“Let me get this straight. You have an AYI who cleans your house, does laundry, and cooks dinner, and you have a driver who takes you wherever you want to go?! What in the world do you DO all day?” This is usually the question I get when I explain my life in China to people back home.
Ahh, the life of a Tai-Tai (or housewife). I will admit, before our move here I wondered what I would do to pass the days. At home, there were not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Much to my surprise, the life of leisure I expected to live in China has proven to be anything but. Every day is filled practically from beginning to end. Now, I will freely admit that many of the events filling my days are in no way mundane. However, I do still have PSO meetings, tear-filled homework nights, family errands to run, grocery shopping, etc.. But, in the meantime, I am taking full advantage of this new lifestyle. Many weeks the biggest hardship I face is when I don’t have time to get a massage. I know, poor me, right? But in reality, I have been enjoying finally having time to get to know other women and experience new things without being weighed down by the fact that I haven’t washed my sheets in a week, or the toilets need to be scrubbed.
A typical day in the life of this tai-tai goes a little something like this:
6:20: Alarm rings. I hit the ground running. Need to get dressed, wake up boys, cook breakfast, collect necessities for my workout and make sure the boys have everything for school. Sounds like back home, right?
7:15: I look at the time. Where did the last 15 minutes go?!? I yell to the boys that we ned to go to the bus stop. It usually goes something like this,
“Boys, we have to leave NOW. Get your backpacks and meet me at the door!” Keep in mind due to my loss of the last 15 minutes, we are already two minutes late.
“Moooooom, I can’t find my gym clothes!”, yells a tearful Jack from his room.
To which I reply, “you were supposed to have them in your backpack last night!”
More tears. Yelling commences. Gym clothes found hanging in closet right where they should be. We run for the door and set off on a now brisk walk to the bus stop.
7:25: Whew, the bus is still here! Hugs, well wishes, and the boys are on their way. At this point, I am thankful for a little mom to mom conversation at the bus stop, then head off to my workout class.
7:30: I hop on my bike with a hope and a prayer to make it to my workout class safely. Getting there is always interesting. I leave the compound dodging cars, scooters, and pedestrians, and head to class. Along the canal road on which I ride, the fishermen are out with their nets hoping for a good catch. I enjoy watching them as I pedal past. When I reach the bridge I need to cross over, I always take a peak towards downtown Pudong. If I can see the tall buildings, I know the air quality is ok. If not, I debate whether or not I should be going to my workout class since it is held outside. Really, I am just looking for a good excuse to get out of working out entirely.
7:45: Time to get pumped. Today’s workout class is TRX. Phil, my trainer is feeling extra mean today and is starting us off with a set that I am convinced will make my arms fall off. Many squats, narrow rows, mountain climbers, and dirty looks directed at Phil later, I am done..whew. Back on my bike to head home.
9:00: Back home, I go for a brisk walk around the compound. Yes, I know I have already had a full workout, but as the saying goes, “you’ve got to pay to play”. The tai-tai life involves much more eating out and drinking than at home so I have got to work much harder to keep my body in shape.
9:30: Shower time! Back to being rushed and wondering where the time has gone. I quickly wash off all my sweat, get ready for the day, and head out.
10:30: Time for fun! Today’s tai-tai expedition begins with a bang. After we all pile in the car, out comes a bottle of champagne and orange juice. Morning mimosas are a great way to kick off the day. Here is where having a driver is the best. We drink. He drives. Perfect combination. After time to enjoy our drinks and catch up, we arrive at a flower market. It may sound unimpressive, but this flower market has way more than just plants. It has housewares, paintings, jewelry cabinets, and may other interesting finds. Keep in mind, we don’t have a Target or Homegoods here so finding bits and pieces to make our houses our homes is challenging. We had to drive an hour and a half just to get here! So we shop, and we talk, and we laugh. It is such a nice way to spend a couple hours.
1:00: No outing is complete without lunch so we head to Laowai Street, a cute walking area that offers many dining choices. Of course, being the responsible adults that we are, we opt to eat big greasy burgers, and maybe enjoy an afternoon margarita. See why I need to do double workouts? Tummies full, we race back to our respective schools and bus stops for after school pick up.
3:45: Back at the bus stop, the bus arrives. Jack hops off the bus full of energy. We wait for Elijah who is usually last off the bus. He lethargically climbs off the bus and saunters toward me. “How was your day?”, I ask the boys. I know, the typical mom question. Jack usually responds with a “Great!”, Elijah responds with a grunt or, if I’m lucky, a “Fine”. To which I follow up asking a barrage of questions, usually getting one-word answers in response. I love it when I say, “What did you do in school today?”, and get the response, “Nothing”. What engaging conversations we have.
4:00: Finally home. I decide to check my emails and WeChat messages I missed during the day. Email messages=22, WeChat messages=65! Geeze! The boys and I work on homework and eat a quick dinner before I head off to a three-hour school meeting. Just what I want to do after a long stressful day. 😉
9:00: Meeting ends and I head home. I think as we are driving home, “just what DID I do all day?!”
Of course, not every day looks like this. But more often than not, this is a blueprint for a typical day. I am still waiting for the time when I walk around the house with nothing to do. We are beginning to get more busy with school activities, language lessons, and other responsibilities. As we do, I will miss these days. However, when they do happen, I will cherish them all the more! Who knows, maybe this week I may actually have time for a massage. Oh wait, make that next week. This week is already full. 🙂