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It’s the holidays. No more school run; no more last-minute requests for party food or after school club cancellations. You can relax. Or maybe not. Now the real hard work begins. Finding some holiday childcare without going bankrupt in the process. So what can you do to survive?
Of course, if you haven’t planned ahead, it’s too late now. At least for the early stages of the holiday, but you can still pull it back. If you haven’t got any childcare cover arranged, now is the time to “innovate”. Necessity is the mother of invention, so the saying goes, and you are a mother in need [this is also applicable to fathers, though there is strangely no equivalent saying]. Go through your Facebook or other social media pages scouring for friends and family that owe you a favour. Do them a favour so they owe you. Highlight the ones who are in a similar situation to you who may be able to help out or be able to suggest a solution, such as good babysitters or clubs. Avoid those who sorted summer childcare back in January.
Curse the powers that be for the lack of holiday childcare provision and for not finding a childcare model that works for 21st century family life and leaving it all down to parents to find some sort of sticking plaster solution that gets you through the next five weeks. It won’t help except that it’s better to realise that this is not your problem. It is a much bigger social problem that affects or will affect a large percentage of employees. Link up with local parents, organise, make a noise. If you’re not too exhausted…
The summer holidays may be when all those thoughts about how to get greater flexibility crystallise and you imagine a life where you can at least work from home and work around children, if you don’t do so already. But the sheer getting through summer-ness makes it difficult to plot any clear direction forward. Allow those thoughts to simmer until you have time to think them through with a clear head, unencumbered by sleeplessness, sibling skirmishes and multiple moans about being bored. Read about what others have done. It might not be for you, but it might give you some food for thought. Every family has different circumstances and it may take time to find something that works for yours. Even so, things change and it might not work permanently. Parenting means adapting to change. You can do it and you will be stronger for it – and infinitely more tired.
If you are playing childcare tag with your partner, remember to say hallo before you pass on the baton. It’s those small touches that make for a lasting relationship.
Research low-cost fun activities that can be done with children of all ages, if you have more than one – that may be a Bake-Off Day using all the ingredients that are at the back of your cupboards and a bit of imagination [what can you come up with using a tin of pilchards and some jam?], creating a pretend beach scene in your house, putting on a play, looking up science experiment sites, creating an obstacle course, creating new games and organising a championship in them, painting t-shirts, etc, etc.
Use the World Cup as a spur to physical activity. Go to the park, practise ball skills in small spaces, branch out into other sports, for instance, you could try synchronised swimming sessions in the paddling pool.
Create a white flag for use during all episodes of sibling rivalry. As in any conflict situation, separate the parties and talk to each individually about their grievance and then take it to an international tribunal [ie you and the pets] and make sure deliberations are lengthy and so dull that they will never want to sit through similar again.
Negotiate some form of holiday bedtime hour or you will conk out first and they will be in charge. Plus they will arrive at the end of the first week of autumn term in a state of total collapse and emotional turbulence. You have been warned.
Get some respite, even if it’s only half an hour in the bath. Invest in heavy duty locks on bathroom doors and refuse point blank to answer letters pushed under the door until the half hour has passed unless it is a genuine emergency.
Remember, five weeks don’t last for ever. There will be highs; there will be lows. Time will pass and then you will be slap bang in autumn term on the high speed freeway to Christmas. Good luck!