Hir­ing a Nanny in Indonesia

Indonesia Expat - - CONTENTS - BY RINKA PEREZ Rinka Perez is “The Ex­pat House­wife of Jakarta”, shar­ing her ex­pe­ri­ences of liv­ing in “The Big Durian” as an ex­pat mother of three.

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. For more prac­ti­cal tips on house­hold help, visit www.thex­pathouse­wife­of­jakarta.com

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