School Holidays: The juggling act for working parents
By Katrina Park
When you’re a kid, there’s nothing better than school holidays (particularly the long summer break over Christmas). But for a working parent who’s juggling a dozen things at once, school holidays can be stressful. Hence the sense of relief for many parents when kids return to school…
It can be quite a juggle for full-time working parents to manage child minding in the school holidays.
Particularly those that don’t have nanny’s and grandparents at their disposal.
If you do the maths, there’s roughly 12 weeks of school holidays a year, but most people who work only get four weeks annual leave. So if you’re in a family in which both parents work full time, and you have children at school, you’ve got a gap of four weeks when both parents are at work and there’s no one home to mind the kids.
Not to mention if both parents use all their leave to look after the kids, they never get to go on a holiday together. And that’s just for families with two parents. Imagine the dilemma for single parents!
So how do you manage the juggle of school holidays? Here are some ideas that may be work for you:-
Take Time Off and Travel
The first option (and no doubt the preferred for many) is to simply take time off, yourself. You have annual leave days and getting away is great for the mind, body and soul – everyone needs to recharge their batteries.
Split Caregiving Between Parents
If a week of vacation isn’t practical, then you’ll have to decide on an option that allows you to get a little work in. If you’re married or have an ex-spouse who shares responsibility for the kids, dividing up the caregiving between the two of you might be the best way to go.
This works especially well if you’re each able to set your own schedules so that someone is always with the kids while the other is at work.
If there isn’t another parent in the picture, perhaps your kids have grandparents or aunts and uncles that can look after them.
Enrol Kids in Holiday Camps and Programs
In most areas, you’ll find various activities for kids over school breaks. For example, day programs are often scheduled during the holidays to give parents a chance to drop the kids off and go to work.
These cost money, of course, but the charges are usually a lot less compared to day care or babysitting fees. Be sure to ask around and watch for these opportunities. They tend to fill up fast.
Play dates with other families
If you can try and organise play dates with other children and families – take it in turns so that you can help each other out
Take your kids to work
For some parents, the only option is to take the kids to work. Take crayons and pencils, perhaps play a movie on the laptop/iPad. It’s not a bad thing for your staff and colleagues to see the juggle you’re experiencing. Plus your kids will love coming in to your workplace and seeing you in action!
Take a Deep Breath
It’s essential to take a breath and accept that you can’t do everything and you will need to ask for help.