Wednesday is my favourite, and our busiest day of the week. After school finishes at 11am, we make a dash to the other side of town for swimming lessons. The children love their swim teacher. Today BB made amazing progress in the pool, swimming from one side of the pool to the other. FB surprised us all last week when she announced she could swim on her own, and did. While the children swim I sit on the outdoor couch and write, read or watch the action, daydreaming in the warm air. I always carry a fan in my bag, something I learnt to do early on. I will fan myself slowly if the humidity is really high.
Once swimming is finished we go to my friend B-Bug’s place to play until ballet starts later in the afternoon. While the girls dance, the boys get bathed and fed and put in pj’s. We return to B-Bugs and then it is the girl’s turn. The children play a little more before we head home when it is dark, hoping to avoid the traffic. We never do, but it is a great day. The children fall into bed happily exhausted, and then I bring Noodles the puppy inside for some much needed attention as I pack bags for the next day.
I took this picture because without fail when we get to B-Bug’s, the boys get on these bikes and ride around and around in circles playing a game of chasey. Loud squeals and giggles fill the room along with the trilling of the bicycle bells. B-Bug and I sit on the couch chatting while the children go wild around us. The view from B-Bug’s apartment is across Manila down to Manila Bay and it is really stunning. I love the cityscape you can see here, at night it is lit up and really pretty.
Ballet is finished for the year now. FB had her recital two weeks ago. We still come over to play though, and today is our last get-together before we all head home for Christmas.
Playdates were a normal occurrence back home in Australia too. I learnt fairly quickly though, that there are a few differences. The lifestyle here is very much indoors and so you need to get used to a house or condo full of children’s noise. This sound is generally music to me, but those afternoons when you are tired, your head hurts and you just want some space, you can’t always tell the kids to take it somewhere else. You need to get used to having bikes and scooters indoors too.
Thankfully B-Bug has her Yaya who is awesome and takes special care of all our kids. This helps on those difficult days. Some buildings also have playrooms for kids, like a mini indoor play centre. Not all of them though.
Here in Manila, where traffic is the biggest obstacle, you need to be extra prepared when going out to friends houses. If there is distance to travel you pack pj’s, clean changes, lots of snacks and water for the car, and activities to keep them busy on the road. Then be prepared to get your kids fed, showered and ready for bed before getting in the car to go home. When we get home tonight we will just clean teeth, then the children will go straight to bed…hopefully.
Wednesday night is always a late night for bed time. As Westerners we get laughed at by the locals for having dinner and putting the children to bed so early. Usually my children are in bed at 6.30pm. It used to be 7pm back home, but life is more exhausting here, school starts early and the children are so tired. Filipinos generally don’t put their children to bed until between 9 and 11pm. They will often have a nap after school. Most activities here, regardless of culture, are late in the day. This can be challenging as you don’t want too many late nights.
So here we are. I am writing this on my iPad as we sit in traffic. It is dark now, 7.45pm. The children are so tired they keep arguing so I have put Taylor Swift on which they sing to. It is so cute, and until one asks the other to stop singing, it is peaceful. The children get to see the Christmas lights lining the roads, and I am working on my strategy to get them straight to bed when we get home with minimal fuss. Then I will post this snapshot of our day, cuddle Noodles and pack school bags for tomorrow.