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Becoming a father marks one of the most significant milestones in an adult's life. It’s simultaneously exhilarating, scary, and sublime all rolled into one bundle of chaotic joy.
For the gaming addict, the plus-one addition will be a huge change to your otherwise free rein of endless gaming awesomeness. You need to realize — those days are numbered.
To soften the blow, the following home truths and practical tips will help you prepare for the big change to come.
1. You Need to Be Realistic
Introducing a baby into your gaming life is like trying to juggle a chainsaw with your favorite set of whisky bottles. You might initially take the challenge in your stride, but once the reality of the situation takes hold, your view on what’s important will become abundantly clear.
Having a baby changes everything. Say goodbye to what was, because life will never be the same. Yes, of course gaming will remain an important aspect of your life, but there are no guarantees it will form part of your daily routine.
If you expect to maintain the status quo, I am sorry, but you have eaten one too many shrooms. Instead, learn to go with the flow. Embrace the time you have with your child. Be adaptable and learn to let it go. If you don’t, the agitation of juggling competing priorities will add unnecessary stress to your home.
2. Timing Is Everything
We all know it takes practice and crackerjack timing to take down the final boss. You may occasionally have an easy win, but overall an experienced #gameplay perspective will assist in achieving the best result.
Similarly, as you become more experienced as a dad, your improved experience will afford you some well-earned button-bashing time. The trick is to understand the various patterns taking shape around you i.e. feed, change, baby playtime, settle, sleep. Look for nuggets of opportunity that dutifully balances your priority as a dad and partner with your longstanding passion for gaming.
It will always be a balancing act of need, want, obligation and partnership with Mom. Here is how you could play out the feeding sequence.
- Feed: If your partner is breastfeeding, this can be your consistent window of opportunity.
- Change: Your window is now temporarily closed, take charge and make this your role.
- Baby Playtime: This shouldn’t even need explaining, play time is too good to be missed.
- Settle: This could go either way. If you can, it’s a good chance to set up your gaming environment. Turn everything on, grab a drink, and quickly make use of the toilet.
- Sleep: This is where experience really shines through. Now that you have set your area up, you can combine diaper free time or skin-to-skin with your gaming by cradling the baby. It allows you to kill two birds with one stone by ensuring mom has some well-earned alone time, while you make the most of direct contact with your baby. It’s an all-around win-win.
Remember these will only be small pockets of time compared to the past. Like anything you do now, everything is about caring for your baby first and where possible, adapting as required. If it means staying up late when everyone has gone to bed or getting up extra early, the choice is yours. A need for sleep in most cases will test your passion for gaming.
3. The Style of Games
The first piece of advice is to say goodbye to long #multiplayer quests, challenges, or games that require more grinding than the mountain of coffee beans it will take to counter the overwhelming state of sleep deprivation. Unfortunately, three-hour gaming sessions will be a thing of the past. You can try, but it will soon become self-evident how impracticable games with long periods of gameplay are. Choose games that are:
- Quick and easy
- Noncommittal, or
You may be able to jump on for some quick PvP, but be mindful your kill-death ration could suffer. If that is not important to you, then games like #CallofDuty or #Battlefield are an easy way to get your daily fix. Unfortunately, anything team based may have you apologetically leaving your teammates mid-battle; sorry I have to go — good luck!
If you do attempt to play games with more depth, choose single-player games that allow you to incrementally save your game progress with features such as:
- Auto saves
- Quick saves
- Manual saves
By now, hopefully the penny has dropped that as a parent time is at a premium. It’s a steady tide of competing priorities that pulls you back and forth throughout the day. Because of this, the games you choose need to accommodate your daddy duties. Long term, you can go back to your online persona of ripping and tearing, but for now, you need to go old-school. Revisit the #analogue era where time was limited and the call from Mom imminent.
4. Keeping Your Partner Happy
More than anything, if you want to keep your ferocious gaming passion alive, the key is mutual support. You need to keep the first most significant person in your life happy. She or he are the gatekeepers, my friend. The judge, jury and executioner on when and how you will ever game again.
If you want to game, harmonizing with your better half through quality conversation is paramount. You can’t expect it to be acceptable to isolate yourself away from the rest of the household without mutual agreement.
Don’t hold back, man up and be involved in the baby’s daily routine. Make specific tasks your special dad-time duties. Some easy responsibilities in the evening for example are:
- Baby bath time, followed by
- Reading an evening story,
- Settle and put to bed
More generally, it is also important to chip in and contribute with the household chores:
- Wash some clothes
- Pack and empty the dishwasher
- Vacuum and mop, and lastly
- Cook dinner
By becoming a dad it now falls on you to care for your partner so they can feel at ease to care for your baby. Stand by your partner with loving support that demonstrates their importance and your appreciation for all that they do. It may sound simple, however, a conscientious decision to be happily absorbed in the present will legitimize your own down time with #gaming.
5. Decide What Is More Important
Having a designated driver for nine months is great. For you, the pregnancy has involved late expeditions to the shops when food cravings emerge, ultrasounds, antenatal classes, and guaranteed drinking rights at the in-laws barbecues. When the water does finally break, though, your peripheral role in the pregnancy will immediately focus to equal footing.
How you embrace #fatherhood will define who you are both as a parent and person. It doesn’t represent the end of freedom; rather, it will grow your heart from the unsullied beauty of new life. With open arms, life anew will take your breath away. Accept the change wholeheartedly. Let go of the past and snap out of a juvenile way of thinking. Gaming will always be there, however childhood is fleeting.
Take the time to be involved and as a team, you and your partner will continue to share all of your respective passions. As your kids grow, so too will the opportunity to game. Step up as a father and as a partner. If you do initially persist to maintain the same level of gaming intensity, you only have yourself to blame for the likely negative consequences. How you prioritize the many facets of your life demonstrates to your children both directly and indirectly their importance.
Remember, being a good dad separates the men from the boys. Game on, later.
What were your expectations of gaming before becoming a dad?