Last night, one of my friends started talking enthusiastically about her family summer holiday she’s just booked and my stomach sank. Not from jealousy, although I’m quite envious of her choice, but from the dreaded thought of having to work out childcare for the 6 week school summer holiday.
My husband and I both work full time and every year it feels like we’re trying to perform a complex balancing act – trying to find ways to spend good quality time with our children, but still maintain our work commitments.
So as I’ve recently started this blog, and am officially called Susie Planner, I thought I’d better get my act together, and provide my readers with some practical advice about how to plan the school holidays so we can sit back and relax with smug grins on our faces, knowing we’re ahead of the game.
I’ve researched some great options for childcare, which you should really start thinking about now. This is for four reasons.
- Summer childcare can be expensive so it needs advance budgeting
- Places get booked up early
- Early bird discounts tend to expire in February/March, so it’s more economical to book in advance
- Any requests for extra time off work or flexible working will have to go through your line manager and/or HR, and this could take time to arrange.
Most schools break up on July 23rd and go back on 5th September so with some allowance for regional differences, that’s 6 full weeks and some odd days either side of the weeks the children start and finish school.
Remember, if you start planning summer now, you’ll have peace of mind that you’ve planned early enough to get great value and comfort from the knowing you’re ahead of the game; everyone know’s what’s happening, who’s going where and when, making for a smoother run up to the holidays.
So here it is – my practical advice for summer holidays.
Flexible working – If your children are old enough to keep themselves entertained at home, ask your work if you can work from home one or two days a week during the holidays. Most companies are becoming more accommodating in their attitudes to flexible working and this allows you to work from home whilst keeping a watchful eye on the children. If your work doesn’t allow for working at home, because you physically have to be at another location, perhaps you could find out if you and your partner could work part time during the school holidays
Keep it in the family – Plan for family to visit so you can mark up on your calendar days that you know you’ve got childcare covered. Grandparents, aunties, cousins, uncles – they could all help with a day or two, which helps cover the holiday period.
Summer camps – Research your local summer camps and book early. PGL have camps running throughout the summer and both our children have loved making new friends, trying new activities, having fun and generally trying new things. PGL often offer early bird discounts so check their website for details.
Summer Au Pair – Consider taking an au pair for the summer period who can perhaps help teach your children French or Spanish. Au pairs tend to be between 18 to 27 and come from within the EU. There are many Au pair suppliers so visit their websites to make enquiries. I found Busy Bees, Childcare International and Au Pair Global.
Local activity groups -Check our local Facebook community groups to find out which activities are on during the summer. We have a fantastic one for cake lovers called Cake My Day and our local drama club run summer workshops . Local riding schools sometimes allow children to spend the at the stables in return for a lesson. I’ve recently discovered Little House of Science holiday workshops – a brilliant idea to foster children’s curiosity and engage them in science at a young age. Courses run in the south of England.
Sports Clubs – There are many sports organisations who run single or multiple day sports events. A popular one with our football mad 10 years old is Core Sports, who offer a wide range of activities in from 9am to 3pm. Either check their website or Google ‘holiday sports coaching for ones in your local area.
Buddy up with friends – Find out if any of your children’s friends are having days our or holidays that your children could tag along with, in return for you taking their children on some days out with you. Most working parents will be in the same situation as you for the school holidays and this can often be a fun way to help each other out. We’ve taken one or two of our children’s friends with us on days out to the beach when their parents have been working and they took our children for a day out in London.
Babysitters – Have a handy list of known babysitters at the ready as well, so that if you are stuck with a day or two without childcare, you’ve got someone to call on whom you trust and the children are already familiar with.
That’s it, good luck, and please do let me know how you get on! Remember, the sooner you organise the holidays the better – leaving you to concentrate on the nice things like where to go on holiday!