Whistle While You Work

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Find more about chores, inspired ideas

I loom ominously in the doorway of Grace's room and say in my deepest, best villainous voice, "If you put away every last toy on your bedroom floor, pick up every single Polly Pocket and unload the dishwasher, then maybe, just maybe, I'll let you go to the ball."

"Yes, stepmother," Grace, 6, answers back sweetly as she scurries to clean up her room.

"I'll be back to check on your progress," I bellow and turn abruptly, slamming the door behind me.

I can't help but smile as I hear toys hitting baskets and books being stacked, then the melodious singing begins, "I know you, I've danced with you once upon a dream..."

To say my daughter has a flair for the dramatic is a bit of an understatement — sort of like saying Cinderella likes shoes. I've finally surrendered to the theatrics and decided since I've not been able to beat the drama, I'll join it.

Rewards, chart systems, bribes, threats, games, outright demands — I've tried it all to motivate my little princess into pleasantly doing her chores. Finally I've stumbled upon a process that works — a little pretending.

To get my gal into gear, all I have to do is get her into character — Wendy swabbing the deck for Captain Hook, Mary weeding the secret garden, the Tin Man polishing the silver, Sponge Bob unloading the dishwasher, Snow White helping the dwarves clean their cottage, Oscar the Grouch taking out the trash — and quicker than you can say, "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" we've whipped the house into a more presentable state.

Grace is a Method actor, so we have a few costumes that help set the proper mood — a bandanna tied around her hair, an old party dress with a ripped sash, an apron, a toolbelt. Accessories definitely increase productivity. I confess that I enjoy our little plays and it makes my work go faster, too.

And they say housework is no fun — just embrace your inner Wicked Stepmother!

How do you motivate your little ones to do their chores? Click the comments link below to find and share solutions.

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Whistle While You Work

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