OUR SURPRISE HELPING HAND
The struggling family’s wonderful windfall
With nine children under nine and four sets of twins, making ends meet is a constant struggle for Auckland couple Emma and Loma Uhila. “We’re basically living pay to pay,” admits the proud father.
He and his wife have sacrificed a lot for their kids – Micah, eight, Ava and Lily, both seven, Isla and Eden, both six, Emme and Indie, both three and two-year-olds Mia and Levi. It’s been an expensive undertaking.
“Banks won’t even look at us,” Emma, 34, tells us. “We tried to get just a small credit card, but they have their own calculations and nine dependents is not a drawcard.” So when the TVNZ 1 series
Homemade surprised the family with a new laundry and outdoor playground, Emma and Loma were almost brought to tears. “We never would have been able to do this without them, not in our wildest dreams,” says highschool teacher Loma, 38.
Each week, the show gives one family in need a room makeover and garden upgrade – and it’s been a godsend for the Uhilas. Before her laundry upgrade, Emma was doing at least four loads of washing every day – now she has been able to cut that in half.
“It’s amazing what you put up with for so long,” she smiles. “It’s great not having to have the washer and dryer running all day.”
Having four sets of twins is a rare, one-in-24 million
occurrence and though they are lucky to have Emma’s parents living next door, for the most part, she and Loma are on their own.
Emma admits, “It’s about putting the kids’ needs first. We’d love to be doing lots of other things, but we can’t.”
Earlier this year, the whanau had to miss a family funeral because Emma and two of the kids fell ill, throwing their household into chaos. “It was a really important day, but we couldn’t go because the babies were sick,” explains Loma.
Emma adds, “It sucks, but you’ve got to do it – there’s no other way.”
When the children were younger – what Loma refers to as “the zombie phase” – family life revolved around their sleeping schedule.
“We still went out and did things, but the kids came first,” explains Emma. “And if that meant staying home for a nap, then we did it. Especially because there’s so many of them, it’s not just one baby who can sleep in the car – it’s four going down for that midday sleep.”
When Woman’s Day visits the full-on household at their West Auckland home, they’re settling in for lunch. It’s a well-oiled machine, with Dad churning out peanut butter sandwiches for every little hand that comes his way. Big brother Micah boasts, “We use two tubs of peanut butter a week!”
There’s a brief moment of silence after Loma manages to get all nine kids at the table eating. But it’s not long before the youngest twins are crying to get out of their chairs and the chaos starts all over again.
Now that five of her nine kids are in school and two are in kindergarten, life is a little easier for Emma – compared to when we visited the family last year for Mia and Levi’s first birthday party. Well, as easy as life can get for a busy mother-of-nine!
“We go out quite a bit and I’ll take them grocery shopping, as opposed to before, when I’d only ever order online,” tells Emma. “Now I’m actually able to enjoy them again.”
Party of nine (from left) Micah, Ava, Lily, Isla, Eden, Emme, Indie, Levi and Mia.
It’s no walk in the park with such a big brood, but dedicated parents Emma and Loma wouldn’t have it any other way now.