Are any relatives willing to offer a helping hand?
Your first step is determining whether a relative or friend can offer a helping hand. Retired grandparents are your best bet, but you could also ask a teenage niece or nephew whether they would be willing to childmind on occasion.
Do you know any other parents who work from home? Find out if they’d consider sharing responsibilities, so you look after the kids on alternating days or weeks. Double trouble one day is little compromise for an empty nest the next.
Even if you can only get a day here and there, you’ll give yourself a break and potentially save money on childcare, all while your little one enjoys quality time with their loved ones.
Weighing up the cost of childcare this summer
Childcare can be expensive. According to the Family and Childcare Trust’s Holiday Childcare Costs Survey 2013, the average cost of a holiday club or play scheme in Britain is over £100 per week.
Although this is a considerable outlay, you must consider the potential monetary impact of taking on the task yourself. Will there be loss of earnings as you won’t have time to complete as many projects? How much will you spend on food and entertainment for the kids?
Don’t feel guilty if you do end up sending the kids to a childminder or holiday club. You have work commitments, just like those parents who work in an office.
Juggling childcare and work at home
Should you decide to keep the kids at home with you this summer, you cannot expect to maintain your usual work schedule.
Self-employed workers who are willing and able to sacrifice earnings for quality time with their kids should simply take on fewer projects. Remote workers will need to ask their employer whether part-time hours are acceptable.
If you cannot reduce your hours, flexi-working is the answer. Get up early and take advantage of the peace and quiet before the kids awaken, or work late when they’re asleep or your partner’s home to take the reins.
Don’t try to do both things at once: productivity will suffer if you try to supervise finger-painting and write client emails simultaneously. Create blocks of time in which you can focus on work by sitting the kids in front of a movie, giving them a new game or settling them down for a nap. Choose whatever works for your child.
The government may help you subsidise the cost of childcare this summer and beyond, whether you take on the responsibility yourself or pay a childminder. Click here for more information.
Got any other advice for homeworking parents ahead of the school holidays? Share your tips in the comments below!