Planning activities during school holidays while also managing parents' leave entitlement can be a challenging but rewarding task. Especially if you are a Filipino UK Nurse working for the NHS, Community Nursing, or even for private hospitals where most of the work leave entitlement is not sufficient enough to cover all the school breaks that your children have.
School breaks in the UK typically follow a pattern:
Spring Half Term- usually in February, with a week-long break; Easter Holidays- typically in April, spanning about two weeks
May Half Term- usually at the end of May, providing a week off
Summer Holidays- the longest break, starting in late July or early August and lasting for about six weeks
October Half Term- around the end of October, offering another week-long break
Christmas Holidays- starting in late December and continuing into early January, lasting for about two weeks.
So in total, they would have 3 months and 1 week long of school holidays which is less than what a tenured Nurse staff serving the NHS who gets about 2 months of annual leave the most depending on the length of service you have been working for the NHS.
Full-time employees within the NHS are initially entitled to 27 days of annual leave, excluding bank holidays. This entitlement increases to 29 days after five years of service and 33 days after ten years of service.
Part-time staff members are also included, with a pro-rata basis applied to their leave entitlement. And of course, working for private hospitals may vary from one hospital to another.
So it would be quite challenging if you are doing your Maths now as a new Nurse joining the Trust with your child under your care. But don't panic; it is not the end of the world for you. Some tips can help you manage it and different ways to balance work and enjoy the school breaks with family still.
To begin with, make sure you understand your Leave entitlement at work. Familiarise yourself with your employment contract and company policies regarding parental leave like how long you are entitled to, how many weeks you are allowed to be away from work and how early can you request your annual leave.
Normally in most NHS hospitals, they will allow you 2 weeks of straight annual leave depending on who requested it first and the percentage of requests that were already put on those dates, but if it is 3 weeks or more then it has to go through your line manager or sometimes even your Matron to have it approved.
After learning about your allowable annual leaves and your kid's school breaks, make sure you plan early by discussing your parental leave well in advance, aligning it with your child's school holidays. Coordinate with your employer, partner, and family members to make sure you are on the same page. Communicate effectively your parental leave intentions with your employer. Be clear about your needs and explore flexible working options that can help balance your work and family responsibilities.
Creating a family calendar and backup plan is also another thing to consider. Develop a family calendar that includes school holidays, work commitments, and important events. Share this calendar with your family and have a backup plan in place for unexpected work situations during school breaks.
Now, if you are a single working mom, then it becomes even more challenging. You can seek help from trusted friends and also check about school activities and events being held during the school holidays which is sometimes what they call here school camp.
Once your holiday and your kid's calendar breaks are all sorted then you can plan for places to go and activities to do to enjoy some quality time with your family. It doesn't have to be an expensive one if you are taking into account your budget.
For short breaks like one week off, you can probably take them to the parks where there are lots of free waterparks, playgrounds, and nice green grass to put on your picnic mat and bring some ball games, board games, frisbee or kites to fly during summer whichever your kid fancy playing with you. Or maybe a fun walk in nature or cycling together will make your day fun-filled too. You can also plan a trip to Natural History Museum, London Zoo, a stroll in Hyde Park, or take a boat ride on the Thames as well.
But if you are planning on a long holiday break then take your family to experience outdoor activities in the picturesque Lake District where you can also visit Beatrix Potter's Hill Top farm for a delightful family experience and or take a scenic steamboat cruise on Lake Windermere. Cornwall, Wales, and Isle of Wight are beautiful places to go to during family breaks. Best place to explore stunning beaches, and coastal scenery and a place where you can visit educational places and an entertaining day out too.
Nevertheless, Paris and most European countries are just a train away if your family fancies an out-of-the-country holiday too. Just make sure that you book the tickets way ahead in advance because it gets sold out easily and becomes more expensive too as you book it closer to the date of your planned travel.
Remember, every family and workplace is unique, so it's essential to find a solution that works for your specific circumstances. Open communication, planning, and flexibility are key to successfully managing parental leave during UK school holidays. Most importantly, coordinating with your employer well ahead in advance to align your requested leave against your child's school break will help you manage it right.