Cheaper By The Dozen

by Frank Gilbreth Jr., Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.


Cheaper By the Dozen is an exploration of the infamously large family, the Gilbreths, who had twelve children. The story follows how the parents contend with the challenge of raising twelve children and taking care of an overwhelming household, while both parents work outside the home to make ends meet. However, it is clear that the children all feel very loved and accepted, and that the family is very close knit and affectionate. It is impressive to see that the parents can devote time and attention to each child in an environment where it would seem overwhelming and taxing to even complete their normal routine. The family is tight-knit and remains strong and compassionate towards one another in every circumstance, and the authors, who based the novel on their own experiences as part of the family, describe the wealth of love they felt from growing up in such a large family.


Frank and Lillian are professionals in the fields of efficiency and time management studies. They have a very efficient manner of working and experiment with new ideas on how to reduce time and expense in the workplace. This overflows, fittingly, into their home life as they have to maintain a rigid, efficient schedule and budget to take care of such a large family and still save money.


In such a large family, it may seem difficult for each child to find an identity, but it is clear that each member is very unique. The novel takes time and highlights each family member's personality traits and quirks. More importantly, however, is the family's uniqueness in the world at large. They are often gawked at or asked on the street why they have so many children, highlighting how abnormal they seem. However, the Gilbreths are proud of their unique personal and family identities.

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