School holidays offer children a break from the routine and demands of school and allow families to spend time together doing things they enjoy. However, 4 weeks of annual leave doesn’t match 12 weeks of school holidays so for working parents the summer school break can be challenging, stressful and expensive.
Professors Candice Harris and Jarrod Haar of Auckland University of Technology have researched how parents manage the school holiday juggle. Many parents piece together a jigsaw of childcare, combining formal and informal care, but there is little data about these private arrangements. Workplace childcare for school aged children is rare, especially in the private sector, so parents often rely on grandparents and community programs or leave older children home alone. The authors suggest workplaces could offer working parents enhanced flexibility during the school holiday weeks, build holiday childcare or programme subsidies into remuneration options, provide workplace school holiday programmes for employees’ children, or enable staff to work remotely or part-time during holiday weeks.