I still remember the day my wife told me that I was going to be a dad. It was early one morning ,we had just woken up. She came out of the bathroom holding a pregnancy test. Nervously, I looked at it and everything went fuzzy. I got scared, excited, stressed, and happy all at once. I didn’t know what to think. A few hours later, once everything settled down, my mind started to think a little more clearly. I was going to be a dad. Not just any dad….. A gamer dad!
I started to daydream about playing my favorite games with him (or her!) and what new adventures we would be playing as he/she grew up. Then, I started to consider how this was going to affect my free time. Would I even have the opportunity to play games?
One of the big questions I see among gamers who are also parents-to-be is, “How am I going to find time to play or how does having a baby affect my gaming time?” It’s a fair question—one with many answers and even more variables—so I can’t speak for everybody. I will, however, give some tips and tricks that I’ve learned over the years.
WARNING! After the birth of your child, always ask before playing
I cannot stress this enough. During the first few months, the lady that pushed a human being out of her vagina comes first. Luckily for you, she’ll probably be so focused on the baby that the rest of the world won’t even matter. Also, ask if she wants anything—a snack, a drink, a nice pillow. This will make her feel cared for, but also—and this is key—reminds her that you’re not putting video games before her needs (remember, she’s just had a baby—so hormones are on the fritz).
Choose your games wisely!
Too many times I’ve made the mistake of playing games where you can’t pause—any multiplayer match for example, or Dark Souls. Then, the baby craps its pants, the wife needs water and I’m up shit creek without a paddle. So choose single player games that can easily be paused at a moments notice. When you get the call (and you will!) stop immediately. You probably won’t have to stop often and you’ll be able to get good chunks of gaming in during that first week. If this is your second kid I would advise picking more kid friendly games but we will cover gaming ratings and your kids in another article.
Babies Vs Toddlers
Honestly, the first six months of your child’s life doesn’t really terribly affect your gaming habits. Firstly, they don’t exactly do much and two, they conveniently fit right into your arms whilst playing. It’s once they start crawling that shit gets real. However, the good news is that some utter genius invented baby gates.
Oh man, do I love baby gates.
Give the kid some toys, prop up the gate and get on with the serious business of playing games. He or she is entertained and so are you—I did that often with my first kid. It isn’t until they’re walking, climbing, and talking that I started to notice a decline in my gaming. It’s around this time that you have to be strategic about your time management. For me, I would talk to the wife and plan days where I would play. I also would get up before everyone was awake, or go to bed much later. If you do this you can’t get upset when you are tired later—Mom and child won’t appreciate it.
When all is said and done, it all comes down to compromise and priorities. I have to compromise my gaming time to spend it with my wife and kids—who are of course my first priority. This may concern some of you hardcore gamer Dads, but in the end, you’ll be happier with putting family time before game time. As the old adage says, “Happy wife, happy life.” And nothing will make your wife happier than family first, and gaming a very close second.