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It’s half term already. You’ve only just got past the summer holidays and the madness of September. If you’re feeling down about having to scrabble around for some half term childcare, Workingmums.co.uk is here to offer some solutions and to raise your spirits:
1. Don’t feel bad if you’ve left the childcare planning to the last minute. According to Workingmums.co.uk surveys, that’s what most people do. They generally then somehow get through it via arrangements with friends and family, sharing time off with a partner and accessing subsidised activities [local Children’s Information Services will have full details if you check your local authority and schools often circulate information on holiday clubs. Indeed some schools offer subsidised holiday schemes].
There are emergency childcare services provided by organisations like My Family Care, if you have the resources or you could try organisations like Findababysitter.com. If a friend takes your children, offer to reciprocate when you have the time. Developing a network of friends who can help out is crucial for working mums, even if you don’t really have the time to do so. Bear in mind that other working mums know exactly where you are coming from and may be only too keen to enter into some form of reciprocal arrangement.
2. If you are finding it hard to cover childcare, you or your partner may be able to negotiate some homeworking over half term so that you are around to pick up from friends’ houses and holiday clubs. Ask other colleagues and parents what they are doing – it may give you some ideas – and speak to your manager to explain your situation. There is also unpaid parental leave of up to four weeks a year for each child under 18.
3. For those who are off with the kids for half term or a part of it, there are a number of activities on offer for children over the half term. Many are free. For more information on potential events in your area, check local museums and listings sites aimed at families such as Raring2go and Whattodowiththekids.
4. You could always stay in and save more money by getting the kids to create dens, make a library for their books, create new outfits out of old clothes, do indoor Olympics or the like. There’s always Halloween to plan for – they could do a costume parade or horror make-up challenge.
5. If you are more into long-term planning, you could drop a hint about Christmas being the season of giving as well as receiving and suggest some ideas they might like to plan – for instance, a small play [hours of rehearsals and trying on costumes], creating Christmas gifts for their parents or siblings or leaf pictures. You could even suggest a pre-Christmas clean and make it into a kind of game so getting the housework done and keeping them entertained. Bear in mind that this could go horribly wrong and you could end up with twice as much housework.