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Bonell family prepares to welcome 16th child

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Toowoomba mum to have 16th baby

A Toowoomba mother says it's "always exciting" to have kids as she prepares to give birth to her 16th child. Nine News

PT0M0S 620 349

The stick family on the back of the Bonell family's 16-seater van already stretches across two doors.

Now, it's about to stretch even further.

The Toowoomba family is soon to welcome its 16th child, 25 years after a newlywed Jeni, now 44, told her electrician husband Ray she didn't want to have children.

17 of us. Jeni Bonell and Ray Bonell and their fifteen children.  SMH GOOD WEEKEND Picture by PAUL HARRIS  GW130727

17 of us. Jeni Bonell and Ray Bonell and their fifteen children. SMH GOOD WEEKEND Picture by PAUL HARRIS GW130727 Photo: Paul Harris

"I would love to have more and so would Ray," Mrs Bonell said on Friday.

"We just find so much joy but if this is it we are so grateful for what we have got."

The Bonells live in the same modest home they have since they married.

As their family has grown, the house has grown to seven bedrooms to accommodate them.

But it still has just one bathroom.

"It takes a long time, I guess you learn a bit of patience and sharing," Mrs Bonell said.

"It would be super nice to have a couple of extra bathrooms but space doesn't allow."

Mrs Bonell said her two eldest children had moved out of home, though continue to provide valued support in looking after their siblings.

She said organisation was the key to keeping things flowing smoothly, with most of the clan pitching in with a roster system.

"We used to be terribly disorganised and I used to do it all," she said.

"So I came up with a whole bunch of lists and a roster with something for everything.

"We all jump in and help. The kids get rostered on to do jobs and it teaches them skills they will need later in life."

A critical element of the roster system, Mrs Bonell said, was ensuring both she and her husband scheduled time to spend with each child.

In recent years a roll call was also introduced to ensure no member of the family was left behind.

"We try not to forget people, we did leave a child behind once, so now we do roll calls and they answer to each other in the bus," she said.

Mrs Bonell, who has spent 12 of the last 24 years pregnant, joked her full-time job is in the laundry.

She said she and her husband had never relied on government assistance to raise their brood.

"Ray works very hard to support this family and people assume we are living off benefits, but we have five older kids who work so they contribute," she said.

"We are debt free, we own our home and live within our means.

"I think people are intrigued by that but it has taken a lot of sacrifices."

Mrs Bonell said ferrying children between school and sporting commitments as they grew had proven one of the more challenging tasks, though the older children with licences now pitched in with the task.

For number 16, there is another challenge.

"With names, I think when you start off, you use your favourites and you find more when you go along," she said.

"Still I'll take suggestions for this one if people want to offer them."

12 comments so far

  • 17 kids!! Why!

    Commenter
    Joey
    Location
    Brisbane
    Date and time
    February 14, 2014, 5:43PM
    • Id love to know how they can afford to have so many children?

      Commenter
      kitty
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      February 14, 2014, 6:28PM
      • How could they afford 17 children? Simple. The taxpayer! We work and fork out the cash so they can play happy families.

        Commenter
        Fiona
        Date and time
        February 14, 2014, 7:49PM
      • If you have ever needed the services of an electrican, you'll know how.

        Commenter
        Ben
        Date and time
        February 14, 2014, 8:01PM
      • I would be asking that too! with that may children how could you not be receiving some form of assistance. even family tax benefit. but if they do not use government payment as their main source of income then I guess good luck to them, but no way in hell I would be doing that. I like my body and there has to be some risks by that many kids

        Commenter
        me
        Date and time
        February 14, 2014, 8:03PM
    • It is so nice to hear of a couple who so clearly love and appreciate their children, instead if seeing them as a burden or inconvenience.

      Now cue the 'don't you have a tv?' unhelpful comments...

      Commenter
      MrsD
      Date and time
      February 14, 2014, 6:57PM
      • How do you afford so many so many children - suspect I help out a bit.

        Commenter
        TaxPayer
        Date and time
        February 14, 2014, 7:12PM
        • Well that's the footy team taken care of... Now to work on the cricket team!

          Commenter
          JMB
          Location
          Gold Coast
          Date and time
          February 14, 2014, 7:20PM
          • 16 children in 2014 = the most irresponsible behaviour I have heard of from 2 people living in a Western nation! Unless of course the parents are prepared to permanently send them to countries where the replacement rate is not up to scratch (for example Italy) or where the population is becoming increasingly geriatric (Japan). Then at least they could assist in keeping those economies functioning, though it still doesn't make up for the sheer selfishness and stupidity and lack of foresight of these parents. The children had better all have IQs in excess of 170 and superhuman athletic abilities, too, because the overwhelming number of examples of families with six or more children I have personally observed or read about in recent times have appeared to be at the other end of the bell curve. Anyone here watched the film "Idiocracy"? For all its silliness, not an entirely incorrect look at the kind of dystopian future we are in for. All in all, a poor performance!

            Commenter
            Dave Couper
            Location
            Ashgrove
            Date and time
            February 14, 2014, 7:24PM
            • There goes the planet.

              Commenter
              Mike
              Location
              Taree
              Date and time
              February 14, 2014, 7:30PM

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