‘We’re exhausted’: UK parents describe childcare challenges they face | Childcare


Anearly two-thirds of working mothers do not have enough child care during the summer school holidays this year, three parents describe the child care challenges they will face this summer and how they have been affected since the start of the pandemic.

Marie, 40, from Sheffield, mainly struggles to find adequate holiday childcare for her three-year-old.

“The holiday clubs here only accept school-aged children and its nursery is only open for the school year. The only option I have found is to enroll him and my five year old in a nursery that can accept both ages, at a cost of £ 100 per day, which I cannot afford.

“I’m a single mother but I ask their father, who lives in London, to come stay with us for a month this summer so that we juggle child custody, and for two days a week we will both be work around them at home.

“They will have to watch a lot of TV, like during lockdown, because we have no other options, and of course, we won’t be as efficient at our job as we should be. It would be ideal if paid child care leave was an option, but at least I can take a week of unpaid child care leave if I really need it.

Marie only has 25 vacation days a year and does not understand why there are no more provisions for school vacations.

“I don’t see why there aren’t more vacation daycare centers available for all ages, as there is such a high demand from all the parents I know. We are all so exhausted.

Kris, 46, from Fakenham, Norfolk, was, like many other parents, unable to secure a summer vacation.

“Fortunately, my wife and I have the same summer vacation as the children, since we are both teachers, but in this area there is almost nothing for elementary school children in terms of summer daycare. because the city’s local daycare has virtually closed due to the pandemic.

“Since the start of the first lockdown, our children’s school had no before or after school club. We had to fight to get child care. We even contacted our MP, who said there was nothing he could do. I was very unimpressed.

Kris and his wife both work full time, and although the school eventually reinstated some before and after school care, they felt they had no choice but to change their schedules to meet their new childcare needs.

“I have now resigned my managerial position on the team and, starting in September, I will have a pay cut of around 25% to be able to manage childcare. Our normal disposition will not return for some time.

“For parents who don’t have a school vacation, it must be a complete disaster. We know of other people who have changed or given up their jobs and reduced their working hours because of the lack of child care centers in our city.

Louise, 41, from south-east London, who holds a managerial position in the medical sector, says not having childcare since the start of the pandemic has seriously affected her health and that she hopes to find at least some cover for the summer vacation in the form of vacation clubs has also been largely wiped out.

“Most of what exists has stopped because of the pandemic or is full. We put our two boys in one daily activity camp for two weeks, for £ 50 per day per child: extremely expensive. But I live in fear of getting the call that they can’t handle my son. He is five years old and potentially autistic, which takes years to be diagnosed due to the pandemic. All of this is very insulating.

“I work full time from home. My husband is a lawyer and also works full time. We fell off a cliff. We also have a nine year old child with a special educational needs care plan in a regular school.

“After the Christmas lockdown, our childminder, who was great, texted and said she had to stop and find work in a nursery due to all the restrictions. Since then I have tried to get the boys into the club after school but after a few sessions they told me not to bring them back because they could not meet their needs. I looked for childminders but there are so few near my home and they are not available.

The result was and is not to have any childcare at all.

“It’s absolute anarchy in our house. There’s just no end in sight, and I think that’s the new normal for us. It’s going to take some getting used to, and I’m going to have to try to get my employer to allow me to only work certain hours or switch to part-time hours.

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