The holidays are here already so what do you do about childcare?
Easter is here already. You blink after Christmas and Easter arrives. If you are still dealing with the everyday struggles of work and life and were drifting along ignoring the chocolate eggs in the supermarket and hot cross buns on sale since January, Easter may come as a bit of a surprise. Unless, of course, you’ve spent the last couple of weeks making last-minute Easter bonnets and painting boiled eggs for school competitions…
For kids Easter might spell sweet things, even if for the older ones the holidays are packed with exam revision, but for parents it can be difficult trying to organise childcare. What can you do to cover those two weeks without spending a small fortune? workingmums.co.uk has some tips.
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] as well as support for children on free school meals. Your school may also have details of holiday playschemes run by local leisure centres or your school may host some. Cost and availability can be a big challenge, however, depending on where you live.
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.
Try to negotiate some homeworking for you and for your partner if you have one and this is possible in your job. That way you can be around to ferry the kids to holiday playschemes, which often end well inside office hours and are aimed at only certain age groups, meaning if you have more than one child you have to seek more than one playscheme, sometimes in different locations and at different times. 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.
If you are off with your children, 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 the 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 sessions, making dens, changing their room around or putting on a show. The internet is full of weird and wonderful ideas, such as building obstacles courses and making foodie face masks – perhaps using up some of those leftover chocolate eggs.