Spending time with our children and watching them grow is one of the most rewarding parts of being a parent. Juggling work commitments and childcare is a monumental task that parents face over the entire year, but this headache is amplified significantly over the school summer holidays.
In the UK, most state-educated school children get around 6 weeks off at the end of July and throughout August, returning to school in early September. The dates vary in Scotland but the duration is roughly the same. Parents have to become creative when arranging time off, even more so if both parents are employed, and you are unable to call upon the help of friends and family.
Unless you are fortunate to have both sets of grandparents close by and on hand, finding a solution that's best for the children can be a major headache. Join us as we discover what you can do to make the summer holidays fun, exciting, and stress-free for all the family.
What Is The Cost Of Childcare In The UK?
The average price of out-of-school childcare in the UK is about £137.69 per child, per week (Mon-Fri). Some private childcare businesses are significantly more expensive, but if you do your research carefully, some private child minders are much more affordable. Either way, you could be spending £1200 on two children during the summer holidays. This doesn't include the extras like materials, packed lunches or day excursions.
Practical Ways to Jiggle Childcare
If you have friends and family that are happy to help then this is usually one of the best options, many grandparents, sisters, and brothers love having the children over, sometimes for the morning, the day, or perhaps overnight. Unfortunately, in modern society, this is not the case for many parents and for a multitude of different reasons. So why not try one of these great suggestions
● Parents Should Stick Together: Believe me, there are countless parents forced to juggle work commitments and looking after their children, so it's important to lean on one another for help. You could ask your children to invite a friend around to your house for the afternoon, and check whether their parents would be happy to return the favour at a later date.
● Give Up Your Job: Yes this is quite extreme, and it is not a solution for everyone. However, if you have fallen out of love with your job then why not take a career break so that you can spend more time with your children during these early years. If you cannot afford to leave your job, then why not consider switching to a part-time role or speak to your boss about the possibility of flexible working hours.
● Bring Your Child To Work: With hybrid working quickly becoming the standard, many of us are present in the home much more than we used to be. While this style of working has both pros and cons, one of the key advantages is the ability to be at home for our children during the school holidays, while still being able to log in to work. Just make sure that your children are aware that you are working and dedicate a private space for when you need to concentrate or host important Zoom meetings! Many employers now allow their staff to work on a goal-based basis, providing flexibility around childcare as long as mutually agreed goals are being met on time.
● Be Creative With Your Annual Leave: Time off is a restricted privilege and businesses are under no obligation to give you specific time off during the holidays. Planning ahead is key to making the most out of your annual leave. Did you know that in 2023 it is possible to get 38 days holiday using only 15 days of annual leave by getting creative with UK Bank Holidays? If you are a co-parent, it may be worthwhile for you both to stagger your annual leave, with each parent booking off two weeks in succession.
● Take Advantage of Holiday Clubs: Holiday clubs are often held at schools, sports centres and leisure centres. These are usually staffed by fully trained and background-checked professionals. They generally offer children a range of sports and craft activities to keep them busy throughout the day and help them to learn new and exciting skills. While these clubs can be expensive, they are often cheaper than day-to-day childcare would be. They typically run for standard school hours and are a hit with many families each year.
However you decide to juggle your work life and child care during the summer holidays, remember to take some time out to spend together as a family. Life is short and your children are only little for a limited amount of time. Spend some time together making fantastic memories this summer!