Coping as an Underslept, Overworked Gamer Parent

Gaming when you have kids takes a bit more care than when you don't.

Between my job, kids, husband, and sleep (oh, who am I kidding…), I don’t have time for much of anything anymore.

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Parents are supposed to sacrifice, but for the first year and a half of motherhood, I took sacrifice to an unhealthy extreme — teaching, play groups, cooking, cleaning, staying up all night with uncooperative mini-mes who refused to just go the heck to sleep.

Seriously, guys: Life’s two greatest pleasures are sleeping and eating, and half the time, my kids want nothing to do with either. But I digress…

I struggled to cling to the fine thread of sanity I had left (not that I had much in the first place). It was becoming detrimental to my social life, and, even more importantly, my marriage. 

My ever-devoted husband took the kids from me after an argument about how I never, ever settled down, and directed me to the computer that I’d barely touched in months, like a forlorn lover.

Stubborn as I am, I resisted. After all — I’m a parent. By definition, these youngins are my life. Can’t tell me nothin’.

Except he could, and he did. Why was he so much more relaxed than I was? Because he took time for himself while handling all the tasks I did.

Unfortunately, a few of us fall into the extremes of the spectrum. All or nothing. Continue to play, like we don’t have other pressing responsibilities, or don’t play (or do anything, really) and pour ourselves (and then some) into our families. I realized a few things as I tried to find my balance in it all:

MMOs weren’t for me for a while

And other than big releases, I still don’t really play them much anymore. The time commitments and real-time aspects (where’s my pause button?!) are too great to add making sure two toddlers (and a 26-year-old man) don’t hurt themselves. Or, worse yet, break my shit. Even worst of all is the lack of understanding that some people show. Okay, so I’m kind of sucking. I have one kid on my knee and another pulling on my arm. Get over it. 

I never thought I’d be into excergames

I only considered them because my gym time was taking a substantial hit, and I get bored easily when working out at home. I soon realized that the kiddos loved jamming with me. They don’t work for me as a pure fitness tool, but it is an instant distraction for the kids. When all else fails, we dance. DANCE, MINIONS, DANCE!

Save the gore for after dark

Depending on the age of your wee ones, playing, oh, THE KILLING FLOOR may not be the best idea. Our oldest caught Daddy playing it once, and it was finger guns and “pew, pews” all week. All. Freaking. Week. At home? Pew, pew. At the store? Pew, pew. All of the pew, pews. The kids aren’t the only ones who have to play age appropriate games — you have to adjust your play habits toward imagery and concepts that are non-detrimental to the kind of folks who have a limited grasp on reality. Seriously. Kids don’t know what the heck’s going on half the time. Maturity is the deciding factor, and your know your kids best, but that’s another article for another day.

Think before you buy

Don’t just consider cost, ratings, or hype. Also remember that you won’t have the same time that you had pre-kids to play the longer titles. Not thinking about the big picture leads to stacks of barely touched games, like the ones I have, that proved to be a waste of money.

 There really are no hard, fast rules for a life of post baby gaming, but some basic tips can make the balancing act a whole lot easier.

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Image of Imayen Etim
Imayen Etim
Imayen Etim is a freelance writer and GameSkinny contributor based in Gainesville, Florida. She can be contacted at imayen.e [at]