Summer Difficulties

Summer is the single worst time for me to be making comics. It’s got nothing to do with the heat, despite this July being the hottest ever recorded. My summer difficulties come from a much more distracting source: my son’s summer vacation.

I’ve worked from home for two decades now and I’m very fortunate I have the ability to do that, and the flexibility that comes with it. That flexibility has been a blessing with my role as a father, allowing my work time to be fluid and fit the needs of my son. That flexibility is a curse in the summer, as my availability becomes spread so thin there’s almost no time left at all.

With my son home for the summer, he relies on me to entertain him, as my wife works inflexible hours. But I still need to get work done, whether it’s making pages or trying to get through the lengthy list of commissions from the recent Kickstarter campaign.

We tried just letting him play video games all morning until my daily work was done, but when it came time for him to stop after such a lengthy playtime there arose some very problematic behavior. So we had to cut morning game time down to two hours. It’s worked relatively well. There are still some tantrums to be sure, but overall it’s easier to get him to stop playing. However, that means my daytime work time is down to two hours. It’s barely enough time to do anything, especially if I hit an art or writer’s block. So I have to power through a small window of opportunity to get significant work done before his game time is up and he’s hovering over my work desk telling me he’s devastatingly bored without his precious video games.

And if anyone suggests “just work at night,” I’m going to assume you’ve never been the sole entertainment for an energetic eight-year-old in the middle of summer. I have nearly NOTHING LEFT in the tank after a day with him, regardless of his behavior. That remaining work does get done, though, as my wife tag-teams me out at the end of her work day so I can make use of what little energy I have left before nightfall.

We’ve looked into summer camp programs, but everything is just so expensive these days, especially the lengthy day camps. So we just grit our teeth and do our best to provide our son with a memorable summer, while I spread my work day so thin it sometimes disappears altogether. Thank goodness I have a small buffer of comics done.

I anticipate summers will get easier as he gets older and he won’t rely on me as his sole entertainment. Will I miss these days when he finally gets to that point? Probably. But for now, in the depths of summer with my flexible work schedule stretched to its very limit, I will long for the start of the school year.