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Summer term childcare challenges

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Children may rejoice as the summer holiday approaches, but for many working parents it can be a nightmare juggling childcare and keeping them entertained without breaking the bank. Here are some suggestions for a stress-free summer…

Sharing childcare

Many families use the summer holiday to use up at least two weeks of annual leave and enlist the help of relatives or friends to take them for a week or two. However, if you don’t have anyone around to help out, this is where things can get tricky.

Many parents are also doing what’s been described as ‘shift parenting’, but this isn’t really an option for many single parents. If this is the case, perhaps you have a friend who is in a similar situation? You could coordinate your annual leave so that on the weeks they are off work they take your child during the day and you do the same for them.

Cassie, 45 years-old (CASE STUDY 1)

Being a single parent with nine and 15 year-old girls, the holidays always worry me. I am self-employed and have to work at any given opportunity. I try to arrange my clients on specific days during which my girls have to entertain themselves. However, it is the times spent together that have to be carefully planned, otherwise it can cost an absolute fortune and a lot of financial stress. We need more local activities and clubs which are not exorbitant and are attractive to children. Being on holiday is very much more expensive than term time and of course, work is not so lucrative because everyone is tightening the purse strings!”

Toni, 38 years-old (CASE STUDY 2)

“It’s a total headache. We end up with a very complex spreadsheet detailing where they both are each day. We manage with a combination of both sets of grandparents, taking a fortnight off ourselves, putting them in a summer school, taking ad hoc days off separately and using our old childminder, but it’s a very costly business as well as a logistical pain in the backside. You just need to be mega organised.”

Flexible working

If you have children under age of 16 then you have the right to ask your employer for flexible working arrangements. They don’t have to agree to your request, but they are obliged to seriously consider any application and only reject it with good reason.

This means you may be able to work part-time, flexi-time, shared working, staggered hours, term-time contracts, or working from home for certain days or half days.

If you are in a situation where you have a partner who can support you financially for a short period of time and you are on a low income, it may actually be cheaper to take unpaid leave rather than pay for expensive childcare.

Childminders/nannies and au pairs

For many parents, paying for a full-time nanny during the summer term isn’t always an option unless you are earning enough to make it financially viable.

If you do need to employ someone and you aren’t keen on holiday playschemes or workshops then you could take on a childminder, nanny or au pair. Some will be employed by an agency and others will work privately and will be happy to take on short-term contracts.

Make sure you always check their references, Disclosure and Barring Service checks (formerly known as Criminal Records Bureau) and that they have an up-to-date first aid certificate and clean driving licence.

Summer holidays childcare scheme

Free and subsidised holiday playschemes

Costs can vary enormously, but some schools and clubs offer free activities for local children up to the age of 16 so it’s always worth checking with your local council/Family Information Service (FIS).

It may also be that holiday clubs can be paid using childcare tax credits or childcare vouchers. For this to be possible, the playscheme needs to be registered with Ofsted.

In addition, if you’re already entitled to free school meals, you may also be eligible to receive free spaces for your child.

Cheap days out

On days where you do have the children there are lots of free or cheap days out that you can enjoy as a family, especially if you can’t afford to go on holiday.

You can get money off coupons using supermarket reward cards, by checking the back of your cereal packet for vouchers, or searching websites for 2 for 1 offers and places where kids can eat for free.

Try these free or cheap days out:

picnics and walks in the countryside

• bike rides

• summer fetes and village days

• trips to the library

• museums and galleries

• National Trust or English Heritage properties (adults will have to pay, but kids go free)

• outdoor parks or soft play areas

• fun and games in your own garden – make an obstacle course, fill up the paddling pool, do a treasure hunt, ball games and so on.

 

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About Julia Faulks

About Julia Faulks

Julia Faulks is a content editor and journalist with 11 years' experience writing and subbing editorial for a number of publications. Now a mother herself, she has turned her hand to writing content for parents as well as young people and likes nothing more than turning long and complicated copy into something that everyone can understand.

Website: Julia Faulks

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