A Spoonful of Sugar

We all recall the scene in Mary Poppins in which Julie Andrews helps the children tidy up the nursery. With a crisp snap of her fingers, the children’s clothes fly into the closet, their toys onto shelves. It’s AWESOME. But even though I will lay claim to such magical abilities as potty-training a child over the weekend (while his parents are out of town), getting veggies into the bellies of the most adamant verde-haters, and making nappers out of naysayers, I do not profess to have Mary’s mystical abilities. Instead I employ my own version of “Spoonful of Sugar” (better suited to those of us without lightning bolt scars on our foreheads) that transforms otherwise mundane tasks into flights of fancy.

For example, when I have Doc (3) and Rebel (1)  we have “Laundry Parties”. Once I unload the clothes from the dryer into the laundry basket, Doc scoots the basket into the parents’ bedroom and hops onto the bed, where I proceed to dump the warm clothes onto him so that he can giggle and burrow his way out. Now where is Rebel all this time? Why, waiting by my legs for the empty basket of course! Once emptied, I pop the basket on the floor so that Rebel can turn it into a car, a boat, a rocket ship—whatever his little baby heart imagines! Then Doc and I set to work: I, folding and separating the clothes, he on the sock matching game I set up on the window sill.  Presto Change-o! You have two happy children, one less household task for mom and dad, and a singularly spellbinding nanny.

“Spoonful of Sugar” works on all ages, but with Mr. Man (8) and Big Cat (6) I use more military-style magic. I assign the boys each a chore, ordering them to report back to me immediately upon completion. (For some reason, kiddos 4-10 love being timed. By 11 this trick lost its fantastical power, so use your stopwatch while it works!) If they accomplish their mission way under time I make a fuss, telling them they are fine soldiers! Also with Big Cat it helps A LOT to make lists on post-its when sending him to do anything in his room. For example:

1) Put Clothes Away

2) Set Clothes out for school

3) Clean 4 Maids

Now on this last task, I make sure to clarify, “Big Cat, don’t Amelia Bedelia me on number 3. That DOES NOT mean find four maids and clean them, it means clean up your room for the maids.” This gets a chuckle, and he can’t wait to get to number 3. Abracadabra!


3 Comments on “A Spoonful of Sugar”

  1. […] trilling singing voice, she can definitely hang with the guys(7 dwarves to be exact!), and she has her own spoonful of sugar method: “whistle while you work.” There are a lot of nice things to be said about Snow White in her DO category. But I must point out […]

  2. […] My spoonful of sugar technique is a page straight from her book. When we were as little as three, she would have us help her with tasks around the house, be it emptying a trash can, or bringing in our dirty clothes to the laundry room, or my favorite spoonful of sugar moment, when folding large sheets, each of us holding one side, walking toward each other, when we got within nose length we’d giggle and kiss, then she would grab both sheets’ end and I would fold the underside up, kiss and giggle, then fold it again, and again. Each sheet was a game ending in laughter and love. I just loved that! […]

  3. […] start small with chores around the house, teaching them by Spoonful of Sugar example (just like my mama taught me). I also let them make mistakes. While Doc now loves to get his own […]


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