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DS is 10, and I'm just about to be offered a job (I think). What to do about school holidays?

(18 Posts)
clumsymum Thu 03-Sep-09 17:19:50

Okay, this is complicated, and I know some of you will think I'm being precious, but here goes.

I gave up work 4 months before DS was born (I'm disabled, so DH wanted me to be cautious thru pg, + I used to work away from home alot). We agreed that I would be full time mum for the first 3 years. Then I had a hip operation, which went wrong, and I spent a year and a half in a wheelchair. Once I got back on my feet, DH had to work away Mon-Fri, which he did for 3 years.
So I continued at home, and did some freelance support and bookkeeping from home (but mainly mothering tbh).
DH back at home for 2 years now (and we are all much happier), and I've continued to freelance, but times are hard, and I'm not making enough money really.

So I haven't worked full time for the last 10 and a half years.

I'm pretty sure that I'm about to be offered a job, which would be 30 hrs per week. The employer insists this must be over 5 days per week, altho will let me do 2 longer days & 3 short ones. I have a mother's help, who can be at home when DS comes in from school on the longer days, so term-time isn't too much of a problem. DH's company are also fairly flexible, so he can work at home for a day now and then if necessary.

But I'm really worrying about what to do when school hols come round. We have no grandparents about (only remaining is my mum, nearly 80, and 100 miles away), and altho mother's help could do 1 or 2 days a week, I'm stumped as to how to manage the other days. At 10, I don't see him fitting into a child-minders house (imagine they have mainly younger children). I have a neighbour who sends her twins to a nursery out-of-school club, but I feel that's a bit institutional.

I suppose I'm just a bit scared, and worried that I won't be able to take enough time off to cover school hols, while saving some time for us to spend together as a family. I'm also afraid of DS feeling resentful about the change in situation.

I know some of you will think I'm being precious about it ! If so, I'm sorry, but want to have ideas about sorting this before I commit myself.

I think you may find that out of school clubs aren't as bad as you think. The one near here does trips out, circus skills week, sports week, has a wii, etc. Kids normally like going as their mates are going and there is a lot to do. Councils often run sports days in the holidays which are 8-5:30 or similar with supervised lunch. Maybe a PGL camp for a week. Other weeks you could muddle through with some other working mums, the day your DH is at home then he could have your DS and one or 2 other kids over. Then the other parents return the favour, etc. Save up some a/l so you can have one day a week off over the summer? I think if you get offered the job then take it and somethign will work out, good luck.

CMOTdibbler Thu 03-Sep-09 17:25:37

At 10, theres lots of sports clubs, drama and activity clubs in the summer holidays that he could go to. In my reasonably rural small town, theres something on for at least part of the day every week during the summer and easter. Nearby there are full time schemes, usually based at the private schools, which are very activity based.

They vary in price - obv the smaller ones are cheaper. Try your county council website or Childrens Information Service for a list of what was on this year

Blu Thu 03-Sep-09 17:26:37

DP and I manage by taking two weeks a year together for family hol, but taking the rest separately to cover as much of the school hols as poss. Then we make swapping arrangements with DS's friends families - having all the children for a day at a time each, and next year he will go to a holiday club or scheme.

Most areas have holiday schemes - sports or arts based, or general play and adventure. And at 10 most kids would prefer to be with friends than at home with a parent all day every day.

If you can be flexible and pick your DS up a couple of times a week, he will be fine, fine, fine.

LIZS Thu 03-Sep-09 17:31:34

I'm sure you will manage with your and/or dh taking leave a few holiday activities and play dates. You may be able to accrue some Time off in Lieu by working slightly longer days during term time. At least if you start now you won't have to face this issue until next year by which time you may have sourced ways of dealing with school holidays.

clumsymum Sun 06-Sep-09 13:44:38

"At least if you start now you won't have to face this issue until next year by which time you may have sourced ways of dealing with school holidays"

We have 1/2 terms, Christmas & Easter holidays in the meantime, surely? Yes these are shorter, but still have to be dealt with, and I won't have accrued much by way of holiday.

violethill Sun 06-Sep-09 13:56:51

A combination of all the good suggestions on this thread.

It sounds as though you're very wary of any form of proper organised childcare, unsurprisingly in a way, as your child has got to 10 years old without you using any. But you really need to get over that hurdle. Holiday clubs can be great. Lots of activities that your child probably doesn't normally do. Plus you and your DH will have some holiday entitlement. I agree about the childminder scenario as at ten, he'll probably feel too old, but how about seeking out 6th formers, or students on vacation from Uni? - we did this at that stage when the kids felt too old for a CM, but weren't old enough to leave. It worked brilliantly, as they felt it was quite 'cool' to have an 18 year old around.

You also mention that your DH can work the odd days at home, so tbh, your situation sounds far more straightforward than most peoples. You also have just the one child, which means your costs will be much lower than many families.

It really is all perfectly do-able. I think you would really regret passing up such a good work opportunity just for the sake of a bit of organising.

LIZS Sun 06-Sep-09 14:12:57

What I meant was that this term is usually the longest so you would have half terms and the Christmas/Easter breaks to try out the different types of childcare before you have a longer holiday and start to have bigger issues about taking time off. Depending how the holiday year runs to you may be able to cover a good proportion of it yourself in the short term (ie if to end of calendar year you'd get say 4 months worth of holiday allowance which could be about 8 or 9 days plus Christmas bank holidays so that is 2 weeks already covered). So perhaps with the odd day of holiday activity you would n't really face any problems just yet and by the time you do you can put plans in place.

purpleduck Sun 06-Sep-09 14:35:55

skimmed thread so sorry if this has been said... a friend of mine does 2 different contracts -one for term time and one for holidays
Can you negotiate to have longer days/ a shorter work week during holidays? Or can you do less hours?

