If you are a working parent, you might be wondering how on earth you are going to go about surviving the summer holidays.
Whilst your kids are excitedly counting down the days and making big plans, you are panicking about the practicalities of it.
Its not that you don’t want to spend time with your children, but school holidays put immense strain on parents’ time and resources.
School children in the UK get 13 weeks off a year, whereas the average employer gives 4 or 5 weeks holiday.
Even assuming each household has 2 working parents, that still leaves at least 3 weeks when alternative arrangements must be made. More if the family want to take time off together.
The Strain Of Summer Holidays
School holidays put a considerable amount of pressure on families.
Financially, the children need feeding an extra meal, plus snacks at home. Then there is the increase in the cost of electricity as there are extra people at home. When excursions are factored in, the cost of living is starting to rise.
And that is before childcare costs are considered. This article from the BBC calculates the average family spend £127.00 per week on childcare over the holidays.
Some parents have to take unpaid leave or even quit their job in the summer holidays to enable them to take care of their kids.
Then there is the relationship strain of the school holidays. Often, the childcare falls to one parent or the grandparents. This can lead to feelings of guilt or resentment.
Summer holidays triples all those problems for the simple fact it is 6 weeks with only 1 bank holiday in it.
It is very likely you are going to have to save up some leave.
So, lets have a look at some ways you can survive the summer holidays if you are a working parent.
Summer Holiday Survival If You Work Away From The Home:
1) Don’t wait until the last minute to talk to your employer
Most employers understand the difficulties of managing the summer holidays and will have some sort of arrangements made for working parents.
Speaking to your employer early means you are more likely to find a solution in time. This might be that you spend a couple of days a week working at home. Some employers even let you buy extra time off, usually spreading the cost over a few pay cheques.
2) Request flexible or deviated hours
If you employer doesn’t already have flexible working set up it might be worth asking if they would consider it.
Put your request in writing and make a strong business case for it. Most employers are put under strain during the summer holidays, as many working parents are off so are open to discussing it.
Allowing you to cover your workload at a time that suits you makes more business sense than you just having time off, or drastically, quitting.
3) Partner up with friends
If you have friends with children it is likely they are going to be in the same boat as you. Make a schedule with a group of friends to cycle the collective children around your houses.
The kids will love being together for the summer and you can all keep your hours as normal as possible.
The days you have the children might be a bit hectic, but you can always take them to the park, trampolining, or set a treasure hunt. And at lunchtime, just throw a massive pizza in between them and leave them to it.
4) Bribe your family
Whether it is your sibling, cousin or parents, sweetening them up so you can palm your children off onto them pays dividends.
Grandparents usually love getting to spend time with their grandchildren without you there doling out standards and discipline.
And your siblings and cousins might be in the same position as you. Sharing the childcare will help you both out, just like partnering up with friends.
Perhaps you can offer something in return, such as babysitting for their small children during the winter evenings, or a month of gardening for your parents.
Surviving The Summer Holidays If You Can Work From Home:
1) Get up before them
If your children are quite young it is unlikely you want to get up before them, as we all know most young children get up at the crack of dawn.
But if your children are a bit older it is possible they will lounge in bed a bit longer.
Try to get a couple of hours of work in before ‘I’m bored’ starts piercing the quiet.
2) Make activity packs
Make a Boredom Buster activity pack for your child. This could have challenges in it, like ‘how many star-jumps can you do’. Or you could put engineering or design challenges in, such as ‘design your own time machine’.
Add a puzzle book and a toy car and they could be entertained for a good couple of hours whilst you power through your work.
If you are feeling extra mean you could download some worksheets off the internet and get them to do maths and literacy puzzles.
Some savvy parents allow the younger children to ‘work’ for them. Have them write out ‘letters’ or add up your ‘expenses’. Pay them a small wage at the end of the day, say 10p or 20p an hour and you are teaching them the value of work, too!
3) Tire them out
If you spend the mornings with them on a long walk, running around the park, or playing sport it is likely they will be tired by the afternoon, giving you some precious few hours of peace.
Back-load your working day when they are most tired.
4) Pick activities that let you sit down and work
Trampolining centres, swimming baths, and play centres tend to have areas for parents to sit and relax whilst their kids are entertained.
Take your laptop and make the most of those precious couple of hours of peace whilst they are entertained.
Surviving The Summer Holidays Impacts On Workplace Wellbeing
Surviving the summer holidays if you work is tricky and it can have a real impact on your workplace wellbeing.
Wellspace are a leading provider of workplace wellbeing solutions. Through technology and training, we are making workplaces happier and work forces healthier.