Any parent will tell you that caring for kids is a lot of work. And if you have 19 kids? Well, then all bets are probably off. Just ask Michelle Duggar. On the TLC series 19 Kids and Counting and its follow-up Counting On, the mom of more than a dozen appears calm and collected. Over the family’s years on TV, viewers have seen how Michelle and her husband Jim Bob Duggar have implemented various systems to keep things running smoothly in their home, from assigning chores to the kids to the family’s controversial “buddy system,” where some of the older children take responsibility for caring for their younger siblings.
But it wasn’t always that way. In the past, Michelle has opened up about feeling completely overwhelmed when she was a young mother.
Michelle Duggar stayed up until 1 a.m. doing laundry
Michelle and Jim Bob had their first child, a son named Josh, in 1988. A decade later, they had 11 kids in total, including two sets of twins. By the time Michelle gave birth for the last time in 2009, they had another eight children, for a grand total of 19.
Parenting all those children was a challenge, Michelle revealed in a post she first shared on her family’s website back in 2005. Completing the basic tasks required to keep the household running — including laundry, cooking, and cleaning — was completely overwhelming, she confessed.
At one point, Michelle found herself folding laundry at 1 a.m. with “tears streaming down my cheeks.” Between “diapers, dishes, laundry, meals, cleanup, school lessons, baths, hugs, kisses, [and] correction,” she simply couldn’t do it all, a realization that left her feeling “inadequate,” she wrote.
A Duggar family friend stepped into help
Michelle shared that she turned to her faith and asked God to help her get through a difficult time. The next day — after staying up until 2 a.m. to finish all the laundry — she took her children to their piano lesson. She was so tired, she nearly fell asleep while her kids were practicing. When the music teacher asked if she was OK, Michelle admitted she was overwhelmed with mountains of laundry. The teacher promptly volunteered to help out, something she continued to do for the next decade.
The Duggars did as many as 11 loads of laundry a day
Laundry clearly wasn’t Michelle’s favorite household chore. And when you realize how much there was to do, it’s easy to see why. In her and Jim Bob’s 2011 book A Love That Multiples, they revealed that they did 8 to 11 loads of laundry every day.
Washing all those clothes required four washers and four dryers, and when an ice storm once knocked out power in the family’s house for more than a week, the mountain of dirty laundry threatened to overwhelm them. And catching up on laundry after being away from home was also a challenge.
“If we’re gone for a week and we come back from a trip, it gets piled up fast,” Joy-Anna Duggar said in an episode of 19 Kids and Counting.
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