updated 09/22/2011 AT 2:10 PM ET
•originally published 09/23/2011 AT 1:45 PM ET
With a blended family of nine, country star Sara Evans and her sports radio host husband Jay Barker know a thing or two about keeping the peace.
“People think that with seven kids you can’t expect anything but chaos, and that’s not necessarily true,” Barker says. “It just means it’s more important than ever to have order.”
After the couple married in 2008, Evans, 40, brought her three children (Avery, 12, Olivia, 8 and Audrey, 6) from Nashville to live in Birmingham, Ala., where Barker, 39, hosts his radio show and shares custody of his kids from a previous relationship (Andrew, 13, Braxton, 11, Sarah Ashlee, 10, and Harrison, 10). “The kids love each other like Jay and I love each other,” says Evans. “It just really works.”
Reaching that happy state, however, came with a few house rules that all nine family members are required to keep up on:
Keep It Cozy: The couple chose a relatively modest house – 3,700 sq. ft. – deliberately. “The point was to bring the families together and it’s a lot easier to do that in a smaller house,” says Evans.
Keep Things Organized: Mom and dad set up locker-style cubbies in the garage for each child’s sports equipment. “It is important for each kid to know they belong in this family,” says the singer. “This is my locker, my bed, my cubbie. But also teaches responsibility – to take care of your things.”