Jakarta during Ramadan and Hari Raya Idul Fitri

Jakarta is a different city in June and July. Ramadan is the month long of fasting practiced by Muslim Indonesians during dawn to sunset. This year it will be from May 26th to June 25th of June. This period is also the summer holidays for international schools with the school break lasting for approximately two months. Expats like to take advantage of this time by returning home to their country of origin to enjoy the warmer months or go on a family vacation to popular locations like Bali or Singapore.

I find that this is a very quiet time of the year for Jakarta and it’s quite pleasant to be out and about. Whilst many malls will be busy, restaurants are empty during the day (they are very busy at night once break fast has started). Outdoor locations and recreational spots like parks and The Zoo are also quiet so its actually a good time to visit these locations without huge crowds. I also enjoy the simplicity of having a free agenda and no pressure with no school drop offs or playdates to rush to.

The end of Ramadan is Idul Fitri or Lebaran (25th June), the most important day in the Islamic calendar. If you have household staff members working for you, they are entitled to a mandatory two week period of paid leave. Many expats dread this time of the year because all staff members are on holiday simultaneously! Although some staff members may choose to work, the majority will decide to take this time off. It’s like our Christmas and New Year’s eve. This is the week where many workplaces shut down and people are on holiday mode so I think it would be very unfair of us to expect our staff to work during this festive season.

Most Indonesians will return back home to their province and leave the Big Durian for the week. The few days leading up to Idul Fitri is mayhem. This not the time to travel or be on the road! The streets are jam packed with literally 10 million Indonesians on their commute home. The roads are actually quite dangerous and many traffic accidents can occur during this time. I highly recommend to stay away and if you have staff members returning home, allow them the care and courtesy to travel before these few days to avoid the chaos. My nanny spent last year on the road for two days straight, crammed into a tiny bus full of people with no air conditioning and no water! She was terribly ill at the end the journey and she said a few people actually died!

This is when Jakarta becomes a ghost town. The streets are empty, shops are closed and no one is around. This year, we are happily staying in Jakarta once again for the third year running. We really love Jakarta this time of the year! It’s quiet, calm and there is no traffic! It’s our special family time in Jakarta where we wind down and enjoy the simple things in life like lots of television, take away food and pool time! I know many expats are afraid of the idea of staying in Jakarta during this period, fearful of the unknown. Basically, nothing really changes here, except no one is around. The shops only closed for the full day or two during Idul Fitri. Groceries, taxis and other services are readily available as usual afterwards. Tourists spots like The Zoo, Tamin Mini or Ancol are jammed packed with local tourism after Idul Fitri, so I recommend not going to any of these spots unless you like wading through huge crowds! Many Indonesians love to picnic and will use this time of the year to enjoy the outdoors with their family.

I must admit, the thought of having no nanny and maid made me really scared this year because it was so difficult last year to manage it all on our own (the kids were so young then) but I’m now looking forward to reconnecting with my family. It is my opportunity to take away that mother’s guilt that I constantly have for having a nanny in the first place and parent my kids without any outside distractions. The house will be messy. The dishes will be crusty from sitting on the sink for too long, and we’ll probably lounge in our pajamas all day but we’ll soak the stillness of the city together and remain grateful for living in Jakarta.

Below is a helpful website that I found that explains this Indonesian holiday, their traditions and salary requirements quite well  Public Holidays Indonesia

Don’t Make Any Assumptions


A while ago I wrote some tips on how to quickly hire a new nanny (or maid) into your home. I wanted to offer further advice on this topic. The below are some areas to be mindful of, once you have chosen a successful candidate. I think that this advice is really only relevant to nannies in Indonesia, and is taken from my own (and friends) experiences while living in Jakarta.

