School holidays are upon us. I know I am scrambling to fill my kids’ days with activities and sort appropriate care (because they are so young) while I am working on my business or at my remote part time job. The juggle isn’t just mine, its pretty much every single parent in the country that has a job or a business. Especially for those single parents working without flexibility, working full-time, working at home remotely, those with no support network, or those experiencing financial difficulties.
So, I thought I’d put together a list of ways for managing care for your kids these school holidays?
1. Outside school hours care programs
These programs are usually offered from the before and after school care providers. Hours and locations will vary depending on community needs, and programs include a combination of incursions and excursions, play activities and learning experiences. Conditional to your individual circumstances, the Child Care Subsidy may also apply.
2. Programs and camps
Around the country there are a host of incredible boredom busting school holiday programs and camps on offer for kids through private entities and also council organised. Sport and outdoor education camps, art and craft, drama, theatre, creative writing—Just Google school holiday kids programs and camps and the area your looking at.
3. Take the kids to work day
Sometimes we just have no choice. And it also depends on your workplace and your boss. But, if it comes to prepare your kids about what is happening and what to expect, plan a schedule of activities and remember to pack plenty of snacks. If you have the time, book in lunch hour with your child/ren or schedule in a workplace tour—try making it a special day that they will remember.
4. The parent swap
With approximately 12 weeks of holidays during the school year and only four weeks of legislated annual leave in Australia for full-timers, the majority of working single mums and single dads know what it means to juggle the gap. Find working parent friends in a similar bind and arrange a parent swap. With mates to play with, kids keep busy, stimulated and happy so you can head in to work guilt-free. It’s often far from the out of control overburden of your nightmares!
5. Flexible working
Some employers, empathetic to the needs of working single parents, especially the added demands of the school holiday period, are willing to offer flexibility at work to support families. This could take the form of working extra hours in the lead up to and after holidays, working from home, or adjusting your in-workplace hours for the school holiday period. Chat to your employer about the various options and nut out a plan that suits all involved. I am currently working early mornings from 5.00m – 8.00am and then again from 8pm – 10.00pm and I am free in the day to be with my children, just while school holidays are on.
School holidays are an important time for children to enjoy a break from the routine and demands of school. They also provide an opportunity for families to spend quality time together. While there is no easy answer to school holiday childcare, being flexible, planning in advance, employing all of your organisational and negotiation skills, and using a combination of the options above will minimise the stress, expense and challenges that come with juggling school holiday childcare.