As the last bell rings for the school year, many of us face the dread of juggling work with parenting over summer.
Children need a break from education and a chance to spend time with family and friends. And school holidays can be a fun time for everyone. But the fact is, arranging childcare for their six weeks off school can make it a demanding and stressful time for parents.
You might be working from home and be able to do your job while the children are off school. Or your job might be in a physical workplace that makes that option impossible. Perhaps your employer gives you the choice to be more flexible during the holidays. Or your job might be more rigid in its hours.
You may have parents, siblings or friends who can take care of your children for odd days here and there. Or you might rely on childminders, holiday clubs and creches.
Whatever your situation, for working parents school holidays can often mean a patchwork of different solutions. And research shows that affordable childcare can be challenging to find as spaces are limited. We've pulled together the best resources we could find to help deal with this stressful situation. Read on for our tips on juggling work with parenting over summer.
Many parents use holiday clubs run by schools, or private or voluntary organisations. Chances are, you already have a good picture of what’s on in your area just from word of mouth and social media.
But it’s worth knowing that the government website’s childcare page includes links to your local borough council’s information on: registered childminders, free early education and childcare, and after school holiday clubs.
Around 1.3 million families could get government support to pay for childcare costs over the summer holidays. Are you one of them? This Tax-Free Childcare scheme can help pay for things like holiday clubs, nurseries, childminders and after school clubs.
If you haven’t already, speak to your employer to find out your options. Because, if you have a child aged 16 and under, you have the right to ask them for flexible working arrangements. And this can be especially helpful when you're juggling work with parenting over summer.
Flexible working can mean:
Depending on your job or the sector you work in, there may be some additional flexibility in how you work. It’s worth asking your employer (where appropriate) if there might be a possibility of:
You may find you need to take additional time off during the summer in addition to your paid leave. If you have been in your job for more than a year, unpaid parental leave could be one way forward. It entitles you to up to 13 weeks’ unpaid parental leave from when your child is born to their fifth birthday.
You can take four weeks unpaid leave per child per year, and it should be taken in blocks of one week. Parents of children who are disabled are able to take it in blocks of one day. If you do decide to take unpaid parental leave you need to give your employer 21 days notice.
It’s important to remember that this scheme doesn’t apply to people who are self-employed, agency workers or contractors.
Savvy businesses realise that working parents often struggle over the long summer holidays. And most businesses will try to do all they can to help their loyal and productive employees. But jobs in some sectors just don’t lend themselves well to flexible working arrangements.
If you’re realising you’re in the wrong position to accommodate your parenting needs, it may be time to move jobs. And that’s especially if your employer is being needlessly inflexible.
We’re always here to help when you’ve decided it’s time to move on.