Monday, 30 July 2012

Balance Lost and Regained

This is meant to be my blog about slowing down and trying to live a simple life in China. Yet somehow my 'slow and simple' life has left me too busy to write a post for nigh on a month. Why? Well dear readers, we lost that precious balance. We messed up, we said 'yes' too many times to too many commitments. Living in an academic community in a country that pushes and pushes its children to breaking point academically, we are never short of job offers. This is a very fortunate place to be (for us anyway, not so much for their children) when we know how many of our peers in the UK are struggling in the recession. However, we need to remember that we can't do everything and shouldn't try to.

Earlier this Summer we agreed to take on a childrens English class that our friends had been running. A group of kids in our home three times a week. Not too stressful we thought. This mutated to being three different classes each coming three times a week and running riot through our home. Before we realised how much work this would be, we also said yes to teaching a two week Summer school. We knew this would be a slog but decided that for 12 days teaching, it would be worth the money and good experience. What we foolishly hadn't anticipated, was that we'd be doing both of these jobs at the same time. We had no time to cook at either lunch or supper time and we were constantly planning lessons (with no course books) and watching the clock. Somehow we managed, we did a lot of bulk cooking at night and didn't get enough sleep.

Now the Summer school has finished, and we have told the small childrens parents that we will complete the month they have paid for, but after that the classes will stop. We have some extra money to save from this Summer, our children seem to be unscathed by the experience and we have just about caught up with sleep. Phew.

We've also, I hope, learned a valuable lesson about our own capabilities and stress levels. When we no longer have time for things we enjoy, something has gone wrong. After bedtime stories when I've turned out the light I always ask F what his favourite thing that day was and he asks me too. It's usually very easy to think of something I've enjoyed doing with the boys that day and reflect on that. This last fortnight, some days I was struggling, 'uh...eating lunch with you' was about the best I could do.

This is not good enough. I have higher expectations of myself as a parent and in future I'm going to put these first. To the parents of the children I've been teaching, I'll put on my judgey-pants and say the same. 'Put your child first'. Your individual, wonderful, unique child. Cut down on the extra classes and spend more time playing and listening to your children. You will both reap the benefits.'

The next month may be quiet on this blog too but for a different reason. I will be doing no work. I will be playing with my boys. My younger sister comes to stay tomorrow, her first trip to China. There is going to be a lot of hugs, a lot of sillyness, days and days of playing daft games, temples, parks, adventures and many many ice creams and long drawn-out cups of tea.

Enjoy the rest of your Summer.

1 comment:

  1. I have missed reading your lovely writing but I hope you enjoy a relaxing break and have fun with H. Give her a big squeeze from me and vice versa!

    Carrie x