Having a large family on one income definitely makes things more difficult in a lot of ways. What the world says you should have and do is far different from what is attainable (in most cases). The other day I was reading a blog post about how one family paid off their debt of $150,000 in a few years. The author made a great point about how, when doing something like this, it is important to realize that you still have to go out and do things that are enjoyable that cost money.
Sure there are lots of free things to do, and that should definitely be a priority in terms of planning things for your family if you are tight on money. But every once-in-awhile you need to do something that you would all enjoy, even if it costs a bit of cash.
For example, we all decided a few months ago that we would love to go see The Piano Guys. Who? The Piano Guys. Seriously, if you have never heard of them, you have to go check out all of their music videos on youtube. They are incredibly talented musicians who love to have a good time with their music.
Anyhow, they were going to be playing at an outdoor music venue about 1 1/2 hours away from us, so we decided to get some lawn tickets and go enjoy them as an end-of-the-summer fling.
Having older kids who have jobs comes in handy, because one way to make things like this a bit more doable is to have those who earn an income pay for their own tickets. That cuts down on the amount of money we are responsible for, which helps immensely.
It was a cool evening, with blankets and sweatshirts galore, but it was a great concert. We were all so glad to have been able to do this together. With school starting for everyone, and the variety of work schedules in the family, it isn't that often that everyone is home at the same time. To spend the evening together outside listening to great music, sure was a nice way to start ending the summer. We hopefully won't be ending it quite yet (although you can't tell by the weather we've been having), but I can feel that it is starting to wind down.
Be creative in your what you do for fun, try to find ways to do it cheaply, but realize that, even with a big family, sometimes it is just necessary to splurge and have a good time together.