It’s getting closer to the summer school holidays, a time that many working parents. Approach with mixed emotions of excitement and trepidation. Schools holidays are important to children because they provide a break from school’s routines and demands. Families can also enjoy school holidays together.
The amount of time that employees take off doesn’t correspond to school holidays. For working parents, however, summer school breaks can be stressful, expensive, and difficult. Although we don’t know much about the struggles of working parents during holiday periods. Our research will help us to better understand their dilemma.
The Holiday Summer Care Puzzle
Long school holidays are an outdated relic from the Victorian era. These holidays were essential for the 19th-century agricultural economy. When long breaks were necessary to allow children to work in the fields. Although school holidays vary in length and dates around the globe. The long summer vacation is a common feature of most school systems.
England’s local education authority schools must be open for at most 380 sessions (190 days) per school year. The average academic year in the United States has 180 school teaching days. This is required by most states. The school year in Australia lasts around 200 days and is divided into four terms. All these systems, except for weekends, require that children be away at least 60 weeks per year.
Many parents create a complex system of childcare that includes a combination of formal and informal (complementary), childcare over the course of a week. These arrangements are rarely discussed beyond the family level. This means that little information is available about working parents’ parenting skills, whether it be in the workplace, academia, or publically.
For school holidays, formal childcare can be provided by state, market, or voluntary institutions like creches, childminders or churches. Notably, childcare in schools for children aged school age is very rare, particularly in the private sector. Australia and New Zealand are not an exception. There is less information about informal childcare options like relying on relatives and friends to care for children, such as play dates or unpaid babysitting, trips with grandparents, or leaving older kids home alone.
Guilt And Performance Summer
Our research examines corporate mothers’ responses to school holidays in New Zealand. We looked at how holidays can cause conflict for mothers working in New Zealand and mothers’ perceptions about organisational support during the holiday period.
This research was part of a larger study that was done with members of Corporate Mothers Network, which was founded in 2013 to provide a platform for women working in corporate settings who want to balance family obligations with their careers. It recognizes the importance of relationships in business success and created it to help mothers with their career. There are approximately 1,100 members of the network and 350 people participated in the study.
The study clearly shows that school holidays pose pertinent problems for mothers. 90% of respondents have children younger than 18 in their home. Only 64 percent of respondents stated that they have experienced conflict with school holiday management. 60% of respondents agreed that school holidays can make it difficult to concentrate on work and perform at their best.
Apart from the issues with work performance, 68% of respondents said that they don’t feel like a parent during school holidays. This is a serious concern.
Be Aware Of The Gaps
Families tend to shoulder the burden of managing holiday arrangements. Our study found that 71% of respondents believed their organization provided little or no support. Only 29% reported some support.
All New Zealand workers are covered under the Holidays Act 2003, which provides employees with at least four weeks of paid annual holiday. Primary and secondary school-aged children can take school holidays for 12 weeks every year. This is approximately a quarter of the year.
It is still surprising to hear that working parents are not able to manage school holidays.
We will never have a better understanding of how working parents handle holidays, including cost, leave, availability, guilt, absences, and impacts on work performance. The holidays will always be the elephant in our room, large and looming, but often overlooked until the stampede.
Organisations that offer flexible work hours for parents could be a solution to the holiday juggle. They might also be able to offer holiday childcare, programme subsidies, workplace school holidays programmes for employees’ kids, and the possibility of giving staff the opportunity to work remotely or part-time during vacation weeks.
Organizations can also take care when scheduling work throughout the year. For example, they might not offer coveted leadership development programs or launch major new products during school holidays weeks. It would be a good idea for line managers to have regular discussions with their employees about school holidays in order to let them know they are aware of the extra pressures.