So, you’ve found a way to work from home, congratulations! You can now attend the plays, sports days, class assemblies and all of the other events that schools put on which make working parents curse. From 9 till 3 everyday you have peace quiet to work in the comfort of your own home, distracted only but the TV, your phone, social media and the contents of your fridge. And then the school holidays arrive and everything goes to hell in a handcart. Being a work at home mum in the holidays is not easy.
While a work out of the home parent might just book the kids in to a holiday camp for 6 weeks, work at home mums don’t usually feel they can justify it. The idea of paying for your child to be looked after by someone else while you’re at home seems some how unreasonable. I can assure you it’s not, your work matters just as much as anyone else’s but if your worried about spending out on holiday camps, here are some ideas that work at home mums have the flexibility to embrace.
If this is your first time being a work at home mum in the holidays, try to work out how much time you’ll need. How did you manage when they were toddlers? Was nap time enough? My aim is to have at least one “session” of childcare arranged for each week plus some weeks where I have more to allow me to get bigger chunks of work done. My nearly new sales stop over the summer but I need the weekly sessions because, for my distance learning tutoring, I need to get work returned to learners within a week. I then use the longer blocks of time to write content for my blogs and schedule social media.
If you’re concerned your child won’t be happy going the places on their own, see if their friends mums are interested in sending them along too. Even stay at home mums appreciate a break from the endless demands for snacks in the holidays.
Don’t discount holiday camps (but do get them at a discount price)
If you’re not keen on paying the big bucks for the fancy holiday camps where the kids get to do everything from mountain climbing to hang gliding, there are other options. It’s likely your local council will run some kind of camp via their leisure centres. These are usually cheaper and the kids have just as much fun. Start looking early for camps, many offer an early booking discount. I’ve even found special offers of half price when I’ve book far enough ahead.
You’ll also occasionally find subsided holiday clubs. This year Sainsbury’s are working in partnership with Premier Camps and are offering 9-4pm days, including lunch, for just £7.50. You can even pay with Nectar points. I had loads so was able to book my two kids for 4 days each and pay entirely with Nectar points. Winning!
The other type of club to consider for work at home mums in the holidays are church run clubs. As long as you aren’t bothered about your kids getting a bit of religious education thrown in (we’re not religious but both of my kids went to the local church preschool) then these can be amazing value. Most churches are happy to take any child weather they attend the church or not. They are usually short days or just mornings but when you work from home that can be enough peace and quiet to get a huge amount achieved.
Using activities as holiday childcare
As a work at home mum in the holidays, you might be able to manage with a few hours of childcare here and there. Organised activities are great for this. Your first port of call is any activities they already do because lots of places will run holiday clubs. My children are on the (very long) waiting list for gymnastic classes. They open up their holidays clubs to people on the waiting list which is great for us as I get two hours childcare while the kids have Fun. Also check out the activities that your kids friends do. Boy Child’s bestie has tennis lessons and they run a summer camp that is open to everyone. kids are often more inclined to go along to something new if their friends are going.
The other place to look for activities is your local council. Our run a huge range of activities from archery and trampolining to Lego club and dance. For primary age children, most are two hours plus long and are all “dump and run”. This means you can either go home and work or make use of the WiFi in your nearest Costa/McDonald/ Weatherspoons (I make no judgement). Our council also run free outdoor play sessions at local parks. They run for two hours and once children are 6 you can drop and go.
Friends and Family
Do you know other work at homes mums who you could swap with? Or indeed, working mums. My friend works 2 days in the week, during school hours but obviously has problems in the holidays. We’ve been sending our kids to holiday clubs together for years and this year have started to do childcare swaps. I have hers for the day while she goes to work and she has mine while I work from home. The kids love it and we each get free childcare.
If you have a partner, can they take a day off work to spend with the children? Obviously you may prefer to save their annual leave for more exiting stuff but your work matters too so it’s certainly worth considering.
If your lucky enough to have family near by who are willing to help then make use of it! My Mum is near by but not overly keen on having both kids at once. This is because she ends up in the middle of a tug of war between them, sometimes literally. I usually arrange a play date for one and give her the other.
Work around them
If you are able to minimise your work over the summer holidays (for example if you have a portfolio career) you might be able to work around them. Soft play might not be your dream office space but it will keep the kids occupied. As a bonus it often has free WiFi. I’ve also worked from the farm while the kids play on the bouncing pillow, the park while they play ninjas and the trampoline park while they bounce. If they’re old enough and you live somewhere suitable, you could also consider letting them play out.
If all else fails, give them a screen for a bit. In my house we have what we euphemistically call “quiet time”. It would be more accurately described as “iPad time”. It happens for an hour (or two on a bad day) after lunch at the weekends and most days in the holidays and allows me to get some work done.
While being a work at home mum in the holidays is challenging, we can still make the most of our flexibility to get creative with our options. The important thing is to have a plan to cope with your business during the summer holidays. If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.
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