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Family dynamics

07th Jul 2021

Campaigner says school holidays make parents “stressed and skint” and lobbies for support

Melissa Carton

Do you find the school holidays stressful?

This school year has not been the easiest given that most of it was in lockdown but are the school holidays any easier?

For many working parents it means paying for additional childcare hours, signing our kids up for summer camps or forking over extra money to teenagers for things like going to the cinema.

Add to that the high cost of taking a holiday this year due to extra Covid related charges being put in place and all of the sudden the summer holidays gets pretty pricy.


Author and campaigner Anna Whitehouse says that parents have been battling the extra costs of the summer holidays for decades and there needs to be more done to help struggling parents;

“There’s a silent assumption that it’s a seamless process finding childcare for the six-week holiday when that final school bell tolls.
It’s my mission to make it clear to Parliament — and to employers — that more support and understanding of this staggering problem is needed.

It is so urgent. We need to move quickly. Many of us have already used up all our holiday allowance to paper over the childcare cracks in lockdowns one, two and three.
Throw in costly summer camps with reduced numbers because of the pandemic and it has also become extortionately expensive.”

While Whitehouse is speaking from the point of view of parents in the UK, I feel like this is an issue that heavily affects parents in Ireland too.

As it stands there is very little governmental help when it comes to things like childcare during the school year and absolutely no funding for during the holidays.

When it is well known that parents that work don’t get to take three months off while their kids are out of school why are there no government funded schemes like subsidized or free summer camps?

While there are some options like the Gaeltacht for teenagers, it is also not free or subsidized and something that many parents on a budget just can’t afford.

Heating and rent have driven up the cost of living in Ireland

So what options that won’t break the bank are parents left with during the summer holidays?

From where I’m standing, unless you have a great family or support system around you they seem few and far between.

Already I’m at my wits end trying to arrange my work schedule around getting my son to and from one of the summer camps he is signed up too while looking after a frustrated three-year-old who wants to be back at school.

While the summer holidays might mean no more school runs and packed lunches it is not any less stressful for parents and I really do think the government needs to do more to help.