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Cheaper by the dozen

Section:  Annan and Eskdale, Be, Dumfries and West, Lockerbie and Lochmaben, Moffat  | Tags: , ,

ON Sunday Deborah Douglas will be surrounded by more Mother’s Day cards than any other mum in the region.

For she and her husband Craig have not one, two, three or four children . . . but a dozen.

And Deborah thinks she may have the biggest 21st century brood in not just Dumfries and Galloway, but all of Scotland.

The 37-year-old gave birth to her first child Ellie, now 15, in 2003.

Then came Liam, 14; Troy, 11; Cora, also 11 but not twins; Eva, 10; Zac, nine; Indi, seven; Rio, six; Ezmae, four; Aria, two; Zuri, one; and the most recent addition is baby Eboni, who is five-and-a-half-months.

It means Deborah has spent a whopping total of nine years of her life pregnant with her 12 children – none of which are twins or multiple births.

Discussing her big family, the Heathhall mum said: “I never would have dreamed of having 12 children when I was younger.

“My sister used to joke that she wanted the Von Trap family . . . now she has two kids and I have six times as many.”

She added: “I had my first, Ellie, at 21 and loved her, loved being a mum but I wasn’t working and it all felt a bit too easy. I like a challenge.”

And while 12 would seem challenging for some, Deborah says the secret is having a routine that works.

She said: “We’re in a great routine. You could hear a pin drop in this house after 8.30 pm.

“All my children slept through after just being a few weeks old and we’re really organised with bed times, the younger ones are in bed early and the older ones are quiet in their rooms with i-pads.

“I go to bed at about 9.30 pm/10 pm and that’s me until 5.30 am/6am.

“The craziest and loudest part of the day is around 7 am when the stampede start coming down the stairs.”

Talking about the everyday logistics of being a mother to 12 children, Deborah said: “I do five loads of washing a day, more if bedding needs done or one of the kids is sick.

“Three food shops a week, two Tesco and an Iceland delivery. We go through four pints of milk a day – not including Eboni’s baby milk and Zuri’s special milk.

“Holiday wise we like to go to Southerness. The children have taken turns going abroad or elsewhere, but we’ve never tried to go abroad all at once.

“Transport wise, there’s no car big enough so everything takes two trips in two cars.”

And with 12 birthdays to plan and buy for, she says birthdays can be manic too, especially as two of her children share the same birthday, but three years apart and one has a special Hogmanay birth date.

Discussing the harder aspects of parenting a larger brood, Deborah said: “I can’t remember the last time I ate something while it was still warm and I don’t even bother making a cup of tea for myself, it would be cold by the time I get to it.

“The dining table is not big enough for us all – it would take up half the house if it was – so the kids just eat where they like, but as long as they’re fed and happy, it’s no issue for us.”

And recently the Douglas family had an unwelcome guest in their house . . . in the form of chicken pox.

Deborah said: “Six of my children had chicken pox at the same time. My oldest six had it at the same time and the youngest six got it recently. That was awful, just awful but now they’ve had it and it’s over.”

She added: “The other hard

 part is some people can be quite nasty when they hear you have 12 children, but there’s always going to be judgmental people.

“I’m very open and honest about my family life and love talking about the kids – people are always welcome to ask if they’re curious or want tips.”

Meanwhile, describing the joys of family life, she said: “Christmas is amazing, there are presents everywhere and the children are so happy.

“We just stay in, cook our own dinner and we don’t even attempt to leave the front door.”

She added: “I love my life, I love my children, my husband and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

And is her family complete? Deborah said: “I originally said I would stop at five and I didn’t. I wouldn’t rule it out.”

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