Ladies that Lunch

I’ve had a very busy social calendar lately. As a mum of three young kids, none of it would have been possible without living in Jakarta; having the support from my household staff, or husband.

I haven’t always been this social. The past six years of my life has been consumed with pregnancies (with hideous morning sickness that lasted the whole time!), breastfeeding ,or zombie states of sleepiness. I have been living in survival mode of parenting young children in two foreign countries. For these reasons, I have only explored baby shops, doctor clinics and a few playgrounds. So I never really experienced all aspects of expat living, until now.

The great thing about having a young family in Jakarta, and other Asian destinations, is the cultural respect towards childbirth and pregnancy. A pregnant woman is sacred. And when she has a newborn baby, her needs and the family’s needs are highly valued. I will write more about this in the future.

I can honestly say that I am so happy that I gave birth to all of my children in Asia. My first two were born in Singapore where I enjoyed five star hospital stays with la carte menus and celebratory cocktail drinks! And then the wonderful offerings of confinement food delivered to my home, with an invaluable live in helper who took care of all my household chores. She also helped with my newborn so that I could get some rest.

And then to Jakarta, where I gave birth to my baby wombat. The hospital, medical staff and whole birthing experience was great (I will post more about this in a later blog).

As an expat, giving birth abroad can be emotional, lonely and scary. I don’t have the support of family and friends from home. So I’ve had to make do with what resources that I do have. Having household staff to help at home is a blessing. I will be eternally grateful for this kind of help with my family.

Now to the flip side, where I am out of that newborn tunnel. I am discovering a new side to Jakarta where I can enjoy it as a true expat housewife! I am starting to attend lunches, balls, shopping (for non baby items!), and the nightlife. And boy, does Jakarta have a nightlife! It’s a city that doesn’t sleep!

I think the best way to enjoy Jakarta is to embrace having household help, give yourself some time away from your family (you’ve earned it) and get out more on your own. Say ‘yes’ to every invitation. Make friends with people that you initially may not think are your kind of people. Join groups that host social events. Call up charities that sound interesting and ask how you can help. Schedule in a regular date night with your husband. Go watch a movie in First Class on your own. Do that hip hop dance class that you’ve always dreamed of doing, or quilting, or karate! What ever it is, just do it! Prioritize your time to do the things that make you happy. This expat parenting thing can be tough and isolating. This city can wear you down if you focus on the hard parts. So you need to be the one who leads your family towards the Expat sunshine. If you’re happy, your joy and enthusiasm will flow through your family, friends and community.

My husband once told me that if he were to be reborn as anything again in his next life, he would choose to be an expat housewife! I am starting to agree on this!

Fall in love with Jakarta with me by following my Instagram series, #amillionthingstodoinjakarta @the_expat_housewife_of_jakarta

The Expat Housewife of Jakarta Instagram

Here I Go Again…

I want to share a common emotional roller coaster ride I’ve been on recently in Jakarta, as an expat mum. My beloved nanny of two years, suddenly quit her job and left immediately, even without saying goodbye to our kids.

She recently had two months off to get married and after returning to work for a couple of weeks, she resigned. (To add to the drama, she’s asked to return again after a few months of quitting!)

Unfortunately in a city like Jakarta, where there are so many nannies available, I find it extremely difficult to keep one employed for long periods. A nanny can unexpectedly resign, with no notice. It’s actually written into a standard work contract here. That a household staff member can resign by simply being absent from work for three days in a row. And no advance notice to the employer is required.

The most common reasons for resignation are marriages, pregnancies, career breaks, and caring of sick relatives. A scary time for employers in Jakarta is during Idul Fitri, where many nannies don’t return back to their employment. It’s a hot topic amongst the mum’s during that season!

My nanny is such a crucial part of our family. Not only is she adored by my children, I also invest so much of my energy and heart with her so that she becomes a surrogate caretaker. So when we are faced with having to find a new one, again, it’s sad and emotionally exhausting. But you know what really upsets me the most in about this situation? The fact that I feel powerless. With the drop of a hat, an important person in my children’s lives can leave and I am the one to pick up the pieces (and pretend it’s ok, I’m ok, for the sake of the children, of course).

This isn’t the first time it’s happened. It always seems to be during the most critical times, like just before the birth of a baby, or illness. Or when things are running smoothly and I think to myself ‘I’m so happy right now, things are going great!’ And then, boom! A nanny quits!

It’s moment like these that I feel so alone, betrayed and helpless. I feel bitter for relying on someone else for help. I feel weak and a failed mum for needing a nanny in the first place.

What I’ve come to realize is that no matter how much I pay or incentivize my nanny, she is in her very own right, her own person. She has no obligation to me or my family, other than to do her job.

This is when I feel extremely guilty as a expat mum for not providing my children with consistent care or a ‘normal’ non expat environment, where they have their extended family or lifelong friends around in their upbringing. People who I don’t have to pay, to help raise my kids. I get extremely envious of my friends back at home, who have aunties, uncles, cousins and grandparents; neighbors and friends, who establish a permanent village.

So here we go again, with a new nanny. She’s quickly adapted into our family. A positive from this all is that my kids have grown resilient to the constant changes.

The other day I thought to myself how happy I with our new nanny, and discovered that she too, will be getting married soon. And I know what that means….

Regards,

Rinka Perez Gunn

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

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.

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

The hidden cost of this lifestyle 

Hubby and I were in bed last night when I told him about my new fb page. Instead of offering support for my new hobby, he turned it into a competition over who was busier and more tired! He said that he wished he had time to do such things like social networking on fb! Now, before you judge him and think how inconsiderate he is, he’s actually a very supportive and caring husband. He’s just so tired and overwhelmed.  Continue reading

Home services

Jojo is almost 4 and loves his weekly piano lessons. He adores his teacher and she comes to our condo. We are lucky enough to have a condo that has a fantastic music room that allows free hire. One of the many perks of living in Jk. Affordable music lessons at home.

You can get almost any service done without leaving your home here. It beats sitting out in the traffic and running around in the city all day. Whatever you need, get them to come to you and if you’re not sure, just ask. Chances are, they will come to you.

I will share more home services that I have used soon.