Is it half term already? September and October often fly by so fast that it feels that there is very little time to recover from summer holiday childcare planning before half term childcare planning hits. Of course, you may be superorganised and have arranged childcare and things to do back in June, but chances are half term has figured fairly low down on your priority list until it somehow crept up on you now. It may be that the school has also helpfully tacked on a couple of inset days as well just to make it that bit more of a challenge. So how can you get through it? Workingmums.co.uk has some advice.
1. Fall back on family, if there are any around. Make links with distant relatives. Everyone counts. Mainly, though, it will come down to your partner, if you have one and any other family who live in the vicinity or you could send your kids to further-flung relatives or invite them to stay for the week if necessary. If you can, divvy up half term between a number of family members to spread the load.
2. If family are not available, network with friends. If you haven’t already built up a support network of other parents, particularly working parents who understand the challenges, start doing so as soon as you can, even if you don’t think you have time. It could be a life-saver. Have all their numbers on speed dial on your phone in case of emergencies. If you take a day off you can have their children over and vice versa. For the long term – and you may find it difficult to think long term when you are starting out on the school journey – it is a good idea to team up with other parents to cover holidays and emergencies on a regular basis so you don’t have to do the last-minute planning.
3. Try to negotiate some homeworking for you and for your partner if you have one. That way you can be around to ferry the kids to holiday playschemes, which often end well inside office hours and may well be age particular meaning, if you have more than one child, you have to put them in different playschemes. You may also be able to tailor your day so you have time to take the kids out in the afternoon before you log on again later in the day.
4. Check our your local authority to find out about seasonal activities in your area and holiday schemes [this should be on their website under Children and Families]. Your school may also have details of holiday playschemes run by local leisure centres or your school may host some. Organisations like the FA run some schemes.
5. Emergency childcare may be necessary if all else fails. Organisations like Yoopies provide emergency back-up and holiday childcare, but it can be at a cost. Some organisations like My Family Care provide emergency and holiday childcare packages for employers to use.
6. If you are taking time off with the kids bear in mind that Halloween falls just after half term, shortly followed by Bonfire Night. You could make this the theme of the entire week and tie in activities – Halloween fashion parades, Halloween costume making, Halloween makeovers, Halloween plays, Halloween story-writing sessions, Halloween games, Halloween sweet-making sessions, Halloween decorations, Bonfire night explosion experiments, Bonfire Night cupcakes a la Bake Off special. The possibilities are endless.
Have fun and remember, there are only around 60s days until the Christmas holidays.