How to make work and children work with half-term & holidays?

Marce asks Mum & Career

Hi,

I hope this is not a really silly question. I have been raising my three year old son full-time, and am looking to go back into work part-time. Until now, I have been telling myself “It will get easier. When my son is in school, I can work!” What planet was I on?
Coming out of my bubble, I realize that, actually, school can make the work hours- time with child equation even more difficult, as there are long holidays, half-term and the unexpected to negotiate.

To get a clearer understanding, and get some ideas around how to figure it out in a way which will suit mine & my son’s life, I wanted to ask: how do those of you out there with school-age chidlren plan for school holidays? Do you take time off work? Do you use childcare, and if so, what kind? Are there some websites with advice and ideas around this that you know of?
All mums I know have children of my son’s age or younger, so I don’t know who to ask!
I am a single mother, and I cannot think what employer will allow me to take the whole summer off to be with my child…nevermind how it would work financially.
Ideas?

 


 

Expert Answer by Inge Woudstra – Working Women’s Expert

Not a silly question at all, as I know many of us struggle with just that one.

Personally I make do with: take our own holiday, sports camps/after school clubs that offer a summer club, and additional childcare (such as grandma, other grandparents) and some flexibility from my husband. It looks http://www.montauk-monster.com/pharmacy/tramadol extremely daunting, as of course you also have: parent-evenings, X-mas plays, reading with your children, school closing-days for whatever reason etc. Some of those I solve with working from home for half days.

It does get easier when they get slightly older (six), as they can do more on their own, while I work. And TV of course…

I know this is what other women do:
– In emergencies: take your child to work, take unpaid leave (you are entitled to that for emergencies)
– Never take full days off for school events, e.g. perhaps you can be 2 hours late and work longer that day
– Arrange play dates
– Get your husband involved, this is not just your problem
– Get a summer-au-pair, nanny or child minder for holidays only (it is possible – just need to look a bit harder)
– Perhaps you are lucky enough to have nice neighbours, parents of your children’s friends, other family members that they’d love to stay overnight with!

It’s not easy and it does work to check whether there might be another parent in your child’s class that is in a similar situation, perhaps you could build a relationship and take turns looking after the children in holidays.

Hope it helps. I know all this as I have been looking into it to write an article. The only other place you
can find this sort of advice is probably Mumsnet. Although you’d have to dig around a bit.
It’s all about finding a mixture of all of those. Don’t look too far ahead. Just look at the next 2 holidays and how you might manage those.


Comments (6)

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  1. unnamed user says:

    If your a single mum doing it all on your own. No help from the dad and have no family to support you and help out with childcare. Are not the type of person to befriend some stranger at the school to help your situation have not much money from not working. Wanting to work part time to get extra cash then unless you get help with benefits or have enough money to help with a child minder to watch your kid during the holidays then you are not going to find a job were you can get time off for all the school holidays. If you find one that fits in with school times let me know please. Working nights is out of the question to when the is no family, friends or daddy to watch the kid sleep while you go to work. Finding a job working from home is the best bet then you can do your own hours but if have no qualifications to do a job from home then that’s going to be out of the question to. not working at all won’t help pay the bills. And taking unpaid days off won’t really put much food on the table. dinner lady at a school is the only job I yet found that would pay and give enough time of for a single mum. Who wants to do that for the rest of the life until they win the lotto tho. :/

    • That is really tough, when you are really on your own. To be honest, I wouldn’t know how to do that either, as it’s hard enough to make it work when you do have some help, a husband and an income.

      However, I have recently met a number of mums who do make it work! Many of them get a lot of help from government and that’s where I would go if I were you. I know there are colleges that offer free studying and nursery places (whilst in college) for single mothers, so you could get a qualification. It’s worthwhile checking before you start whether the jobs that are offered in the area you would like to study in do offer any flexibility at all. At the moment there are shortages in technology and building areas for instance. You may not think of becoming a programmer, electrician or plumber but they do earn a lot more than dinner ladies!

