Krystle Williams is an English teacher at Taizhou University in China. She has lived here part time for six years with her husband Josh, who is also an English teacher; her children Landon (11), Arabella (8) and Gryffen (4); and their cat Ginger. Their other cat, Chaing, and dog Callie, live with Josh’s parents in Florida while they are in China.
7:30 a.m. I know, I know. I get up late for a mom of three, but when each one of my children were little I prayed they wouldn’t wake up at the crack of dawn. I’m so thankful to be able to say they don’t. Woo hoo! We all wake up around the same time. Most nights, our youngest quietly climbs into our bed during the early morning hours. If he wakes up before me, he will get me up with a kiss and a “I love you, Momma.”
I get up, feed our kitten Ginger and start breakfast. We typically have fresh hard-boiled eggs, hot oatmeal made on the stovetop and, of course, coffee for me. Josh has left for work by 7:30 a.m. On the days he doesn’t have class first thing in the morning, he will eat breakfast with us and do some work from home. Landon or I make sure we add water to our Berky filtering system since the water is not drinkable from the tap. So thankful for our Berky!
8 a.m. My children are mostly awake and have set the table. We sit down together with a prayer and enjoy our breakfast while the children tell each other about last night’s dreams, and I catch up on messages and emails from friends and family who’ve messaged me in the night. We are 12 hours ahead of EST so as our American friends and families are settling down for the evening, we are having our breakfast.
Once breakfast is finished, I am starting on laundry and doing an exercise routine while my children clean up after breakfast and get dressed. On Thursdays, I get up a little earlier because I have classes and need to be out the door at 9:30 a.m.
9 a.m. Landon and Arabella start on their independent work for school. We homeschool, but my children do have a tutor for Chinese (most years, it is one of our Chinese students) and a tutor for French. An amazing part of living in another country, is you meet the coolest people. The kid’s French tutor is a young woman from Rwanda who can speak fluent French and English as well as other languages.
Gryffen is normally being his typical tornado self by going from room to room running around, singing at the top of his lungs or jumping on our trampoline. He is my most energetic and wild child and wakes up buzzing with energy (hence the small trampoline in the middle of the living room).
11 a.m. Depending on the morning, I will read to Gryffen or he will do some math with his little number bears and little plastic math cubes. If Landon and Arabella have finished their work, or I know I will be busy in the afternoon, I will start our read-alouds. We all love spending hours reading together. I generally read, but Landon and Arabella will take turn reading also.
12:30 p.m. I make a quick lunch of leftovers or a tray of veggies, fruit and yogurt. We listen to the folk song and the hymn that we are learning for that month. My children love singing and learning new songs. It quiets down outside as the local Chinese folks take the traditional afternoon nap. The kids do the clean up while I work on my household work or prepare for my classes. Then we finish up schoolwork.
2:30 p.m. We are generally done with all the household chores and schoolwork, so now it is time for fun. We will check the air pollution levels and decide if we should play outside and draw in our nature journals, or do indoor projects like painting, playing with clay, Play-Doh or just play around the house.
4 p.m. The children have French lessons on Tuesdays. Our good friend from Rwanda, Joyuese, comes over and has a lesson with Landon and Arabella. Gryffen will sometimes participate, but usually he and I will play or read. Sometimes he will play while I prepare for my classes. I teach all day on Thursday, and my husband stays home with the kids and takes over for me.
5:30 p.m. Depending on the night, Josh is typically arriving home after finishing teaching and going to the gym. It’s time to pick up packages, as so many of the goods we use are delivered from online companies to various local shops. Josh usually goes out and collects them each evening. We will all help out and prepare dinner of fresh veggies bought from the farmers sitting on the street corners selling their harvest from the day. If it is a late night, Josh may bring home some Chinese food from one of the local restaurants.
We also have some of our students come over several times in the month. They join us for dinner or will make food for
us to share. Monday nights we spend with several African students who attend another nearby college. We share meals together in our home and spend a couple hours talking with them on those nights. It is an amazing experience to share their traditional food, culture and experiences. Since we are all foreigners in a land very different than our own, it is interesting to see so many similarities and differences between each of our cultures.
7:15 p.m. We all clean up after dinner together. Now, time to get those kids clean. The kids take turns getting in the shower; bathtubs don’t seem to be a thing in China. This has become a lot of fun for them recently. We just moved into a new apartment. In our old apartment, we didn’t have reliable hot water. The hot water was only in the shower, and worst of all, it was limited. It’s all about the simple things, right? There is often a roughhouse game with Daddy to finish off the day. Sometimes Momma will join in if the odds seem a bit unfair one way or the other.
8:15 p.m. It’s time for some reading for the kiddos in bed and then lights out around 8:30 or 9 p.m. Josh or I will read aloud or they will read independently. Since most apartments are small here, my children all share one room. We have a bunk bed; boys on the bottom and Arabella, and her furry sister Ginger, share the top. There are often little giggles, one or two request for water and a bathroom trip before sleep finds them.
9 p.m. Josh feeds Ginger her dinner, and thanks to our new apartment and water heater, we can take nice hot showers. Now I have some time with Josh as we catch up and talk about our days. Sometimes we read side by side, read aloud to each other, play video games together or watch an occasional movie if we manage to get the kids to sleep in a reasonable time.
11-ish p.m. Time for bed!