Chores and Children

Expat children and household help usually go hand-in-hand when you’re living in Indonesia. It’s always been advantageous for us to have help around but as my children are getting older, I’m starting to believe that household staff is actually detrimental to their development. Why? The main reason is because it hinders their independence and creates the mindset that responsibility can be outsourced. Although I am not rushing to let my maid go, there are many changes that I can make to ensure that my children grow up with a sense of accountability and ownership of their duties. The best way to teach them this is by allowing my children to complete their own chores and help out around our home.

Truthfully, it’s not an easy task because children are more concerned with playing rather than cleaning. The following are some monumental steps that families can take towards having a balanced household:

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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

Giving birth in Indonesia

Many expats are reluctant to give birth in Indonesia due to the unfamiliarity and mistrust of the medical system. Another common concern is simply being stuck in traffic during labour. Expats may also have inadequate medical insurance coverage or prefer to be in the comforts of their home country with family nearby. I had two children under the age of three when I was expecting my third child, so it was logistically easier for us to stay in Jakarta for the birth. Here are some things you may like to consider if you are expecting during your time in Indonesia.

RETURNING TO YOUR HOME COUNTRY FOR THE BIRTH

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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. Continue reading

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

Discovering WA in a Campervan

Whenever expats ask me for advice on where to travel overseas to from Jakarta, I suggest Western Australia and not the other parts of Asia. The capital city of Western Australia is only a four-and-a-half-hour direct flight with Garuda Indonesia. There aren’t many other countries that you can fly to directly from Jakarta, therefore the west coast of Australia is a perfect destination for families who seek fresh air and open spaces.

Western Australia is exactly what you would imagine Australia to look like. 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

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