School holiday childcare options - Bubbablue and me

School holiday childcare options

The long summer holidays are almost upon us which brings pleasure for children, and some parents. And horror for other parents. School holidays are when many parents (mostly mums) probably wish they only worked term time or were stay at home parents.

For working parents holidays are a different matter. Employed parents probably find it harder with restricted time off. Although for self-employed parents, and even those working at home, there are changes that need to be made if they’re going to continue working around the children and holiday times.

School holiday childcare options - Bubbablue and me

In the past N has gone into holiday club at one of the nurseries he used to go to. One of them has a separate tree house classroom, that the primary school holiday club kids can go in, so they’re not in with the nursery children. But the one half term I sent N there for a couple of days, there was only a couple of other children his age so they ended up in with the younger children. He wasn’t happy.

The other nursery is where he goes for after school club. He likes it for after school club, but during the holidays there’s often no other primary age children when he’s there, so he’s either on his own, or with pre-school or younger children as it’s all one room. Not great when you’re older.

I’d like to know what all the other parents do with their children. Because most of them need longer hours than children’s holiday activity clubs for older children cover. Round by us, most of the holiday camps or sports clubs are based on 10-3. Even with an early drop off at 9.30, there’s no way that’s a working day covered, and I can’t even use my flexitime to pick up at that time. The OH won’t do drop offs or pick-ups anywhere outside of the village so relying on him to take N somewhere in town is just not going to happen. With sports clubs as well, I think N would get bored doing 6 hours of tennis based activities for days at a time.

This year someone did recommend holiday camp at one of the private schools. I’d not realised they did them, but the reputation is good and they cover 8.30-5.30, perfect for me on 2 days of the week and workable for the other 3. Instead of just being one sport for the week, they offer swimming each day, crafts, cooking, sports and more. It sounds brilliant, and I know N would have loved it once he’d got used to being with children where he didn’t know anyone. I’d only have had to supply a packed lunch, and it wasn’t a bad price – plus my stored up childcare vouchers would have covered it for the summer.

This year like always I’ve taken off 2 weeks holiday. One for camping, and then another week where I’ll probably try and take N away for a few days like we did last year to Jersey. But I’ve also requested a week from the unpaid parental leave initiative that parents can take until their children are 18. I’ve never known anyone take this leave, but my best friend mentioned it, and as long as your work agree to the dates you request, that can help cover more holiday weeks. So now I only need to cover 3 other weeks of the holidays.

N agreed to the holiday camp but the OH didn’t. He doesn’t believe kids should be palmed off on people, but I think he’s missing the point that N would enjoy it, learn new skills, likely improve his swimming, meet new friends and possibly discover new hobbies that he’d like to take up. Oh and I’d get to use up my stored up childcare vouchers that haven’t been used for any of the last holidays when we’ve covered them between us. He wouldn’t even agree to 1 week of holiday club, so N now has to trail round on the farm with his dad for 3 weeks.

It’s not really a holiday as that will be 7.30 until 5.30 for 3 weeks. When it’s harvest he’ll get bored on the tractor, and some jobs he won’t be able to do because they’re dangerous. That means chances are he’ll get dumped on other family members. I don’t agree with that because if the OH’s looking after him, then that’s what he should be doing. N of course is happy, but I think 3 weeks of work is too much for a 6 year old.

striding dad and son - mothercare shorts

I might try and arrange a play date or 2 to give him a breather but I need to be able to manage drop off and pick-ups as the OH won’t do them. And the OH never takes time off work, he just continues so N has to tag along.

I am however looking forward to having 3 weeks off with N. The 3rd week I’ll have to try and arrange catch ups with friends, lots of days out and maybe a day at the outdoor pool.

If this is your first long school holiday, there’s various options.

Options for school holiday childcare:

1, Family members

Many children go and stay at Grandparents’ houses or get taken on holiday with them. We live next door to N’s so it doesn’t really work like that here.

2, Holiday clubs

For local ones ask around. Try local nurseries for younger children who might do play-schemes or full time clubs, sports centres (I still remember doing 2 weeks of squash when I was 11 and got the bug), private schools. In the UK, holiday camps where you send the children off for a week aren’t really visible, although there may be more nowadays than there were when I was a child. Probably better for tweens and teens.

3, Art courses

Check out local arts centres for day courses if you only need the odd day covered

4, Child minders

Some only have children during the school term, so see if local ones will have spaces during the holidays for older children

5, Child care swaps with friends

If you don’t mind looking after other children, then talk to other parents about sharing childcare. For example, they have your child for a couple of days and you have theirs for the same time.

6, Playdates

I think it’s a bit cheeky to ask other parents to look after your child with them not getting anything back, but some are happy to do it to help entertain their child, and may offer. If your child is well behaved and the kids get on well, then the odd one won’t hurt. Maybe offer to take their child out in return one day.

7, Sports camps

Check out local tennis or football clubs. Usually these are based on one sport, so check your child won’t mind that. You rarely have to be a member of the club to go to the holiday camp sessions.

8, Unpaid parental leave

In the UK, working parents are able to take up to 18 weeks unpaid parental leave until their child is 18. The maximum that can be taken in a year is 4 weeks, and the leave has to be taken as a complete week not odd days. Your work will probably have a policy to follow to request it, and they don’t have to accept the date you ask for, but may offer you an alternative day.

Don’t forget, if you get childcare vouchers through your work, they may be able to be used for holiday clubs – they need. The one I looked at would take them as they’re a school and Ofsted registered. It’s worth asking the organisers.

How do you cover school holiday childcare? Are there other options out there?


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  1. School holidays are such a challenge, especially the long summer holidays. I’m lucky that I am at home with my girls and don’t have this worry. But I know for my SIL she relies on friends, family members and holiday club to get through it. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  2. Holidays really are a nightmare for working parents – there are so many weeks and only so much annual leave to go around. I was lucky that my mum was a teacher, so she never had this problem, but we did things like activity programmes alongside the things she arranged and we absolutely loved them – horse riding, swimming, climbing, anything you wanted really! Very much like I imagine a holiday camp would be. I can see us using a mixture of annual leave, grandparents and holiday camps when our turn comes around – I think a bit of variety is good! Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

    1. My mum didn’t work til we were secondary school age and then only temping so was around in holidays, but we did similar with activity weeks – mostly sports based, and just hanging out at home. No routine as such, which is what makes the difference nowadays, as holidays need to be scheduled more. I have managed to put N onto a day tennis/multiskills camp, so hopefully he’ll enjoy that, and I’ll get a random day off.

  3. Holiday camps are amazing. I did so many as a kid. I would talk to OH again. You make so many friends, learn new skills and the day whizzes by. I don’t think you’re playing them off on anyone. #SharingtheBlogLove

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