Christi Cason Mom of 17, #18 due 11-12-15