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:
When my children were babies, they weren’t aware of their surroundings therefore I could have full-time staff without worrying what impact it would have on their perception of the world. As my children have grown up, I have slowly worked towards cutting back on hired help. I have cut down on my nanny’s hours. She now plays a more inactive role and helps with coordinating my children’s conflicting school hours and extra curricular activities. She has never been and will never be the type of nanny that follows my children around, catering to their demands. The children understand that she is my helper and not theirs.
I am also cutting back on the hours of our maid, aligning them with my children’s school hours. This helps tremendously with our family dynamic because my children no longer sense her presence around and won’t have a fall back person to clean up their spills. They also can’t go to her asking for a biscuit, after I have said no.
Weekends are staff-free – we focus on family time.
BEING A GOOD ROLE MODEL
Although I hire someone to come in and clean my house, I did not lose my dignity, nor did my arms and legs fall off! My maid does not need to present our meals on silver platters or serve us like we are royalty. She is a respected employee in our household and we appreciate her. We acknowledge that she is ultimately our “helper” only and not our scapegoat to pick up after us or cater to our every need.
How can we be good role models for our children if we cannot sweep the floor when necessary or wash our own dishes? My husband and I like to display positive behavioural modelling to our children because we want them to know that ultimately it is our own responsibility to keep our home clean and tidy. I want my children to witness us taking pride in this.
Household responsibility is also not gender biased. Males and females both take equal responsibilities.
CHANGING MY MINDSET
I have started to shift my mindset on household chores. Of course, when I was sleep deprived with three young children, I relied heavily on my staff to help me. But I’ve come to realise that just because my maid is capable of completing a particular task around my home, that doesn’t mean that she has to do it for me! For instance, she doesn’t need to do our laundry or wash our dishes, especially if delegating these responsibilities onto my children will have a more positive impact on their morale. More so, if the outcome of my children witnessing me completing a chore is reinforcing good behaviour, then this intangible benefit clearly outweighs the tangible benefit of outsourcing it. Once I started to view household chores in this light, my whole perspective changed.
SETTING AGE-RELEVANT HOUSEHOLD CHORES FOR MY CHILDREN
I have seen first-hand that children are never too young to start helping out with chores. There are many age-appropriate chores that children can participate in and although they may seem insignificant to adults, they are huge milestones for them. My two-year-old makes his own bed, puts his shoes away and is expected to pick up after himself. Yes, it’s difficult to constantly enforce these rules and he needs a lot of help, but I talk him through them and I make him accountable. If he leaves a dirty sock on the floor, I ask him if that’s where it belongs. At this age, he enjoys helping out.
All of my children help set the table at meal time and clear their dirty dishes. They rinse the dishes (including my two-year-old) and clean the dining table… They know to get a mop if they’ve spilled a drink and ensure all toys are packed away in the evenings, otherwise those toys will be donated and taken away. Of course, at their age, mistakes are made and the task isn’t done to perfection. I definitely need to refold their clothes and make sure the dirty ones hit the inside of the laundry basket! The most important thing is that they know that it’s their responsibility. They know that I will ultimately hold them accountable for it. Having children help out with chores is much harder for the parents because we need to follow through and check that they have done them. There is a lot of nagging and encouragement but all of this extra effort is a part of parenting, and I acknowledge that parenting isn’t always fun and easy.
HAVING A HOUSEHOLD PLAN IN PLACE
My long-term goal is to have our household running self-sufficiently with no household help. I want to create a space where each family member is equally responsible for all of the chores. I want them cooking, cleaning hygienically and most importantly, learning that they are a part of a team where we help each other out and feel proud of our contributions. This, I hope will be a lifelong habit.
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
Flying home can have its own complications. For instance, most airlines will not allow pregnant women to fly after 36 weeks of pregnancy. During the pregnancy, you may be required to fly home on several occasions for further OBGYN appointments and to arrange the administrative side of your labour ahead of time.
Other issues to consider are:
Where will you stay and who will help take care of you after the birth?
If you have existing children, will they fly out with you at the same time and be absent from school for up to five months? Will your children stay in Indonesia without you?
Who will take care of you children during the labour and after the baby is born?
How much time can your husband take off work?
When will your husband fly out for the birth? The due date is not always an accurate prediction of the birth date.
You cannot return to Indonesia until your new baby has had its new-born vaccinations. This may take several months to complete.
Your new-born must also have a new passport and all of its official paperwork ready to be able to fly back into Indonesia.
WOULD I RECOMMEND GIVING BIRTH IN INDONESIA?
