Working Parents: How Do You Manage the School Holidays?
It’s not easy being a working parent. Juggling school pick-ups, homework, quality family time and after school activities can be tricky. And that’s before you even think about having any time for yourself! Many of you will have a carefully balanced routine to deal with this that has been so honed, buffed and shined that the military would be proud of it. In fact, you may think you should have a job in logisitics! But then….. there’s the holidays.
Most schools have around 65 days of holiday every year. No matter how good you are at the balancing act of family life, accounting for all these days without childcare can be a real challenge.
So what do you do? The way we see it, there are five main options:
- Use annual leave
- Rely on family members
- Arrange child swaps with other parents
- Pay for holiday clubs, play schemes and camps
- Take time off work without pay
Taking holiday yourself can be the ideal situation, but most of us are only entitled to around 28 days of leave per year (which is among the fewest in Europe) and this definitely won’t stretch to cover all the school holidays.
Grandparents and other family members can be a great help, but you may not be able to rely on them all the time, especially if they don’t live locally.
Child swaps with other parents can be an effective way to maximise the holiday time you can take… but this will mean you have to spend your precious holiday time looking after other people’s children as well as your own.
Holiday clubs, play schemes and camps can be fun for the kids but they can also be a very costly option, especially if you have more than one child. For a lot of parents this is the only option, but it might mean you’re low on funds when it comes to planning a summer holiday for the whole family.
Some of you may have the option of taking time off work without pay, but this can cause tension with employers and means that you pay cheque will be significantly smaller at the end of the month.
Of course, none of these things are really solutions. The real root of the problem is that most jobs are entirely inflexible. Even if you love your job you probably consider this to be a real problem. After all, let’s face it: the UK isn’t the most family friendly place to have a career.
Are there more options? Part time employment can fit in well around holiday time, especially if you’re able to work flexibly and choose when you work your hours. The only problem with part time work is that it can really limit how much you earn, which is a big issue when you have a family to pay for.
How about truly embracing flexible working and starting your own business? When you work for yourself you can take time out whenever you need it, and this is likely to fit around your family much better than a traditional role. There’s a reason home-based businesses are massively on the rise! In fact, there’s been a huge spike in female entrepreneurship as mums have decided to take issues into their own hands.
School holidays aren’t just a temporary roadblock. Most parents will be dealing with them for twelve years and up: so it makes sense to consider them carefully.
- Do you ‘cope’ with holidays or do you and your family enjoy them?
- How would you spend the holidays if you had the freedom to choose?
- Is your income/spend adversely affected by holidays?
- Do holidays affect your career progress and achievement?
- Would a different type of career be a better fit?
How do you handle your work commitments around your family and the school holidays? Are you one of those parents who successfully manages their careers, their family commitments and the school holidays? We’d love to hear how you make it work. Why not connect with us on Facebook and tell us about it?
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