Solve the School Break Care Challenge

Most working parents have limited vacation days. Here are 7 options for what to do with kids during spring break, winter break and other short holidays.

School breaks and those long weekends devoted to statutory holidays spread joy among children and panic among working parents. Most parents just don’t have that much time to take off from work and what they do have is often saved for summer months.
Many families use a creative combination of solutions to make sure work isn’t interrupted and the kids are supervised. If you are stuck for school break care, investigate these seven possibilities:

Take Time Off
The most obvious solution is to schedule your holiday when the kids are off. But who has that much vacation time? In most provinces, kids get two weeks off in December — plus at least a week off in March. Some families use these mid-year school vacations for a little escape (even if it means coping with higher travel prices), but others prefer to take a longer break in the summer.

Split the Time
Parents often split school vacation care giving responsibilities. One parent takes off half the week to watch the kids while the other works, and then they switch mid-week. Or if one spouse has a crazy work week, the other can shoulder the majority of days. Come the next break, they can flip the time.

Use Your Benefits
Some companies have back-up child care benefits specifically for things like school vacations or odd days off from school. Distinct from a regular day care setting, this option is a welcome relief for employees who have school-aged children who are too old for day care, but not old enough to be home alone. If your company doesn’t offer this benefit, ask Human Resources to consider it. You’ll be much more productive at work if you don’t have to worry about your child.

Lean on Others
If you’re lucky, you have family and friends nearby who can fill in and watch your kids during their shorter school breaks. Even if you have to depend on several different people, you might be able to get enough coverage to make it work. Some parents even set up a system with other families and alternate days of kid duty during vacations!

Hire a Nanny
When time off is off the table, use a nanny-finding website to help you find an experienced nanny. Because it’s more responsibility than you want to saddle a typical high school sitter with, a nanny is your best bet for such a long stretch.
This will take some research on your part, says Katie Bugbee, managing editor of She recommends posting a job opening at least one month before the school break. “You will want to meet your top three candidates in person and review their references to help you make your decision,” Bugbee explains. The best part? You’ll have back-up babysitters for the next year!

Find a Camp or a School Program
Some organizations (like YMCAs) or camps offer sports clinics or week-long camps during school breaks. These are great introductions to camp for younger kids, without the overnight aspect. And don’t forget local school systems or even universities — either in your town or one nearby. Schools often offer mini vacation programs with day-long activities like soccer, crafts or even wood-working. You send your kids with a snack and lunch, just like a regular school day, and they have fun in a safe setting. As a bonus, many places offer reduced rates for siblings.

Check Out Local Attractions
Some zoos or museums offer all-day programs for kids during vacation weeks. Art museums, theaters, zoos and even some farms plan enriching and varied activities that are perfect for kids.



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