A mum with nine children who refuses to ever use contraception says she has to do laundry four times a day and spends £1,760 on food every month – but still may have more kids.
Ashley Couzens was overjoyed when she fell pregnant aged 16 with her daughter, Alexis, and took to motherhood like a duck to water – so much so that she gave birth to seven more children over the next 11 years.
But just when the 36-year-old 'felt complete' she found out she was expecting her ninth child, Jrue, who's now eight-months-old and admits she'd even consider having one or two more.
The cleaning business owner said that each time she's quizzed on how she mentally and emotionally supports so many little ones her response is that motherhood is second nature to her – just 'like riding a bike'.
But the gran-of-one who has amassed more than seven million likes on TikTok said she's been branded 'irresponsible'.
She disagrees, saying it 'takes people to make the world go around' and her children will 'add value' to it.
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The devoted mum said that running her hectic household demands embracing plenty of 'noise and chaos', putting on four loads of laundry each day and spending around £1,670 a month on food.
In fact, she admits that even if one of the youngsters are out of the house at their friends she can feel the difference and doesn't like it – preferring the 'chaos' and full house.
Ashley, who shares a close bond with all her children and described them as her 'absolute best friends', said that the path she's chosen in life isn't the easiest – but that it's extremely rewarding.
Ashley of, Tampa, Florida, US, said: "I've never in my life used contraception.
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"For multiple reasons, I come from a Catholic household and so they were always against that and I kind of just picked up on that.
"I'm so extreme to the point where I'll rarely even take ibuprofen, I'm very anti any types of medicine, especially birth control.
"If I'm honest, I don't think I'll ever use contraception.
"I go back and forth with wanting more children or not.
"'Everyone's like 'well you have nine, you have to go for ten that's an even number' and sometimes I'm like 'uhhhh'.
"I would say since he and I [ex-husband] are not together and I'm moving out on my own, I'm definitely not looking for a mate at this time but I will say, the shop is still open.
"I think I would consider having one maybe two more because I am 36, I know I'm getting a little bit old, but not too too old just yet."
Ashley's teenage children are 19-year-old Alexis, 17-year-old Ashlyn, 16-year-old Tre and Ava who's 13.
Her youngest kids are 11-year-old Jerzy 11, 10-year-old Jett, eight-year-old Adayah, seven-year-old Aila and baby Jrue who's eight-months-old.
The shortest age gap her children have is between Ava, 13, and Jerzy, 11 – as she fell pregnant again around five months after having her fourth child.
Ashley started her own cleaning company back in 2017 and worked throughout her pregnancy with her youngest son Jrue, and returned just four days after giving birth to him last October.
She said she gets her clan from a to b using a seven-seater and that her eldest daughter will also take her car if they're all heading out together.
Ashley said: "It's so hectic being a mother of nine. My days start very early and end very late.
"As soon as I wake up I go directly to the laundry room and put in a load.
"That's kind of an all day thing, it never really ends, I probably do three to four loads a day – it's just crazy.
"Everyone's like 'financially that's one thing, but how can you mentally and emotionally support all nine of these people who need so much attention from their mother and still try to help yourself to be on top of things?'
"I say I'm not sure but I feel like it's second nature for me, like riding a bike – this is all I know.
"I don't know life without chaos, noise, and when my kids are gone for whatever reason, if they're at friends or even if just one of them is gone, I can feel that and it's a negative feeling.
"So I prefer the chaos, noise and a lot of kids.
"It is definitely demanding."
Ashley said that acquaintances are left in 'disbelief' when she reveals the number of children she has and that she's also often asked how many fathers they all have – and it's just the one.
She said she forks out an average of £416 a week to feed her family and that she mainly cooks large meals like spaghetti or lasagne as they're able to feed so many hungry mouths.
Ashley said: "People ask 'why do you keep having kids? Why won't you get on birth control? Why don't you tie your tubes? Why don't you use protection?'
"And I'll never have an answer fully just because I'm not a fan of that type of stuff.
"And I don't feel like I'm giving my kids a terrible life. I feel like they're doing great.
"It's not like they don't have what others have – they have cell phones, video games, nice clothing.
"They have all the things that other children have so it's not like I'm having a whole bunch of kids that I can't take care of.
"To TikTokers that say I'm irresponsible for having nine children, first I would absolutely disagree.
"I think that it takes people to make the world go around and I'm not giving this world kids that are going to be irresponsible, they're great people that will add value to this world.
"I always jokingly say 'you should be thanking me, not a lot of people would do this, what I'm doing'.
"The path that I've chosen isn't the easiest but it is extremely rewarding. The older they get, there's so many benefits to having this many children.
"I have girlfriends that chose to have abortions or had birth control for so long that they're having a difficult time getting pregnant or their first child right now, and they're like 'man I'm so tired, I really wish I had been doing this younger'.
"I just think there are a lot of pros to the decisions that I've made, especially by having kids young.
"The amount of kids is all I know, so I can't really see it how an outsider would."
The former appliance business owner described her pregnancies as 'extremely easy' – apart from her last one as she had some complications that she hadn't experienced before.
Other than that they were 'perfect' and all natural – and she's never had a 'tear or stitch'.
Ashley said: "The hardest thing for me at the moment right now, I have a lot of older ones – 19, 17,16 and then 13, and I just think those ages are so crucial when it comes to making sure they have someone to talk to about things that are going on with school and friends.
"My eldest was pregnant and I was the first one she told, so that made me extremely happy because I'll never forget when I was younger, I didn't want to tell my mum that I got pregnant.
"Definitely just keeping the lines of communication open and letting them be able to express themselves has always been important to me.
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"Just establishing that close relationship and even though people say you shouldn't be friends with your kids I disagree, my kids are my absolute best friends.
"Being a parent is the greatest form of love – especially a mother and a child."
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