It’s the time of year that working parents dread – the summer holidays. While kids up and down the country are celebrating, the parents and caregivers usually let out a collective groan. As it means almost seven weeks of juggling childcare around work.
We’d all love to spend the LOOOONG summer weeks enjoying lazy days on the beach. Picnics in the park and days out at zoos and theme parks but the reality for most is quite different. With over 60% of both parents working in the UK, flexibility is key to managing this extensive time of childcare.
Here are our top tips to survive the summer – with and without the coveted flex.
Talk to your boss early
It’s easy to say this in July, but explaining your situation to your manager early, may be key to negotiating time off. Working from home might help if your little ones need to be picked up or dropped off at awkward times. If working isn’t feasible, discussing with your employers early may allow you to carry over or pay for extra annual leave. Or come up with a temporary flexible solution where you can make up the hours in the evenings or weekends.
Partner up with friends
Everyone says it and it’s so true – mum friends are the best! Issues will pop up in the summer holidays for even the most organised of parents. You might find that the holiday club you woke up at 5am to get a coveted spot on actually runs 12 – 3. Or the two hour gymnastics class you were relying on is cancelled during summer. For those occasions, you need your pals. Try and book the same holiday club as friends so that you can take turns dropping off the kids. Coordinate days off so your weeks are covered and remember to treat yourselves to a glass of wine and a whine when it’s all over!
Wake up early for maximum flex power
If you’re lucky enough to get flexible hours at work (we know we all should have this but it’s not always the case) make sure you use your time extra efficiently. This means early starts before the kids wake up and later nights. If you can get in a good stint in the morning from 6 – 9, you’ll have cleared your inbox and made a good start to the day before your little cherub has demanded her cornflakes.
Buy ALL the crafts
If all else fails, and you need to work around your precious poppets at home, stock up on ALL the crafts and activities that will allow you to have some desk time while they’re occupied. Yes, there will be days when you’ll have to stick them in front of Disney Plus for the day and that’s ok but make yourself feel better by dumping some paints, glue and glitter on them and relax while they do something ‘educational’…at least for five minutes.