Fatherhood and Gaming

Awhile ago I first received the news that I was going to be a father. This wasn’t a shock as I’m married and even more so we were actively trying, so I knew deep down that it was only a matter of time before i got the inevitable text message with a picture attached informing of the news. Up until that point we had a good routine going, my wife worked nights a few days out of the week leaving me plenty of time to get home from work, do some chores, get some food and sit on the couch and be absorbed by a game for a few solid hours at a time, then on her nights off we’d be free to spend time together. I was spending time with both my loves and was really content with my routine. I was beaming about the news, the prospect of being a Dad was something I was excited about and had wanted for awhile, so admittedly when emotions of the day settled down I felt a sudden urgency. Not for the ever impending list of things I had to do to get the house ready but for the list of games I had stacked that I had yet to start, finish or even buy. A large part of my identity was/is about gaming, gaming is something that I have loved doing almost my entire life and always seemed to have time for it no matter what so the fact that it was going to be diminished or even gone completely knocked me back a bit.First world problems, I know.

The weeks flew by; I was spending most of my time at home, not a lot at this point, in what was going to be the nursery. My routine became work, dinner, work and spend some time talking to the life in my wife’s balloon of a stomach, trying to bond. I went from beating a game a week to now getting a few hours in. The nursery was just about finished when work really started to get busy and I was put on 80 hours a week with three months to go before the little one arrived. My routine would change once again. I would get home from work around 7 at night eat dinner and if I was lucky see my wife before she went upstairs to pass out, growing a kid is tiring I hear. I would turn on the console, sit down, play 15 minutes or so and doze off, I tried this routine for a few weeks but soon couldn’t even turn the thing on. The due date coincided with big releases like Bioshock, Assassins Creed, Borderlands 2 and I just didn’t think I would have any time or energy for any of it. This didn’t stop me from preordering mind you, because if anything I’m stubborn.

The big day came and was incredible and as expected we didn’t get much sleep that night or any night in the following month or so. I hadn’t played so much of an hour of any game within a month leading up to the birth or a month after. I would be home and be engulfed with my new routine, a routine that was all based around my daughter. I would get home talk to her, try to play with her(newborns don’t do much) and be as quiet as possible cooking dinner while my wife tried to get her to sleep. This was a new routine but it was a good one and one I was happy with. Then one day after the month mark and after 30 minutes of trying to get the kid to nap. I sat on the couch and put in Bioshock Infinite, which I had bought out of habit on the release day with no real expectations on when I could actually play it. The play time didn’t last long as I didn’t realize how light a sleeper we had or in fact how loud the TV was. It was a good and welcomed break and a way to unwind despite how short it was. Nap times soon became about rest for the whole family, my wife and daughter would nap and I would fall back into my favorite passtime. I soon learned small tricks to ensure I wasn’t the one waking her up. I would put the captions on and the tv volume almost down to zero, sitting a foot away from the TV just like I had done when I was younger, but the greatest discovery was a pair of Turtle Beach headphones that would allow me to actually hear my games.We still were trying to find a night time routine that worked, my daughter had bad reflux and would be up almost every 2 hours so as a trial my wife and kid would be going to bed at 7 each night, leaving me to do some chores and an extra hour or two each night to do whatever I wanted and what I wanted, was to game. There was still some hiccups in this new schedule and I often had to leave my co-op partner to fend for himself while I ran upstairs to help change a diaper or re read Goodnight Moon. In retrospect I could have probably used some extra sleep, but hindsight is 20/20.

Life balanced out and settled down. We found routines that work and tried our best to stick to schedules.We started making weekly schedules so we could make sure that we not only had enough time for each other but for ourselves too. In this Games became way more than just a fun way to pass some time, but a welcomed ritual to unwind and shut my brain off, I look forward to the time versus just knowing that was something I was going to do.  I’m more choosey of what I play now, wanting my precious breaks to mean more than just playing whatever came out that week. I have a weekly play date to co-op, 4 hours worth of naps on the weekends ,most of the time, and I have at least one night to myself to play what I wanna play after the kid goes down for the evening. I’m sure as time goes on I can involve her in my pass time as well and I can’t wait to put a controller in my kids hands and share my love of games with her and have her look forward to it as much as I do. At the end of the day I’d rather be a father than a gamer, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t room to be both. So if one day you find yourself in the same boat, don’t worry, everything settles back into a routine at some point. Just get a good set of headphones, stock up on coffee and ride out the tough times till they turn into fun times…

Later Gamers…