As another holiday approaches, children’s excitement mounts. No more early starts, fractions or uniform. However, working parents everywhere take a deep breath. The impossible juggle of work and children just gets worse in holidays.
Coram Family and Childcare trust’s annual survey reported in 2021 that a week’s place at a holiday club costs £145. Worryingly their survey also states that only 33% of English local authorities have enough holiday childcare to cover the needs of working parents.
What tactics do you use to cover school holidays? How do you keep up with the costs?
Are you employed? Then you get up to 5 weeks annual leave. If you have a partner, adding that together gives you 10 weeks cover. It isn’t the ideal (pre-kids, you’d have taken those holidays together) but it is a way of saving on childcare costs.
Employees can also ask for 4 weeks unpaid parental leave. Up to a maximum of 18 weeks before their 18th birthday.
Talk to your employer
Can you annualise your hours, so work more in term time and less in holidays?
Playdates with Friends
Arrange between a group of you to share the load, and take a friend’s child for a few days in exchange for them having yours. Many parents are in the same boat, so ask around at school.
Can you swap with your cousins, or send your kids to the grandparents. Even a day here or there will help ease the juggle and free up some cash.
Use a childminder/holiday club
This has lots of advantages. The big disadvantage is MONEY! Also, my kids won’t go unless they are going to know someone there, so there can be an enormous amount of horse trading working out which days tally with other parents needs.
If you are eligible, the childcare element of UC can pay up to 85% of your childcare costs. Just a quick note, though is that this is paid in arrears – I.e. you need to be able to front the costs. It might take a month or longer before you get this back, and if you have more than 2 children the help is capped at £1108.04 per month.
If you aren’t on Universal Credit, maybe you can save yourself 20% on the advertised amount if you sign up for a tax free childcare account. Allowing you to pay your Ofsted registered childcare provider, which includes many holiday clubs, before tax. For every £8 you pay into the account, the government top up to £10.