How to sort out childcare in the summer holidays

Wouldn’t it be lovely to spend 6 weeks this summer with your children, splashing about in a lido or playing in a park?

HOWEVER.

If your employer doesn’t equally love the idea of you taking 6 weeks off, you may be in need of an alternative plan.

The way we see it, you’ve got four options.

1.       Juggle your annual leave with your partner, supplemented by unpaid leave and help from friends and family (if you’re lucky)

If you and your partner have each got four weeks of annual leave, you could each take three weeks over summer and cover a six week period of time. This may be your cheapest option, but it has the major downside of you not getting to spend time together as a whole family. Plus—now you’ve only got one week each of annual leave left. Thinking about the year as a whole, even if you both took all your leave and didn’t overlap at all, it wouldn’t add up to the 13-18 weeks that your children are actually off school.

The workability of this option all depends on how much you can supplement it. If you’re lucky enough to have grandparents (and other friends and family) around who are willing and able to help, you’re golden. If not, unpaid leave might be an option. If not… read on.

2.       Ask your employer for flexibility without taking time off

If your employer is willing to be flexible, there are a few options you could consider. You might be able to do ‘compressed hours’ or move some of your work to the evenings. Alternatively, you could work from home. Whether this is remotely practical really depends on your child. If they’re reasonably independent and would be happy to laze around reading books and have friends over to play, it might work. If you’re going to be interrupted every two minutes by your child complaining they’re bored, not so much.

3.       Holiday schemes, aka ‘day camps’ aka ‘playschemes’ 

There’s an absolutely wealth of holiday schemes available in London, with fun activities ranging from sports to drama to swimming to art to mucking about in the woods. You’ll need to find one close to you to make the commute manageable, so it’s worth looking locally first. You could try:

  • Your council website, which will have information about LA-run playschemes
  • Your kids’ old nursery. Many have after school clubs which become holiday clubs in the holidays. If your children aren’t long gone from nursery, they might not mind going back there for a bit
  • The noticeboard or website at your local library, leisure centre, community centres, gyms, playgrounds, and soft play centres, all of which frequently run playschemes
  • Mumsnet Local

The brilliant thing about playschemes is the breadth of activities, meaning you can really tailor your childcare to your child’s interests. If they’re into football, they can play it for a whole week. If they love cooking, there’s sure to be a cooking club somewhere. The major drawback, however, is playscheme hours. They’re often set up as ‘things to do during the day’ rather than actual wraparound childcare. Many will have hours like 10am to 3pm, which are fine if you’re working flexibly from home, not so much if you aren’t.

Additionally, playschemes become a bit more problematic when the kids are over 11, as many playschemes won’t take older kids (and the older kids aren’t keen to go) and you may not yet be comfortable leaving them on their own.

4.       Find a student nanny, aka a ‘live out au pair’

Student nannies:  yes, they ARE a thing! A university student on their summer break can work as a nanny for full days (8am to 6pm or longer), or do wraparound or after-playscheme care – whichever you need. It’s an elegant solution, if you can find the right nanny. For the university student, a summer nanny job is incredibly fun and rewarding (much better than working in a café or shop). For parents, it’s the ultimate flexible childcare option. For the children, it means they can do the activities they want to do, in a place they want to be, and eat the food they like. Meanwhile you’ll be able to leave for work each day at a normal hour feeling unstressed.

How to find a summer nanny? We can help. Koru Kids recruits and trains student nannies across London all year, and many of them are available now for summer holiday bookings. The Koru Kids student nannies are available for summer work and also as after school nannies once school and university starts, so you can also keep the relationship going if it’s working well.

If you’re interested in a Koru Kids summer or after school student nanny, you can read more about our latest graduate class here, or register your interest here.

Did we miss any major options for childcare during summer holidays? Let us know.