Gran tops the list and ways to keep kids happy range from the park visits, seaside and the swimming pool topping poll.

Parenting on Female First

Parenting on Female First

Modern working mothers rely on ‘team mum’ – a volunteer squad of up to eight family and friend members – to solve childcare issues during the school holidays, a survey has revealed.

With a recent Government announcement regarding the funding of childcare places, the survey found that mothers are currently calling on a close knit support network to muck in with childcare during the six week summer break while they struggle to manage work, children and domestic chores. In fact, the average network of helpers, which is usually ‘headed up’ by granny, dedicates more than 15 hours a week to helping the typical working mum.

The research found that the summer six week holiday caused havoc for 55 per cent of employed mums who said they have to rely on family and friends for help.

More than half of the 2,000 working mums polled, all of who have kids aged 10 and under, said they couldn’t manage without help from their own mum. Over one in ten said they had to call on their mother in-law for help during the holidays too.

Both sets of grandfathers, best friends, partners and ‘other mums’ also get drafted in to help as well as neighbours, the study found.

The survey was undertaken as the Government confirmed a 12-week consultation on its proposed online childcare voucher scheme which would be worth £1,200 per child for working parents, but only from 2015.

Ali Crossley, Executive Director, McCarthy & Stone who commissioned the survey said: “Juggling childcare during the summer holidays is a major headache for many working mums.

“It’s no wonder that we have to call in so many favours during the six week break. The research shows that both sets of grandparents regularly get called on to look after the children while parents work.

“The Government’s changes should make things a bit easier, but it will only cover about a fifth of the average yearly childcare cost. If you’re not fortunate to have grandparents living nearby, it can be very difficult - not to mention costly. Childminders and summer school clubs can be expensive, especially if you have several children.

“There are many positives though, as more often than not, both children and grandparents relish the time to bond during the summer holidays.”

Three quarters of mums claim the help they get from family and friends allowed them to work during the holidays and 83 per cent said they would be forced to take unpaid leave if they lost their team of helpers.

Of the mothers questioned, 38 per cent said everyone they knew fell back on their parents for childcare if they got stuck. And 53 per cent said grandparents are the primary carers for the kids when parents are unable to look after them.

But two thirds say their parents enjoy it as much as the children do and make the effort to take them on days out over the annual school break. Some 42 per cent said grandparents also have the kids to stay.

Visiting parks, swimming pool and the seaside were all listed as days out to entertain the grandkids during the holidays. More than half of the mums polled said their own grandparents cared for them as a child and the summer holidays provided them with life long memories of their grandparents.

Nearly a third (27 per cent) of mothers said that it was impossible to manage everything yourself and it was vital to rely on close family and friends. But a very practical 21 per cent said it is possible to manage everything if you are incredibly organised.

The study found just over a quarter of women said the hardest aspect of parenting was being a good mother while also being dedicated in the workplace. And a third said the hardest part of being a mother was keeping the kids and house clean.

But it’s not a one way street – 33 per cent of working mums also belong to someone else’s ‘team’ and get drafted in to help out with friends’ children too.

Ali Crossley, Executive Director, McCarthy & Stone added: “We know mums all muck in and help each other out – having people you trust is invaluable. But it’s evident from this research that it’s grandparents who are top of the pecking order, which is only natural.

“Grandparents don’t just mind the children over the summer holidays, they have them to stay, take them on days out, treat them to meals out and even take them on holiday to really make the most of the six week break.

“We know from what we hear among our thousands of residents at McCarthy & Stone developments that they like to play their part in providing extra help during school holidays, but this can naturally get more difficult the older they become, so we’re also calling on the Government to not rely on grandparents for plenty of free childcare - its recently announced scheme for childcare vouchers for families with two working parents offers too little too late for millions of parents needing help right now.”

Top 15 most frequent days out with grandparents during the school holidays:

1. Park

2. Seaside

3. Swimming

4. Zoo

5. Museum

6. Indoor play centre

7. Cinema

8. Wildlife park

9. Theme park

10. National Trust attraction

11. Famous landmarks

12. Animal sanctuary

13. Adventure park

14. Water park

15. City tour