When people hear we've quit our jobs, packed up our lives and moved to Bali to spend more time with our kids they assume our life is a non-stop carousel of sandcastles, sunshine, laughter, flip-flops and ice creams. Images flash up of us idly lounging poolside, sipping coconuts whilst the girls splash around joyously together.

It's time to set the record straight.

Yes, it's true we enjoy sunshine and wear flip flops and laugh a lot more than we used to. But the reality is we live in a fairly simple villa, without a lot of simple things I took for granted back home. Like most people in Bali, we have no washing machine, no dishwasher, no oven, no microwave, no vacuum cleaner, no clean running water. There is no lovely Ocado van to magically deliver our groceries, no CBeebies, no overflowing playroom of toys and games. First world problems I know, but still an adjustment from life back home, all the same.

Without the luxury of all these "make your life easier" appliances and services we quickly found that we'd traded tedious 9-5 for tedious domestic duties. And that was not part of the plan. The truth is things in Bali can take bloody ages to get done. Finding a pint of fresh milk can involve a tour of three different supermarkets and wash up becomes a thrice-daily dice with danger; perilously dangling plates under scolding kettles of hot water and swearing a lot. Don't even get me started on the joys of preparing a meal in an outdoor kitchen smaller than most people's downstairs loo. If Masterchef introduced that as one of their challenges most of the contestants would stomp out in a defeated strop half way through. It's like camping, every day, but without the tent.

Thank goodness I kept breastfeeding Millie otherwise I fear I may never have actually left the villa. Chained to the sink, muttering profanities under my breath, on an endless cycle of kettle boiling. First to wash bottles, next to sterilise and then another for the formula, then repeat. Thank goodness for Mother Nature and boobs.

So we've done a thing that I feel a bit bad about. Not bad, but I do feel like I've been flakey, sold out and betrayed the whole sisterhood solidarity thing a bit. We've hired help six mornings a week. I know, the irony that we took this time out to "spend more time with our kids" is not lost on me either.

We just realised that if we carried on as it was chores were dominating our days. Each morning saw a steady increment in my adrenalin levels as another day of supermarket sweeps lay ahead. The thought that "this isn't the way it was meant to be" kept nagging. Never mind the kettles; I was hitting my own boiling point.

So we decided to get some help. Don't get me wrong I absolutely adore being a hands on Mum. I took this timeout, and put my career on hold, to focus on motherhood and I cherish this time with my two tiny Toms. I love being there to translate as Millie speaks a language only we understand; watch proudly from the sidelines as Jessica braves her first swim without her beloved "Peppa" armbands.

But we now have a chance to opt out of mornings altogether and we're grabbing it with both hands. The girls have a wonderful time playing, singing and socialising with our warm and beautiful nanny Ketut. We tear it up around Ubud's poshest hotels; working on our blog and answering to no-one but ourselves from 9:00-12.30. A nanny in Bali is called a Pembantu - it literally means "one who helps". And we have the best pembantu in the whole world bar none I'm certain.

Somehow are kids are always happy, fed and dressed in clean clothes. Our villa is always spotless and ordered to the point of borderline OCD; clothes folded with military precision and sorted neatly by colour. I am in awe of how she manages this with two small people to entertain. Ketut is also a wonderful cook and conjures up nothing short of culinary miracles in our cramped, camping kitchen. Half the reason Bali is now so relaxing is because of the wonderful Ketut. She has very quickly become a part of our family and she is one of the smiliest, kindest, most positive people I have ever met. She is blessed with this amazing aura that just makes you feel that everything is going to be okay. Most importantly the girls adore her. We have learnt our limited Bahasa Indonesia from Ketut, and she has improved her English by telling us stories about her culture and community our breakfast every morning.

Now and again I feel like a cheat, a copout and ever so slightly neglectful. For goodness sake, one of the main reasons for changing our lifestyle was to spend more time with the girls. We've only gone and palmed them off to someone else 30 hours a week....

But that someone is Ketut - a precious, special someone who our girls adore. We relish our free mornings and bring renewed patience, energy and fun to our family afternoons together. Sadly after 3 incredible months together we will have to say good-bye to Ketut when we leave Ubud next month. Despite my best attempts, she cannot be persuaded to leave her lifetime of family and friends behind for a backpacking adventure across Malaysia with us. Crazy I know. But thank you Ketut for this time, we won't forget you, you've been amazing.

One Response

  1. Damon

    Hello – I love your blog. It’s great. Just wondering if your nanny in Ubud is looking for work once you leave? We have just arrived in Ubud and have a 2.5 year old boy in tow. Thanks heaps, D


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