The first few months with a baby can be overwhelming. On one hand, it is a very exciting time with this new little person that has quickly become the center of your universe. On the other hand, lack of sleep and keeping up with the demands of your baby can leave you feeling a little out of touch with the world around you. After having three children of my own, I have learned that it is very important to have hobbies and activities that you enjoy to keep your identity. One of the things I love is gaming. I love my gaming communities. Over the years, I have made many friends through gaming, and even when I don’t get to game, I love that I still get to keep in touch with my gaming pals through open chat via Facebook and other outlets.
Gaming with a baby is challenging, as the baby’s needs are first and foremost, and your gaming time is second. When I had my son, over eleven years ago, I had just discovered Animal Crossing for the Game Cube. By the time he was six months old, I was able to play for a while when he was awake because he thought he was watching cartoons with me. Considering that I was a young mother, my husband was in basic training, and we had just moved to an area where I knew no one, it was a way for me to unwind and take my mind off things. The best part was that I could put it down and pick it back up whenever I wanted, without losing progress, which made it ideal for me.
By the time I had my daughter a few years later, I had found a great group of table top Dungeons and Dragons players. My husband was a DM, and we played weekly at our house or at my husband’s best friend’s house. My son had his own set of big boy dice and would pretend he was playing with us. We also turned a couple of his Little People into characters for him. The guys were cool with me having my kids there, and it was never an issue for me to nurse and occasionally excuse myself from the game to play with the kids or put them to bed. I loved it because it was my social time and creative outlet. While I had some mommy friends by that point, I couldn’t always relate to them because our friendship was based more on the fact that we had children than common interests. Game night was my chance to let my hair down and be myself.
Now that our third child is almost five months old, I am looking at getting back into my games. I have played Kingdoms of Camelot for five years, and my alliances have been great with me and my lack of participation for the past few months as I have been settling into life with a baby again. We chat online, and they ask for updates. I get to play for short stretches usually with the baby on my lap. She gets excited when she sees my kingdom on the screen and squeals with delight almost as if she is saying, “Let’s go march some troops and ruin someone’s day Mama!” I have also discovered recently that she really enjoys playing Diablo III. Apparently she likes killing demons as much as mommy does! I don’t play a lot while she is awake, but sometimes it is nice to just log on and do a few things to de-stress for a bit. Since she is sleeping through the night now, I usually try to log on for a bit after I put the kids to bed.
You might wonder why I am mentioning all of this. My reason is this: sometimes having a baby is overwhelming and you can feel like you are losing your identity. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby, but having a baby is a big life change. However, the baby stage is very short, and you should enjoy it while you can. That is not to say that you should give up all your hobbies because you had a baby. Doing things you enjoy helps you keep your identity which is important. If you like gaming, you can still do it after the baby is born. You may not be able to do it as much, but you can get creative and find ways to be able to hold your baby and play a bit, or take a half hour to play when the baby is napping. Taking time for yourself helps make you a better parent.