Life as an ESL Dad

Being An ESL Dad


Living in the Goldfish Bowl in China

We’re not a big group but we do exist – long-term expats who are balancing ESL careers with family duties.

Sleeping in on the weekend? Impossible! Day trips around Guangzhou with friends/workmates? Yeah, right. Going out drinking and socializing? Ha, I laugh at you. I more likely spend my free time feeding and playing with my boys, reading them books and occasionally taking them to cafes, the library or the park. To give you an idea of what a typical day is like, here’s a brief rundown on what I did on a recent Monday.

The day started at 7am sharp. There was no time for a sleep-in or even to hit the snooze button because I had to get my five-year old ready for kindergarten. I made sure he got dressed, brushed his teeth and had a drink of milk. We then had time for a quick story before leaving at 8 am.

After coming back home, I hung out some washing while my wife was walking out the door to work and my two-year-old was waking up. Grandma changed him, gave him his milk and wasted little time in taking him to yumcha. I had a couple of things to do so I joined them a little later and took him home as soon as he finished his breakfast. We chilled out for a bit, watched some movies and played with play dough, cars and toy dinosaurs, which he took great delight in smashing together.

Grandma came back around midday, which was my cue to get ready for work. After running some errands, I finally made it to the office where I had a quick lunch in the staff kitchen while planning my afternoon. With that day being a Monday, there was just one PTM (Parent Teacher Meeting) to prepare for but still plenty of progress reports to write and quizzes to mark.

Fortunately, I managed to complete my to-do list before I left at 4.30 pm to pick my oldest up from kindergarten. Before I left though, I was told that the first parents would arrive earlier than expected. Upon returning to the school 45 minutes later, I barely had time to make a cup of tea before being told that the first parent had arrived.

Two hours later we were finished with the PTM and I was able to enjoy one last cup of tea before heading home. Upon arriving home, I found dishes to wash, rubbish to take out, toys to pick up and dirty laundry that needed my attention. In between those jobs, I still managed to listen to my oldest play piano and read more stories to the boys before they went to bed.

The next day was basically the same routine. It’s not the most dazzling life and is a little repetitive at times. In fact, when I’m doing housework at night, I sometimes think about some of my workmates who I know will be out having fun at that time. But I remind myself that even if I was with them, l’d be thinking of my boys all the time and getting home to them as soon as I could. I no longer have the carefree attitude of a single person but I honestly don’t think I’d want it any other way.

Adam Benson

Adam Benson

Adam is an Australian Senior EF Teacher based in Guangzhou, China. He’s addicted to writing and has been feeding that addiction by writing freelance articles for magazines, newspapers and online sites in Australia and China. When he’s not working, he loves helping his sons practice their English.
Adam Benson

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