(English translation available after the Chinese article)
Summer Holiday is a Child’s Dream but a Nightmare for Parents?
Entering July, summer holiday is almost here for the kids. Kids are especially eager about the coming summer holiday where they do not have to attend school and have more time to play. However, to the parents, especially working parents, long summer holiday is a nightmare.
Kids do not need to go to school so what do they do all day long at home?
Would they play video games all day or lay on the bed all day?
Some parents rely on the school’s full day class to occupy their kids but school may not be open during summer holiday so who will take care of the kids?
Parents may be rushing to get family and friends to help watch the kids but this might not work well.
Some parents hope to arrange some activities for their kids to let kids take advantage of the summer holiday, but what types of activities should they choose? Who will be responsible to take them to and from this activity?
Parents will feel the headache right before a summer holiday or long holiday for this reason. What methods are there to help plan summer holiday so that kids will not waste their time while also not affecting the parent’s work?
1. Take Turn Watching the Kids with Other Parents
Majority of working parents cannot take annual leave to spend time with their kid as firstly, they only have about 10+ days of annual leave and the kid’s summer holidays at a minimum are usually a month long. Secondly, because of business reasons, companies may not approve so many annual leaves to be taken all at once.
If there are parent friends of similar background that are willing to take care of each other’s kids then that would work. Each family’s parents will take turns taking annual leave and be responsible to take care of all the children from all the other families planning either indoor or outdoor activities.
The children get to visit other families and not have to be stuck at home. They can also be social with each other while the parents do not have to feel guilty during the summer holidays in not being able to spend time with their kids. This is an option to consider.
2. Discuss summer holiday arrangement with your management early
Some companies have family friendly policy and are willing to accommodate an employee’s need to take care of family and implement flexible working arrangements.
Discuss in advance with your managers about the difficulty in parenting during the summer holidays and see if the company can let you have flexible work arrangements. For example, working from home a couple days a week, having flexible working hours, reducing the number of working hours and paid salary proportionately, or even to apply for unpaid leave.
This way, without losing your job, you can take care of the kid and spend time with the kid until the end of the summer holiday and then can go back to normal working arrangement.
When considering flexible working arrangements, management’s biggest concern is whether the company’s operation would be affected and would you be able to keep your standard of work. Therefore, you have to think about how to persuade your manager that you can maintain that standard under a flexible working arrangement.
3. Bring Kids to Work
Other than flexible working arrangements , bringing your kid to work is another option to consider?
If you do not have a domestic helper, or the nanny you hired cannot come to work, or the elders cannot help, and you cannot find friends to help, then what can you do if you cannot leave the kids at home alone?
Try discussing with your manager if you can bring your kid to work but first plan and arrange for activities for them to do while at work along with bringing toys, books, learning materials, and snacks.
Bringing kids to work will bring you a lot of issues as the kids might insist you to spend the whole day playing with them and causing you to not be able to focus at work. Kids can also have temper tantrums and disturb your colleagues by being loud. And you need to arrange where to put the kid if you have meetings to attend.
But on the other hand, bringing a kid to work not only solve the issue of no one taking care of the kid, the kid can also visit their parent’s workplace and see what their parents do as it is an opportunity for them to broaden their horizons.
4. Summer Course
Trust parents will arrange their kid’s summer courses in advance but do you know which organizations have summer activities?
There are many non-profit organizations in Hong Kong that offer summer interest classes and activities including The Boys’ & Girls’ Club Association of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, Christian Family Service Centre, Hong Kong Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), Haven of Hope Christian Service, etc. The interest classes and activities offered by these organizations are cheaper so they attract many families to sign up. Some organizations will arrange a lottery so you have to research each organization’s different registration methods to arrange the kid’s summer activities in advance. There are also many private educational organizations that offer many different types of options for summer activities.
Pick-ups and drop-offs are also needed to be planned in the beginning with parents recommended to take each day’s schedule, including class time, name of the class, address and needed supplies, to be written on a calendar so that the caretaker can clearly see when and which class to take the kids to. With different dates and different times going to classes at different organizations can cause confusion and would be embarrassing to take the kids to the wrong class.
Even though summer holiday may not be a dream to parents, let’s hope it’s not a nightmare either so take advantage of this parent child bonding time!
All the contents published in this article are personal opinions and do not represent the opinions and views of Little Monkey Hong Kong.
About the Author
Scarlett is a working mom with a 4-year-old son, who knows the challenges encountered by working parents. She would like to share some thoughts on parenthood that may serve as support and encouragement for moms and dads.