I feel like I have spent the whole summer driving in circles. Why? Summer childcare.
I began stressing about summer childcare around Easter time. There are nine weeks (yes, NINE weeks) to cover in Northern Ireland. I wanted to try and get a mix of downtime, fun time and mummy and daddy being able to go to work and earn money time!
I began to keep a look out for summer schemes and activities. I then made a list of all the weeks that needed filled (anal – moi?!) and tried to work out what was on to cover them. Week one we could have used a summer scheme but I decided to ask my mum instead and she said yes. So I took the first day as leave and then my mum covered the next three days (we only need four days covered). And I am so glad I did this. Looking back I would have hated to send my son back to school (where the summer scheme was being run) on the first day of the holidays. And then he got to potter with my mum for a few days and she loved having him and he loved being there.
The second week my partner took a weeks leave, which happened to coincide with the heatwave, so they had a great time in the garden and park and fulfilled a summer challenge to learn how to ride a bike with no stabilisers (my son, not my partner).
Then the fun started. Three weeks of summer scheme based in his school. But it only opens at 8.30 and I need to get to work and drop the other son at daycare. So began three weeks of driving in one direction, looping round (the school is closer to our house than the daycare) and looping back again. At the end of the day a frantic dash, using up annual leave hours and leaving work early to do it all in reverse. I began to treat myself to a coffee on the way to work just to get through the day.
Week five saw more looping as my second son was at a special needs summer scheme, but couldn’t be dropped off until 9.00am so more annual leave hours used getting into work and leaving work early. We’re now on week six and first son is at a different summer scheme and we’re still looping.
Luckily it’s nearly over. One more summer scheme week, then a family holiday week (yay!) then my partner is taking another leave week (he has more leave than me – long story) and then 2 September – back to school! And the cost? One summer scheme was £75 a week, the second one £110, the coffees are mounting up, and my mum? She didn’t charge!