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Childcare in school summer holidays

(25 Posts)
speedymama Mon 05-Jun-06 13:49:29

DH and I like to prepare in advance and we are already discussing how to manage the school holidays when our DTS start school. They are currently 2yo and you may think we are silly to be thinking so far ahead but the only childcare that we have experienced is the nursery they attend. In addition, both our families live over 150 miles away so we are on our own.

From what I have read, the options that we have are as follows (I work 3 days and DH is full time):

1. Holiday play schemes (I would not be comfortable with this until they were about 8yo)
2. Childminder for the about 4 weeks of the summer holiday.
3. Aupair/nanny. DH not keen on someone living in so is it possible to have an aupair that lived out? Similarly, how likely is it to be able to employ a live out nanny on a 4 week contract?
4. I take unpaid leave each August(would have to persuade employer to allow this each year)

Again, I know that we are probably thinking too far ahead but we just want to know what options are realistically feasible for our situation.


elliott Mon 05-Jun-06 14:05:39

I think you've summarised the options quite well. ARe your families able to help at all? Mine are fairly distant but have still come up to do the odd day or two.
I have found it impossible to find a childminder locally - you might have better luck. Don't rule out the holiday playscheme idea - for one thing, it might be your only option!
I've ended up with a combination of holiday club, help from relatives, finding a part time nanny (just started so watch this space), unpaid leave and holiday.

tissy Mon 05-Jun-06 14:07:06

we've just been going through this, and our answer has been a childminder for holidays, half terms and inset days. Obviously, we would be able to cover some of these times, but even if dh and I always took our leave separately (no family holidays ever!)it wouldn't add up to 13 weeks per year. Neither dh nor I have complete flexibility over when we take our leave, either.

Don't dismiss the holiday play schemes, though, the ones round here are reported to be great!

We've managed (by sheer good luck) to find a childminder who looks after a teacher's pre-school child during term times, this leaves a vacancy during the holidays when teacher looks after her own child. Perhaps you could ask around the teachers at the school your children would be going to, to see if they can recommend a childminder? Obviously, inset days may be tricky for our CM, but in that case, either dh or I would have to take time off, and if all else fails, we can book the holiday scheme.

JackieNo Mon 05-Jun-06 14:18:07

If they go to a private nursery, and depending on their ages, you might also get round the first summer holidays if they can go back there for a bit. My DD did that, as her nursery was happy to take her back until she hit 6, and she loved it. Expensive option though. Definitely don't discount the playschemes - I'd be lost without them.

speedymama Mon 05-Jun-06 14:54:31

I realise that I have only considered the summer holidays and taken no account of the other holidays (what are INSET days by the way?) and this is beginning to scare me. We both realise that having the boys at nursery is brilliant for wrap around care and that the hardwork starts when they go to school. No doubt the govt thought about all this with their campaign to get more mothers back to work

By the time the boys go to school, my mother will be 75yo and she already has problems with arthritis so I would not want to burden her with 2 energetic boys. In addition, DMIL suffers from bronchitis and DFIL works so they would not be able to cope either. DSIL is working in USA and my brothers and partners all work. We really are on our own.

Sounds like the play schemes are not as bad as I was led to believe and I guess it is the case of finding the right one that meets your needs.

Thanks all and please post more ideas. At times like this I realise that being a SAHM would make like simpler and stress free

motherinferior Mon 05-Jun-06 15:07:20

SM, think about the childminder option for the first couple of years. DD1 will (I reckon) be going to DD2's childminder - who used to look after both of them - for this summer.

speedymama Mon 05-Jun-06 15:21:35

The thing I wonder about CM, if they have school age children, do they still want to look after other children during the long summer break?

motherinferior Mon 05-Jun-06 15:23:04

Plenty do work over the summer; not all have school age children either (mine doesn't). I think it's a nice form of care for small ones - DD1 will have outgrown it in a year or two (I am bracing myself in a somewhat ostrich-like way for this prospect) but like you, I think playschemes might be a bit overwhelming at this stage.

puddle Mon 05-Jun-06 15:27:00

Childminders I know tend to take a fortnight off durning the summer hols speedy.

