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What Am I Going to Do With All This Free Time?

Many expatriate trailing or dependent spouses (male and femaile) experience an incredible adjustment upon their move to Indonesia. In their home country they may have held jobs, been active volunteers in their community and had a wide ranging support network for their daily lives. Relocation to Indonesia tears them apart from their normal life’s roles and the identity that is attached with those roles.

A big change for the whole family is that housekeeping activities may be partially or fully taken over by household staff once they move to Indonesia. This frees up even more time that was usually spent shopping, cooking, and being focused on the everyday care of the family and household chores.

The working spouse’s firm may put limitations upon the dependent spouse, as per their agreement with the Indonesian government, so that dependent spouses are not allowed to work during their years in Indonesia. A common question that is heard from many formerly working expatriate spouses is ... "What am I going to do with all this free time?" If your lifestyle for decades has centered around your job and the care of your home your family, big adjustments are ahead of you.

Don’t Panic!

We recommend an approach to your new life which takes advantage of this necessary break in your normal life and routine so that you can experience all that Indonesia and the expatriate lifestyle has to offer. Just a few of the options you may want to consider:

  1. Become a published writer and share your thoughts - There are numerous publications that would welcome article submissions on your travels and your life (including the expat website and Inside Indonesia). Is the “great American novel” just dying to leap out of your fingers onto the keyboard? Use your free time during your stay in Indonesia to write a book. Many have done it!

  2. Learn a new work-related skill - Is there a new software you want to master, have you been eager to learn how to develop your own blog, do you want to learn more about making brochures or cook a new cuisine? Now you have the time.

  3. Become a super volunteer - Pick an organization or two and WORK for them. The satisfaction of a job well done isn’t always dependent on getting a paycheck for your efforts. There are a myriad of community organizations that offer you a chance to further develop your organizational, leadership and professional skills within the activities of the organization. And you'll be contributing to your new community in a significant way.

  4. Take up a new hobby - Have you ever wanted to learn to play tennis, master new handicrafts, learn to scuba dive or take up scrapbooking? Your previous life may not have allowed time for you to develop new interests, hobbies and skills, but now you have the time, so take advantage of it.

  5. Travel - Take advantage of your close proximity to thousands of beaches, over a hundred volcanoes, and the fascinating culture and heritage of the Indonesian people. After your stay in Indonesia, a trip back will be quite expensive. But if you’re already here, many exotic adventures are just a couple of hours away.

  6. Dive into your children’s Lives - Your previous work schedule may not have allowed you to be there for games and special school events in your children's lives. Now you can volunteer for the PTA and invest more love, time, and attention in your children’s interests, as well as your own.

  7. Go back to school - Now may be the time to take advantage of online courses to get your Master’s Degree or complete your bachelor’s degree. Many universities offer online courses and will work with you to complete testing and other assignments via email or while you are on home leave. Time invested now on achieving your degree will benefit your career in the future. It also looks good on the resume that you used your time abroad to further your education.

  8. Spend time in meditation and spiritual retreat - Your hectic lifestyle is now a thing of the past, so  you can take some time to study, meditate, and spend quality time with yourself as you explore your spirituality and religious beliefs.

  9. Get Fit - If you have been neglecting your body and health, now may be the time to get back into shape. Excessive working hours in your home country could have been a reason for not going to the gym or taking a fitness class; but without the job you have no more excuses. Maintaining a healthy body should be a priority at any age, so pick an activity and schedule it into your day/week.

  10. Pamper Yourself - The cost of personal care services is much lower in Indonesia than in most developed countries. Make a point to schedule a monthly facial or massage and enjoy getting pampered.

  11. Celebrate the diversity all around you - In Jakarta, the international community is incredibly diverse. Join a lunch bunch that tries food at international restaurants, attend cultural events from different countries, and make friends from other nations. The experience will be incredibly enriching for all involved.

Soon you'll be singing the lament of most expat spouses ... too much to do ... and too little time to do it in :) Welcome to Indonesia ... dive in and thrive!

There are so many ways to avoid / prevent becoming ... The Lonely Expat Housewife of Jakarta

Last updated June 27, 2023