California parents of 12 kids reveal memorable back-to-school ‘ready-set-go’ tips

By | September 13, 2022

Getting ready for school in the morning can be a challenge, especially for larger households. 

That’s not the case for the 14-member “Storm Family” in Los Angeles. Every member of the family is enrolled in school — mom and dad included.

Iris Purnell and Cordell “Storm” Purnell told Fox News Digital that they’ve long figured out their back-to-school get-ready routine — and throwing in college classes hasn’t interrupted the system they have in place.

“We get ready the Sunday before the school week starts,” Iris Purnell said during a recent phone interview.

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Creating a weekly schedule and meal plan helps the couple keep their family on track, they said.

First, the Purnells figure out who’s going to drop off and pick up their children each school day. 

Then they develop a cleaning and household chore schedule and an itinerary that determines what their children will do after they return home.

“You don’t want the children to be idle because when they’re idle and have no instruction, then that’s when they get into stuff,” Iris Purnell said. “So, you want to make sure that they always have something to do. We have a list of what needs to be done.”

Cordell added that their Sunday school preparation takes a whole day to carefully plan.

“If you dedicate a full day to getting everything organized, then you’ll know exactly what’s going to happen the next day, you’ve got all the information that the school has given out and you can do everything that you need to do, like putting gas in your car,” he explained.

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Cordell Purnell said that while not every detail can be predicted one full week ahead, the system does work for his family.

For food, the parents write down the meals the family will eat throughout the week.

“My husband goes food shopping that Sunday to make sure that we have everything for that week,” Iris told Fox News Digital.

She added that three of her children pitch in with cooking responsibilities — and they rotate duties with the parents.

“I’m very, very honest and very transparent because not every big family does the same thing,” Iris said.

She acknowledged that some mothers have gone viral on TikTok for showing off their early morning meal prep routines in which they make breakfasts, lunches and sometimes even dinner for their large families.

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“People think every big family does that and that’s just not true,” Iris said.

However, the Purnells have chosen to wake up early and start their days at 5 a.m. “We’re an athletic family,” Cordell said.

He also noted, “We get our meditation on in the morning and our prayer.” 

When it comes to purchasing school supplies for the back-to-school season, Iris and Cordell Purnell have two tips for families, both big and small.

One, they don’t recommend buying supplies early; and two, they recommend checking out community events that are available at back-to-school times for local families.

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“I think a lot of people prepare too early, and you end up buying things you don’t even need,” Iris told Fox News Digital.

Instead of buying fall and winter clothes before or at the start of back-to-school season, the Purnells opt to keep using their summer clothes, weather permitting. They only buy new fall and winter clothing when the season actually changes and prices go down.

“Big families deal with things as they come and don’t try to pre-prepare [with back-to-school shopping] because it creates unnecessary stress,” Cordell said.

This year, the Purnells found a few neighborhood events in which school supplies were distributed free of charge to those in the community. 

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Iris Purnell said that in addition to backpacks, customizable sneakers that children can paint were distributed.

Cordell added that he always tells parents and guardians to stay connected with their communities and local assemblies.

“That way you can get the information about what’s going on in your city that you can be a part of, to either help or benefit from,” he said.

The proud father of 12 told Fox News Digital that he’s excited to see his whole family enrolled in school this year.

“It’s a big life change for us,” he said.

Their children, Malikhai, 17, Cordell Jr., 17, Janai, 15, Trinity, 13, Messiah, 12, Josiah, 11, Love, 9, Seven, 8, Michael, 6, Royal, 5, Heavenly, 4, and Hope, 3, all attend schools in northern Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, the parents are studying at Antelope Valley College, a two-year public community college in Lancaster, California.

Iris is majoring in digital media, while Cordell is majoring in sociology. The pair said they’re hoping to bring what they learn at school to The Storm Family social media accounts they have on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. That’s where they document snippets of their lives and promote their online merchandise store. 

The couple said their backgrounds in professional dance and the family’s physical proximity to Hollywood have inspired their children to want to pursue show business.

“They all have different dreams,” Iris said. “Some want to be an actor, some want to be a writer, some want to be a baker, some want to be a chef or a stunt double. And one wants to be a chemist.” 

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The couple said they support the endeavors their children want to pursue.

“You learn a skill by doing something and being consistent in wanting to translate that skill into what you want to be,” Iris said. “That’s what we teach them.”

Cordell added that he reminds his children that they can combine traditional white- or blue-collar jobs with their creative hobbies. He said that he references FOX Weather’s Nick Kosir as an example of his love of weather reporting and dancing.

“What I tell them is, ‘No matter what you’re going to be, you’re going to be able to be a great dancer. If you’re a doctor, you’re going to be known for [being] a great dancing doctor,'” Cordell told Fox News Digital.

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“My kids are going to be successful no matter what,” he continued. 

“They’re going to be great, they’re going to be prosperous and I’m glad to be a part of that.”

He added, “I’m a big fan of the family.”