Need advice from working parents

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  • #7673 Report


    Hi all,

    I am looking to go back to work after splitting from my partner last year whikst on an extended maternity leave. Because we split When I wasnt working i had to apply for benefits and move house. After only 4 months in my home I have been told the owner wants the house back. I was hoping to start off by going back to work part time whilst I got into a routine with working and having 1 child at school and 1 at nursery but now I feel due to my housing situation I need to go back full time to ensure I can find  private let for me and my kids. What I worry about is how I would manage being in full time employment with all the school holidays the kids have and not having many people I can rely on to help out during this time/cost of childcare.


    Can you full time working parents tell me how you juggle working and school holidays so to help me decide what is the best thing to do. TIA

    #7675 Report

    Hi Nicki

    To be honest, I found it really hard.  Firstly finding a childminder that you like and then trying to afford it!  Have you looked at prices?  Not sure where in the country you are based but for a whole day you can be looking around £30-£50 and obviously up to double if you have two.  Once they hit 3 you get 15 hours childcare a week, once they hit 2 if you’re in a deprived area.

    Does your ex help financially?  Make sure you check your eligibility for benefits etc.  I’m really lucky at the moment that the courts very kindly just awarded my ex half the holidays (have to look on the bright side which is financial).  During term times my friend has my child twice a week, childminder has twice a week and ex has one pickup from school a week.

    Summer holidays just gone (before he had half the holidays) cost me around £750 and that was using at least one week’s holiday of my own.

    Do as much investigating as possible.  There’s a site that recommends childminders though I can’t remember it at the mo.

    Good luck.

    #7677 Report


    It is hard.  You have to be super organised, you find yourself relying on processed quick to cook foods far too often, and you constantly feel as though you aren’t as good an employee or mother as you could be!! You have to accept you aren’t going to be perfect, the house will be a constant pigsty and there will never be enough hours in the day.

    Money wise i found that, whilst my tax credits went down a little with more earnings, i got a top up due to needing childcare and this really helped.  There are some fantastic holiday clubs for school aged kids some of which are themed, eg sports, drama etc.  I always feel better when they have enjoyed their day and am happy to pay a bit more for that peace of mind.

    Finding a sympathetic employer is the holy grail as well.  I have been lucky and now I have worked at the same place for a number of years, my boss allows me to work from home the odd day if they are ill or I am struggling in the holidays.

    i do feel i have to work harder than anyone else though to ‘earn’ the flexibility.

    Good luck with it.  It is doable!!

    #7681 Report


    To Nickinoonoo,

    Firstly make sure the children’s father pays child maintenance (assuming he is working).  Try and agree between yourselves.  If not then apply to CMS.  If father is a higher earner you may be entitled to Spousal Maintenance too?

    Secondly make sure you have claimed your full entitlement to Tax Credits and Child Benefit.  You may qualify for help with child care too if your working hours interfere with children’s schooling.

    School holidays could be spilt between you and children’s father?


    Good luck

    #7685 Report


    Thank you all for your responses.

    My situation at present is this. My children’s father does not pay regular maintenance. He has recently managed to fudge his payslips through his family business and the CSA say he only has to pay £143.00 a month for 2 children. As you are aware it costs alot to keep a roof over our heads, food, clothes etc so i don’ really factor this as any sort of income hence why I feel I have to do what I can to provide a home for them.

    Regarding him having the children this is also up in the air at the moment. He has not seen them for over a month and we have a court case pending re the children. I believe he does want to see them but just has to make sure he is responsible enough to do so and hopefully in time he will have to share some of the responsibility of the school holidays as it shouldn’ all be down to me especially if I do go back to full time work.

    At the moment I just have to work it out under the pretence I am doing this alone and then work out if in full time work How I can juggle school holidays. As I recently moved I haven’t made solid friendships with the parents at school to ask anyone for help during holidays. How do you manage the nursery/school drop off  with ensuring you get to work on time? I want to find a way to make it work but also don’t want to be paying out an absolute fortune.


    Thank you

    #7690 Report


    Hi Nicki, I’m on my own too and work full time.

    It can be done but requires good organisation.  I pay a neighbour to drop my son at school, with her children, and then he goes to afterschool club. I work locally and pick him up before six.

    Holidays are covered by a mix of my taking leave, him going on holiday with his dad  (one half term a year plus a couple of days at Christmas) and a local holiday club.  It can be expensive but there are a couple of things that make it more workable.

    1.  Work as close to the school as possible, (I’m about 6 miles away) This makes pickups, drop offs and emergencies easier for everyone and you aren’t paying childcare while commuting.

    2.  As soon as you are in work, apply for child care vouchers.  These give you tax relief on up to £243 a month.  You ex can also apply for them so the cost of childcare is less all round.  Get him to understand it’s in his interests too.

    3.  Make friends with other mums at the school asap.  Put a notice on the board offering to swap evening babysitting for days during the holidays.  There will be other single mums who are just as keen to pool resources.

    4.  Never be afraid to ask for help.  A lot of us have been there and we recognise desperation when we see it  🙂

    Incidentally the CMA is looking at counting dividends & benefits to make it less easy for non-res parents to avoid costs so it may get easier.  But finding a somewhat calm & civil agreement with your ex will make life easier for you, him and your kids, even if it is unfair & hard to swallow.  I’ve done a lot of gritting teeth to get to a level playing field.

    Good luck.  xx



    #7696 Report


    Thank you so much Kathy for your informative response. Obviously I know there are single Mum’s out there that manage it but wanted an insight into how. I would like to work locally but it just depends if I can find a full time job that pays what I need it to to make it worthwhile.


    I really appreciate your advice and it’ nice to know there are SuperMums out there that manage to do it.

    #7697 Report


    Hi im a working mum too. My little 3 year is unpredictable at times because she is autistic .. you have to be organised for it to work . I get help with the nursery fees and I  have lovely bosses who supported me when  I was pregnant too. I only work 3 days but i was full time and have been with this employer for 10 years .  I’m.up at 5.30a m.some times earlier if my daughter hasn’t slept well..we leave home at 7.15am and I have to give her breakfast around 6.30am. The nursery opens at 7.30am and will give my daughter breakfast but she sometimes  refuses it. Once i drop my daugher off i run down the road like a mad woman to get 7.44am train to get to work on time. I met an African lady who ran the creche at the toddlers group where I took my daughter to and she adopted us as I have no family . She came with me to all my daughters appointments and now everything is a little easier as I can ring her if my daughter is not well to go to nursery  so.i can get to  work. I have a mortgage so.its important i work but also I get to work on time which is important.  I changed my hours so I leave at 3.25pm so that I can pick up my little girl early. It’s not easy but it can be done.

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