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Blended Family With 10 Kids Opens Up About Their Unconventional And Busy Lifestyle

A Schaeffer family portrait (Roxy Meyer Photography / PA Real Life)

This mom and dad have proudly created the perfect blended family by combining eight children from previous relationships and two more they had together. And, they love accepting a life of “beautiful chaos."

When Tracee Simpson met Justin Schaeffer in 2015 she already had six children – Delilah, 12, Beau, 11, Scarlett, nine, Wyatt, seven, and twins Rhett and Rhiggs, six – from a previous relationship.

Justin was already dad to Ryan, 10, and Scarlett, seven, who lived with him. But, they were excited to combine their families under one roof in Yuma, Arizona.

Tracee loved their big, happy family so much that she then had two more children with Justin – Remy, four, and Austin, 18 months.

“Quite honestly I never expected to have a big family – let alone 10 kids," she said.

“I'm so thrilled it ended up this way, though, our previous relationships didn't work out, but now Justin and I couldn't be happier."

A Schaeffer family portrait (Roxy Meyer Photography / PA Real Life)

“When we moved our families in together, we were a little nervous, but the children got on brilliantly and now we're just one big happy family," she added.

“It was meant to be – we all fitted together perfectly. Then, when we had two more kids, we finally felt as though our family was complete."

A Schaeffer family portrait (Roxy Meyer Photography / PA Real Life)

“It's chaos, constantly manic and hard work – but it's beautiful chaos with loads of loving and I wouldn't have it any other way," Tracee continued.

Despite having so many children under one roof the couple encourages their individuality and love watching their personalities develop.

“The kids are all completely different, each and every one of them," she said.

“Delilah is very bossy, but I think that comes with the territory of being the oldest."

“Beau is the comedian of the group and loves making everyone laugh, while Ryan is the sweetest of all the kids and just wants to help everyone."

Justin with both Scarlett's and Delilah (Collect / PA Real Life)

“The older Scarlett is an utter genius and takes her schooling very seriously, while the younger Scarlett, who we call Tootie, is a tomboy through and through – she gets on with everyone," Tracee continued.

“Wyatt is the goofball and just always so animated. The twins – Rhett and Rhiggs – are the total opposite and have been since they came out of the womb."

“Rhett is very meticulous, he hates anything out of place, while Rhiggs is the tough kid and never cries."

Rhett, Remy and Austin (Collect / PA Real Life)

“Remy is still trying to figure things out, but he's at the, 'I'm four so now I'm a big boy,' stage and Austin is just the cutest baby ever," she said.

The fact Tracee had six children and Justin had two when they met, only enhanced their love for each other.

“We started off as just friends," she said. “But quickly our feelings for each other grew and I always think, 'When you know, you know'. I just loved the way he was with his children, he was such a kind, gentle man."

Both Scarlett's and Delilah (Collect / PA Real Life)

After moving in together in November 2015 the couple soon had their hands full.

“I thought six children was a handful, but suddenly having eight kids under one roof, I became very aware that we adults were outnumbered – but we just had to adapt to it!" she said.

And the mixed families soon blended together like the ingredients in a perfect pudding.

Family selfie (Collect / PA Real Life)

“It was great to watch our kids come together as siblings. Wyatt and Justin's Scarlett are best friends – they're literally inseparable," she said.

“All the kids play together. Sometimes the girls play school and the boys play monsters – but they all love hockey."

“We're a huge hockey family and the kids and Justin play whenever they get the chance."

The boys playing hockey (Collect / PA Real Life)

“We knew we wanted to have at least one more baby for us and our love – but then we ended up with two beautiful boys," she said.

Now, with 10 children, the couple stick to a strict schedule when it comes to starting the day.

“On weekdays we make sure breakfast is a quick, but hot and hearty meal," Tracee said.

“On weekends, it's usually eggs, or Justin's speciality is pancakes which we usually have on Sundays."

“We have several Amazon Alexa voice activation devices scattered around the house, so I start making announcements on to them, like, 'Time for everyone to get up'. We all go down for breakfast and then the kids all go and get ready."

The family at dinner time (Collect / PA Real Life)

“A must, with so many boys in the house, is to give the boys their own bathroom," she

“Boys can be so gross and, luckily, we have enough space for the boys and girls to have separate bathrooms – and we make sure only guests use the girls, toilet, too!

“Once we're all ready, we usually have enough time left over for them all to play a game. Having 10 children has taught me that having a routine and a schedule is the number one priority!"

