Summer holidays. The kids are at home, full of energy and running around your ankles like Duracell bunnies. How on earth are you going to survive the next six weeks without having a nervous breakdown, and more importantly, get any work done? Here's my top tips to keeping the kids occupied during the summer holidays while still finding enough time to write ...
TV and DVDs - Too much TV will result in a very grumpy, bored child who won't leave you alone. Use it sparingly and it'll keep the kids quiet for you when you really need it. Playing the occasional DVD or sitting them in front of Cbeebies will buy you a bit of head down time in front of your screenplay, but don’t abuse this option!
Snacks – Small children graze constantly, and get grumpy when they can’t, so have a good supply of healthy snacks on hand to keep them going throughout the day. If your kids are anything like mine you’ll probably find it’s better to keep chocolate and sweet treats to the afternoon, to avoid morning hyperactiveness!
Garden – The garden is your friend in summer. If it's sunny and you have a laptop, let the kids play in the garden while you work outside. You’ll still have to join in with their play, but you might actually get some work done in between times.
Break up your day –Set yourself ‘shifts’ - work for an hour, then play with the kids for an hour, then back to work for an hour, and so on.
Outings - Arrange trips out so you all have something to look forward to and don’t end up driving each other stir crazy. Let them run off some steam and (hopefully) tire themselves out a bit – the park, soft play, bikes rides etc
Summer Scrapbook - My wife came up with a brilliant idea to not only keep our eldest son occupied, but to also ensure he practised his reading, spelling and writing over the summer. Buy your child a scrapbook and get them to write about what they do every day over the summer holiday. They can also draw and add pictures to make a summer diary of their activities, which they can show to their teachers when they return to school. Hopefully while they are doing this you will get a few moments to get some precious work done.
Compromise - Remember it's all about compromise. Don't think you'll be able to do the same level of work you were able to do while the kids were at school; it's not going to happen. Set your sights lower then you won't be disappointed (and more importantly, frustrated) with your kids when you don't write as many pages as you would normally do. You should be aiming to write a page a day, then things won't get too hectic and you won't be pulling your hair out in big clumps. Patchy hair doesn't look sexy, it just looks like you have mange.
Playing with Friends – Brilliant! The kids have been invited out to play with a friend – and you get a whole day to crack on with your writing. Just remember to return the favour – you’ll need to have little people over to play at some point, too. That may even get you some more writing time, as the kids occupy each other ...
Kids are fun! – At the end of the day it was your choice to have kids – so have fun with them! All work and no play makes Dom and most other writers a very dull boy/girl indeed. So try to play as often as you can with your kids. Build some memories.
Bribery – If all else fails, good old-fashioned bribery can sometimes do the trick! Just make sure you keep your promises - how do you expect them to if you don't?
Although tempting, cattle prods and tasers are not a legal option. Engage your kids, play with them occasionally and make sure that when you are working they know you are not to be disturbed. Give them time and they'll hopefully give you time.
What are your survival tactics for the summer holidays?