It’s been 9 months that we have been instilling the habit of maintaining cleanliness after lessons and meals. 9 months, and it still has to be reminded as if it was the first day.

After much thinking and pondering, I have figured out why it is taking so long. The habits we are trying to instill are not habits they are used to practice at home.

Here are some of the things I have discovered after conversations with different students:

‘After meals, who cleans up?’


‘Do you help?’

“Errrr… no?”

‘Do you read?’


‘What do you do once you’re done reading?’

“I go and play.”

‘What about your books?’


‘What do you like doing with mummy or daddy?’

“I like to bake cookies with mummy.”

‘Who cleans up after you’re done baking?’

“Mommy? Sometimes I help.”

Most of them do not get into the habit of performing house chores. Some do, but most of them don’t. In a learning environment, when the mass are the ones who are not accustomed to chores, they tend to pull those who are used to chores to not doing the chores.

What I have discovered is that in this country, this generation is given a comfortable and clean environment to live in. But they are not included in the process of keeping comfortable and clean. Therefore the process of instilling such a habit is prolonged. Because for at least 7 years in their life, they get to leave their mess for someone else.

I grew up with maid. But, we were never allowed to escape chores. After every meal, we were required to take all the dishes to the back for cleaning. Table and placemats were to be wiped clean and chairs pushed in. Maid only took care of the cleaning and storing. Once in every month, we needed to clean our toilet, bowl and everything. Dirty clothes were to be put in the laundry basket, never on the floor for the maid to pick up. Clothes were to be hung, never left on the bed for the maid to sort out. Ironed clothes were to be arranged in the closet, never for the maid to store. If we had supper after the maid had gone to bed, we would need to leave the kitchen the way the maid did before she went to bed. Nothing is allowed to be left for the maid to handle when she wakes the next morning. Shoes were to be arranged, not scattered for the maid to put on the rack.

I had a maid growing up. But we were never allowed to escape chores. We had to pick up after our own selves. It was a habit instilled from home.

So right now, all I can do it patiently remind them, sometimes blow my top, about keeping them and their environment clean and tidy, for their own benefit.

Do your children a solid and start instilling the habit of cleaning and tidying up from the moment they understand instructions. Start by showing your kids what you mean. Slowly transition into doing it with your kids. And soon enough, they will get into a habit that they will carry wherever they go.

I noticed that kids are very messy eaters. Yes, I bet I was the same. The 7 year olds are made to pick up or clean up all food droppings whether on the table or floor. After a few times of being tired of the sweeping and wiping, they have become more aware of their table manners, especially in ensuring nothing drops.

So imagine this. Imagine our children able to eat without making a mess no matter where they eat, especially when eating out. Wouldn’t our food stalls and mamaks and gerais and sorts stay clean?



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