The school holidays are upon us once more. Is it just me or are the terms getting shorter? I’m sure the last term only started a few weeks ago. Of course it’s a relief to have a break from the regimented school routine but for working mums, especially working single mums, life goes up another gear as we struggle to juggle the inescapable vacation care / work scenario.
There is no doubt that vacation care can be stressful as we race to get our children places at the right care, cajole them to actually go and frantically crunch numbers to find the extra money to pay for it.
If this resonates with you, then why not consider setting-up a VACATION CARE CLUB.
By this I don’t mean inviting everyone’s kids to your house. Not at all. All you do is hook-up with other mothers in the same situation as you and devise a simple plan whereby you look after each other’s children on certain dates in school holidays.
It’s a win/win situation. You get free vacation care in return for looking after people’s children. Your children get to hang with kids from their class. And you may even make some new friends in the process.
Sounds good? Follow this simple step-by-step process to set-up your own vacation care club.
- A few weeks before the end of term ask around others mums in your children’s year groups to see if they work. If they do, ask if they’d be interested in forming a vacation care club whereby you all pitch-in looking after each other’s children in the holidays. If they express an interest grab their email address. Alternatively draft an email and ask the teacher to send it out to all parents on your behalf.
- Compile a list of mums that are interested. There’s bound to be a few. An ideal number would be about 4-6. Too many and it gets complicated. Plus you could end with too many kids on your doorstep – remember siblings need to be taken into the equation too.
- You can give your new group a cool name if you like. The Havoc Free Holiday Club? Or The Vacation Vixens? Just a thought … you don’t have too!
- Send an email to the interested mums with general instructions as to how it works. I’d advise that you keep it as simple as possible. It’s not like a babysitting circle which is on-going and requires a number of rules. You just need a framework with set dates to get you through the holiday period. I’d suggest you ask them to send you a return email with:
– Confirmation that they’d love to join this fabulous new group
– The names and ages of their children
– Their address and phone number
– Details of their children’s health issues or allergies
– Which days they NEED childcare and can PROVIDE child care
- Print out a monthly calendar which encompasses the school holidays dates. Then in a quiet moment, maybe with a cuppa or glass of wine, work out who can look after whose children on what days. Try to keep it as even as possible and remember you won’t be able to cover everyone’s needs throughout the holiday. Oh and make sure you get yourself a good deal … you’re doing all the hard work after all.
- Compile a list with the information you requested earlier i.e. member names, addresses, contact details, children’s names and ages and children’s allergies.
- Then email all members with your details list and your scanned calendar (or you may like to create a neat, new calendar on your computer). Ask them to confirm back to you if they’re happy with the dates you’ve suggested or if changes are required.
- If you have someone who’s particularly difficult or wants more help than they’re prepared to give, don’t waste time with them. Tell them you have their hours covered and their help is no longer needed. Sorry but this procedure is meant to make life easier not harder.
- Once everyone’s happy send one final email with the finalised calendar and a few simple ‘rules’ so everyone’s singing from the same hymn sheet. I’d suggest:
– All children to bring packed lunch and water bottle when going to childcare
– Confirm set drop-off/pick-up times (allowing those caring to make plans for the day)
– Children to be collected on time unless absolutely unavoidable
– Unacceptable behaviour from child allows caregiver to request an immediate pick-up
– Children not to be sent to vacation care if ill or has nits etc.
That’s it. Easy. It should be fairly straight-forward to organise but this does depend on the mothers in involved. And if it works, you already have a fully-formed group ready for the next holiday period. Make sure you pass the organisational responsibility to another member – it’s only fair that everyone gets a turn! You can send the new organiser this blog with the list so they know what to do.
Hopefully you’ll find that even if your new group doesn’t alleviate all your vacation care issues it will ease some of the holiday pressure. You may even decide to take the group further and set up a babysitting circle. These require a little more planning since they’re on-going so more records need to be kept. I’d highly recommend one though for the simple reason that YOU CAN GET A NIGHT OUT. YAY.
I’ll leave you with warm wishes for a safe, reasonably relaxing and enjoyable school holidays. Oh and of course if you have any comments or suggestion please simply respond to this blog. I would love to hear from you.