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With the summer holidays fast approaching, millions of parents will be finding their own ways of caring for their kids over the long break. From having friends and family cover childcare to taking time off work and paying for summer activities, parents across the UK are exploring various options to make sure their children are looked after.

We've done a bit of research into summer childcare and found that nearly 8 million parents will rely on family and friends - with relatives asked to step in in 6 million cases and a further 1.75 million parents turning to friends for help.

Despite this, nearly a quarter of parents (23%) find themselves being forced to pay for summer childcare or activities, which can be very expensive.

And over one in three working parents will take time off work to cover childcare, as the table below shows.

Response Percentage of parents
My kids will be looked after by friends and/or relatives 53%
I/my partner don't work and are at home with the kids anyway 37%
I/my partner take time off work over the summer to look after the kids 36%
My kids will go to paid-for summer activities/childcare 23%

Mums and dads aged 45-54 appear more than twice as likely to take time off work to care for their kids than parents in the 18-24 age group (41%, compared with only 20% of the younger group).

While only 38% of parents in London can rely on family for summer childcare, parents in the North East of England are much more likely to call on a network of relatives (57% of them will).

"Having to find childcare over summer can be really difficult for working parents," said Ian Williams of thinkmoney. "For some parents, taking time off work simply isn't an option, so being able to call on a network of family and friends can be a massive help.

"For those who can't rely on people they know, pricey alternatives are sometimes the only option."

Have you planned your summer childcare?

If you're not lucky enough to have family and friends pitching in to help out, what do you do?

It may be too late to save up for this summer, but you can still put the next six weeks to good use! Try to track how much your holiday childcare's costing you, so you'll have a clear savings goal to aim for in the run-up to next summer.

Take that total. Divide it by 10. You might be pleasantly surprised when you realise how little you'll actually have to put aside every month to make sure you survive summer 2014 without boring the kids - or breaking the bank!

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