Based on my experience, yes. It is so much more practical than flying home and if it’s a healthy pregnancy with no risks or health issues, then I would highly recommend it. Many of my friends have also had positive experiences here. The births have ranged from easy, natural deliveries to complicated emergency caesarean sections. To put it into perspective, giving birth is a natural process and women have been doing this since the start of human civilisation without too much medical intervention required. In fact, many women from Western countries actually elect to give birth at home without any doctors or medical equipment. The key to deciding is to follow your intuition; do research by talking to other women and hearing their experiences, and then seek professional advice from your doctor.
I had regular check-ups and appointments with an OBGYN recommended by many of my expat friends. This OBGYN is popular in Jakarta amongst expat women because he speaks English, is highly skilled and open to natural birthing options, such as allowing a Doula to be present during the birth.
Compared to my previous pregnancy in America, I found that my Indonesian OBGYN was very thorough with prenatal care and the consultation process was highly efficient. My OBGYN met me for every appointment and spent time to discuss my progress. Every scan or test was comfortably completed in my Doctor’s suite. In America, my prenatal appointments were actually with nurses and not the actual OBGYN. Each test and scan were also completed in various locations and clinics throughout the city.
In comparison to my other prenatal care in Singapore, Indonesia was on par and offered the same level of care and expertise.
LABOUR AND BIRTH OF THE BABY
One of the greatest advantages of giving birth in Indonesia is having immediate access to a private birthing lounge as soon as your contractions begin. In Australia and America, hospitals will generally not accept patients until their contractions are five to ten minutes apart and labour is imminent. As soon as I felt contractions I was able to speak to my OBGYN directly on his mobile phone. He recommended that I travel to the hospital to be monitored immediately to avoid traffic.
I checked into Medistra Hospital with ease and was taken care of by a team of experienced and calming midwives. They spoke English and made me feel comfortable and confident with the process ahead. The nurses monitored my progress, keeping my OBGYN updated. My OBGYN checked in on me regularly and we discussed pain management options, birthing positions and addressed any other issues at hand.
During the labour I was relaxed knowing that our children were safe at home with our trusted nanny and that they would be taken care of. My husband stayed with me throughout the whole experience and was allowed to be in the room during the birth. After eight hours of strong contractions, I reached my pain threshold and begged my husband to arrange for an epidural. It was 4am and there was no anaesthetist at the hospital, so I had to wait a long hour for him to arrive and administer the magic potion.
The epidural was different to the one I had in Singapore, which left me completely numb and paralysed from the waist down. This time I could move my legs, and feel my contraction pains, allowing me to trust my body and push when I needed to. My OBGYN suggested alternative birthing positions that also greatly helped with the birth.
Once my son entered the world, the medical team did the quick new-born assessment on him and then immediately placed him on my chest for skin on skin contact. We were then allowed to bond with our new baby and were not rushed to hand him back for washing or measuring.
The hospital suite was large and comfortable with a great food menu. The nurses and hospital team were very helpful. They assisted my husband in arranging an Indonesian Birth Certificate and gave me exquisite aftercare with breast massages (to encourage breast milk production) and encouraged breastfeeding, rather than formula feeding. I didn’t feel bombarded by midwives offering conflicting advice or telling me what I should or shouldn’t be doing. The three nights that I stayed in the hospital were very relaxing and I was isolated from the world, able to enjoy my Babymoon period. Overall, my hospital stay was very comfortable and accommodating and the whole experience from pregnancy to bringing a newborn baby home really exceeded my expectations.
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!
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.
WHAT IS A NANNY?
Nannies are usually young girls (around 15 years onwards) from a village outside of Jakarta who are withdrawn from schooling by their parents in order to earn extra income. These girls may be from large families and have grown up surrounded by babies, but their child caring skills rarely go beyond this. Even the nannies from agencies are not given formal training other than a basic course of how to change a diaper. There are of course the highly sought after “expat nannies” who have spent years working with expat families, but most of their experience is gained on the job or by attending courses funded by their employers.
With this information at hand, the first thing you need to determine before you begin your nanny search is what tasks she will perform and what her role will be in your family. It is important to be clear about this. Will she be expected to discipline your child? If so, how and to what extent? What are her hours and core duties? How much one-on-one time do you want her to have with your child? Should she encourage independent play or is she expected to be a constant shadow? What boundaries will you set for her?
