Damn, it's the summer holidays

Wednesday 9th August, 2023

You probably have fond memories of summer. Those glorious six weeks that seemed to stretch forever.

As a child, adventures and the heady rush of freedom, playing until the sun set, punctuated by the odd holiday and day out.

What you might not remember, are your parents thinking "Ah damn! What are we going to do for the next six weeks?"

Unless you're a teacher (or other kind of school employee) then hanging around with the kids for six weeks isn't on the cards. Even assuming that between you and the other parent you've got enough annual leave saved up (you won't), employers aren't generally too keen on you taking that much time off in one go. Also, you'll go insane.

However, there are a few options as you count down the days till September. And no, none of them involve selling your kids to medical research.

The cheapest, best, and easiest option are the Grandparents. Kids love old people! And for some bizarre reason, old people also love kids.

Depending on the age, joviality, and employment status of your parents- you can easily fob the kids off onto them for a week or so. For the grandparents, this is treasured time with the Small People, and a chance to bond. For the kids, it is a constant Dionysian revel of soft play visits, ice creams, and being brought hideous plastic tat that mummy and daddy wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole.

The advantages of this are obvious- you and your spouse get some much-needed alone time, without paying for it! However, good luck trying to get a toddler back into any kind of sane routine after a week of full-on indulgent Grandma action. What do you mean I can't eat a bag of sugar for tea? Grandma let me! This is nonsense...

Even if BOTH sets of grandparents are up for falling on the childcare grenade, that only covers two weeks out of six. So, what are you doing for the other four?

The big-budget option is a residential camp. These American style adventure camps will take your child away for a week (or more!) and keep them busy with canoeing, archery, running around the woods etc. Most of them have laudable mission statements about fostering a sense of curiosity and wonder- but fundamentally they are CRB vetted people who are willing to look after your kids that you won't feel too guilty about leaving them with.

Depending on the amount of American TV your kids have watched, sending them to camp should be a fairly easy sell. It's a week doing fun adventure stuff, what's not to love? The big downside of a residential camp, however, is the cost- which is rather eye-watering.

A more affordable alternative is a day camp. These do much the same thing, with the key difference being that you drop off your offspring in the morning, pick them up in the evening (and give them a much-needed bath) before taking them back again to do the same thing tomorrow. Although far less expensive than a residential camp, these places tend to be out in the sticks- so pick-ups and drop-offs are going to shake up your working schedule anyway.

Closer to home, most schools offer a sort of summer camp thingy. This will either be run by parents, volunteers, or (if they aren't already halfway through the second case of supermarket gin) teachers. All right, school camps aren't nearly as fun as the other places. Most schools don't have their own archery range or kayaking facilities for example. But they are both a lot cheaper than day/residential camps, plus as easy to get to as your normal school run.

Apart from the burgeoning guilt that you're basically sticking your kids in the same place they spend term time, school clubs also tend to keep very antisocial hours. A 10am-3pm session isn't much good if you need to hold down a 9-5.

A final option is friends. Not the 90's TV show- specifically, their friends. Get their friends round for the day, let them know where the ice lollies are, tell them to scream if there's an emergency, and you're basically fine. You can shut yourself away in the home office and try to ignore the blissful sounds of youth as you wade through the next spreadsheet. Apart from another mouth to feed, this option is free, and you can also throw your child at their house next week. The obvious problem is that this only works on days you're working from home- and also relies on your offspring and their friend not getting into fights/smashing stuff/generally making a huge mess. Also, you need to make sure that your child's friend's parents are willing to do their fair share of hosting as well, so that your home doesn't become an unofficial daycare center.

Still, you've got that week in Devon to look forward to, even if the term time prices are through the bloody roof.

Roll on September!

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always has been, always will be

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