The Baby Boomlet of the last decade, which saw some of the largest numbers of babies born in 50 years, has made "Three is the new Two" and "Four is the new Three" common phrases at playgrounds and in news articles. Although the baby boomlet has now officially abated, due in large part to the recession (births were down in 2008, according to numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics), big families are still more common than they were in past generations.
So how do these families make their working lives...work? What if both partners work? And, how are these larger families coping with the economy?
For Stacy Johnson, a Santa Monica-based fashion deisgner and owner of a personal fashion label called Stacia, who has a 6-year-old, a 3-year-old and a newborn, it comes down to the flexibility that entrepreneurship provides.
"Basically, I am able to take my newborn to my design studio where I can work while she sleeps, and I am not imposing on anybody. Also, I can leave to pick up my older two kids from school most days. I usually am able to make up the time by doing work late at night and design work on the weekend when my husband is around to watch the kids," she says.
Having both partners involved in taking care of the children is another important element of making a big family work, especially when both partners work outside the home.
Take Brandon D'Angelo, a Redondo Beach-based CPA who works as an indepenent contractor and has three children, a 6-year-old boy, 3-year-old girl and 1-year-old boy. When her husband was out of work for over a year, she knew she needed to pick up the slack.
"I started taking on any clients I could get. I also knew that as a CPA I could work as a tax temp during tax season, if I needed to," she says. "But it was helpful that my husband loved being home while he was looking for work, and would watch the kids, along with our babysitter, when I had to go to work."
For others, it is family who help them through the rough spots.
Lisa Zwerling works full-time in Los Angeles as a writer and co-executive producer for Flashforward, a drama on ABC, and has a 4-year-old son and twin six-month old girls. She and her husband, a medical resident, both have long hours and so to make it work they have two nannies with staggered schedules during the week.
On the weekends, though, when there are errands or if one of them has to work, it is Lisa's parents who are there in a pinch.
"It is hard right now to be home alone with all three kids because of the ages of the girls, especially if one of us is going to be out of the house for a long stretch on the weekend. They will take our older son out, for example, which really helps."
Others, like Elizabeth Debreu of Windsor Square who has four kids ranging in ages from 5 to 15 and is an attorney and part-time writer, are waiting until the kids are older to start working outside the home in earnest again.
"I am fortunate that my husband's career has given me the career flexibility that I might not have otherwise had. I’ve been keeping up with my field so that, when the kids get older, I’ll be able to jump back into it.”