The kids might anticipate the holidays with a sense of impending joy as the days before ‘no school!’ dwindle down, but for parents, the only thing that is impending is often dread.
Organising childcare before and after school can be troublesome enough, but organising it for the holidays has become nothing less than a military operation.
One of the main problems this comes down to is the distinct lack of childcare providers, despite this issue being raised numerous times by a number of politicians – we’re guessing they’re having trouble in the school holidays themselves. George Osborne himself stated he would endeavour to solve this problem, but so far, we’ve seen very little – if any – evidence of any improvement.
With childcare services often taking a break at the same time as the schools do – up to 60% in fact – and those that do stay open becoming increasingly expensive, it’s left to the parents to meticulously plan how their children will be cared for for periods of up to six weeks in the summer.
This stress and lack of resources can of course be detrimental to a happy family life – in cases when both parents are present, each must often take off opposing chunks of annual leave, meaning time is divided and the family rarely enjoy time together as a whole unit – some even state that when it comes to short trips abroad – the annual ‘summer holiday’ – either one or the other must take the children while one stays at home to work.It’s also to be noted that the average amount of annual leave amounts to a little over five weeks in the United Kingdom. With school holidays amounting to around thirteen, this still doesn’t wholly solve the problem for many families who must then take unpaid leave, Not only does that impact both on their annual income, but proves problematic for companies they work for; their workforce diminishes in the holidays as parents take drastic measures to ensure their children are cared for.
Some families are lucky enough to have family and friends around them that can share responsibility when it comes to childcare. Grandparents, uncles and aunts are relied upon heavily should they live close by and prove willing to look after the kids, but not all are so fortunate. Friends will often juggle the responsibility. But there should be more in place to ease this situation – it shouldn’t be down to ‘favours’.
There’s the further issue in that childcare does not come cheap. If your childcare provider is offering their services in the school holidays, it’s unlikely they will accept the tax reduction vouchers that they do during term time. Childminders, again, are costly, and the kid’s clubs that used to run across the country have dwindled in numbers due to insufficient funding.
Sadly, this often leads to one parent leaving the workforce altogether which drastically impacts on the household’s income, leaving families struggling. Their child’s happiness and wellbeing is more important to them, and such is the lack of support in this area, they have little other choice.