Joseph Sutton, 35, and wife Nicole, 30, live with their eight daughters and three sons in their three bedroom home in Aspatria, Cumbria. The couple envisaged a quiet life – and the thought of children never entered the equation when they first met back in 2005, but after falling pregnant with daughter Rhiannan, now 14, the babies just kept on coming. And even though visions of fancy cars were swapped for a 17-seater mini bus.
Two years after falling pregnant with Rhiannan, their daughter Lacy was born, now 13 – followed quickly by Mackenzie, 11, Skylar, ten, Henley, eight, twins Cobi and Parker, seven, Hadley, five, River, four, Ocean, three, Navy, one and Hallie, who was stillborn 2019. Organised mother Nicole lays out toothbrushes, school uniforms and dishes for breakfast in the evening, wakes up at six before getting the children up at seven to spend an hour dressing the eldest eight kids, doing the school run and spending the day with the youngest three. Nicole spends half an hour making 12 beds, washes three loads of washing a day and hoovers five times every day. All food shopping is done online with an average of 12 baskets being delivered weekly.
The mother said: ” It’s all about routine, everything is laid out the night before, uniforms, toothbrushes, dishes. I gave up on ironing years ago and just use the dryer. I pick the kids up and we eat at five, so I set the plates out while dinner is cooking and assign everyone to seats. Six fit at the table in the kitchen, three in high chairs and the rest sit on the sofa for some peace and quiet. It’s ᴀʙsᴏʟᴜᴛᴇ ᴍᴀᴅɴᴇss. Picking up toys is constant and Joseph does the bath and bed routine because he leaves before the kids wake up so ᴍɪssᴇs all the action. Friday is usually the worst washing day because I have to do the PE kits so that’s an extra two washes and Saturday is bed changing day so there’s even more washing but it’s all fun.”
Joseph bought his own 17 seater minibus to ferry his family around and when they go on holiday, the tribe take up two apartments. The couple never planned to have such a large brood, with Joseph recalling: “We never wanted a big family, I didn’t even want children. I don’t know what happened but I am glad I’ve got them all, it’s good fun. It’s ᴀ ᴍᴀᴅ ʜᴏᴜsᴇ but I wouldn’t change it.”
Nicole added: ” Sʜᴏᴄᴋᴇᴅ was my first reaction when I found out I was pregnant with Rhiannon. I had the ᴄᴏɴᴛʀᴀᴄᴇᴘᴛɪᴠᴇ ɪᴍᴘʟᴀɴᴛ so I never expected to fall pregnant. We didn’t find out until I was already four months gone. I took a ᴛᴇsᴛ because I was putting weight on, but I never thought it would be ᴘᴏsɪᴛɪᴠᴇ. I had no idea how we would manage but any child is a blessing so we just rolled with it. After I had my first baby I just found I loved being a mother so much and looking after my daughter. I’m not close with my family so the more I had, the more I loved it.”
Joseph confessed that the family sometimes face ɴᴇɢᴀᴛɪᴠɪᴛy over their large brood, saying: ” When people at work ask how many kids I’ve got, they say I’d be better on the dole than working, so we can’t win. After having their youngest, Navy, the couple, who have been together for 15 years have decided not to add anymore members to the family. We aren’t planning on having anymore, I think we’ve got enough and Nicole has made the decision that we don’t need anymore.”
Nicole added: ” I decided Navy was the last because I didn’t enjoy being pregnant anymore after ʟᴏsɪɴɢ Hallie.”