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How do working mums manage school holidays?

(22 Posts)
lulupop Wed 26-Jan-05 09:29:37

I am thinking about going back to work. The working mums I know all have nannies, but their children are all still pre-school age. I am thinking of retraining and going back to work, but realistically by the time I've retrained, my kids will be aged 7 and 4. So they'll be in school. How do people who work full time but have school age children manage? Surely there's no point having a nanny as they wouldn't have anything to do for most of the day?

I don't have family near me, and although my mum would be the best help, I'd have to move 100 miles to be near her. I wouldn't totally rule this out but would prefer to stay where we are now.

Give me your stories of after-school childcare please...

granarybeck Wed 26-Jan-05 09:55:47

i use the after-school club, which is fantastic and the children love going there. However, they don't run in the holidays, so i chose to work part time so i can use a mixture of mine and dh's annual leave and holiday clubs for childcare in the holidays. I agree it is a difficult one. In some ways i think childcare gets harder when they get to school, as i still wanted the children to have a holiday rather than being sent to a holiday club everyday in hols. They do enjoy it, i think i just have memories of school holidays being spent at home and on trips out with my mum so feel guilty. Then i think as working parents we always find something to feel guilty about! I do have a friend who employs a student (nursery nurse) to look after the children at home in the holidays. They are old enough to tell her if they aren't happy with the girl and it seems to work out really well.

coffeebean Wed 26-Jan-05 10:11:19

could you negotiate to work longer hours term time inorder to have time of in the holidays? would it be possible to look at some kind of job share arrangement?
do you already have a job / career you are returning to or are you starting afresh? if you are starting afresh could you look at working in a school / college?

Bozza Wed 26-Jan-05 10:18:24

lulupop presumably if you are going to work full time you will need some childcare during term time too because school will not cover full time hours. I am looking at this issue myself ATM because although my DS and DD go to nursery (I currently work 3 full days) DS will be going to school in September. We don't have an after school/holiday club in the village so I am looking into childminders so that will hopefully be after school 3 days a week and full days during the holidays. Obviously I will try and ensure that DH and I take our leave during the school hols too. Another option for me might be to send DS to stay at his Grandma's for 3 days to cover a week's work.

By the time you need this childcare the governments scheme for wrapround care at schools might be available in your area.

galaxy Wed 26-Jan-05 10:20:48

Both dh and I work full time. My in-laws live 80 miles away but ds goes there in the school holidays for a week or longer. You may be able to find a childminder who has a holiday vacancy because for example they only mind a teacher's child during term time. The other option is to get a mother's help for the holidays when you are working.

Sponge Wed 26-Jan-05 10:38:19

I have an after school childminder who picks up dd and a friend of hers from school, brings them home to one or other house, gives them their tea and plays with them until one of us gets home (usually about 6.15) and then takes the other one home.
At half term dd's school runs activity clubs (swimming, trips to science museum etc) so the same arrangement will work. For the longer holidays we will use a combination of our holiday, staying with grandparents etc and employing childminder full time.
It is hard. Dd gets 18 weeks holiday in total and I get 5 so there's a lot to cover.

puddle Wed 26-Jan-05 10:46:24

My dp is a teacher, so we are lucky there. But his holidays don't always co-incide with the primary holidays (he teaches sixth form). We have help sometimes from DP's parents - they are two hours away but both retired and come over for the odd day here and there.

On the days we both work we have a childminder to drop DS at school (dd still at nursery which is open 8-6 so much easier!) Then he goes to an after school club. I had wanted to arrange reciprocal childcare arrangements with frineds rather than doing the after school club route but just found it was too difficult to get someone I trusted (and whose child ds got on well with) who could do what I needed. DS likes his after school - I hear from other SAH parents that their kids want to go to after school too!

binkie Wed 26-Jan-05 11:27:01

There are so many balls to juggle here, aren't there! At the moment we've got a nanny-housekeeper (full-time, year round) who does after-school childcare plus our housekeeping (including cleaning) in term time, full-time childcare in holidays. It is not the budget option!

There are lots of different ways of doing it, and what you choose depends very much on personal circumstances. Eg, dd was only 3 at the beginning of this school year so I decided it was right to go on paying for the secure continuity of a nanny. But once they're bigger I would definitely consider after-school clubs and then for each holiday period employing one of those Aussie/NZ primary school teachers that you see on gumtree looking for fill-in work.

puddle Wed 26-Jan-05 11:30:06

My employer actually does term time only working arrangements which may or may not suit you - obv would add up to a part time salary and how workable it was would depend on what kind of job you had. I wouldn't be able to do it in my current role, but I do have v flexible working arrangements which help with the juggling.

Marina Wed 26-Jan-05 11:36:16

I'm another flexible worker. Higher education, education and local authorities all offer term-time only contracts, or enable you to save accrued overtime to use in the holidays. I still don't have quite enough to go round, but dh can cover some of them for me and if we're really desperate we humiliate ourselves by begging his mother to help. My parents are sometimes down staying with my sister and always willingly pitch in. As does my sister, shifts permitting. But we can only really rely on ourselves
Failing that, lulupop, a lot of registered childminders are willing to do after-school pick-ups and cover for large chunks of the holidays.
We have a fabulous after-school club and would really recommend that route if available to you. Ds loves his and it has enabled him to socialise with children from other year groups.

hippi Wed 26-Jan-05 12:25:17

I was a nanny just over school holidays. July to Sept and easter hols, christmas hols, this was when i was a student, so any unis near you? Advertise and some student will probably want some extra cash.Check references though!

lulupop Wed 26-Jan-05 12:28:26

Yes, I had thought that during term time, the after-school clubs plus childminder conbo would be OK, it's more what you do during the school hols when you're still working 9-6 and the children need entertaining. My mum is a teacher so was always at home with us and I have lovely memories of doing stuff with her, but as you say, times are changing and you have to do what you have to do to pay the bills!

