The Expatriates’ Mother Network

I never thought that moving abroad would result in gaining more friends than I had before I left. I thought my journey as an expat would be lonely and that I would struggle to find like-minded people. Instead, I have met many soul mates and genuine connections from various backgrounds and cultures. When I became an expat, I became a part of a dynamic network that would grow even stronger and larger when I had a baby.

As an expatriate mother in Indonesia, my life support system is my fellow expatriate mothers. I connect with these women through WhatsApp messaging, Facebook and social meetings. The most surprising part of this friendship is that they do not necessarily live in Indonesia and I haven’t met most of them face to face, and probably never will. And yet, these women are behind me, and will undoubtedly cheer for me, offering round the clock support, 24/7, no matter where I am in the world. Wow! Continue reading

Our vacation at Singapore Airport!

We had to do a quick dash out of Jakarta to Singapore for a visa renewal. We had the choice of flying in and out again, in one day; or staying overnight. With three young kids under 5, a day trip, regardless of the short distance to Singapore, is still exhausting. Our day begins at 5am where we get an early flight (to avoid traffic) and we don’t reach our destination until the afternoon. From the excitement of flying on an airplane and missing their naps, my kids are so tired (and feral). I can’t imagine immediately boarding a plane to return home again!

So we decided to stay the night at The Crowne Plaza Airport hotel in Changi Airport, Singapore. We chose to make this an adventure for our kids and show them a fun time.

Crowne Plaza is the perfect hotel to stay in for an overnight visa run. Having the ability to watch airplanes take off and land directly from our hotel room was a dream for our children. We had two interconnecting rooms and there was plenty of space for our family of 5. The hotel is also very focused on efficiency and convenience.

We arrived at Singapore airport during lunch time and had a special treat of MacDonalds in Terminal 3. The kids needed a reboot and a Happy Meal was perfect. We checked into our hotel where they all had a very late nap at 3pm. After a nice swim at the hotel’s pool, we headed out for dinner. Instead of eating a boring meal at the hotel, we decided to go and explore Terminal 3 again and enjoy the amazing facilities there.

We literally had hundreds of activities and restaurants to choose from! The kids went sightseeing at the amazing Indonesian Tourism exhibition where they had a robotic Kodmodo dragon. The installation had swings, bridges, telescopes and a mini Borobudur! There was also a carnival with rides and games!

We enjoyed a very kid friendly meal at Pastamania where they had kids meals with activity sets that we later used on our trip home. Our children traced patterns with crayons, watched some cartoons and played at the terminal’s playground. We were also able to buy some groceries at a mini supermarket, Cold Storage. There were also lots of retail and designer shops too. The sky train was also a hit.

It was a fun break and it felt like we were away for weeks! Unfortunately, doing a visa run and being forced to leave the comforts of our home is not an enjoyable experience. I generally still don’t enjoy traveling with my kids because they are still so young. It’s exhausting and difficult. I don’t get any sleep because the children are out of routine and tired. We had several meltdowns, including from myself! If there’s a way of making this process easier, then our mini vacation definitely was the best solution.

So next time you’re passing through Singapore airport, take your time and look around. It’s a great place and definitely family-friendly fun!

Hiring a Nanny in Indonesia

One of the advantages of living in Indonesia is being able to hire a nanny for your children. Expats, however, sometimes imagine nannies to be a cheery “Mary Poppins” lady with tactical child-minding powers and a skillset to cure all childhood issues. The reality of a nanny in Indonesia may be far from this foreign perception. Skills like first aid, child discipline, and childhood play are not always a part of the package. Becoming a nanny in Indonesia requires no specific vocational training or work experience. Continue reading

Ramadan… it’s not about you

Ramadan starts tomorrow and there has been a few confused posting on expat forums about general working hours and normal routines of their household staff members during this period (ie. nannies and maids). Questions of what to expect from household staff during the fasting month and if it’s reasonable to offer special time off or shorter working hours to accommodate. I think these are very reasonable questions and topics to be discussed.

What I don’t appreciate are the string of negative responses from certain people. The comments are disrespectful, dehumanizing and mostly, not related to the issue at hand. Continue reading

Living greener in Indonesia

Sometimes I think that the only way I can live as an environmentally-conscious member of society is to hide away under a rock and reject the advances of modern civilisation. Of course, this isn’t realistic but the issue seems so large that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by it all. When I first moved into my condo in Jakarta, I was told that our building doesn’t recycle. Apparently, all of the rubbish from our condo will eventually be sorted and magically make its way into a recycling centre somewhere. As an expat it’s difficult to find answers, so I accepted this explanation and carried on with my life of non-recycling. Eventually it ate me up and so I started to make incremental changes to our household.

Trying to live greener in Jakarta takes time and effort. It involves more planning and foresight. However, with the right resources, it is possible. Here are some tips on how to live as a greener family in Indonesia. Continue reading

Protecting your children against illnesses in Indonesia

I went through a stage where my children were constantly sick and down with some kind of bug. Initially I thought the causes for their ill health were environmental, and as an expat mother, I felt guilty for exposing my children to a foreign country that could potentially be harming their health. So, I did some research, spoke to several doctors and asked my friends from around the world about their experiences with childhood illnesses. I concluded that what we experienced was normal. They all suffered from the same kind of illnesses. Continue reading

Why I love condo living

Having a family with three young children, I dream of living in a house with an endless backyard. I imagine my children’s feet stomping on the grass and laughter filling the air as their sunlight-kissed bodies explore their tropical surroundings, while my husband is grilling on our outdoor BBQ and I’m sunbathing on a lounge relaxing the afternoon away. Of course, the reality   is very different to this, but it’s my fantasy! Continue reading

A Guide To Emergency Planning For Expat Families

As an expat parent living in Indonesia I need to be prepared for the unexpected and take sensible steps to protect my family. If an emergency arises, I need to have the right procedures in place because as a foreigner to this country, I don’t have the immediate access to, or the protection of, my home country’s support system. Here are some things you can do to help protect your family: Continue reading