One smaller than the other: everyday life and holidays of a family with nine children

June 8
Social sector

Vyacheslav and Marina Terekhin have nine children. The eldest daughter is 20, the youngest son is under 1. Last year, the family was awarded the badge of honour 'Parental Glory of the City of Moscow'.

The wall in the Terekhins' flat has an important document, it is a guide called ‘When we are away...’ It reminds children that they cannot bring strangers home, but they are allowed to tidy up and cook. There is also a special schedule for 5-year-old Sasha: on Mondays and Thursdays he has to be taken to the dance classes. A separate line is for 14-year-old Sveta: she's having exams this year, and that means that she must attend all additional classes.

It is difficult to bring all family members together at one table on a weekday: 9-year-old Petya has swimming classes, and 19-year-old Anna attends the Military University in St. Petersburg. The eldest daughter Natasha is a third-year student of the Pedagogical University. She comes home late, because she works after the studies.

Have you always dreamed of such a big family?

Vyacheslav Terekhin: Probably not that big. But we wanted it to be big. And then it just sort of happened.

Marina Terekhina: I wanted to have three kids when we got married. Two kids at a run. And the third one in 20 years.

How do you cope with raising your children?

Marina Terekhina: We have taught children that our family has a certain daily routine, and they strictly follow it. They go to sleep at 09:00 pm even on holidays.

What is your family's average day like?

Marina Terekhina: Vyacheslav gets up at 06:00 am. He makes breakfast. At 06:30 am, he and our boys do their morning exercises. I get up at 03:00 am, feed my baby, then cook or clean, and then go back to bed and get up at 07:00 am. This is when our daughter Katya gets up, her school is a little farther away. She goes swimming, and then to school.

A little bit later everyone is awake. Me or my eldest daughter take children to the kindergarten. So, everybody leaves, and I stay home with my baby. I do the housework or cook. Starting from 02:00 pm, they come back home one by one. Vasya, a first former, comes home first. He does his homework right away. I'm not helping him with that, as our children are used to do their lessons without any help.

Do children help each other?

Vyacheslav Terekhin: As a rule, they help each other not with the lessons, because they have different curriculum subjects, but with some specific matters. For example, to solve some math problem.

Marina Terekhina: I remember when our elder daughter started her first form, and the third daughter Sveta was still very small. She used to draw in her textbooks and notebooks. And I asked the eldest daughter to do homework at school. I told her: "You go to school and do all the homework there. You may do it on your knees, on the windowsill, at the break between lessons, whatever. You may do only your oral homework at home." It is difficult to find a place in our flat not to be interfered. There are too many of us, it is impossible to isolate one child from another. But they perform well. Anna graduated from school with a gold medal, now she is a second-year student, a military lawyer. In a month, she will come home from St. Petersburg.

What are your children's activities and hobbies?

Marina Terekhina: Maryino District Council sends our Katyusha (she is 13) to an art camp in Slovenia. She deserved that voucher, as she has a senior category in swimming, and she participates in all competitions.

Sveta is 14. She studies in the ninth cadet form. Today she had her Farewell Bell celebration, where she was awarded a gold GTO badge. She goes in for swimming, earlier she was engaged in water polo. On 19 May,  the pioneer organisation's birthday, she was on Poklonnaya Gora at Post No.1 at the Eternal Flame. She is very responsible. We are worried about her exams, even though they are just intermediate ones.

Petya is 9. He attends swimming lessons twice a week too. He plays chess well. He is a reflective and diligent boy.

Vyacheslav Terekhin: He reads a lot of interesting literature, popular science books, children's encyclopaedias, books about experiments.

Marina Terekhina: Vasya is a first former, he has been practicing sambo for three years. He participates in tournaments and wins prizes. Lisa (aged 2) has recently started attending kindergarten. By the way, she knows the magnet letters on the fridge and can count to six. And our most joyful child is Mitya.

Children help each other, and I'm very happy they can entertain each other, they are able to change clothes, feed, and cook some food. I can surely leave them at home alone if I have to go out for an hour or two.

When the school is over and the holidays begin, is it harder to cope with so many children?

Marina Terekhina: We have a summer cottage near Naro-Fominsk, and we try to go there as often as possible.

Vyacheslav Terekhin: At least two months a year. When we are in the country, our children come home only to have something to eat.

Marina Terekhina: They help in the morning, wash the dishes and set the table.

Vyacheslav Terekhin: We have a lot of board games. But in the daytime, after breakfast, when everything is cleaned and swept, children get on their bicycles and leave.

How do you spend your summer?

Vyacheslav Terekhin: We prefer to spend it together.

Marina Terekhina: We love to travel, so our big family is going to the Caspian Sea in July.

Vyacheslav Terekhin: Yes, we have never been to the Caspian Sea. We have been to the Black Sea, the Azov Sea, the Mediterranean and the Red Sea and even the White Sea this year.

Marina Terekhina: We're going all together, because we can't leave anyone at home.

Vyacheslav Terekhin: Travelling is always recharging.

Marina Terekhina: It is the best way to forget about household chores, diapers, pots and everything. And it is due to the fact that we are good at recreation and capable of changing the type of activity that we have been together for 21 years. Last year we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary.

Vyacheslav Terekhin: And it almost coincided with the award ceremony. (Last year, the Terekhins family was awarded the honorary badge 'Parental Glory of the City of Moscow'.

Marina Terekhina: Yes, we were awarded three weeks later, and went on vacation right away.

Vyacheslav Terekhin: Straight from the Kremlin to the airport.

What does this award mean to you?

Marina Terekhina: When we were applying for it, we were told: "You're an exemplary family." And we try to be up with this title. We must always be on top.

Vyacheslav Terekhin: It is both an award and more responsibility.

Marina Terekhina: Yes, it is a great responsibility to be given such an award. It is a great honour for us. Standing on the Kremlin’s stage, we were overwhelmed with emotions. We did it, we achieved it on our own.

What kind of assistance do Moscow authorities provide to such a large family?

Vyacheslav Terekhin: This flat, it was the best assistance. We moved here in 2014. We had lived in a two-room flat with seven children before.

Marina Terekhina: It is under a social rent program.

Vyacheslav Terekhin: The apartment belongs to the city, we enter into a 5-year contract with an option to extend. We live in it as in our own flat and pay only for housing and utility services.

Marina Terekhina: Each of us has a Moscow Resident social card. We enjoy free parking. Get various payouts. Fore example, we received RUB 10,000.- in May for each school student to buy a school uniform.

Vyacheslav Terekhin: We enjoy free admission to museums and exhibitions and try to visit all of them.

There are more than 147,700 large families with 373,800 children in Moscow. Moscow authorities provide them substantial support.

Each family with three or more children will be compensated for the cost of accommodation, utility services, telephone use. School and college students are annually provided RUB 10,000.- to buy school uniforms.

Moreover, Our Treasure project has been operating in Moscow since 2018. Parents of each child born in Moscow are provided with a set of 44 items they need during the first months of their baby's life. During the first year of the project, more than 100,000 sets have been provided.

There is also a Moscow Session, an urban children's recreation programme. In summer, children, including those from large families, children with disabilities and children from disadvantaged families are free to have some good time and improve their health.


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