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.