Did you hear it? The collective sigh from weary parents across Derbyshire as schools, pre-schools and toddler groups re-opened their doors after six very long weeks.
I have tried and failed to combine working from home while my children and husband – a teacher – are also in the same building. Unfortunately my husband’s promises to ‘do all the childcare’ so I could work didn’t materialise as he found important gardening to do.
As I sat in my home office trying to ignore the cries of ‘I’m hungry’, I recalled a former colleague rolling his eyes at at me, as I moaned once about the fact nursery care was a) expensive and b) only operated from 8am – 6pm, and saying: “just wait until your kids are at school.” And now, with one of my sons at school, I know exactly what he means.
School hours and holidays are not in line with those of the majority of employers, therefore the childcare expense and headache remains. Many working parents are forced to either rely on friends and relatives or pay for childcare around school hours. And then you’ve got the holidays – 13 weeks in total. I’m not knocking teachers’ holidays. I must now get used to fact that our family life will be planned according to my son’s school. When we talk about ‘next year’, we’re not talking about January 2013; rather it’s the next school year, i.e. September 2013. Julys will now be spent ordering new school uniform and Augusts for taking the family holiday. And, more importantly, we will have to rely on an army of childcare – from nurseries, to grandparents, friends, aunties and uncles – just so my husband and I, like many parents, can work and earn money to support the household.
So let’s have a big hand for all the free childcare providers. In a recent survey over a third of the 1,000 families questioned admitted they depend on grandparents to look after youngsters in the school holidays to save on the cost of childcare. I know I am one of them. The school holidays haven’t been a complete disaster however, my garden looks lovely. And now that the ‘holidays’ are over, I might actually get some time to relax in the garden and enjoy it.