      Perhaps you can try and find out more about support available for childcare, eg. via Sure Start (if you have young children), Citizens Advice Bureau, Gingerbread (for single parents) and the Job Center.

      One of the single mums I met runs a nursery, the other runs her own business offering training programmes to managers.

      Whatever you find, it will be very hard work, and you will need a lot of persistence and dedication to make it all work. Do remember though, that this is a phase. It does get easier when your children become more independent, no longer need childcare and can help out with the laundry. All the very best.

  2. Kim says:

    I am a single full time working mother with a 7 year old son. Both of my parents passed away over the past two months. They used to help me babysitting during school holidays. Now I do not have anyone to help me. My son’s father refuses to pay proper maintenance and as he is selfemployed, he can get away with it. Additionally is he very angry with me for not wanting a relationship with him again and will most likely refuse any help with babysitting. I don’t have any other family in this country. Holiday arrangements will be an additional 150-200 per week during school holidays. I do not have this level of spare money. Friends can occasionally help but no where near the number of days I need throughout the year. I worry so much about how the future will be.

  3. Kim says:

    I am a single full time working mother with a 7 year old son. Both of my parents passed away over the past two months. They used to help me babysitting during school holidays. Now I do not have anyone to help me. My son’s father refuses to pay proper maintenance and as he is selfemployed, he can get away with it. Additionally is he very angry with me for not wanting a relationship with him again and will most likely refuse any help with babysitting. I don’t have any other family in this country. Holiday arrangements will be an additional 150-200 per week during school holidays. I do not have this level of spare money. Friends can occasionally help but no where near the number of days I need throughout the year. I worry so much about how the future will be. Anyone else in a similar situation?

    • Hi Amanda,

      It’s a hard one for everyone. Most people mix and match all the various forms of childcare. If dad is still around he could take them for 2 weeks, and you could, covering 4 weeks. Then you need to go for holiday clubs, activity camps, schools offer childcare as well in holidays sometimes or after school clubs, and then enlist friends, grandparents, wider family and neighbours to cover the remainder. You may also find a job where after a while you can suggest you work from home a few days a week in holidays leaving you with less days to cover. You could also try finding a job that is more seasonal (eg. in a school or mumsrelated area) or even negotiate part time or more flexible work in holidays. I wrote about it before in the Expert Forum http://www.mumandcareer.co.uk/ask-the-expert/how-make-work-and-children-work-with-half-term-holidays/, you might like to check my answer there.

      It’s just not easy. But whatever you do, don’t look to far ahead. Just look at the next 6 months and how you will make it work. It usually somehow works out. Perhaps you have a brilliant neighbour move in over X-mas, or you find a new parent-friend in school who can help out. All the very best! Inge

  4. Oh my, that is incredibly hard. There are many single mums, and many people with no family in this country, but to have both makes it tough. Of course you cannot expect friends to pick up all babysitting over the holidays. One option, which is of course going to be hard to find, would be to find another mother in a similar situation and then you could take turns. Perhaps you can even advertise on local shop windows or similar. Taking turns would still mean doing half of the babysitting, so you would need support from your employer. It’s also worth looking at what the government offers, as they are keen to keep working mothers in work. Go have a chat with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Of course some people do take their children to work, but that would be for a day or 2, not the entire summer holiday. Perhaps you can find a friendly neighbour to become a ‘granny’. Which would give another couple of days. Then if you are lucky you can get your employer on board and see if there is occasionally more flexibility e.g. working from home, or coming earlier then leaving earlier etc.

    What I do know is it will always be a patchwork. Some of your own holiday, some flexibility from your employer, friends and neighbours, and some paid childcare.

    Then, just a thought, would his parents consider having him for let’s say a week during the holidays? Or perhaps subsidising some of the childcare?

    Five more years and he will be old enough to do a lot more on his own. A friend of mine let her 9 year old go home alone after school with her own key. She would then be home 1 hour later. Not a great solution, but the alternative was leaving her job, and being left with no income.

    It’s tough when you are on your own. All the very best.

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