Month: August 2015

Isa’s Daily Chore Chart

Today is the second day of us utilising the Chore Chart for Isa. I have always thought that using the chore system is beneficial, but never think that I’d start using it this early. Anyway, I believe that the sense of responsibility and accountability can be inculcated early in our life.

Of course I am tempted to make a pretty chore chart (thanks to Pinterest), but for the time being I am happy with this one:


Making the Chore Chart

First, I ran through a list of chores suggested for Isa’s age (he’s three this year Masha Allah). It is important to make sure that the activities listed are not too difficult or too easy for my child. In our list it is making the bed and cleaning up after meals.

Second, I listed down activities that are most challenging for me to get Isa doing them. That’s why you can see that taking shower is one of them, because God help me, he cries like nobody’s business if he has to stop playing to shower. Tidying up after playing and drinking (enough) water are in the list due to the same reason too.

Third, add an extra spot for bonus points – I call it ‘Do good’ item, so that all other positive actions he does during the day are acknowledged and rewarded. This is important because at the end of the day, his father a.k.a the sounding board a.k.a the rewarding body will listen to my report.

I googled for free chore chart printables/templates on the Internet, and found one which suits me and how I imagined it to be (but too lazy to design one myself), printed it on an A4 paper, and put it in an IKEA frame that is lying around. I am yet to hang it on the wall, as I am still finding the most strategic place to put it. I use a whiteboard marker to draw the star on the plastic sheet which comes with the frame. 


And now let me tell you how it went yesterday.

I explained to him each chore/activity that he needs to complete every day, and that there will be reward if he collects a lot of stars (I try not to reward him daily at this point). Isa is practically happy with the idea of getting stars for each of completed activity, and referred to the chart several times during the day. He welcomed the idea of getting his favourite Kinderjoy as a reward at first.

Getting him showered was still a struggle nevertheless. While initially he was so excited to collect the stars, when it came to taking shower things like ‘I don’t want stars’ ‘I don’t want Kinderjoy’ came out, though after he finished showering he immediately asked if he could get another star printed on the chart. *sigh*

As my husband reached home and he’s left with one more item to do, Isa requested for his father’s phone to watch ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’ videos on Youtube (Have I told you that he is still very much obsessed with this nursery rhyme?). We agreed to letting him access the phone as a reward as screen time is purposely regulated in our house, if and only if he could put away all his toys.

He lit up to the thought, but funnily as he sat down to begin tidying up we heard a loud cream of ‘I am tired I don’t want to put my toys away’ which lasted for a long time. I didn’t know what happen next because I let my husband handled that (I have had too much melt down yesterday too face another one).

So as of yesterday, Isa missed one star.


I am happy to report that the first activity Isa completed on the second day is… taking shower! 😀

I will update again at the end of this week, nevertheless, and see if this system works.


Children Toys: To Clean Up or Not Clean Up

At the very time I am writing this, my living room is a total mess. Just to illustrate it better, I am shamelessly putting a photo of it:

And at this very moment too, there is a little boy sitting in front of me having his breakfast, which means I can expect more mess soon.

There are days when I am a bit more productive than usual that before I go to bed I’d clear up my living room, and spare myself from the headache when I wake up in the morning. But it was not yesterday (most days, to be honest), when I was more keen on finishing the chapter I was reading.

Now that my little girl has started being mobile, and active I must add, she also contributes to this. Yes, my 5-month-old baby is now officially a proficient mess-making machine. Just the other day upon coming out of the kitchen I saw her pulling a small basket of toys of the toy shelf. In addition to that she now also pays much interest to what his brother is playing – which leads to his brother being annoyed and leaves whatever he’s playing just like that. In short, she contributes both directly and indirectly to the mess 😀

I am torn when it comes to messy play.

Sure, this is not even messy if you follow the ‘definition’ of messy play (which involves paints, sand, and perhaps all things gooey), which I know has enormous benefits to the children. Nevertheless, it still gives me some sort of headache though I am never an OCD person. Just the other day I could only stare at my wall helplessly; one blotted with a patch of pink homemade play-dough, and found myself making a silent promise that I would never make a new batch of play-dough.

I am torn because as much as I’d like to encourage creative play, how much responsibility should I give to my children when it comes to putting the toys away?

I could bark on Isa to put away the toys and blocks as soon as he finishes with them, but what if that stops him from, you know, developing further what he’s playing by leaving them overnight for instance? I remember the kind of play I was engaged in when I was smaller, and it didn’t happen only for one evening. Sometimes I’d take a break, but would like to come back to the scene without having to rebuild it, so there’s really no point of putting the toys away.


When Isa was younger, the rule ‘take one out, put one away’ worked well. But his play is getting more intricate and elaborate, that to not mix up his train set with his Mega Blocks and wooden blocks, or his countless toy cars is just impossible. But allowing all of those to be taken out means it will be harder to get him to clean up. And would really like to NOT yell.

