The summer holidays have finally arrived. If you haven’t got them sorted childcare-wise, don’t panic. Workingmums.co.uk has some ideas for what to do.
Summer term seems to go by very quickly. If you have not planned the whole thing or even any of it and are hoping to do it on a wing and a prayer, you are far from alone. Workingmums.co.uk surveys show many parents leave it till the last minute to get things sorted. Here are some ideas:
1. Check out 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. National organisations like the FA also run schemes so check their website. Bear in mind that some holiday playschemes do shorter hours than normal schools and only cater to specific age groups or interests. If you have more than one child this can prove problematic so you may need to negotiate with your employer or arrange pick-ups.
2. You could ask your employer about flexible working over the summer, whether that is more homeworking, flexi hours, annualised hours eg working shorter hours in the holidays and increasing your hours at other times of year [if summer is quieter, this may also make good business sense], etc. Some employers allow you to buy extra holiday. You can also ask for unpaid parental leave, but you need to give 21 days’ notice.
3. Ask family, if there are any around. Make links with distant relatives on Facebook, approach second cousins and remember that it takes a village to bring up a child. Everyone counts. In the main, it will probably come down to your partner, if you have one and any other family who live in the vicinity if that applies. If you can, divvy up the holidays between a number of family members to spread the load.
4. 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 – in the land of working parents it is all about returning favours. For the long term 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. If you are able to work from home or are self employed, you may be able to tailor your day by getting up early to give yourself time to take the kids out in the afternoon before you log on again later in the day.
5. Emergency childcare may be necessary if all else fails. Organisations like Yoopies and some childcare providers provide emergency back-up and holiday childcare, but it can be at a cost. My Family Care provides emergency and holiday childcare packages for employers to use.
6. If you are taking time off with the kids there are lots of listings site such as Hoop and Netmums, where you can search according to your location. Moneysavingexpert has news of special offers. Depending on the weather, you can get out and explore the great outdoors or get creative indoors, making dens or organising your own Junior Bake Off competitions. More creative and scientific ideas to counter boredom can be found on the great Unbored site here.