Friday, 11 August 2017

The "holiday"

Will I have time to even see that beach??

For a start, I just want to give an update on my "childcare nightmare" situation. We have finally found a solution and just in time before flying home for the holidays. In the end the kids will take the bus in the morning and they will stay at the creche only for the after school. With the price increase, we're actually going to end up paying the same as last year. Oh, and to do all that, I had to change my work hours. It's in these times that I'm grateful for a flexible boss!

At least we won't have to stress over childcare during our holidays, because let me tell you, a holiday home is absolutely exhausting. We're not there yet but our week is almost already planned minute by minute. OK, not quite, but you get the idea.

I usually put a status update on Facebook to let me friends know were coming and after that, it's first come, first served. I also text the couple of friends who are not on Facebook, but if they're not quick enough, tough!

So far we're booked on Saturday night, Sunday afternoon, Monday all day, and Wednesday all day. I still have to arrange to meet two other friends so I hope they won't be looking for the same day because I can't divide myself (and they live more than an hour apart so a joint meeting is out of the they don't really know each other, which would make the whole thing a bit awkward...)

On top of that you have family. The old auntie you don't really want to see but your parents kind of force you to visit (after all, it could be the last time), the cousins you would love to see but they're all scattered around the area and are impossible to gather at the same time, your sister and brother you want to spend so much time with but just can't, your own parents you want to chat with but get on your nerves after 2 days...And well, your kids you haven't seen for 6 weeks and who will probably make you pay as soon as you arrive.

And then you've got shopping. We only have hand luggage this time, but the years we go home with the car we take at least a half-day just to go to supermarket! We mostly buy wine (typical!) and few things we can't find in Ireland. I also love going to my local market as there are always arts and crafts, and of course food from the region. Plus, I usually get to bump into a cousin or someone I haven't seen in ages...

I usually go clothes shopping as well, even if I hate it. French fashion is just a breath of fresh air compared to the Irish style. Sorry but there are fashion choices here that I just don't get, especially at the moment where I feel like I'm back in the nineties every time I step into a shop. I was a teenager in the nineties, the last thing I want to do is dress like that again!! I just need my fix of "safe" shopping in Camaieu or Cache-Cache.

So yeah, between the friends catch-ups where you try to squeeze in as much news as you can in the space of few hours, the visits to the old uncles and aunties, kids time, parents time, sister time and shopping time, I wonder if I'll actually have time to go to the beach at all!!

Mind you, the weather is supposed to be... well... like a Breton weather, so mild and possibly wet. At least I'll have the wine to forget about it!

What about you, does it stress you out to go on holidays at home?

Monday, 7 August 2017

Another year, another childcare nightmare

And here I thought our childcare problems were over... Last year our childminder let us down but we found a creche who could take the kids before and after school, provide meals and even help with homework. On top of that we were not paying them during school holidays if the kids weren't attending, which was a huge relief especially for summer as they're spending 6 weeks "practicing their French" with my parents.

The kids were happy, we were happy, everything was fine. Except we just got a text from the creche stating they undercharged us last year so this year we would have to pay almost 900 euros a month just for 4 hours a day...And they "forgot" to charge us for breakfast, which comes at 5 euros a day per child. I know the creche has running costs, needs to pay staff, insurance, rent etc, but I doubt breakfast costs this much...It's not like they get a full Irish every morning!!

Anyway, the thought of having to pay more childcare than mortgage is just killing me, and it is expensive because we both work full-time. But today I checked the new scheme the government has put in place to help with childcare costs. And I'm just even more pissed off. It seems great and all for kids under 3 years old (if you're happy with a 20 euros per week discount), but once they start their free preschool year (which is only 3 hours a day!) what do you do? Then I checked what other help was available for older children but we don't qualify for anything because we work... which doesn't make sense at all.

I do feel as parents we are taken hostage by childcare providers, be it childminders or creches. Both childminders we used made us pay when we were taking holidays and it was free when they were taking time off. But they were almost never taking time off. And when they did it was on their terms so I always had to find a solution to manage when it happened. I know part of the problem is we don't have any family around to help, but I'm pretty sure it happens to Irish people as well who don't have parents nearby.  Even last year, it costed less to fly my nephew over from France than to pay for 2 weeks full time in the creche. There's something wrong here...

Anyway, enough rant for today! We still haven't figured out what we 're going to do comes September. All the other creches I contacted are either too expensive or they don't have a bus service to drop and collect the kids... A childminder would be ideal but the last one dropped us because the school run was unbearable so I don't want the same thing to happen. The kids are going to different schools next year and they finish an hour and half apart (and they won't start at the same time either!), so I don't know if I'd find someone happy to do it. I think we will scrap the before school care and maybe put the kids in the bus to go to school, or I'll have to try and change my hours or I might just give up work (although that's unlikely because I would just go crazy at home!)

I am longing for the day the boys will be able to walk to and from school, but unfortunately that's not going to happen for another 5 years at least!! In the meantime I will just have to suck it up once again and find a solution... Wish me luck!!