16 Kids and Counting: Interview with Sue Radford Part 2

I think that no matter what you do as a parent, whatever approach you take, then there’s always going to be someone telling you that their way is better, but with 16 Children I think that the Radfords are more in a position than most to comment.


The New Show
The whole family are also appearing on This Morning which involves a trip  to London.
Sue Radford, now a mother of 16 children and a grandmother agreed to an interview with me.

What is your typical day like? Do you have strict routines or go with the flow? 

My day is pretty much a routine from day to day, because I do believe that’s key to how it works so well for us. But there are days when we just have to go with the flow, especially on filming days, and they can be long days. Typically my day starts at 6.45 and we go to bed around 10.30.

Noel Radford having fun with his children

Do you think that as a larger family it makes it more likely that you will be more “green” in environmental terms as there isn’t as much room for waste – ie using reusable nappies, not over-eating/throwing away food, breastfeeding, etc?

I think you are definitely more greener because you do have to try not to waste things and we don’t seem to waste anything. We use reusable nappies and buy what we need food wise so nothing gets wasted. I breastfeed my children too.

Would you say you argue less than a smaller family over issues such as finance/household chores because you have to be more organised?

I would say that we don’t really argue over things that need doing around the house because if something needs doing, and one of the children is around to do it, then they will without arguing over it. It does help that you have to be organised with a big family because if you weren’t then it would never work.

Do you have a chore list
We don’t really have a chores list because if something needs doing then one of the children will do it, they are good in that way. The only thing that I do insist on is that their rooms are tidied in the morning, which they do very well, it just makes my life a bit easier, but pretty much everything else is left to me and Noel.

Radford Baby No 16 – Casper

What advice would you give to first time mothers?

I think the only advice I would give to new mothers is to not get stressed when things don’t go right and the baby is screaming constantly, because they pick up on stress and a chilled out mummy makes a chilled out baby. I think Sophie has learned that from me because she’s coping brilliantly and is just loving been a new mum.

Do you feel that you get enough support from health professionals – midwives, health visitors. Are you treated any differently now than from when you first had a baby. Do you get less pressure about how you feed/how much weight they are putting on?

I think that they think I can teach them a few things, they always say, “but you probably already know that don’t you,” which is funny, but I know that the support is always there if I need it.  It’s definitely very different from when I had 3 children, you are just left to it really, and there is never the pressure about feeding, or how much weight they are putting on, and the midwives visits are not as many.

Does the birth get any less scary?
I don’t think the births ever get less scary because birth is very unpredictable and you never know how its going to go because you are constantly aware that things can change in seconds. I always worry until they’re safe in my arms.
What was it like becoming a Grandmother?

Wow becoming grandparents for the first time has been mind blowing we are loving it. She’s such a gorgeous happy smiley little girl she takes after her mummy. It has been so lovely that they still live with us so we get to have all the cuddles we want she’s very spoilt.

Do you have a lot of support from friends and family?
We don’t really have much support from family and friends. My mum and dad live about 40 mins away so come through once a week, and then once a month they will have 3 of the children for the weekend and they love it. Apart from that it’s all left to us, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Do you have a particular method of parenting that works best for you? ie controlled crying, the naughty step, attachment parenting.
We do do controlled crying we’ve found over the years this works really well.  We also take privileges away if they have been naughty we don’t do the naughty step because we find that they don’t like having things taken off them.
How are you enjoying using a baby carrying sling?
I’m loving doing babywearing although it has taken me a while to get the hang of it I love the closeness you get from it and wish I had done it years ago.
How do you cope with bedtimes – do you have a staggered bedtime/set routine? Any tips for those parents struggling to get their children into bed/to stay in bed.
Bedtimes in our house are staggered with the younger ones going up to bed for 7 then the middle ones going at 8 and the older ones going at  around 8.30-9 it can be quite a challenge to get them to stay in their beds as I’m sure you will see on the programme. (Sue’s blog post on sleep).
Do you have advice for those whose children disturb each other at night – such as when teething?
I have to say we have been really lucky with our children teething, they don’t seem to be bothered with them during the night so we don’t have disturbed nights, but also we have the little ones on our floor so that would help.
Do you have any issues such as bedwetting? And how have you overcome them?
We’ve only ever had a problem with one of the children bedwetting and we just didn’t make a big deal out of it and he grew out of it at the age of 5 .
Do you have a system for everyone getting their shoes/coats on?
We have all the coats hanging up in the vestibule and the shoes are now in little cuby  holes for them. They know they have to get their own shoes and coats on 10 mins before we are due to leave the house. If we are all going out then Millie and Katie will help get Oscar and Tillie ready, whilst I get Casper sorted.
How do you do your food shop? (i.e. online, with all the children, with some of the children, etc).
We do our food shop at the supermarket every day. I take a few of the children with me to help out, we don’t do a big shop any more, because it was just costing far too much money. I’ve found it a lot better going every day, and I probably spend half of what i would if I went and did a big shop, then I would still have to go every day anyway so that’s a good system I have and it works well.
With the different ages of the children how do you cope with the different schools, and going to all the sports evenings, nativities etc?
I think we have a really good system for going to the different schools. Noel will take the primary school children to school before he goes to work, and the secondary school children will walk. Then I take Max to nursery, so going to sports events and parents evenings and nativity’s works really well I think were very luck to be able to do that and work things like that around work.


Do you feel that teen mothers are perceived or treated differently than older mothers?

I do think that some teen mothers are treated very differently than older mothers, especially as there seems to be so many groups for young mums and workshops, and lots of other things including teenage midwives, but for older mums there doesn’t seem to be anything.

How important do you think it is that parents know first aid?


I think it’s extremely important for all parents to be taught first aid, as we found out when Tillie was  seriously ill. I have said since then that there should be a compulsory first aid course for new parents to learn before they are allowed to go home from hospital. I do believe very strongly in this and really wish is was something the government would look into as I think it could save so many lives.


Thank you to Sue Radford for this interview. Part 3 coming soon.

All Photographs are @Sue Radford and not to be used without permission.


You can find The Radford Family on their blog and you can contact them on sue@theradfordfamily.co.uk

1 thought on “16 Kids and Counting: Interview with Sue Radford Part 2”

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.