Arland and Cindy Nichols are raising their troupe of six children to be loving, successful, and virtuous individuals.
KATY MAGAZINE | May 2018
By Ashley Lancaster
Raising children is a demanding, often thankless job. No doubt raising six kids under the age of 12 can seem nearly impossible, but Arland and Cindy Nichols are doing just that - raising six (soon to be 7) happy, healthy, and kind children.
Married for 13 years, Arland and Cindy first met at the St. Mary's Catholic Center at Texas A&M University when Arland was a sophomore and Cindy a freshman. "He recruited me to play flute in the choir and that’s where our friendship began, however, it would be another 2 years or so before we began dating," says Cindy.
What began as a friendship turned into a forever love, and after they married, the Nichols' moved to Katy so that Arland could earn his Master's Degree at The University of St. Thomas. Later, he accepted a position as a teacher at St. John XXIII College Preparatory, and they have called Katy home for 11 years.
They planted roots in Katy when Cindy was pregnant with their first and the family has been growing ever since. They currently have six children - Joseph (11), Mary Catherine (9), Thomas (7), Therese (6), Bernadette (4), and Michael (2) two sweet souls in Heaven lost to miscarriage, and have another child on the way. "We are expecting number 7, a boy and our 'tie-breaker' in early September!"
Cindy homeschools Mary Catherine, Thomas, and Therese, while their oldest, Joseph attends Western Academy, an all-boys Catholic school in Houston.
A Team Effort
Caring for and raising six kids is a challenge, but the Nichols do it with grace, patience, and consistency. "The biggest challenge is probably logistics. As the kids get older and more involved in outside activities, it’s hard to coordinate rides, etc. And with Arland’s work at the St. John Paul II Foundation, he is often traveling or has commitments after work, so it’s even more difficult. Sometimes I need to hire a babysitter to come help out just to get multiple kids where they need to be," says Cindy.
Mornings start at 4:45 a.m. for Cindy to be up at 5 a.m. and have a little prayer and quiet time to herself before the craziness begins. Joseph wakes around 6 a.m. on school days, eats breakfast, makes his lunch, and gets his chores done before he leaves. The younger children skip downstairs to begin their chores and have breakfast before school at 8:30.
"It’s a fun, crazy, joyful mess and we wouldn’t
trade it for the world," - Arland Nichols
To keep the day moving, each child has assigned chores that have to be done by 8 a.m. every day, which includes straightening their room, wiping down counters, taking out the trash, and unloading the dishwasher.
"We think that having a large family definitely lends itself to order, structure and discipline. There are many opportunities for the kids to serve one another and to practice valuable skills that will help them to be virtuous, selfless adults," says Cindy.
Language of Virtue
Even with a schedule so well-crafted, conflict between young children is bound to happen. The Nichols believe in letting their children handle personal conflicts between themselves, with guidance. "We use the language of virtue in our home and we constantly remind the kids to put the needs of others before themselves. We always expect the one who offended to look the offended in the eyes and say, “I’m sorry for_______________.” And we expect the offended to look the other in the eyes and say, “I forgive you.” Then they must always give a genuine hug or a handshake.Depending on the offense, they may have to make further reparation….such as doing the offended’s chores for a few days, or offering them their dessert, etc," says Cindy.
The Nichols are definitely a sports family. The kids excel in cross country, baseball, gymnastics, and ballet. Their oldest, Joseph, plays baseball and also runs track, where he placed second in the mile at last summer's meet. "As the kids get older, we look forward to seeing where their interests lie and helping them to recognize their talents.," says Cindy. In their precious free time, they love being outdoors at Cindy's family ranch, and grilling out with friends and their families.
The Nichols Kiddos
With such a busy schedule, the Nichols truly love watching their children grow and become their unique selves.
- Joseph is very intense and has a competitive personality in everything he does.
- Mary Catherine is very motherly - she will see a need and be the first to jump in and help.
- Thomas is gentle, sweet, and takes care of his little brother.
- Therese is so sweet and excitable with a ready smile.
- Bernadette shows affection often and is very genuine.
- Michael talks constantly and is very expressive - everything is exciting to him.
"It’s a fun, crazy, joyful mess and we wouldn’t trade it for the world," says Arland.