If you are reading this as a HR professional or manager – do pass on these tips to any working parents in your team and organisations!
If you are reading this as a working parent – you will be well aware that the countdown has begun! With only a couple of weeks left till the summer holiday to go, if you haven’t already started to plan the summer, now is the time to put in place your summer childcare plan. Babies or children still at full-time nursery? Enjoy and appreciate the simplicity before the madness of school begins!
Start with a week-by-week plan.
- Hopefully you will have already booked out a 1 or 2-week family break – together or as 2 separate weeks, home or away. 2 consecutive weeks will really help everyone de-stress but many families take the first and the last week off together, which can feel like you are extending the summer… If this first step goes well, you possibly now only have 4 weeks to sort out – this is do-able!
- Can grandparents or family members help out with the odd days? Perhaps a sleepover with cousins or a stay with grandparents? This option can be quite good for those of us who aren’t lucky enough to have grandparents nearby – a great excuse for a trip?! 3 weeks to sort out…
- Can you find a holiday club for a week or so? Private holiday clubs can be expensive, especially with 2 or more children, however, they can be lifesavers and your children will come home exhausted after a week of activity! You may consider doing 1 week at the beginning of the holidays and then having a couple of weeks break in between to avoid activity (as well as bank account!) burnout!
1 week to sort out…?
- Are you able to talk to your manager about flexible working opportunities during this period, or working from home so to avoid a lengthy commute? Many managers are understanding about this (especially as it’s short term) as this can be a quiet time for many roles and organisations. It’s well worth having the discussion.
- Does your local council or school offer holiday clubs? They may be cheaper than the private options!
- Do you know a local nanny or childminder? Or perhaps you have a friend who may be willing to share their nanny or childcare provider? It’s a nice option if your children can have the occasional stay-at-home day.
- Did you know you can actually take unpaid Parental Leave for family holidays? If you can manage the finances and you haven’t got anything huge going on at work, discuss this option with your manager and HR. You could consider adding a week’s unpaid leave onto your paid holiday. The Telegraph reported this week that this benefit if massively under-used
Consider also that you will need someone (preferably you or another family member if possible) who can be your contingency in case of child sickness – this is a good time for you and your other half to compare work commitments to try and avoid both of you travelling at the same time.
If your child is starting a new school in September, make sure you don’t book in anything huge at work during his or her first week – can you take their first day at school off as holiday, for example, to ensure you are there for the drop off and pick up? Can you arrange some flexible working during that first week?
Finally, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone! Parents all over the country have mild panic attacks at this time of year…. plan ahead, get recommendations and use your networks and all will be fine…. until next year.