Sussex columnist: How parents manage the childcare juggle in the Easter holidays
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When it comes to the school holiday juggle, I am extremely lucky. My husband is a teacher, so I don’t have to worry about having to negotiate weeks without the childcare school provides.
But I know for a lot of parents the school holidays can be a bit stressful for lots of reasons. If you’re not working, then you need to find things for the kids to do, so they don’t just sit around the house watching YouTube videos of American kids squishing slime.
And if you are working, you need to find places for them to go and be looked after.
Many of my friends have had to execute military-level planning to ensure their little ones have childcare each day.
There’s fridge planners with colour-coding and a raft of arrangements that, by necessity, are different every day.
Holiday clubs, grandparent care, playdates with friends, and time booked off from work – just the thought of arranging it sounds tiring, let alone having to remember where you need to take the children each day and when.
Even with my husband at home, there is still juggling and planning required.
We’re going away for a few nights, and so I have had to think about what needs to be washed so I can pack it. Thanks to the weather being a little chilly, I’m still having to dry things indoors, so there has been a week-long washing rota employed to ensure I get everything done.
And then there’s needing to find the time to pack. Despite my husband laughing at this notion – ‘we just need to throw a few clothes in the case, it takes minutes’, he claimed – he will probably be the one asking me where the Calpol is at 3am, should one of the children need it.
I need to find time to do this around work this week, which is also extra busy due to other staff being off on annual leave.
And then there’s cleaning. My distaste for dusting and hoovering is well-documented in this column, but I always feel a bit ‘wrong’ going away without leaving the house at least surface-level clean and tidy.
But with children at home more than usual, the mess is currently increasing, not decreasing. Then there's things like this pesky column to get written... there may well have to be some late-night spraying of the Pledge to ensure things get done (does this polish even exist any more? Am I ageing myself horribly here?!).
Even though the thought of my to-do list is a bit daunting, I know everything will get done. Because parents are circus-level jugglers. We have to be!
Yes, it might mean I have to cook dinner while also folding tumble drying, but if the pay-off is a little break from the routine, then it’s going to be worth it. (Even if the thought of the amount of washing to catch-up on when we’re back is enough to make even the strongest of mortals feel faint!)
Hard-work aside, we did have time to relax for a bit at the weekend. Our friends came round with their three children, and the five kids had fun charging around the house and garden for hours, while we chatted away.
The beauty of good friends like that is you can talk for hours without realising the time. One minute it was 1pm, then suddenly it was gone 8 o’clock – the kids thought it was Christmas!
I also cooked a family favourite on Sunday – macaroni cheese. We don’t always manage to all sit down together to eat through the week (yet more mum-guilt), but I like to eat together at weekends if possible. It’s always nice to cook something that goes down well with everyone, but omg when you see that amount of cheese going into a dish it’s a little bit perturbing.
Funny how dishes laden with cheese are such a hit, and yet a veggie-laden stir-fry is never received with quite such enthusiasm...!