When we were kids the Summer holidays were something to look forward to but, as a working parent, they can be a mixed blessing.
We all make different choices on how much time we want/need to spend with our kids vs how much time we want/need to spend working. That can be anything from finding full time childcare so that important work is uninterrupted to arranging your work to spend the whole 6+ weeks with your kids.
If you are employed then you have the right to request flexible working. If you provide a foolproof plan for how you and your business owner can cover the necessary work then it is more likely to be accepted. If you run your own business then the responsibility lies with you anyway.
As well as professional childcare and holiday clubs the options include:
- working from home so that you can supervise your kids yourself. While this is great for some of the time it doesn’t provide quality time with your family or you may find small children too distracting.
- working evenings/weekends while the other parent, or somebody else, is available for childcare. This allows you to spend quality time with your kids but it can be harder to communicate with a team working conventional hours and it may be important to you for the whole family to spend time together.
- postponing non-urgent work or doing extra before the holidays. This can free up time during the holidays but there is additional pressure on you before and after your time off
- take on less work over the holiday period. There may be a natural lull in your business when fewer clients are around working themselves. This is easiest to do if you work for yourself. The downside is that this may also reduce your income so you will need to ensure that you have sufficient savings to cover the break.
- arranging reciprocal playdates for your kids with other parents trying to juggle the holidays. This gives your kids a change of scene and may keep them away from screens. If you have more than one child this can require pretty complex coordination.
- Holiday clubs can be useful for ad hoc childcare but they are often much shorter than a normal working day. Some clubs just supervise your kids whilst they are watching DVDs or playing on computer games so you’re paying for somebody else to let a screen babysit your darlings. Sports clubs can be good for older children but not everyone enjoys these.
- Electronic babysitters can be okay so don’t beat yourself up if you use them sometimes. Just try and mix in a bit of quality time with humans and some fresh air and exercise.
In practice you may choose a mixture of these and other methods.
You may well feel that you’re not working or parenting well enough over this period but just keeping the plates spinning is enough for now.
Please drop me a line with any other suggestions