Would you have ever thought that the word ‘holiday’ could strike fear into your heart?! Of course not, but oh how times have changed!
The idea of having your children (as much as you love them!) home from school for weeks on end is enough to cause most parents to stress, but it’s especially tough for working parents who’re trying to juggle a job at the same time.
Here are 5 tips that might just make the juggle a little easier and help to make the holidays a more positive experience for everyone.
Planning in advance
As is true with most things in life, being organised and having things in place ahead of time can alleviate a lot of stress from a situation. It’s a good idea to confirm the term dates and holidays for the entire year with the school at the beginning of the school year.
Then you can pop the dates in your diary and add in anyone else who forms a part of your support system – your wife or husband, grandparents, babysitters – anyone that you know will be (or could be) sharing the childcare during the holidays.
This ensures everyone has ample notice and means that the school holidays are taken into account when planning work meetings, trips etc.
You might find it also helps to ‘share’ the stress rather than you feeling like it is all your responsibility.
Everybody loves a bit of variety
Rather than feeling like you need to come up with one childcare solution for the entire holiday period, why not mix and match.
Make up a calendar of the days you need to organise childcare for and approach each day separately. Could they go to a friend on Monday, a holiday program on Tuesday, Dad could be at home on Wednesday, Nana on Thursday, you’re at home on Friday?
Yes, it can be slightly more difficult to organise but there’s often more chance of getting people to help for one day than for an entire week.
And you’ll find that the kids enjoy it too!
The new look holiday programs
School holiday programs have come a long way and the chances are that there’s a great selection in your area providing quality care and interesting activities.
Many go much further than just providing a babysitting service – they actually teach skills like swimming, gymnastics and other sports. Or if your child is not so much into sport, there’s a great programme s that teach things like drama and art too.
And often they offer single day sessions too – that way you don’t have to commit to an entire week!
Reach out to other Mums in your community and ask for their recommendations – there are also handy resources online that can help you find the perfect programme for your child. If your child is reluctant to go to a programme by themselves, you could always see if there’s friend who would like to sign up with them
Share the load with a friend
If you’re planning to take a day or two off to look after your children (or work from home – you’d be surprised how many companies are more than happy with this too), why don’t you offer to have a friend or two around?
It’s likely that there’ll be other working parents around who’ll be more than happy to return the favour and have your children for a day. As the saying goes – it takes a village to raise a child and this is a great way to spread the load.
And even better it helps to keep the kids entertained!
Remember, kids do need a holiday
Sometimes when you’re in the middle of trying to organise childcare for the holidays, you can lose sight of what the holidays actually are for. It’s a chance for your little ones to take a break and recharge after a long-term at school. You want them to rest and be ready to tackle the next term refreshed and all ready to go!
So be aware of balance – five full days at a holiday program or multiple sleepovers with friends can be exhausting and defeat the purpose of a holiday.
Try and break it up with a relaxing day at home with grandparents or a special day with yourself or your partner. It’s not always possible but it can also be a good idea to plan family holidays around and the school break – yes, travelling can be more expensive during this time but if you take into account babysitters and holiday programs you might find the difference isn’t so great.