Agree with MI about the playschemes - my ds is 6 and I think he'd struggle for more than a day or two in one. I also think that the constant activity of playschemes is great for older children but the little ones need their holidays to just chill out and have a break from being organised all the time.

Bink Mon 05-Jun-06 15:29:26

Depending on where you live, if you're within reach of the giant squid that is gumtree there are usually masses of working-holiday primary school teachers looking for nannying work over the summer, almost always live-out. If I just needed holiday cover, that's what I'd do (actually I'm trying to find a new permanent nanny for September but most of the job-seekers posting now are looking for a short summer contract, so I'm in the opposite position).

majorstress Mon 05-Jun-06 15:31:17

INSET days are days the school is shut for teacher training, often tagged onto the SIX school breaks a year you have to contend with (Xmas Easter Summer plus 3 halfterms of 5 days, sometimes 6 with the inset days). I spend each one panicking about what to do for the next one.

The first year have returned dd1 to nursery with her sister for some breaks (also including elections, heating breakdowns, and strikes as well!). Expensive and now she's too old, but she loved showing off her school skills to her old carers. Recently tried a cheaper playscheme that took ages 3 and up near my workplace, so was able to park both DDs age 3 and 5 for a week-they enjoyed it and it was geared for that age. The summer plan is 1 week playscheme, 1 week my friend's 18 year old niece living in, 2 weeks with in-laws for holiday (i.e. we grownups are going too) and 2 weeks my mother unusually able to come from America, and I only work 3 days a week so she should survive.

Last year I had a live-out nanny who was nice but very dear and not available this year, the others I tried afterwards put me off hired help for a while! A long while .

Bink Mon 05-Jun-06 15:33:02

Just struck me - there could be a Mumsnet-facilitated working-holiday-primary-schoolteacher-nannyshare couldn't there? Eg speedymama & another mum could join forces and have a mini-play scheme of 3.

puddle Mon 05-Jun-06 15:35:07

Also start cultivating friends now who might be in a similar position and want to have your children in return for you having theirs.

speedymama Mon 05-Jun-06 15:37:22

I must admit, that was why I was hesitant about playschemes, too much activity for the younger children.

Bink, that sounds just like what we will be looking for so I will place that in our files.

majorstress Mon 05-Jun-06 15:52:40

Most of the playschemes do sound very hectic and geared for bigger kids, so when I found one (only one) that would take a 3 year old, I was surprised so I checked it out by visiting and then had dds try it for just a few days, I left it up to them if they want to go again and they do. It's just an after school club during term and those are fairly laid back in my experience for the kids that want to chill out, but most won't take pre-school kids. They did colouring and crafts and some videos on rainy days, and pottering in the little garden and the local park, which is a lot less demanding than school and our nursery, and what they would do at home really, the scheme has several bigger premises, some nearer to my home but the staff told me that the smaller examples like this one, are better for the littlies-some kids to play with but not zillions of big ones.

So just keep your options open and ask the staff, other parents, bigger kids often know it all in the area too, etc. Other parents would be good but that can lead to different problems I have found myself.

elliott Mon 05-Jun-06 16:15:13

I think the reason most of us are saying don't discount the playschemes etc is that you might not end up with much option!! Also remember that it won't be day in, day out - I tend to mix and match with a day off here and there for me, so that ds1 hasn't had to go to the holiday club more than one or two days per holiday.
I agree a childminder would be the best option in the early years, ^if you can find one^.
I get a bit frustrated (this is not a dig at you personally bink) by the advice to 'look on gumtree' or 'look on nannyjob/nannyshare' - all a bit irrelevant once you're out of the M25 childcare market. There is one nanny agency in our city and it took me about 3 months for them to find me two people to interview! I guess if I were a bit more enterprising or plugged in to networks I would be able to find people round here looking for school holiday childcare work, but sometimes it really feels like I'm looking for a needle in a haystack....

speedymama Mon 05-Jun-06 16:16:05

Thanks Majorstress (great name, reflects how a lot of us feel sometimes). By the time the boys start school, I'm hoping that more options will be available and I will keep an open mind.

