The Easter holidays are here, perhaps sooner than anticipated this year, so what do you do to entertain the children or find childcare cover if you have to work? Workingmums.co.uk has some advice on how to cover the next two weeks of school holidays.
Check our your local authority to find out about 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.
That means primarily your partner, if you have one, and any other family who may have some time on their hands. If you can, divvy up the holidays between a number of family members to spread the load.
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 know what the deal is, 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. Remember the golden rule, though, that if you ask a favour you have to return one – it doesn’t have to be returning childcare favours if this is just not possible, but something that makes their life easier.
You can use unpaid parental leave to cover holidays. Parental Leave can be taken up to a child’s 18th birthday. After completing one year’s continuous service with an employer, an employee is entitled to 18 weeks unpaid Parental Leave for each child born or adopted. In order to take Parental Leave you will need to make a request to your employer giving at least 21 days’ notice of the date on which you intend to start the leave so it will be too late for Easter now, but may be something to bear in mind for the summer holidays. Your employer may ask for this notice to be given in writing.
Provided you give the correct notice to your employer and you qualify for Parental Leave, you should be able to take it at any time. Parental Leave should be taken in blocks or multiples of a week (based on your working pattern). You cannot take more than four weeks during any year.
Try to negotiate some homeworking for you and for your partner if you have one and if this is a possibility. That way you can be around to ferry the kids to holiday playschemes, which often end well inside office hours and are often aimed at only certain age groups, meaning if you have more than one child you have to seek more than one playscheme. You may also be able to tailor your day so you have time for the kids in the afternoon before you log on again later in the day.
Emergency childcare may be necessary if all else fails. Organisations like My Family Care or Findababysitter.com provide emergency back-up, but it can be at a cost.
If you are off with the kids, check out local museums, parks, etc, to find out what activities they have on offer. Many will be free of charge and getting out and about can make a world of difference to their holidays and may help recharge your batteries too – staying in can be a recipe for squabbles and stress. If the weather is awful and depending on the ages of your children, you could try bake off competitions, Easter bonnet making and catwalk sessions, painting egg heads and smashing them in unusual ways, making dens, changing their room around or putting on a show. Happy Easter!