Beijing Grey Sky Days: 5 Fun (or useful) Things to do

Buying a good mask is also a useful thing to do on a grey sky day... Try Torana, April Gourmet or

Buying a good mask is also a useful thing to do on a grey sky day… Try Torana, April Gourmet or

Winter is not coming. Apparently it is in Beijing already. After three consecutive days of “grey skies,” and an Air Quality index around 400 (Hazardous), I am already trying to find indoor things to do, both for myself and my toddler. So, instead of being gloomy, I am trying to approach it as an opportunity to have indoor fun :) Or to finally tick some things of my to do list. Like writing a new blog post.

  1. (Themed) Play Date: Organise an impromptu play date: your toddler’s little friends will probably be bored out of their brains too, as are their Mums. So invite some folks over  to your home for an extra dose of entertainment. Even if your regular play date is on a Monday and its now a Friday. Perhaps set a theme like music (sing songs together), art (bring out the stickers), or cookie making with older toddlers.
  2. Dance around: Have an indoor dance party (can be combined with number 1 obviously). Put on the sunniest music in your collection and teach your baby the mambo.
  3. Summer time! Pretend its summer: put balls in your baby’s swimming pool, blow up all his rubber swim toys, stick little umbrella’s in his fruit and switch on all the lights- perhaps even coloured ones if you can find one. If your kid is old enough, you can even bring out the Kinetic sand (I saw it for sale at Counting Sheep Boutique in Indigo Mall)
  4. Set up a Taobao Account. You’ve heard many people about it but never got round to it? It will save you from going out when it is really freezing cold. City Weekend recently published a tutorial, though do check whether the Lakela way of paying is possible again before setting it up, it seemed to be discontinued a while back. Also see my previous post here. You can buy toys and craft supplies there for upcoming grey sky days. Warning: Taobao is addictive :)
  5. OrganiseSpend one hour to do little chores: I finally polished all my shoes and my husband’s (the shoe shop in our expat compound is ridiculously expensive). I tidied one messy cupboard (ayi does not know which things can be thrown away), but also think of sorting out the summer baby gear, exchanging that gift you did not like that much… My toddler was amazingly attentive of shoe polishing when I have her a piece of cloth and an empty pot (she is obsessed with opening and closing bottles, boxes and doors these days). If you limit yourself to one hour, cutting up bigger projects if needed, it is easier to start and finish.
  6. Bonus tip: Swap Toys! organise a toy swap with friends. Swap your digger for their baby walker, exchange the farm for a doggie etc. Borrow it for a few days and give it back. Apparently there are companies on Taobao that allow you to rent toys, but I am yet to find out the details about it.


Pregnant in Beijing, now what?

Beijing has good hospitals, no need to worry about giving birth here.

Living in Beijing and want to get pregnant? Or think you’re pregnant already? Here’s six steps to take when your embarking on the baby rollercoaster.

1)      Check your insurance. Not very romantic but unfortunately necessary. This is something I only found out after moving here: many international health care providers do not cover pregnancy related costs for the first 10 months after you’ve  joined the insurance plan. It is also wise to check the amount covered and whether you have to make any personal contributions, as prices in Beijing hospitals vary enormously. And check whether you need any pre-approval for hospital visits from you insurance company too.

2)      Take your temp: If you’re not pregnant yet, but would like to be, the local pharmacies also sell special “baby thermometers” which indicate two numbers after the comma and you can use them to find out when you are ovulating. If you’re experiencing trouble with your period after stopping birth control pills, look into acupuncture and other Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment, as they may be of help in regulating them. Also, start taking folic acid pills.

3)      Buy a pregnancy test at the local pharmacy (Chinese name). or rather, buy two in case you do not believe the first one.

4)      Find a hospital: Positive test? Make an appointment with a doctor in a hospital covered by your insurance plan. A good list of hospitals and costs can be found in the Beijing Kids October 2012 issue. The most popular but unfortunately also most expensive for Beijing expats are Beijing Family United Hospital and Amcare.

5)      Stock up on pregnancy multivitamins. Your doctor can give you a prescription, but should you have any friends of family visiting by coincidence (or expat friends travelling back home), you can also ask them to bring a supply for you. Also see this article with healthy eating tips.

6)      Join an e-group such as Beijing Mama’s for more information and tips on where to get what for kids in Beijing, as well as playgroup information etc. Also check  Beijing Kids for a list of shops.

The kind people at Beijing Kids have 10 more tips, check them out here.