Meet the supermom with 16 children who still squeezes in time for herself – thanks to a strict chores schedule which sees her kids do the cooking and laundry.
Charity founder Lyette Reback, 44, has 10 daughters and six sons between the ages of 2 and 22 with her husband of 24 years, estate agent David Reback, 49.
She gave birth to her first baby, Daly Kay, at 21 and has since had 11 more biological children, including latest addition Vaughn, who is 2, as well as adopting four others.
They are girls Ryli, 20, Bliss, 19, Kemper, 17, Glory, 15, Trinity, 13, Liberty, 11, Sojourner, 8, Victory, 6 and Verity, 4, and boys Courson, 12, Judson, 10, Shepherd, 10, Ransom, 8 and Stone, 5.
It means Lyette has spent 10 years of her life pregnant, gaining and shedding 600 lbs in baby weight and going through labor ‒without a single C-section ‒ a dozen times.
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Amazingly, Lyette, a communications graduate who studied at a top all-girls school, even homeschools her brood and ferries them to 88 different sports practices a week. And the supermom, who has written a book about parenting, still finds time to work out and go for dinner with friends thanks to a strict chores schedule.
Lyette, of North Palm Beach, Florida, said: “If I had known then that by the time I was 40 I would have 16 kids I would have thought it was crazy. If the number of children we have comes up in conversation or people see us out and they don’t know our family, they are like, ‘holy mackerel.'”
“At first when there were four or five little girls it was, ‘Oh my gosh, you are crazy, how are you doing that?’ People would joke or say things like, ‘Don’t you have a TV in your bedroom?’ Obviously, these remarks were either out of incredulity or they proposed my ignorance, but I am not stupid.
“Now some of them are a bit older and they are doing well in life, it seems it’s less of a freak show and they are saying, ‘Oh, maybe you’re not a weirdo.'”
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“David and I were blessed to be able to have children and we really, truly believe that raising children is an incredible opportunity to do something amazing in the world.
“I fully understand we have chosen to do life differently than most, but it works for us. We wouldn’t have it any other way. I wake up each morning and think, “I can’t believe I get to do this. Raising children is the best job in the world.”
“I don’t know if we will have any more. We never put a number on it – we just take it one day at a time.”
Lyette starts each day at 5:30 a.m. by saying a prayer and writing a to-do list before homeschooling the children, who learn math, science, languages, history and art. On top of their schoolwork, the kids who are old enough attend at least one sports club and in total they attend 88 different sports practices a week.
They also abide by a chores schedule which sees Trinity, 13, make three meals a day for the family, with Liberty, 11, as her sous chef. The family get through $650 of groceries from a wholesaler a week, including 12 gallons of milk, up to 100 eggs, 40 lbs of chicken, and 40-50 lbs of potatoes or rice.
While they are busy in the kitchen, Courson, 12, is helped by his brothers to do the laundry – washing, drying, folding and sorting 42 loads a week.
The other tasks, like scrubbing the bathrooms and vacuuming after meals, are divided between the remaining Reback children, who get their jobs done between classes. In addition, the youngsters attend community events, forums, art performances and volunteer with their mom’s charity supporting America’s Gold Star families.
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Lyette and David, who don’t have any household help but do have two tortoises and a dog, ferry them to and fro activities in their 17-seater Dodge Sprinter. Despite their hectic schedules, the family manage to eat most meals together and squeeze in a weekly movie night, and Lyette says she tucks each child into bed at night.
She said: “It is challenging. There is no normal day in the Reback household.”
“I’m constantly running at 100 mph and sometimes it’s overwhelming. It’s kind of bananas but it is somewhat organized chaos. It can get so busy that I can barely even remember my name at times but it is always worth it.”
“With chores, sometimes I’m just like, “Oh my gosh, I would pay someone to do this right now,” because it’s so hard to get them to do it the right way. But at the end of the day, is the goal to have a tidy house or responsible children? I just really want them to have a solid work ethic.”
“I will throw a load of laundry in when I wake up though. It isn’t like Courson is just slaving over it all day but that is his job and he does take it seriously. They’re human beings, not robots, and it isn’t always perfect or pretty but that fact is the same whether you have two kids or 20.”
As well as being a mom, Lyette writes a blog called “The Rebacks” and manages Believe With Me, a charity supporting military families who lost a loved one in service. At Christmas, the organization gave gifts to more than 600 children of fallen soldiers with the help of an army of volunteers – including David and the children.
She said: “Some days, the phone calls I get from the widows, or from the parents who have lost a child in the military – they break my heart. But my husband and my children are so encouraging when they see me struggling to meet the needs of so many families.”
Lyette has also written a book about parenthood called “Please God, Don’t Let Me Screw This Up.” To learn more about Believe With Me visit believewithme.com and to follow her family’s journey visit therebacks.com.
This story originally appeared in SWNS.