1. Whoa. You woke up and it’s just you. No one is up yet. It’s a miracle! Instead of sleeping with one eye open and anticipating the pitter-patter and morning “Mom I’m hungry!” greeting, get your write on. Have a notebook or your laptop by your bed, so you can just knock out a few words, ideas, or get started on a scene before the day begins. This can get you an early start on your day and 4-60 minutes of writing time.
2. Set up a “work area” for you and your kid(s) near your desk. Set up a few books, paper, crayons, a drink and a snack or two. You can even “deliver” them a continental breakfast or bag lunch to their “office” for their mealtime. Depending on the attention span of your kid(s), this can give you 8-60 minutes of time to draft your next great novel.
2. Cheap Babysitters. There’s an App for that! Download a new app or two for your child and get 10-60 minutes of writing time. Here are a few fun and educational apps that I and my almost five-year-old would recommend: MomA: ArtLab, Tiny Bop: The Human Body and Alligator Apps: Little Writer. We also like “Bug Builder” and love to pass it back and forth as we make surprise bugs for each other.
3. TV is an obvious choice but to get the real benefit with less guilt, do it right. Don’t just have the TV on 24/7 and squeeze whatever writing you can throughout the day. Be smart. Check the listings, find a show or two your kid is into and schedule an hour block of time to work. (Ok fine, you know you can go 90-120 minutes, who are we kidding?)
4. Summer camp is expensive, but if you can swing a week or more, you should. Your sanity and the free writing time is worth the expense. 25 plus hours of writing time could be yours!
5. If summer camp isn’t an option, consider hiring a babysitter for a nice 3-6 hour time block on a Monday afternoon. Case of Mondays averted.
6. This is my fave life hack but it only works if you have an older child to watch the younger one(s). My son is 14 so I can pay him half as much as the regular sitter and take a five-minute drive to the library. “Bye kids! Don’t tear down the house and I’ll see you in 2.5-3 hours!”
7. If you don’t have an older child but have one that’s “old enough,” give them a few dollars, promise them you’ll go out for ice cream or INSERT BRIBE HERE if they’ll play with the younger kid(s) QUIETLY. Meanwhile, you are locked in your room writing. If you can get the older kid to think of this as a legit job, they’ll probably surprise you and you can get a solid 40-60 minutes of writing time in.
8. No older child? Borrow a niece, nephew or a friend’s 10-13 year old and pay them a mothers-helper type wage to play with your kids while you hide in the quietest corner of the basement revising your masterpiece. Ten bucks is still a lot to some kids. It could get you a 2-3 hour writing session.
9. Give your child a plate of brussel sprouts and liver and let them know that THEY WILL NOT leave the table until they finish their dinner. Bring your laptop to the table, put in some ear buds, crank up some classical music and write away. After 45-60 minutes, if you’re feeling it, tell your kid they’re off the hook and give them a couple slices of pizza. You are now a hero! And you just bought yourself another 5-10 minutes depending on how fast they scarf down that pizza.
10. The day is almost over! It’s time to give your kid a bath. The benefit of summertime heat is that a long bath isn’t going to give your kid hypothermia. Fill up the tub, throw in some toys, put the toilet seat down or get cozy on the bathroom floor. Sure your kid will be a little raisin when they get out, but look at all the words you got down in 20-40 minutes of writing time.
11. Now that the kids are asleep, you are exhausted. All you want to do is make a mai-tai or eat a pint of ice cream and watch the show you DVRd last night. Nope! Not yet. Hop on Twitter or text another friend for writing accountability and burn through a 40-60 minute writing session.
Ami Allen-Vath is the proud parent of a fourteen year old and a four year old. Her first novel, completed during TV time, bedtimes and one fabulous Puerto Rico vacation is Liars and Losers Like Us. It'll be sent into the wild March of 2016. Some of the places you can can find Ami are here, Twitter and Facebook.