Firstly, even if you have asked thorough questions about their abilities during the interviewing process, and she has met your requirements, conduct further diligence by not making any assumptions whatsoever. When I first moved to Jakarta, I made many assumptions about my new nanny, based on my previous experience with nannies in Singapore. This was a big mistake, so I’m sharing a few with you now. Continue reading

Keeping it real


This was my personal Facebook entry tonight, experiencing what it’s like to be a ‘real’ mum and taking a break as an Expat mum…

“Thought that I could enjoy a nice night out with my besties by having a dinner get together. My mum refuses now to baby sit all three at once (after my last night out a month ago 😂) so I took Jojo with me. He was very well behaved at the restaurant, except he pissed his pants (never happened before) while sitting on my lap (nice!). Came home to discover that Miss 2.5 cried for hours, also wet her pants on my mum’s couch (being a clean freak, her world has ended!) and has a very high fever! My Little Baby Wombat also cried all night, refusing a bottle and is still wide awake! But overall, I guess it was a nice night out! Totally worth it?!” Continue reading

A Treasure in the Ruin


Today I celebrated my Little Baby Wombat, my youngest child, turning one. I had a very simple Aussie birthday party. Very, very, simple. Just three close childhood friends and their kids. Cake, pizza, chips, lollies and balloons. No party games organized, no MC, clown, or arts and craft table. No jumping castle or Choo-Choo train ride along my mum’s back yard. No bar man or catering. The party was very un-Indonesian (I love BIG FAT INDONESIAN Birthday Parties!) I just wanted my best friends to be around for one of my children’s birthdays and share the milestone event with (all of my children’s birthday parties have been overseas.) Continue reading

Gaining my confidence 


I was talking to my mother in law today and she thought that having two live in nannies and a full time live out maid was excessive for our household and I had to agree with her!
Then why don’t I just fire some of them or shuffle things things around so that I have less staff? I told her it’s definitely something that I’ve been striving to do, especially in the new year when I move back but it’s not an easy decision for me.

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Searching for a nanny before you move to Jakarta


I was recently contacted by a reader who is moving to Jakarta at the end of the year with her young family from the USA. As you can understand, she is slightly nervous for the move. Jakarta can be intimidating for an outsider coming in. Especially if you are a mother and have never been to Asia! There are many concerns raised by newcomers and the most common themes are around health, safety, schooling and, nannies, of course!

Today I wanted to answer a common question about searching for a nanny and pembantu (maid) before arriving in Jakarta. When I was planning our move from Singapore to Jakarta, I had a 20 month old toddler and a newborn baby. Being used to having a live in helper (nanny) in Singapore, I was very eager to find another one before I arrived! But I waited and I’m glad I did.

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Escaping my bubble

I’ve had a very busy calendar this week (long boozy lunch, House of Diamonds exhibition sale, clothes shopping, date night at the pub and High Tea this afternoon!) I have also completely filled up my calendar next week (manicures, pedicures, massages, facials, coffee with my girlfriends) because it’s the final week before I leave this fabulous expat lifestyle temporarily and will fly back to Australia with the family for an extended vacation.

Its funny…every time I tell my friends here that I am going to Australia with all three of my kids for a long time, their immediate response is “How will you survive that long without a nanny!” This is how reliant we’ve all become on our nannies! As expat mothers in Jakarta, we can’t even imagine going on an extended family vacation without one! Continue reading

Connected parenting 

I have been sitting on this post for a while now and was unsure if whether I should post it or not because I don’t want to come across as being presumptuous on this topic due to my current situation as a stay at home mum. However, regardless of me being in an office outside of my home or me sleeping in to catch up on my previous night’s sleep, both situations require my nanny to look after my children, and in turn, my quality time has been taken away from them.

I’ve spoken about having two live in nannies in my household and the constant balancing act. It’s tough being a mum here in Jakarta as an expat! I would never dare say this out loud to my friends back at home because I know it’s even harder for them doing it all without having any household help…working, cooking, cleaning, driving family around, grocery shopping, school/childcare run and taking care of their families on top of all this! To me, it’s actually impossible to imagine! But I believe that our situation also has its unique challenges and I will expand on my challenges in another post.  Continue reading