I could not possibly be a teacher - I would be absolutely crap at it, and tbh would rather go back to being a recruitment consultant, which paid a lot more (but zero job satisfaction)

puddle Wed 26-Jan-05 12:30:05

Marina - I agree with you re: after school. I think the way ds is able to get to know children outside his year group at his after school club is a great bonus and it has really helped his confidence. He told me last night he has been "chasing the big boys in the playground" - a major development for him and entirely due to having big boy friends from after school club!

grumpyfrumpy Wed 26-Jan-05 12:39:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

flatmouse Wed 26-Jan-05 12:46:38

We couldn't get in to After school club - fully booked for months before DS started in reception. Through a mutual contact, ourselves and another family with same problem got together. So now, i pick up both kids 5 afternonos out of 10 - i still work 37 hr/week - my working day starts at 8 (and always has done) and fortunately my boss is flexible to allow me to do different hours on different days so long as still reach total hours.
For holidays, we are once again sharing the childcare. DH and I are only getting 2 weeks together as a family, but we're OK with that. (Bit of a shame, but OK). We do have some help from other family members so are lucky there, but mainly are covering the holiday care with this other family.
This works whilst the kids get on! and until other family second child and my DD start school - then there'll be 4 which'll be a handful!

LunarSea Wed 26-Jan-05 12:59:52

I think we're going to have that problem with after school clubs too - have been told that there's a waiting list of at least two years for the one at our nearest school, and that kids with older siblings already attending it get priority anyway. So it's a total non-starter for us in terms of planning - and could even be the deciding factor in forcing us to go private (especially as local authority list doesn't have any childminders who'll do pickups from the school either), in order to get the wrap-around care we'd need.

And that's just termtime - holidays obviously make it worse still!

Uwila Wed 26-Jan-05 14:05:56

Lulupop,
A bit off topic. But I've read a bit of your thread in relationships. Presumably your going back to work to take care of yourself and you kids. Good for you!!

Sorry for hijacking, I just thought a bit of praise was in order.

Back to the topic, I am a working parent, but my eldest is almost 2, and another on the way. So, not really a comparable situation. We have a nanny (which is actually cheaper than the childminder once you have two).

You might be able to find a childminder to pick up the slack on the school holidays. If not, you could take parental leave, which unfortunately is unpaid, but an employer must give you time off to look after your kids if you need to.

Otherwise, I would see if maybe one of the teachers from the school might consider a bit of babysitting for some extra cash during the holidays... long shot, but it might work.

GOOD LUCK TO YOU!

Marina Wed 26-Jan-05 14:09:32

Lulupop, at least one of our local primaries gives top priority to single parents needing the (oversubscribed) after-school club. The local authority in question is not noted for its progressive social policies in general so maybe lots of other LEAs offer this too. Do investigate that and emphasise how much you need that place.

lulupop Wed 26-Jan-05 15:32:00

Uwila, it is true that I'm thinking about this more recently due to our relationship breakdown, but also I am coming to realise that, much as I love and adore my children, I think I had them too young and really need to do something with my own life as well. Otherwise they're going to end up with a very frustrated mummy.


I am still at the stage of weighing up the pros and cons of trying to get a child-friendly - though not very interesting - job, or one which I will really love but which would be hard to juggle with the kids. My parents think I shld look into the civil service's opportunities, but there doesn't seem to be anything around here in that field. What I really want to do is go to law school, but it is a long hard slog to get qualified, and that's without even taking my children into account.

I have to do something though. Have to stand on my own two feet, I'm sure of that.

Uwila Wed 26-Jan-05 15:41:20

What about getting a job as a -- sorry, I'm American and not sure what the role is called here -- but in the states it would be a paralegal. Is't a bit like the lawyer's secretary, but that a bit of an insult really. I think they have to be a bit knowledgable. No idea what your qualifications are, but I think that a job in the field of law would do you a world of good or more front than one -- never know when lawyers friends may cone hand, IFYKWIM.

I think that is an ambitious and admirable desire. I think civil servants (sorry to be blunt) will never get fair compensation for the job. Might just set you up for more frustration, and not much job satisfaction.

Where are you? Any law firms around? Wonder if you could do some kind of on-line study to start with. Must confess, however, I know very little about the field. But, I think if it's your true desire, you should go for it. Maybe you can be our REAL Wig and Robe...

lulupop Wed 26-Jan-05 19:02:34

I have thought about paralegal work as it seems a great way to get a foot in the door before committing to 2 years (and £14K+!) of study. Only problem is, they seem to be recruited only through legal recruitment agencies, and surprise surprise, those agencies require some previous experience!

I have a few things on my side in that I have a 2.1 from Cambridge and generally a good academic and professional record, but on the other hand most trainee laywers are about 22, have no family, and can work all the hours God sends if required!

I am in Tunbridge Wells, and there are quite a few law firms here, one in particular looks good for training with, but at the moment I have no idea whether I'd be viewed as an HR nightmare or a possibly more interesting candidate because I'm that bit older and - ha! - more "mature".

Uwila Thu 27-Jan-05 08:46:43

lulu, maybe you could seek out a career counselor at a school you might consider going to, and go have a chat with them. Tell them your situation, and what you want to do. They might be able to give you some good advice and even tell you if other people in your position manage to succeed in returning to school for a law degree.

Also, when I was in High School (in the states) I had two friends whose mum's went back to school to become lawyers (they were respectively in their 40s and 50s). One was divorced, and the other widowed.

Good luck. :-)

PS Wow, you went to Cambridge. I'm impressed. I think your options are far greater that civil service. And, to be brutally honest, you could do better.

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