This is the last summer before our daughter properly starts school. Last year we chose the independent school route, but the lengthy school holidays were a big cause for concern.
How do people manage to hold down full-time jobs and cope with the childcare challenges?
I was beginning to feel so thankful for nursery – an 8-6 wraparound care, for 51 weeks of the year. A safe home-from-home single environment where I knew my child was looked after and happy. (fingers regularly crossed for no sickness and enforced exclusion from nursery).
During one of my many analyses as to whether we would actually, really be able to manage, I dropped a line to a lady who actively promotes women in the workplace. I shared with her my fears, my guilt at working full-time, my resentment at not having family close-by. I asked how people manage school holidays whilst holding down careers with only twenty five days annual leave.
She gave me an excellent piece of advice:
“Take one year at a time.”
She spoke about the fact that when our daughter starts school I will start to make a network of school Mums and the management of the umpteen weeks of holidays will fall into place.
She was absolutely right.
At the end of the day, and through whatever means, we would get through the holidays. That was always a given, even if it meant downsizing the house and hiring a Nanny (never going to happen, but it was a solution). I just couldn’t see it.
Our daughter started the attached pre-school last year and at one particular party I got talking to another Mum. A Mum who also worked full-time, whose partner is self-employed, a career-minded Mum who comes from a modest background and is, like me, putting her hard-earned money towards her only child’s education instead of the flash car and luxury holidays. Our daughters had made friends recently.
It was fate.
Just before the school broke up for the summer, we met up, shared diaries and scheduled specific dates when we’d be able to have each other’s child. With the school holiday club weeks, two weeks leave, three days of Grandparent-daycare, a few days of Daddy-daycare and my new found childcare buddy my school holiday spreadsheet was filled!
I had done it!
All the worry and anxiety about how on earth we were supposed to hold down our jobs when our daughter only goes to school for thirty-odd weeks of the year was pointless.
Every year will be a logistical Krypton-Factor-esq challenge, the spreadsheet will always be required, but it will work and it isn’t half as bad as you think it will be.
So if you’ve got your school holidays sorted to a tee, I high-five you. If you’re already thinking about how you’ll cope when you child starts school – Don’t Worry!
Trust me, just take each year as it comes and you’ll soon find a school holiday routine that suits your family and maybe you’ll even find yourself meeting your own childcare buddy. I wanted to add ‘in the playground’, but realistically for us full-time working Mums, it is much more likely to be at the weekend birthday parties!