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:
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
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
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
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
I do not enjoy travelling with my kids. Sometimes the vacation is worth the pain and suffering we go through to get to the destination, and sometimes it’s not. It has definitely become easier over the years as we have gained more experience, so here is what we have learned so far.
PICKING THE RIGHT LOCATION
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
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
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