Thanks again everyone

speedymama Mon 05-Jun-06 16:17:45

Elliot, I had not thought of mix and matching so thanks for that piece of advice.

bluejelly Mon 05-Jun-06 16:50:48

My dd went to a playscheme last summer. She was 5 and loved it. Been begging to go back every since...

ThePrisoner Mon 05-Jun-06 18:48:26

Not all childminders have their own schoolage children (mine are now university-age or looking-for-a-proper-job age!) I have schoolchildren who come for full-weeks, a couple of set days per week, or just the odd day here and there. Provided that I know who is coming, it works well.

All childminders work differently though, and many may not like such ad hoc arrangments, and prefer to know well in advance who will and won't be coming.

I plan our daily activities based on the ages and abilities of all the children present on that day, which includes dossing around and chilling out if needs be.

Many of my minding parents also use relatives for odd days/weeks, and also the occasional playscheme. The playschemes have only ever been used for the over 7s, as the parents reckon that the children are so active all day long that they end up not enjoying it!

lottiesmummy Mon 05-Jun-06 21:19:31

Well I'm a childminder and I'm available for the whole summer holidays this year, not many are it seems just avail for hols

Bozza Mon 05-Jun-06 21:32:16

speedymama can I assume you will not be needing termtime childcare because this can tend to evolve into holiday childcare also. I work Tues-Thurs but full days so need before & after school care for DS. We live in a village where there are no play schemes or feasible holiday clubs (10.30 - 3 - 1 day in the shorter hols and same hours for 4 days during summer break). There is no before/after school club associated with our school. So other than an au pair (too expensive and no room) we are left with the option of a child minder.

We have a very good childminder for DS (5). She works all year apart from four weeks holidays. Fortunately for me (possibly not for those with pre-schoolers but I send my DD to nursery partially for this reason) she has taken 3 of those weeks in termtime which means that DH/I/playdates & favours only have to cover before and after school rather than all day. And that she will be available for the full summer holiday.

So for the 6 weeks we have the last two booked to go to France and DS will be with the CM for most of the other 4 weeks. I will take odd days to take the children out or whatever. I am also going to send him to the Church holiday club just for a change of scenery and because he wants to go.

FeelingOld Mon 05-Jun-06 21:47:13

I am also a childminder and I too take school age children for holiday care only. I take 1 week off myself during the summer holidays and 1 week for the october half-term and parents usually coincide their holidays with mine (I tell them in January when my holiday will be so that they can organise their time off). Some of the older ones may do the playscheme for 2 days and come to me for the other 3, some come to me all week, it depends.
A lot of us childminders are quite flexible, so I would say make enquiries early and they may be able to help you.

fennel Tue 06-Jun-06 12:53:57

we used their old nursery for holiday care when dd1 and dd2 were only 4 or so, as they seemed a bit young for holiday schemes, but at Easter they went to the school holiday playscheme, they are 4 and 6 and loved it. and it was far cheaper than a nursery or childminder. (£11 each a day).

nannynick Tue 06-Jun-06 19:05:28

As a nanny, at present I work term time only. This is probably quite unusual, though saying that I only know of a few full-time nannies... most I know are part-time, so as parents requirements have changed nannies have become more flexible.
Due to working term-time only, I'm in the reverse situation... instead of looking for childcare during school holidays, I'm a childcare provider who is only able to provide daytime childcare during school holidays. I doubt I'm the only childcare provider who is looking for some school holiday work.

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