Not pushing him to tidy clean up however, I fear, would bring about the false sense of entitlement, that there’s always someone else (often be me) to sort up all the mess. But to keep on reciting the rule ‘Put them away’  may discourage him from playing at all, and I have seen it first hand with the Lego set we bought him. We got him a 1000-piece Lego set a few months back, and suddenly his mom (that’s me) became obsessed with the cute little bricks that she kept dictating how and where the bricks should be kept and organized over and over again. The outcome? Isa did not touch the set for more than two weeks. Well, it could be the fact that he was a bit frustrated after having some difficulties (after all the set is meant for 4+), but I suspect it was due to my irritating, over-controlling behaviour: ‘Too many rules I’d rather not play with it,’ I guess.  Since I changed my approach, apparently Isa has warmed up and found some pleasure in playing with the little bricks.

I have long came to yield to the belief that a house with kids could never be spotless, but anyone, seriously, how do you deal with this? Where’s the fine line between being too restrictive and too liberal as a parent?

Maybe I think a tad too much.

The Quest for Reason and Meaning

Isa has been in the ‘why’ phase for nearly a year now.

Being his parent, and now one who stays 24/7 with him, I can say this phase can be really tiring. I am ashamed to admit that there were regrettable moments when my responses to his endless questions were less then encouraging.

I love to answer his questions most of the times, because I know he really wants to find the answers. It keeps my brain working. Simplifying processes, information and knowledge that I know to make them comprehensible for a 3-year old is no easy feat, and as Einstein once said – it takes a genius to do it!

Nevertheless, the ‘why’ trail of questions can get too long. Sometimes just to check whether he’s just asking because it has become a habit I’d purposely ask him back: ‘Why what?’ and 99% of the times he can rephrase his questions, which means he is not merely saying ‘Why?’ meaninglessly.

There were many times I honestly want him to just shut up. Like when I requested him to keep silent because her sister is trying to sleep, or when I am just too exhausted that I need to nap.

“Please keep quiet, Abang Long.”


“Because mommy needs to sleep.”


“Because I’m tired.”


“Because I did a lot of work today.”

“Why? I don’t like you sleeping.” (Darn, have I raised a selfish human being here?)

“I need to sleep.”

“Why?” This will either accompanied by the annoying whining sound (God help me), or by another cycle of Q&A.

And by the time you get to that part of the conversation, the window for you to sleep will be gone forever because his sister has just woken up from her nap.



I noticed that for the past month his curiosity has now expanded to finding the origins of things, which is kind of interesting for me. This conversation normally happens at the dining table, where he’d inquire (repeatedly, of course) on ‘What’s the chicken made of?’, ‘What’s the egg made of?’, ‘What’s the rice made of?’ etc. Well, there’s no point in me learning so much in my younger and single days if I could not find joy in imparting the knowledge to my offspring, isn’t it?

But more amazingly to me, very recently he’s moved on to asking the meaning of things he heard and learned before. We mainly converse in Malay, as I have written before, but these days Isa is exposed to English (through TV and books, which I now read to him in English and then translated to our mother toungue) that he picks up a number if nursery rhymes and becomes obsessed with them. He has also memorised a few Quranic verses in Arabic along the way. All those while I assumed that understanding what those words will come much later…

…until the other day, when he asked me to translate ‘London Bridge’ and ‘itsy bitstyspider’, mind you, word by word.

Just yesterday when I had to explain what Alhamdulillah means, and what each phrase in his favourite ‘Erti al Fatihah’ by Ummi means, I felt so glad and thanful I have spent my youth learning all those, that when such times come, I could explain, satisfyingly I hope, what ‘Allah Maha Pemurah’ and ‘Segala Puji’ means to my children.

But above all, I thank Allah for his inquisitive and curious mind. I pray that my weakness and my impatience won’t in anyway dampen his curiosity or worse, kill it.

After all, the world has enough memorisers and rote learners, that we have only a few who think – and perhaps that’s why the world is as it is now.

Khadijah’s First Time in a Pool


My husband came home from work earlier than usual. The sun was still shining, and it felt just like the best time for…swimming!

Isa has been away from the pool for the longest time – I could not remember when exactly was the last time we’ve been there, perhaps when I was pregnant with Khadijah. And Khadijah, she seems ready for the new adventure, so we said, why not.

Isa was reluctant at first – he has been acting that way whenever I invited him to go out, but agreed to join a bit later once he saw Khadijah all prepped up in her swimming suit, a hand-me-down from her cousin.

The adult pool was a bit dirty, so we didn’t let Isa go there as he’d usual do. He joined Khadijah in the children pool – a smaller, but sufficient for these two to have fun. Khadijah indeed is a natural water lover much like her brother, but when I watched her reaction and her brother’s reaction in a video captured during his first time, they are totally different. Isa was all hyped up, but Khadijah was..a bit calmer, and perhaps analytical.

No two children are the same, remember?