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The Duggar Family Interview, Part 3: Chore Charts!

We're continuing our interview series with the Duggar family. In Part 2, they discussed how they manage expectations; In Part 3, we'll get a glimpse of they keep everything in order.

3) Chore Charts!

"There is a schedule from morning until bedtime, so that they know what to expect -- what their goals are, what they are aiming for, what they try to get done. But realistically, if everything happened on that schedule in one day, it'd be a miracle."--Michelle

Do the kids help out with housework?

Michelle Duggar: Everyone has jurisdictions, or chores, in our house. We all have our areas where we are responsible. There might be two or three people in the laundry room. We team up and we have buddies that work together in certain areas, so that the older buddy might be in charge of the kitchen, and the younger one might help put away the dishes. The older one would put things in the oven, you know, help boil the noodles, the younger one can go to the pantry or get stuff out of the freezer.

They all feel like they are a very important part of life, and that teaches responsibility. And they love the fact that they are big and get to do big things. And the older ones have the responsibility to train and teach, and it makes the older ones rise to the call. They realize, "Hey, this little one is watching me, and they want to be like me." Those little ones absolutely admire the older ones and love them so much.

It's kind of cute now that we've got all these drivers. Often, if they're going to run an errand for us in town, they ask, "Can I take little so-and-so with me?" They really love their siblings. It's a special relationship that I see the younger and older ones have. I wouldn't be surprised if when the older ones get married, the younger ones will want to go and visit them and spend time with them -- and the older ones would enjoy that.

Everything is scheduled. It's written out on a chart. You can see -- it's in columns, it's all color-coded, like the buddies are "buddy teams" so there are 3 and 4 on a buddy team. All pink are Jan and her team. All blue are Jill and her team. There is a schedule from morning until bedtime so that they know what to expect -- what their goals are, what they are aiming for, what they try to get done. But realistically, if everything happened on that schedule in one day, it'd be a miracle. But at least there is a goal to shoot for so they aren't kind of floundering, wondering, "What do we do next?" Because they know.

The little chore packs that the little guys wear are great. They have little cards that slide into a little plastic thing that clips on their little collar or little belt loop. And the ones that tend to get distracted easily, they have their little chore pack. There is a morning chore pack they clip on, and they go through their cards and slide the next one in the back, so they get up, straighten their beds, put away their jammies, brush their teeth, fix their hair, put on their shoes -- now that they know how to tie them! Then the next chore pack starts after breakfast with school -- their math, English, spelling…then they practice their music. For the ones that get distracted, the chore packs work great.

Who does all the planning for the chore packs and the schedules?

MD: Initially, setting it up takes a little bit of effort. But now, the older ones can schedule their own and then their buddies; like if they are practicing their music together, then they know to put that buddy with them on the same time slot. It's all color-coded, so they just write it in with a pencil and I come along and make sure it is all clicking together. We've done different things at different times -- like every few months we sort of change it around to make it more exciting. Dad came up with a check list -- a monthly glance, all-in-one sheet for each child checklist -- so they can go down and check everything they have accomplished in a day. Then at the end of the month it's all on one sheet. Then for each check mark or every page of school that they get accomplished -- so many pages in math -- they get three cents. It's a little motivation -- because at the end of the month, Daddy is going broke! They get, like twenty five dollars. But they love that ching-ching -- putting money in the bank.

Jim Bob Duggar: We don't give them allowances.

MD: We want to motivate them for initiative and responsibility. I don't have to tell them to take out the trash, they know they are supposed to. They can mark it off their checklist and get it done. If the garbage is overflowing and falling on the floor, we're like, "Okay we had to call you on that one." It's a really good motivation for them to get it done.