I agree with looking to college students - you can ask at your local college where they do Child Care courses and see if they can reccommend someone.

My ds was 9 this summer, and he did more "activities" like Sports days etc, and they were fab - but I wouldn't want him to have a whole summer of this. He spent so much time playing out as well. So maybe you could piece together something:
Annual holiday
dh's working from home
A day at a Club
College student
other mums

Good Luck

Lonicera Sun 06-Sep-09 14:46:34

I've just done my first year back at work and have found that I only needed to use holiday club for two weeks.

The rest of the time was covered by annual leave and bank holidays (dh and I took two weeks separately, so covered four weeks), grandparents (1 week) and dh working at home.

I'm really pleased at how it panned out, as like you I was concerned beforehand.

roisin Sun 06-Sep-09 14:48:12

30 hours a week helps a lot, and is a lot easier than 35 or 37+.

What sort of work is it? I wonder whether, once they get to know you, they will be willing to flex the '5 days' bit, so that in summer you could try and cram your hours into fewer days.

You are right that 10 is not an easy age for child-care options. But there are a variety of holiday clubs/activity hols around, where children can be occupied/entertained for full days/weeks.

The other thing you can do is be very friendly and always invite mates round for whole days when you're not working, then these can be reciprocated.

Do you have your t&c in writing as to how much holidays you will get? How much does your dh get? And how much are you willing to sacrifice your 'whole family time', in order to stagger your holidays so someone can be around for ds?

roisin Sun 06-Sep-09 14:57:45

btw I don't think you're being precious at all. In a business environment there is nothing more irritating than parents who haven't made adequate childcare arrangements and are continually nicking off early, or taking additional time off, or expecting everyone else to bend over backwards to accommodate them.

rupertsabear Mon 07-Sep-09 09:12:00

I agree with Roisin about the importance of making the right arrangements. But in practice everyone with kids goes off early sometimes and takes some time off. It's not that easy just not to go to parents evening or the piano concert, or to collect a sick child. That's life.

But your son is 10. He can have a key and go home at that age and stay at home alone for a bit. My kids go to holiday schemes for a whole month in the summer (8.30 to 5pm). They don't always love it, but the things they do are nice and it's a reasonable compromise, and not even very expensive for one child (I have 3, which costs a blardy fortune).

You could also look for a summer au pair. Maybe a boy who has similar interests to your son, so he could spend the holidays swimming or playing football, or playing music, or whatever he likes doing.

clumsymum Mon 07-Sep-09 11:31:08

Thanks guys, esp roisin (my good friend, you always arrive with a sympathetic keyboard in my crises) and rupertsabear. I agree that ds can come home from school on his own by now, he'd just come in and go straight onto the 'puter until I get in anyway.

Unfortunately he's a naturally early riser, so in school hols he'd be up before me. So have many hours to fill while I'm working, even on my short days. I kind of yearn for the teenage years, when he'll be happy to lie-in for hours (but not wishing his childhood away). I don't think he'll be ready to spend whole days by himself alone, even by next summer tho, he'd just spend 8 hours in front of one screen or another, and be dead bad-tempered by the time I come home.

I don't have any T's & C's yet, 3rd interview tomorrow, altho I think this is just a formality (according to the agency they cancelled all other interviews after my 1st !!). I'm hoping for 5 weeks holidays to be offered (which is what dh gets), but doubtful. I guess I can ask. They know that my past experience far exceeds what they expected to find for this vacancy, but this 30 hour job is replacing someone who worked it full-time!!

Lots of things going round my head right now, and I'm not sleeping properly, so of course minor worries get out of proportion.

titchy Mon 07-Sep-09 12:03:13

5 weeks leave is the statutory minimum so you will beb offered it! although legally companies can include bank holidays as part of this, but in practice I don't think that many do.

As far as holidays go it'll be fine. During half terms for example your dh can work from home one day, mothers help for another day -obviously you make these the days when you do your long day, you take the equivalent of a days leave and your dh another one day leave. Christmas and Easter aren;t so bad cos there are two or three bank holidays built in, same for summer half term.

summer hols are apain, but as others have said there are plenty of activity schemes - check your council website, leisure centres do them, as do private companies such as barracudas. They tend to be activity based so your ds will get to try lots of things he mightn't have previuosly, and make friends!

clumsymum Mon 07-Sep-09 15:46:41

Cheers titchy, dh gets 5 weeks plus bank hols, and back when I was last an employee, 4 weeks + bank hols was standard.

As I say, I'm worrying unnecessarily probably

roisin Mon 07-Sep-09 16:08:26

It is a tricky age though. My boys are 10 and 12 and now both have keys to let themselves in. I'd be happy for them to be alone at this time for up to an hour if necessary, but not at the same time (!), but I certainly wouldn't want either of them to be home alone for a full day in the school hols.

But if I suddenly had to start getting "a babysitter" for them in the school hols, I don't think they'd be very impressed either.

clumsymum Mon 07-Sep-09 16:51:59

Roisin, I haven't found an age yet which isn't tricky in one sense or another grin

Fortunately mum 'mother's help' is a lovely girl (a student, as you had all suggested), and she and ds get on very well.

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