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Video gaming has been a part of my life for pretty much as long as I can remember. I have fond memories of sitting down in front of my Nintendo Entertainment System as a child and losing countless hours trying to save one princess or another from various vaguely-defined perils.
When I found out I was going to have a child of my own, I realized that my gaming habits were definitely going to be affected. No longer would I be able to commit to raiding with my guild whenever they called or spend countless hours grinding various factions. Neither would I be able to stay up as late as necessary to finish that one last quest or finally topple some troublesome dungeon boss.
The way I saw it, my gaming life was pretty much over.
Fortunately, that was far from the truth. Like most things when you become a parent, you simply find a way to adapt your hobbies around your new responsibilities. So, while I’m not quite the 40-hour-a-week player I may have once been, I still find time to play my favorite MMORPGs. With my help, you can too. Check out these hints and tips for incorporating gaming into your new life as a parent.
Think of it as a real-life walkthrough.
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The Joys of Naptime
Before we proceed, a disclaimer: A parent’s foremost responsibility should always be to their child. This article is not intended to encourage people to neglect their children in favor of MMORPG prowess. I absolutely believe you should walk away from any game if your child needs you, no matter what you’re doing.
One great thing about babies and young children is that they sleep, a lot. Once you’re past the initial few months of no more than three straight hours of sleep, you can pretty much count on 10-12 hours at night and another few hours of naptime during the day.
If you’re home during the day, this naptime is a fantastic opportunity to get in a few daily quests or hop on and check the auction house. I don’t recommend getting into anything too serious during this time - that Naxxramas run is definitely out of the question as any parent can tell you that babies are fickle and usually less than considerate of your need to down that last boss.
Just remember that you may be called away from the computer at any time by the sound of a bottle flung across the room or the wail of an unhappy child in need of your attention. It’s a good idea, at least during naptime, to avoid doing anything that you cannot simply walk away from at a moment’s notice.
Daily quests, faction grinding, solo questing, working on tradeskills, etc… are all easily-accomplished during naptime. Instance runs, raids, battlegrounds, arenas, basically anything where other people depend on you to be there the whole time are definitely out of the question during the day, at least while you’re the only one at home with your son or daughter.
Check out page 2 for advice on finding time to raid and gaming with your kids.
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Yes, You Can Still Raid
It’s important to be part of a guild that understands your newfound responsibilities. Make sure your guildmates know that while you may no longer be able to attend every single raid, you still want to participate as much as possible. Let them know what times work best for you. Most guildmasters will be reasonable and try to incorporate you as much as possible. If your guild is unwilling to work with you, it may be time to find a more flexible organization.
Communication is key. Guild members are far more likely to understand any sudden disappearance if they know you have children.
As far as finding time to raid, I recommend doing so at night after your child is safely in bed asleep. While there is always that off chance that he or she will wake up screaming, for the most part once they go down for the night you’re good until morning. It’s definitely the best time to commit several hours to a raid.
Work with your spouse or partner to secure baby coverage for raid times. Every parent deserves a little “me” time and your parenting partner should understand and be willing to take care of the baby, provided you are willing to reciprocate.
If you and your significant other game together, so much the better, you’ll just have to work a bit harder if you want to play at the same time.
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The Family That Games Together...
One final tidbit: it’s really never too early to introduce your kids to gaming. While I definitely don’t recommend playing something violent like Gears of War or Left 4 Dead with your daughter on your lap, there’s no reason why she can’t hang out with you while you pop on to check the auction house or chat with guildmates.
My daughter absolutely loves the World of Warcraft login screen. Every time the frost wyrm settles on screen, she points at it and says “kitty!” She’s done this since she first learned to talk. It was one of our earliest shared gaming experiences, and I know it’s something I’ll never forget.
Having children does not have to mean the end of your gaming life. Like all things, it will simply require an adjustment. Don’t be afraid to incorporate your children into your gaming habits, you never know what kind of memories you will be able to make.