When I had my third child, I searched for a nanny to help me with the basic tasks of feeding a newborn baby and putting him to sleep. I interviewed a fantastic nanny who was very interactive with my two older children, reading books and having fun conversations with them. However, her skillset didn’t match my requirements. Being a hands-on parent, I felt that having her around would interfere with my parenting style. What I needed at that
time was an extra pair of hands to help with the logistics of a newborn baby and nothing more.
SO WHERE DO YOU FIND A NANNY IN INDONESIA?
It is usually through networking and referrals. Facebook expat pages such as Jakarta Mom’s Support Group and the Upper Crust Catering mailing distribution list are popular places to search for available nannies. Associations such as BWA and ANZA also list nannies. However, the most common place to find a nanny is by simply asking around. I found my nanny by approaching another nanny in my condominium block. She had a friend who needed a job because her employer was about to leave. Agencies are also great for instant finds however the contact details of these agencies are generally gained by networking. It is difficult to find an official website for nanny agencies and they usually don’t cater for families that don’t speak Indonesian.
THE INTERVIEW PROCESS
Once you’ve lined up some potential candidates, it’s best to do the reference checks first. Ask the candidate’s previous employer for her salary; working hours, responsibilities, ages of children, work attitude, and any negative occurrences whilst under their employment. Then, conduct telephone interviews with your shortlisted candidates. Be very clear on the phone that you do not want to meet her for an interview unless she agrees to the terms of her new employment. This will cut back on a lot of wasted time interviewing candidates, only to find out that they can’t work for you (for whatever reason). Detail the specific working hours, living arrangements, salary range, start
date and how long you want them to work with you. Tell each candidate the ages of your children, what she will be doing and how things operate in your house. Ask her if she is comfortable with these key points before you arrange to meet up.
KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER DURING THE FACE-TO-FACE INTERVIEW
• Research and discuss with friends and acquaintances what to expect from a nanny arrangement before you interview.
• Do not be vague or brief. Go into detail.
• Ask the nanny to repeat what you said in her own words so that you know you both understand.
• Ask her what she did for her previous employers with specific examples.
• Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed to detail exactly what you want, even if it’s more than what she did in the past. Some expats are new to this process and feel guilty for being direct. You are not being bossy or demanding.
• Don’t say things like “I’m an easy employer.” “You can do whatever you want” or “whatever you did with your last family is fine.” Or “You can start and finish any time you want.” This level of vagueness can confuse the nanny. It will most likely scare her into giving you an answer that she thinks you want to hear, rather than the truth.
• Bear in mind that she may be extremely nervous. Indonesians culturally don’t like to boast about their own skills and can be very modest and shy about what they are good at.
• The nanny may say yes to everything you ask, nod and giggle. Therefore, interviews work better if they’re interactive. I suggest you ask her to hold your crying baby while you go to the bathroom. Or play Lego with your two-year-old. In one interview, I asked a nanny to help make bread with me. This tested if she was able to follow instructions, read measurements and whether she washed her hands.
• Request a trial period where either party can cancel the contract with no repercussions.
• Note down vaccination history, health checks, previous training courses attended and if she is willing to do more courses in the future.
Finally, when I am hiring a nanny, the most crucial characteristic for me is that she actually likes children. This skill cannot be faked and is easy to identify through body language and behaviour. If this box is ticked, everything else seems to fall directly into place for us.
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
The number one advice is to pick the right location that is age appropriate. Make sure the destination is kid friendly and activities don’t include long treks outside of your hotel during which you end up with cranky, whiny children. We limit sight-seeing to half-days only, after which we return to our hotel to rest. We once took our three children to Disneyland and it was an absolute disaster. They were simply too young to enjoy the experience and our time in the magical kingdom was mostly spent queuing for toilets and changing nappies. Our travel destinations are now easy spots where our hotel is the key part of our vacation. If either my husband or I have a great desire to explore the outside world and do something more adventurous than splashing in a baby pool, we simply take turns, one of us exploring while the other looks after the children.
TIPS FOR PACKING
I am a very minimal packer. I don’t panic if I forget anything because I can purchase it once I arrive. Our travels are usually to warm destinations where most of our time is spent in bathing suits, so even these tiny items count as outfits. I also like to bring old clothes for our vacation. Those holey undies and socks that are on their last legs go on vacation with us and I throw them away at the end of the trip. This allows for more space in our suitcases for shopping and also cuts out the worry of trying to keep our clothes clean. I am more relaxed (and lazy) on vacation and my kids will get grubbier than usual, so old clothes are ideal.
