A Working Parent's Guide to Managing the Summer Holidays

When is a holiday not a holiday? When managing childcare becomes a monumental feat of logistics and time-management. The 6-week summer holidays may be a welcome break for the kids but, for parents, they can be a complex problem to solve.

If parent A and parent B each have 5 weeks of annual leave available per year, how can they arrange their time to cover all 13 weeks of school holidays?

You don’t need a Maths GCSE to see that this equation doesn’t add up. Parents are left with at least 3 weeks of school holiday to cover, and that’s only if they don’t take time off at the same time for a family holiday. Not to mention single parents who don’t even have a 2nd batch of annual leave to help them.

A calendar with the 6-week summer holidays highlighted

So, what are the options available to solve this problem?

Flexible Working

The best-case scenario for many working parents is a flexible working arrangement. According to a recent study from IWG, 38% of parents view flexible working as the primary solution for holiday childcare. This number rises to 49% for parents with children under the age of 5.

Flexible working could mean a number of things though. It could mean working different hours, allowing couples swap childcare ‘shifts’. It could mean working from home rather than the office – ideal for those whose children are old enough to entertain themselves but not stay at home on their own. Or, it could mean working overtime in the lead up to holidays and earning extra annual leave.

The key is to speak to your employers early. The sooner you have this conversation, the more likely you are to come to an arrangement.

A graphic saying, 56% of parents believe that a hybrid workspace would help alleviate the stress of the summer holidays.

The recently approved Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 is excellent news for working parents across the UK as it allows workers to request flexible working from day 1 in a new job.

Summer Schools & Holiday Clubs

If you’re using annual leave for most of your childcare needs but still have a couple of weeks to cover, summer schools could be the answer! Look for local holiday clubs where you can drop your kid(s) off and pick them up each day like a regular school day. Or look further afield for residential options, so children can go on their own little holiday, usually for a week at a time.

These summer schools often centre around sport or creative pursuits. They’re a great way to keep the holidays full of fun! Plus, they have the added benefit of continuing a sense of structure and routine, as well as giving kids an opportunity to socialise with others their age.

A child out on a wilderness summer school outing

Where money is tight, BBC Children in Need offer grants to holiday playschemes across the UK, to ensure that disadvantaged families can still access them.

Know What You’re Entitled To

It’s important to note that workers are entitled to 4 weeks unpaid parental leave per year. This is only available to parents who have been with their current employer for at least a year, and obviously comes with the downside that you will not be paid for this time off. However, if childcare is proving impossible to arrange otherwise, this is an option.

Parents should also be aware of the financial support available to them. Check the government website to see if you are eligible to Tax Free Childcare, or Universal Credit to support with childcare costs. With the Tax Free Childcare in particular, the number of people taking this support is much lower than the Government forecast, meaning that many eligible parents are missing out on the support they’re entitled to.

A graphic saying, Average cost of childcare in the UK is £157 per week.

*According to The Coram Family and Childcare Annual Holiday Childcare Survey 2023

Having an employer who understands what working parents need can make a world of difference. Are your employers looking out for you?

We can help you find the supportive workplace you need, and we can even help to negotiate flexible working as part of your job offer!

Call our team for a chat about your ideal workplace, and we’ll try to make your dreams a reality.

 Back to Elevation News

View our latest vacancies

Part Time Financial Accounts Assistant

Find Out More...

Payroll Advisor

Find Out More...

Assistant Accountant

Find Out More...

Head of Sales & Marketing

Find Out More...