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The summer holidays are now upon us, triggering mixed emotions for parents. Tackling working from home with the children around was becoming a distant memory for some, but now our children are home for six whole weeks!

The average job in the UK offers 28 days holiday, meaning maxing out annual leave is not a viable option, as the school calendar consists of roughly 50 days holiday, excluding inset days! Therefore, the summer holidays provide a childcare conundrum to navigate, especially for parents who work away from their home. It also requires parents who can work from home, to reintroduce themselves and their children to the complicated reality of fulfilling work commitments, whilst at the same time caring for and entertaining their dependents.

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To make things even more challenging, as of July 19th in the UK Covid restrictions were lifted, meaning table service in restaurants and pubs is no longer required and there is now no limit on the number of people who can gather together. These are some of the more exciting elements of the easing of restrictions; however, ‘freedom day’ also meant that thousands of people were required to return to their offices. Again exciting for some but likely to be a difficult transition for working parents up and down the country, as this has coincided with the beginning of the summer holidays. The six week holiday was enough of a challenge without having to coordinate returning to a physical place of work, with making arrangements for the children. 

Of course childminders, play schemes and summer camps are an option, if this is financially viable for your family. However, with the current cost of childcare, for some parents this expense would outweigh the benefit of working through the summer (depending on how many children you have).

So how can working parents tackle the next six weeks?

Juggling between parents

Alternating time off between parents could be an option; parent A can book two weeks off to care for the children whilst parent B works, and vice versa. Now this option may not suit everyone, for instance there might not be enough annual leave available between the parents to make this work. Juggling childcare between parents also means that unfortunately you lack collective family time as one parent takes on all the responsibility for each fixed time.

Family support/grandparents

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Where possible, children spending time with grandparents or other family members is a family friendly and cost effective means of childcare. This is assuming that your child/children are happy to spend time with that individual without you present. An additional advantage is that it provides an opportunity for bonding and peace of mind for you, as you won’t need to worry about your children while you get on with work.

Coordinate with friends

Coordinating with friends so that you alternate childcare between you, allowing each other some dedicated time to get on with work, could be a viable option for some.  Alternatively you could have a work/play date; invite a friend over to work at your home with prepared snacks and activities for the children while you and your friend get to work (I find my children are less demanding when they are playing with friends).

Whilst women have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, we have always been expected to take on the bulk of childcare responsibility, especially during school holidays.  Helping each other is a solution, as mums we need to stick together – they say it takes a village! 

Request to work from home

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If your role allows it and if your children are old enough to play or entertain themselves at home whilst you get on with work, requesting the ability to work from home could be the best option for you. You could sell it as a win: win to your employer, as they will not have to work out the logistics of covering your leave.

A survey carried out by the TUC revealed that almost two thirds of working mothers and 76% of single mothers will not have adequate childcare over the summer holidays. This has been exacerbated by annual leave having been used up to accommodate the lockdowns and children being sent home from school to isolate. 

Whilst there is still a long way to go in terms of tackling the ‘motherhood penalty’ and the difficulties of balancing family life with a fulfilling career, as a new enterprise, we at HireMyMa are passionate about enabling equality for mothers in the workplace and bringing recruitment into the 21st century. Our aim is to ensure mothers will no longer have to take unpaid leave or cut their hours (and income) to suit childcare. Via www.hiremyma.com we are building the capacity to provide a variety of roles with forward thinking employers who understand the needs of working parents.

HireMyMa is working to connect you with family friendly employers who as part of their employment policies, offer part time roles, flexible working, job shares and term time working.

I have embedded the TUC hyperlink in the text above.

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Maggie
Maggie
27 days ago

Very interesting

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