MANY parents dread the school summer holidays, but spare a thought for the mum at the head of Britain's biggest family.
Sue Radford has opened up about her "crazy" summer break – with £350 weekly food bills, three hours spent tidying every night and her "military" packing procedure.
The 44-year-old super-mum lives in Morecambe, Lancs, with husband Noel, 48, and their 21 kids.
Speaking exclusively to Fabulous Digital, she said: "The summer holidays are a bit crazy and, with so many children, it gets very expensive. We don’t save for it, we just have to go with the flow."
The couple famously don’t claim any benefits apart from Child Benefit and rely on Noel’s bakery business to make ends meet.
But Sue has admitted her weekly shopping bill is hiked by £100 – to £350 – when the kids are home from school.
The Radfords are parents to Chris, 30, Sophie, 25, Chloe, 23, Jack, 22, Daniel, 20, Luke, 18, Millie, 17, Katie, 16, James, 15, Ellie, 14, Aimee, 13, Josh, 12, Max, 11, Tillie, nine, Oscar, seven, Casper, six, Hallie, three, Phoebe, two, Archie 18 months, and Bonnie, eight months.
They also have three grandchildren – who are Sophie's kids – Daisy, six, Ayprill, four, and Leo, two.
Sue said: "The weekly food shop goes up massively, by about £100, during the summer.
"Normally we’ll spend about £250 a week, but it can go up to £350. For eating out, you're looking at at least £150 a time."
It takes 2-3 hours a day to clean up after them all, the kids can make an awful lot of mess very quickly
The stay-at-home mum lives with her husband and kids in a 10-bed former care home, which they bought for £240,000 in 2004.
Eldest kids Chris and Sophie have moved out but all the others are still at home, and it's just as chaotic as you'd imagine.
Sue said: "The house does get messy. It’s the school holidays, I think you’ve just got the accept that.
"I gut the house when the kids go to bed, rather than constantly doing it during the day.
"You would be constantly cleaning up after them, all day long, otherwise.
"It takes two to three hours to clean up after them all, the kids can make an awful lot of mess very quickly.
"The laundry is non-stop during the school holidays, too. I do about three loads-a-day in my 18kg washing machine."
A standard washing machine takes just 7kgs, so that would be between seven and eight daily washes for you or me.
SUE'S SUMMER IN NUMBERS
Time spent tidying every week: 14-21 hours
Weekly food bill: £350
One meal out: £150 plus
One cinema trip: £100 plus
Clothes washes: 3 daily in an 18kg machine
Suitcases for every holiday: 7
Packed lunch: 2 loaves of bread, 3 packets of sausage rolls, 24 packets of crisps
When your family's twice the size of a football team, you might think it's tempting to stay at home during the summer.
But Noel and Sue are determined their kids should have a normal upbringing – and still book family holidays with 21 kids in tow.
Savvy Sue uses labelled bin bags to pack her seven suitcases – so she doesn't get mixed up between the kids.
Going on holiday is a military operation
She said: "We do go away as a family, we went to Florida in February and we're going to Holland this week, but it's a military operation.
"The packing process is hard work, but if I put each child’s clothes into a bin bag and label whose it is, it makes it a lot easier when we get there.
"Then I can get the bags out and put them away, rather than rooting through, trying to figure out whose is whose.
"Normally we take about seven suitcases with us."
Sue spoke to us for the launch of Compare The Market's new Meerkat Mediator – an AI voice assistant which highlights 2 for 1 offers and suggests your best options for a fun, good value day out.
She said: "Normally the cinema costs us £100-a-time, so the amount of money we could save as a family is huge.
"We try and do things all together as a family. When the kids are off school, I think it’s nice to spend time together.
"Some of the older kids might not want to come or they’ll be at work because they all have different shifts. But we still end up with a lot of children to take out."
You have to eyes in the back of your head to make sure you don’t lose any children
With 15 kids at school age or below, one of the biggest challenges is keeping track of the young ones.
Sue said: "It can be quite hard to keep track of them. You have to eyes in the back of your head to make sure you don’t lose any children.
"The older ones are quite good at helping out with the younger ones, we’ve never lost any yet so we’re doing alright I think. They don’t tend to wander off, they’re pretty good.
"Normally, we'll try and do three days out a week during the summer, but we love going for walks, to the park, the beach or going for a picnic with the kids.
"There's a lot of days out that don't require spending money.
"If I'm doing a packed lunch for everybody, it’s two loaves of bread, three packets of sausage rolls, 24 packets of crisps, a bottle of cordial, it’s massive.
"If it’s really bad weather, we’ll just put a movie on, maybe have some popcorn and do games in the house.
"The kids will fight about wanting to do different things. They're not too bad, but all kids argue and bicker."
Sue recently gave her fans a tour around their enormous home – which has 10 bedrooms but just one bath.
Source: Read Full Article