Siberian Couple With 22 Children Reveal What It’s Really Like Raising a Large Brood In the World’s Coldest City

Aleksandr and Oksana Pavlov have 22 children, 18 of whom were adopted. They live in the Siberian city of Yakutsk, where the temperature can drop as low as -84ºF. A typical day for the couple includes long bathroom lines, two dinner sittings, and layering up in lots of warm clothing. The couple initially adopted 3 children in May 2003, but as their family grew, Aleksandr left his engineering job to provide more support at home. While 8 of their children have since moved out and started their own families, the Pavlovs still have 14 to look after. The family’s day starts bright and early, when Aleksandr heads outside to gather ice to make sure that his family has enough clean drinking water. The family doesn’t have access to the central water supply, so they depend on water reserve containers to store the water needed for their daily activities. After standing in line to use the bathroom, all the children have breakfast — traditional Yakut pancakes, which are a high-energy food, served with homemade blueberry jam. Because space is limited, the Pavlovs have two sittings at each meal, with the youngest eating first. After a hearty breakfast, the kids bundle up in insulated trousers and special winter jackets designed for extreme weather and head off to school. Luckily, the school is just a 5-minute walk away. The older children huddle together to wait for a bus to take them to a university in the city center. Buses in the area are painted red so they can be easily seen in the snowy weather. To keep the children entertained, the Pavlovs built their brood an indoor gym. At the end of the day, the family enjoys dinner — sometimes fish and traditional fried pies filled with meat and rice. Aleksandr and Oksana receive government support for their monthly expenses, which they use to provide food and clothing for all of their children. The couple says they love being together, sharing activities, and playing games with their kids. “We feel blessed to have such a large and loving family,” said Oksana.