Saturday, March 23, 2013

Nannies in Jakarta

 When I was pregnant, there were impeding plans to move to Jakarta (from Bombay) for a few years. We came down for a ten days spouse familiarisation trip and what I saw all around me was the super-sized nanny culture that flourished here. In malls for instance, it was typical to see a lavishly dressed (sexy, skinny, stilettos, you name it) woman pushing a stroller containing a dozen shopping bags , and a tiny little girl dressed in a nanny ("baby-suster") uniform (pink for girl babies' green/blue for boy babies!) carrying a baby or child in her baby sling ("gandong") If there are two babies/ children , there are two nannies too.

Although "fancy" & "glamorous" in theory , it put my mind at ease. Raising a baby in a new country where we knew no one, didn't seem like a big deal. Once my baby was a month old, we started looking for a "suster"

How to get one: first let me describe the experience we had trying the "baby suster agency".The first such nanny we met arrived with her escort. At 9 pm. WITH her bags and baggage. And the first thing she did was freshen up and change!

 our 3 month old boy with his first nanny in our trip to Bali:

Let's go thru this once again.

We had thought it was just a preliminary meeting... Umm which it apparently wasn't.
We couldn't understand a word of what they said. Neither did our trusted friend google translate. 
It was 9 pm remember? do we send a lady back at this hour? Esp since they literally took 4 hours to get here in the first place? And that she was already nice and comfy in her night suit?
Then they asked us to pay 150,000 rupiah ($15) for her "transportation".
Our jaws dropped straight to the floor. Maybe even poked thru' the floor to the apartment below.

But the truth is I was terribly sick (I was DYING) so we thought, huh, let this weird-woman-who-is-cosy-in-her-nightsuit stay for a few days till I get better. Whats the worse that could happen? Well nothing bad really happened, but we didn't like her at all. We kept her for 4 days till my antibiotics kicked in and then sent her packing. & you thought transportation was only a one way charge didn't you? Fooled ya! We had to pay another 150,000 rupiah ($15) along with her 4 day salary.

So THAT obviously didnt work. What worked was good old fashioned "send the word out that ure looking to hire a baby-suster" through the maid / nanny network within the apartment complex and voila! Within a few days the perfect nanny shall show up! Of course by then we were , umm , er, desperate and we dropped our very important criteria of "English speaking skills"! Realized it's way easier to learn the local language by ourselves, which I did in no time! (I HAVE seen English speaking maids and nannies, so if there's no rush you may still keep looking !)

How to choose one: you gotta interview a few first. What we looked for was someone disciplined, loving and energetic. You may get a sense right away, but the best way to do it is having a week or two of "trial period". They give you a photocopy of their KTP (ID card) which is also given to the apartments security team. The first nanny we had for the first six months was an absolute live wire! We liked her cheerful animated face the minute she walked in that door. She had to later go back to her hometown and so she helped us get our current nanny as replacement.

Do they burn a hole through your pocket? Nope! For a monthly salary of 1.5-2 million rupiah ($150-200) you can get an excellent full time nanny to work 6 days a week. You provide her a place to stay (apartments usually have a maid room and toilet) and food. And you can get them uniforms if you'd like to be all prim n propah :)

Job Description: she is trained and or experienced in EVERYTHING related to baby. Preparing his food, feeding him, taking him to the playground, taking him to play school or school, daily massage, putting him to sleep,  bathing him, changing diapers, brushing his teeth, cutting his nails, playing with him. She can do everything baby related under the sun, so it's your call on WHAT exactly you want from your nanny.

The Big advantages: For me, the biggest task in the first year was putting him to sleep ,cuz we had to walk around holding him for 30-45 mins every time, even for his daytime naps. The two biggest tasks now are feeding him and keeping him outdoors for as long as possible! Yup, he's extremely outdoorsy and wants to be in the playground/ friends house/ neighbours  lobby etc for at least 3 hours a day. And I'm a lazy bum. And cuz nannys have their own nanny friends , incidentally the kids become friends too. So basically our one year old has an uber social life with a ton of friends & play groups while we, his parents have only each other!

So I'm NOT a fancy stiletto-ed and definitely not a skinny mommy strolling in a fancy mall, but I haven't YET lost my marbles, the house doesn't ALWAYS look like a pig sty, my kid looks freshly scrubbed (er, MOSTLY!) and I have the CUTEST, most ADORABLE mixed-raced toddlers walking in my house every now and then to play!

Until later! Stay in touch!

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