'Thank goodness I've got my own bathroom!' Man, 24, tells of life with his TWELVE sisters (but admits they do run around after him)
It's difficult enough for the average family to time their morning routines. So spare a thought for long-suffering Charles Lewis, who has a staggering 12 sisters to contend with.
The 24-year-old, who lives at home with nine of his dozen female siblings ranging in age from eight to 28, has spent so many hours waiting outside the locked bathroom door that he now has his own en suite.
Father Peter, 52, is not so fortunate – with no en suite of his own, he is at the mercy of his daughters and their prolonged preparations. 'I can wait half a day for a bathroom,' he says. 'I often end up washing in the downstairs loo!'
'I get pampered – my 12 sisters do my ironing and make me tea!' Charles Lewis, 24, says it's not all bad being the only boy
But it's not all bad for the only boy among a swarm of girls. Although Charles complains that as a teenager his sisters would steal his CDs and DVDs, now his patience has paid off – and he frequently gets his sisters to run around after him.
'It was all a bit overwhelming as a teenager, but I kept my head down. They'd beg to let them use my bathroom, but I never did. Let one and they'd all want to.
'I don't mind being the only boy. I even got some of the girls playing football.
'They can be very sweet – bringing me a beer if I'm down. I'm probably a bit spoiled. That's why it's quite nice being home.
Spoiled: Charles says his sisters bring him beer if he's down. 'It's nice being home with them,' he says
THE LEWIS CLAN IN FULL
Carly, 28 (moved out)
Tracy, 27 (moved out)
Samantha, 26 (moved out)
Mother Tracey, 48, adds: Charles gets
away with the housework a bit. He manages to get the girls tidying up
his room. They really look up to him. Although it must have been hard
for him sometimes growing up, he doesn't do too badly.'
'The girls love their brother. I've felt
for Charles over the years, but he has the last word if football's on
the telly and even gets his sisters ironing for him.'
Indeed, Charles, who works in customer
service, says: 'It'd be a nightmare if I didn't have my own bathroom,
but I quite like it at home.
'I get pampered – my sisters do my
ironing and make me tea. Sometimes I have to take sanctuary in the
garage with dad, but I miss the screams and giggles when I'm away.'
And Charles admits that his male instincts kick in when it comes to caring for his sisters.
'I can be very protective,' he says.
'I'd never let any of my mates date my sisters. And I always say if I
think their outfits are too skimpy – though they rarely take any
Mother Tracey admits she has always been
maternal, although she originally planned to have just four children. But after the birth of their first
daughter, she and husband Peter just kept going.
Against all odds, only one of the 12
that followed was a boy.
When the children were young, the family needed two seven-seater people carriers to ferry the brood around. When they were infants, the family got through 360 nappies a week.
The family gets through three loaves of bread and 12 points of milk at breakfast time, three cartons of orange juice and 20 bananas per day, and 100 Weetabix a week.
Family affair: Parents Tracey, 48, and Peter, 52, far right, only planned to have four children – but they loved being parents so much that they kept on going
With a constant stream of girls
performing their ablutions, the family's water bill is 100 a month, and
gas and electricity cost 200 – compared with a average family's bills
of 30 for water and 80 for gas and electricity.
The family use 50 towels, 30 bottles of shampoo and conditioner, 15 shower gels, seven tubes of toothpaste, 50 loo rolls and 30 packets of cleansing wipes a week – coming to a total of 100.
Tracy admits she uses two large boxes of washing powder and two six-litre bottles of fabric conditioner a week.
Charles is not immune from these grooming rituals either – his mother says he gets through 'a lot of shower gel' and even has his own straightening irons.
Tracey, who is employed part time as a cashier, has gone back to work
after the birth of each child to help finance her large family, while husband Peter earns a living as a
self-employe coach builder.
They have never relied on state benefits,
instead carefully planning their spending to allow them to buy their
six-bedroom home in Dorset.
Protective: Charles says he would never let any of his mates dates his sisters – and he always says if their outfits are too skimpy
Despite the size of their house though, it is still a squeeze to fit them all in.
There are two girls in each room, Charles in his own, and the youngest two sharing with their parents.
But despite the hectic home life, the Lewis family wouldn't have it any other way. Tracey says she was pleased that Charles recently moved back home after a brief stint away.
Tracy says: 'One more lot of washing doesn't make much difference. And the girls are thrilled.'
Father Peter says he's a 'constant taxi driver' and can never make a slice of toast without having to make an entire loaf.
'The girls have me wrapped around their little fingers,' he admits.
'But we're blessed – and the kids are best friends.'
As for bringing yet more girls into the household, Charles approaches that with a relaxed attitude.
While he says he would never go to his sisters to talk about girl troubles – saying they cannot keep a secret – he has no qualms bringing his own girlfriend home.
'It was a bit of a shock for my girlfriend when I brought her home – but luckily she gets on well with all of them.
'I wouldn't say she's like any of my
sisters. What I've realised is that all women are different. You think
you know them – but you never do. And you never really know what to
15 Kids And Counting is on tonight, 24 Jan, at 9pm on Channel 4
READ THE INTERVIEW IN FULL IN THIS WEEK'S CLOSER MAGAZINE ON NEWSSTANDS NOW.