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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

PT1M36S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-32pik 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."