Two days’ worth of nappies and light snacks including UTH milk. This cuts out the inconvenience of searching for these items upon arrival. I like to bring enough snacks to last until we arrive at the hotel, such as cereal and bananas. They are a great finger food or substitute dinner, just in case you arrive late and are too tired to go out. I also like to pack our own bowls and spoons because they are not usually provided in hotel rooms. Reusable containers for snacks such as pancakes and croissants offered at the hotel buffet breakfast is also handy.
Pack a small first aid kit to carry with you everywhere, including sticking plasters, bandages, sterile water and disinfectant cream. Bring a thermometer, pain and fever relief medicine, anti-diarrhoea medications, electrolyte powder, tiger balm, sunscreen, mosquito repellent and tea tree oil for mosquito bites.
TIPS FOR FLYING
Travelling with kids is not the time to be glamorous and I will always choose practicality over everything else. I like to wear pants with pockets to hold everything I need within quick reach. I bring a lightweight pram on board the plane as carry-on luggage. This very useful device fits through the aisle of the plane and folds up into a small bundle for the overhead compartment. Using this pram, a baby carrier, and a backpack, I have managed to fly with three kids on my own.
To avoid tantrums, I always carry small packs of biscuits and 100ml cartons of milk and juice. Along with some crayons, colouring books and any small toys that won’t be missed if we lose them. I know it’s cute seeing young children carry their own suitcases, but unless they are over the age of six it’s just another thing for you to worry about. Instead, I pack all their things with ours in one big backpack allowing me to keep my hands free.
When my children were babies and needed formula, I used a container that allowed us to pre-portion the correct amount of formula per feed and I simply used bottled water to mix the solution. Most airlines will allow you to bring your own liquids onboard if you are travelling with children (especially Asian airlines). When I was breast feeding I wore a chewable nursing necklace to keep my babies occupied and this also helped equalise the pressure in their ears during take-off and landing. I also preferred to use a light, cotton scarf instead of a nursing cover to feed on planes because a scarf has many more uses and feeding in an aeroplane seat is very discreet anyway.
Separate your family. My kids always seem to gravitate towards me on a flight even when their father is readily available, so my husband and I sit apart. I sit with my youngest child and our two older children sit with their father. Our children respond really well to this seating strategy and are better behaved because they don’t need to fight for my attention. This also works for one child where one parent can take the child while the other one rests.
I don’t recommend using time on flights to practice the “crying it out” method, or strict parenting rules. Just do whatever you have to do to get through the flight, even if it means giving them an ipad and snacks as an incentive to behave.
TIPS FOR ACCOMMODATION
We stay in family friendly hotels with a kitchenette, kids club and children’s facilities. Hot, boiling water from the kettle can be used to sterilise bottles and I like to bring my own bottle cleaning brush and dishwashing detergent. I use a portable clothesline for washing and hanging wet bathing suits outside on the balcony. I also bring laundry detergent in a small bag.
Quick Tip: Small beach toys can be used as bath toys. Bring old toys and toss them out at the end of the trip.
I am going to give you one final tip that could revolutionise your family vacations; consider bringing your nanny. This is a luxury of living in Indonesia and you should take advantage of it if you can.
I have noticed that working and non-working parents in Jakarta usually have their children cared for by nannies at home in the early months following birth, and then send them into more formal educational programs such as preschools at the age of around six months. Where I’m from in Melbourne, Australia, children are generally sent to kindergartens only when they reach around four years of age. Before that, working parents enrol their children into childcare centres during the day while they are at work because nannies are not an option.
There are many preschools to choose from in Jakarta and the level of education is quite high. Here is the process I used for finding the right preschool for my son.
1. ASKING AROUND
Most of the preschools in Indonesia are privately owned and their teaching methodologies and curriculums vary wildly. Some schools are franchised from other countries and teach in various languages, not just English and Bahasa Indonesia (I chose an English language school for my son). The tutoring fees and class hours also vary from school to school. It was important that my son’s early education aligned with our home country in case of repatriation. I also wanted a multicultural setting with exposure to different nationalities and cultures.
Even though there was a lot of valuable information available online, my first step was to ask friends for their opinion and experiences. I always like to ask similarly-minded friends who share the same value system. This cuts out a lot of wasted time and helps in narrowing down to similar budgets and learning expectations.
2. LISTING MY PRIORITIES
Living in Jakarta, location is a huge influencing factor, especially with the traffic and unpredictable events such as flooding and rallies. However, this early in my search, I was unsure if proximity took precedence over quality.
