Their house seems smaller. It is rather the family that is growing, in number and in size. Hugo Roy and Marianne Tremblay are the – happy! – parents of 10 children, aged 11 months to 19 years.
Hugo had written to the Train de vie section to submit his dilemma: does their budget allow them to move to a larger house?
A first telephone conversation followed.
“We had one girl, then seven boys in line, then two girls at the end,” the dad lists.
This was not a case of planning many births.
“It happened day by day,” he explains. Initially, we didn’t have this vision of 10 children, but over time, it added up. We did not make a case of it and we are very happy in that. In the pandemic, we had no problem: we were really a lot of people at home. We weren’t bored at all! »
There are more large families than you might think. “There are more and more big families,” he says. My boy is in second grade and there is a family of 12 children in his class. This is the first time I’ve been beaten! »
The family lives in a cottage in the suburbs of Quebec.
“It’s still a pretty big house for a standard, normal family. »
For a normal family of, say, six or seven children.
Indeed, the house has only six bedrooms – the usual parameters explode, with a dozen children.
“The last five boys are in the same room above the garage, a very large room. »
This dormitory or gymnasium, depending on the view and the activities, is approximately 14′ by 25′.
“But it’s starting to get tight.” We have young people going to secondary school, you see the genre. »
We can see very well.
The five boys sleeping above the garage are ages 4 to 12.
And in this garage, to transport the regiment, the family probably parks a bus?
“We don’t have a bus,” Hugo replies. We travel with two cars, an eight-passenger minivan and a five-passenger car. »
A Honda Odyssey and a Toyota Corolla, he says.
Above all, Hugo and Marianne do not want to set themselves up as examples. But their adventure is also a compendium of sound budget and family management practices. A family that relies more on human values than stock market values. Hence the interest in learning more.
Marianne Tremblay, 42 Hugo Roy, 50 Simone, 11 months; Emma, 2; Joseph, 4 years old; Victor, 6; Noah, 8; Mathias, 10; Raphael, 12; Louis-Olivier, 15; Jean-Christophe, 17; Emily, 19 years old
A telephone conversation with Marianne followed, on a Monday afternoon, during a short interlude of quietude. It was she who called.
“The last one is sleeping [Simone, 11 months],” she said. The other two are having fun [Emma, 2, and Joseph, 4]. I don’t know how much time I have before they screw me up, but for now it’s quiet. »
However, calm also depends on a minimum of living space.
“Space in the house is an issue that we have experienced a few times,” she says. In our first home, we had three children. After that, it was full, we had to move. We bought bigger, had up to eight kids there, and then it wouldn’t fit. »
They were then living in Brossard. The opportunity to move to Quebec presented itself.
“When we moved here, we had eight kids, so the space was still okay. Eventually two more were added. »
In the dining room, which deserves the name of refectory, stretches a 12-seater table.
The food budget is on the same scale.
Over the past 12 months, the family has spent a staggering $39,000 on groceries. Scary in appearance only: groceries cost them an average of $750 a week, a small feat of sobriety for a family of 12.
“We go grocery shopping once a week,” Marianne describes. Every week, we are at Costco, that’s for sure. Then we will complete at the grocery store according to the discounts. »
To keep this cargo cool, the family has a fridge in the kitchen, another in the garage, plus two freezers.
“And I’m thinking of getting a third one,” she says. “It’s eaten quickly, so I try to cook little things that I put in the freezer for the weeks when there are more appointments, when I have less time to do them. »
For the equivalent of a football team, clothing is also an issue.
“Anything I can iron,” she said, “I iron.” »
We are not talking here about erasing wrinkles, but about passing clothes that have become too small to the cadet.
“I pass on what I can pass on to the next. »
New clothes, when essential, are purchased on sale.
“We also take advantage of those who have older children, who can give us things they no longer need. »
In the household, no one has yet torn their shirt in front of this relay wardrobe.
“Never has a child asked me why he wears his brother’s things or why they aren’t always new. It’s always been like that, even when I was three. »
All parents know that electronic devices occupy a prominent place in the lives of young people.
“We can’t afford to buy a cell phone and pay for everyone,” insists the mother. Myself, I had a cell phone at 40 years old. I can’t see myself paying for a 10 year old. »
“Cell phones, when they’re old enough to work, they’re the ones who pay for them.” We don’t pay for cellphones for children. Which means that it is the three oldest who have one at the moment. »
Electronic games and internet access are restricted by a strict and universal measure: the number of devices available.
“We have a laptop at home and I have a tablet. Sometimes the children will be able to take them to play games. We try to control as best we can the number of hours they spend on it per week. Otherwise, you quickly lose control. »
Eight or nine bikes are stored in the garage – Marianne isn’t sure of the count. “My husband has one, I took my son’s which changed his.” I’ve never bought any myself. »
All children of cycling age are well in the saddle.
There are enough of them to form their own hockey team, which is precisely why they have never played in an organized league.
“For a few summers there, the three older ones played soccer,” says Marianne. Then we moved, there was the pandemic, which meant that everything stopped on its own. We’ve never played hockey and no one’s been in a club or played a really…intense sport. But at school, they always enjoyed extracurricular activities. This is what helps us enable them to play sports. »
For a trip to Europe or Disney World, the family alone would occupy four rows of three seats on the plane.
“At Christmas, with gifts from grandparents, we will bet more on an activity instead of a toy which, in the end, may not be used that much, says Marianne. With the money that grandparents or godparents will give, we will pay for a family outing, go do an activity like at the Sports Village. That’s something to win with children, in winter. »
What’s the biggest challenge for the mother of 10?
“It’s time,” she replies. “Often there is not enough time in a day to always be available for everyone. Sometimes, of course, we go to bed a little tired. »
No miserabilism, however, neither in tone nor in subject.
“There’s stuff in there too,” she clarifies immediately. We try to get everyone involved. One evening when we’re busier, it can be an older one who will read the story to a younger one. »
With the Roy-Tremblays, money remains a watermark, but causes neither concern nor regret.
“Of course you have to think about it, recognizes the mother. The budget is not unlimited, but we have never run out of money either. We have always lived well, for the number of children we have. »
“It’s a matter of choice, too,” she adds. We are not going on a trip to the South. We don’t spend our weeks at the restaurant. But these are choices in which we are good. »
A breath, a groan, a call perhaps, is heard in the background.
“It’s Emma and Joseph. I hid on the basement stairs, but they found me. »
The interlude is over. Life resumes its course.
You worry: no, they won’t have any more children. The family is closed.