Tracee's Top Tips:

  • Remember the difference between little deals and big deals - someone spilling a cup of juice at dinner is a little deal. You can't let little issues become big annoyances because then that's where you'll go wrong
  • Always have a designated area for shoes otherwise they will disappear, and no one will ever see them again
  • Make sure the children know their responsible for their own stuff, for example we trust them to keep their own room tidy
  • Make sure you're organized and stick to a schedule, if you don't things can become hard work
  • Enjoy the chaos, it's the biggest joy having a home with 10 children running around laughing, being silly and just having fun

Tracee is equally strict when it comes to mealtimes, making sure that all 10 children eat the same food.

“We all eat the same meal – otherwise I'd be in the kitchen cooking all day. I try and make sure I make everyone's favorite every few weeks. Ryan loves spaghetti meatballs and Rhiggs is a big fan of beef stroganoff, while Delilah will eat basically anything put in front of her," she said.

The boys on the sofa (Collect / PA Real Life)

“Usually, every week we go through three loaves of bread, two gallons of milk, three boxes of cereal," she said.

“For pancakes, we buy a 5 lbs bag of pancake mix. And if we're having dinner, like a roast, we usually need 4 lbs of meat. Or for pork chops, we usually buy around 20, so the older kids can have at least two each."

The 10 children together (Collect / PA Real Life)

Laundry also can take up a lot of Tracee's time.

“I do the laundry in different groups," she said. “The boys, the girls, and then the twins and then the babies' and our clothes."

“Then, every group is responsible for putting their own clothes away."

Tracee and Austin (Collect / PA Real Life)

Meanwhile, to keep costs down the family make use of the hand me down clothes.

“Having so much children can be difficult to manage the budget," Tracee said.

“With clothes we usually wear hand me downs, and with toys, the children all share."

Tracee and Austin (Collect / PA Real Life)

And to keep things running smoothly, there can be no slacking in their routine.

“We wake up early, have breakfast and then the kids each have to tidy their rooms," said Tracee.

“We knock out the chores early on a Saturday. The kids do everything quickly as they know they've got something to look forward to in the afternoon."

Tracee and Justin Scaeffer (Roxy Meyer Photography / PA Real Life)

“We'll go and do a fun activity once the chores are done like go and play hockey, swimming or playing board games," she said.

While the family spend the summer holidays exploring the desert near their home, swimming, and playing hockey, they celebrate Christmas Day at their six bedroom house.

“As we had more and more kids, we really had to reign in how much we were spending," she added.

Tracee and Delilah (Collect / PA Real Life)

“The older kids have adapted really well. There was a time when they could get whatever they wanted. Now there are more children to consider, it's a little more limited – but they don't bat an eyelid," she said.

“We get each of them something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read for Christmas."

“Then Santa brings the girls a group present, and does the same for the boys, who get things like board games. Then the twins might have a game to share and the two little ones have something between them, too."

Tracee, Delilah and Scarlett and Scarlett (Collect / PA Real Life)

“Christmas can be quite expensive and it is complete insanity, but we love it!" she added.

The couple also say that having such a large family means nobody has any time to themselves – with them sharing one room, while the children are split, the three older girls are in one room, and the three older boys in another, while the twins, the two babies and Tracee and Justin each have their own rooms.

This leaves one room spare, which they have as a guest bedroom.

Tracee and Scarlett (Collect / PA Real Life)

“There's no time for any of the kids to go off and do their own thing, which is actually the biggest blessing," said Tracee.

“The children are so close – they're like best friends – and they all know how to share."

“Everyone uses everything, including my stuff. Things are only off limits if the kids have a special cushion or a baby blanket that they love."

Tracee and Rhett (Collect / PA Real Life)

Time as a couple is also a rarity.

“I can't remember the last time we went on a date night," Tracee laughed.

“But in the evenings, after the kids go to bed at around 8pm, we have some time to ourselves to unwind and watch a show."

Tracee and Justin Schaeffer (Gabi Marshall Photography / PA Real Life)

“We've stuck to our promise that, no matter how many kids we had, we would always make each other a priority because if we're not okay then our family isn't okay," she said.

“So we do try and make sure we have some time together as us, so we're not always being Mum and Dad."

And Tracee would not have her life any other way.

Tracee and Justin (Collect / PA Real Life)

“As a family, we have an unbreakable bond," she said. “Our kids have nine other people who they can rely on and be supported by throughout the rest of their lives."

“Yes, it can be tough, and laundry is an absolute nightmare, but the joy of the chaos is the best thing and I wouldn't change it for the world."