Summer is always met with mixed emotions by writers who have young children. The anticipation of time with the family is mitigated by the upcoming loss of writing time. How to stay productive without sacrificing family time while your house is overrun with tiny dictators? Try some of these (note most of these work all year long for writers who have children and day jobs):
Write for an hour before your kids wake up.
If your kids are teenagers, you can even get up three hours before they do, and you’ll still be sleeping in.
Keep the kids on their usual bedtime schedule.
If your kids are too young and/or wake up too early for you to be up before they are, try as much as possible to keep them to their school-year bedtime schedule. Not only will this give you time to write while they’re sleeping, none of you will have to go through a week of bedtime screaming and daytime tantrums because the kids haven’t readjusted yet.
Structure daily activities around nap time.
If you’re crazy like I am, you might have both teenagers and toddlers in the house. In this case, on as many days as possible, make sure the toddlers nap at home in their beds, and not in the car. Not only do the teenagers not expect you to amuse them for the afternoon, they’d much prefer it if you pretended not to know them. So, you get an hour to yourself (or two, if you’re very, very lucky). Win.
Ditch the housework.
If you can afford it, hire a cleaning lady. If your kids are old enough, assign chores. If nagging kids to do chores is more trouble than it’s worth, hire a cleaning lady. If these don’t work for you, lower your standards. As my grandmother used to say, nothing keeps like dirt. Anyone who comes over and complains about the state of your house without offering to help doesn’t get invited back.
Ditch the yardwork.
Nothing sucks up more time in the summer than maintaining a lawn and garden. So don’t. If there is someone else in your house capable of mowing grass, great. If not, hire a neighbourhood teenager. As for gardens – stop thinking of dandelions as weeds and start thinking of them as free, no-maintenance flowers. Gardening – done!
Be realistic about your expectations.
If you can write 10,000 words a week, great! If not, set more moderate goals. Nothing kills motivation like the feeling that you aren’t doing enough. If 1,000 words a week is what you can manage, there’s nothing wrong with that. By the time the kids go back to school, you’ll be 9,000 words further ahead than you are right now. Any progress is preferable to none.