Most children are in school 180 days per year. The problem is that those days aren't consecutive! There are many school break days built into the school year. These breaks range from early-release days to single holidays such as Columbus Day and President's Day to full-week winter and spring breaks.
For working moms, those days can present child care stress. Here are some ideas and options for juggling your school break schedule.
Use your existing child care provider
Most working moms use some form of child care during the regular work week such as daycare or a before-and-after-school program. Many of these providers expand their services to coincide with scheduled days off at local schools.
While using existing child care providers for school breaks may seem like a no-brainer, there are some downsides like your child won't feel like it's a break for them because they are still up and out of the house at the same time as a normal school day. While the facility may be well-suited for after-school care activities such as snack, homework and playground time, it may not have resources to keep your child occupied all day. You may have to provide breakfast and lunch for your child as many facilities are not equipped to provide meals, and your budget may take a hit as you can expect to pay more that week or month for child care.
Plan a vacation with the kids
Consider saving some vacation or personal time for when your children are out of school, especially on early-release days and single holidays. Plan some fun activities and enjoy the day together. Let your child stay up late on what would normally be a school night, and you can both sleep in (hopefully) the next morning.
Your child will appreciate the break from their normal routine and so will you.
For the working moms who do not have enough vacation time to use this option for every school break. So call on others for help.
Find a teenaged babysitter
If your child has the day off from school, so are many of the local teenagers! Many of them would appreciate the opportunity to earn some extra spending money, too.
Your children will look forward to spending the day with their favorite babysitter. They get a much-needed break from their normal routine while you are able to maintain your regular work schedule. You may find that teenaged sitters do more "cool" things with your kids, like teaching them to make friendship bracelets and other arts and crafts, helping them improve their video game skills, and spending time playing outside with them.
As an added bonus, hiring a teenager for the day is oftentimes less expensive than the additional fees your regular child care facility will charge.
Call a friend
Make arrangements with a stay-at-home friend or neighbor to watch your children during school break. Your children and theirs will enjoy the day more by spending it with friends.
You can either offer to pay them or return the favor by watching their children on the weekend.
As long as each party gets an equal number of baby-sitting hours, it's a win-win solution.
Create a child care co-op
Do you have several working mom friends with children in a similar age range? Consider starting a child care co-op. Get together at the beginning of the school year with the school calendar in hand, divvy up the school break days with each mom taking responsibility for an equal number of days;
Each mom requests time off from work on her assigned days in advance. When it's your turn, the other mothers bring their children to your house for the day; and when it's not your turn, you can relax and stay focused at work knowing your child is in good hands.
Don't let the words "school break" cause a working mom's breakdown. With a little advance planning, a day off from school can be something your child looks forward to and you no longer dread.
Edited by Elizabeth McGrory.