My top priorities for a school were that the teachers and staff were trained in first aid and that it had a robust medical emergency procedure in place. This criterion was absolutely non-negotiable and I discovered that not all preschools offered these things. That’s when I quickly learnt my lesson to not taking things for granted in my new country of residence. Just because something is done a particular way in my home country, this does not mean that the same principals automatically apply everywhere else in the world.
Critical and potentially life-saving skills in first aid medical training can easily be overlooked as a criterion because it is easy to assume that educational institutions are focused on the safety of our children. This isn’t always the case and it is our responsibility as parents to do our own due diligence, even more so when we are living in a country where we are unfamiliar with the culture and its practices. Don’t assume that just because you are paying someone a lot of money to do something they will do it as you expect. Ask the important questions, even the seemingly simple ones, and don’t be afraid to voice your concerns.
I learnt that I needed to be very specific with the questions that I asked and had to use precise scenarios to get a complete detailed response. For example, I asked about their procedures for medical emergencies such as broken bones, choking and allergy management. I asked how they responded to a child with a severe allergic reaction. Did they own an allergy pen? Although my son isn’t allergic, the schools’ responses indicated to me their commitment to health and safety.
Another deciding point for me was the school environment. It needed to be clean (but not sterile!), inviting and have an outdoor playing area. Emphasis on recreational and creative activities was also important for me, especially music and sport. I think school at this age should be fun.
My final area of concern was the warmth and enthusiasm of the teachers. This is something that could only be assessed by visiting the preschool myself.
3. VISITING THE PRESCHOOL
Most schools offer free trials and they are definitely worth your time and effort. Firstly, I drove to the preschool at the same time as I would be taking my son to gauge the level of traffic.
Sitting in the classroom with my son I was able to participate in the activities and observe the teacher’s demeanour. This was so important to witness first-hand because I noticed that schools adopt different teaching and disciplinary styles. I noticed that some environments were warm and encouraging, and others were distant and strict. Most schools boasted a Montessori style approach but I think that this was more of a marketing tool rather than truly adopting the teaching style. What I learnt from my trials was that I didn’t necessarily want a true Montessori approach anyway.
4. FINDING THE PERFECT MATCH
I did find the right preschool for my son and it was a match made in heaven! In the end, I chose a school that was mainly attended by Indonesians and not Australians. My son is learning to speak English, Indonesian and Mandarin. On top of this, he is learning tolerance and acceptance of all cultures, in a safe, fun and caring environment. This school definitely exceeded my expectations and I am so impressed by the level of education offered in Indonesia. I truly believe that my family is blessed being here to experience the diverse offerings of this country, and my children are incredibly lucky to be raised in this multicultural setting. I’m so happy we can call Indonesia our home.
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:1. List your primary and emergency contact details
This includes the names, contact numbers, addresses and email addresses of both parents, next of kin, work colleagues, family members in your hometown, household staff members, and trusted friends living in Indonesia. Keep a copy of this list at home where it’s easily accessible, such as on the refrigerator, and go through this list with your household members including staff. Keep a copy in your safe, your children’s school bag, your personal handbag and car. Have a copy basically anywhere you think it can be easily located during an emergency situation.
Ensure this list has the emergency contact numbers of your country’s consulate, medical hospitals/doctors, police, and your lawyer.
2. Evacuation kit
My friend recently asked about preparing an earthquake evacuation kit and I thought she was paranoid until I felt the earthquake last month! It is recommended that you have a backpack with the following items packed inside in case you need to quickly evacuate, or you’re left stranded:
Flashlight with extra batteries
A map of the local area
Phone charger and spare battery pack
Cash in local currency and US dollars
First aid kit with essential medication and pain killers
Emergency contact information (as above)
Also bring important paperwork such as your marriage certificate, birth certificates, your will, passports, your KITAS, bank account statements etc.
I also recommend that you pack a sleeping bag, blankets and some extra clothes for the family, and a teddy bear for your kids, along with some snacks such as UHT milk and muesli bars (things that are long life and can be kept for a long time.)
I recommend placing the backpack next to your safe so that you can quickly grab your important documents on the way out. Of course, depending on the size of your family, you may need to use more than one backpack.
3. Make copies of important documents
Keep copies of your important legal documents and keep these copies with relatives in your home country, your home office, work office, etc. Ensure all copies are kept in a safe place and locked away from potential theft. Scanned soft copies are also a good idea, provided that these too, are stored safely.
4. Carry sufficient identification
Indonesian law requires all foreigners to carry either their passport or KITAS at all times. Some foreigners choose to carry a copy of these documents instead of the real ones. I like to carry my original KITAS.
