Many families will have to face the long summer holidays whilst still having to fulfill work commitments. With an employee’s annual leave entitlement running at around 4-5 weeks per annum and school holidays being 13 weeks per annum (private schools are often 17 weeks) looking after children during the holidays can prove challenging and a little costly as this article from the Family Childcare Trust illustrates: but with a little research, creativity, imagination and some attention to planning, help is often readily at hand.
- Grandparents, relatives and family friends are often willing to help a couple of days a week (a good opportunity to encourage bonding but remember that young and energetic children can prove exhausting particularly for the elderly)
- Friends with nannies may be willing to enter a nanny share for a few hours a day / full days / or a couple of days a week (but make sure that the nanny is properly consulted, adequately resourced and suitably compensated!)
- Parents of your own children’s’ friendship group may be able to offer “children swaps” (strengthening relationships between children and wider family circles)
- Local play schemes or holiday school clubs are frequently available at gyms, schools and nurseries for children up to 14 years of age.
Whether looking to secure full-time, part-time or core-time childcare, it is important to ensure a routine so that children are aware of where they will be going and by whom they will be looked after -otherwise they quickly become unsettled. Combination childcare can work very well, introducing children to different experiences that offer a variety and excitement often at little cost. It also allows children to let off steam during the day so that they can have their evening meal with their families in a relaxed environment, without the need for parents to rush around looking for entertainment once home from work.
The costs of securing holiday childcare will vary from nothing (if friends and grandparents are generous) to £7-£11 per hour dependent on the nanny’s experience and qualifications; child minders or play schemes generally levy a charge per child and sometimes according to activity.
For parents who wish to secure dedicated childcare, agencies such as Nannylink offer advice on matters such as the employment of a short-term or temporary nannies, guidance on setting up nanny shares, can check references, and carry out DBS (formerly CRB) checks on prospective nannies. Nannytraininglink also offers a range of nanny training courses some of which cover entertainment ideas for young children that can help while away the long school holidays to ensure that children are engaged in creative and developmental activities to prevent boredom –and attendant bad behaviour- setting in.
Of course, a fun, relaxed family holiday away (not necessarily far away from home) will always be remembered best by children for the opportunity it provides to spend quality time together. But that’s generally just a two week break out of the five or maybe even six weeks of the school summer holidays. We hope that the suggestions above give some ideas on how to cater for those “what are we going to do” weeks. Happy holidays!