5. Death overseas
This one really scares me as a parent living abroad. What would happen if one or both parents died while living in Indonesia? What will happen to our children? Will they have access to money? Will our children be sent back to their home country or will they be stuck in Indonesia?
In the case of death (of one parent only), the remaining spouse (and/or children) are not automatically given the right to the deceased person’s assets in some countries, therefore it is highly recommended that you create a legally binding will in each country where you have assets.
To protect your children from the situation of both deceased parents, you must have a valid will in place. This will does not need to be created in Indonesia, as a will from your home country is valid here. Most expats will nominate a guardian from their home country to take care of their children (e.g. their grandparents). However, you first need to arrange accommodation for your children until your nominated guardian arrives to collect them. Therefore, your will should also have a Power of Attorney attached which elects a resident of Indonesia to act as the primary care taker of your children until their guardian arrives.
Make sure that you discuss these points with all parties involved and write down your instructions. Also state the location of your legal documents, children’s passports and the key or combination for your safe.
7. Register at your country’s embassy
It is advisable that all expats register their whereabouts with their country’s embassy. Once you have registered at the embassy, your consulate will be able to update you on warnings and safety information, and locate you in case of evacuations from the country.
8. Let’s talk about safety!
I have recently taught my children my mobile number by singing it in a tune. We also regularly talk about what they should do if they get lost in a public area. However, your family are not the only ones that you should be having these conversations with. It’s important to have the same discussions with your household help and go through your emergency plans with them as well. Start talking to your friends and neighbours about this also! Provide them with details of where your emergency contacts are and what help you may ask them for in the event of an emergency.
Of course, other types of emergency situation can also arise. It could be something like a trip to the hospital due to a child’s injury. This happened to me recently, when I had to assist a neighbour (someone I didn’t even know!) who was hosting a play date. A young boy needed to be rushed to the hospital with my driver while I was left with the remaining children on the play date. I didn’t know these children and I somehow had to locate their parents. It wasn’t easy!
Speak to your driver about which hospital he should always drive to in case of an emergency near your home, office or school. All of our household members have completed first aid training and we have practised the emergency evacuation drill in our condo by going down the emergency staircase together.
You can never be too prepared. Contact your embassy for further advice.
This article was originally published on Expat Indonesia magazine. Follow the link to visit the article online at Indonesia Expat
I love spontaneous adventures! Last Saturday morning it was raining in Jakarta so I decided to take a chance and drive an hour away to our neighboring city ‘Tangerang’. I have only been there a couple of times to Ikea and ICE but once I googled kid friendly attractions, I found so much to do!
I decided to visit a planned urban park that I have always been keen to see. ‘Scientia Square Park‘ is an outdoor development designed to create a space for families to play and get active in. There is a small fee to enter and once inside, you can pay for additional activities.
We went nice and early and got in before the crowd and the hot weather (left home at 8.15am, arrived at 9.30am). Although the park opens at 5am, a lot of the attractions are not open until 10am. So we spent our time exploring the grounds. We went into the butterfly park, and into the outdoor playground surrounded by beautiful greenery and water features.
We climbed, hung and swung.
My kids loved playing with sticks in the fish pond. This was actually their most favorite activity… who would have thought?! It’s always the most simple things!
We hired some cars and drove…
And eagerly went on a pony ride (their first time!)
There were so many other things to do. You could hire bikes/rollerblades/scooters (bring your own!) I saw an awesome dog park with an obstacle course for your furry friend. Jumping castles, trampoline parks, rabbit farm and vegetable plantations. But mostly, it was a well planned park where you could run free and be kids!
We packed our own lunch and snacks but there was plenty of food and cafes to choose from, so next time I wouldn’t bother bringing our own. Overall, I was pleasantly impressed by this park and my kids can’t wait to go back!
Afterwards we decided to drop into ‘Upside down world‘, on the way home. This was also a lot of fun and my kids found it fascinating. Do check that out also…
I’m so glad that we did this quick trip out of Jakarta. I regret all of the years that I have been here, making excuses of why I can’t go out and explore. Tangerang really isn’t very far away and it felt like a world away. The city feels so different to Jakarta. It’s very green, and spacious. Looks like a nice place to live in actually. Next time it’s the weekend and you’ve got nothing to do, go out and explore Indonesia! There really are a million things to do here!
Follow my Instagram #aMillionThingsToDoInJakarta @the_expat_housewife_of_jakarta