Baby Using Computer

Make sure that everything that needs to be done is on the list before you insert gaming time into the list.  It’s not a bad idea to break up your day by alternating your responsibilities with gaming. ~Jessi Roman

Tips for a Gamer Mom

I’m pretty sure it was just good marketing.  I mean, they can’t really use Jedi mind tricks to push their product, right?  It was actually just the classic drug pushing approach: “The first time’s free.”  They get you hooked and then reel you in.  Even though you say you’re not going to fall for it.  Even though you say you’re just going to play for the free weekend.  Even though you say you can’t justify spending that kind of money for a game.  Even though you say you won’t pay $15 a month just so you can be a “no-lifer”… Even though you’d like to think that you’ve grown and matured since your days of FFXI, where you woke up early and logged in before you had breakfast, then played all day and into the wee hours of the night…  You find out, with unquestionable clarity, that you were wrong.  Ok, maybe it wasn’t you.  Maybe it was me. Actually, yeah… it was.  I fail.

Baby Using Computer

Confession time.  I’m a Clara.  Or, at least I was, about eight years ago.  My oldest son was still in diapers.  I was a stay-at-home mom.  All I did all day was FFXI, and he’d run around barely supervised.  No, I wasn’t quite as inattentive as Clara from The Guild, and he was always safe, but I definitely was not winning any mother-of-the-year awards!  So, I’ve pretty much avoided MMORPG’s since I quit FFXI.  It was putting a strain on my marriage and taking time away from the important things in life (ie. my family!)  I tend towards a hyper-addictive personality type.  When I get “into” something, I get very single focused.  That could be a force used for good, but in this case, it was definitely for evil.

All that being said, I am going to just assume that I’m the only “Clara”, and this list is for me alone.

  • Get Organized.Lists and schedules are your life line.  Make a list of the responsibilities you have.  Make sure you prioritize that list by putting it into a schedule.  Grant yourself a block (or blocks) of time for gaming.  For a stay-at-home mom (or dad), the list might include cooking, cleaning, one-on-one play time with children, crafts, etc.  For a parent who is also in the work place, carving out time dedicated to gaming may be a bit harder.  Make sure that everything that needs to be done is on the list before you insert gaming time into the list.  It’s not a bad idea to break up your day by alternating your responsibilities with gaming.  Obviously if you’re involved in a game that requires large dedicated amounts of time for leveling and missions, you’ll have to get creative.  For some, late night gaming, after the kiddos are in bed, may be the only option.
  • Multi-tasking is Key! ~ Learning to multi-task is one of the most valuable skills a person can develop.  When you’re planning out your schedule, trying assigning more than one activity to the block of time that you have set for gaming.  For example, if your kids take naps, that would be an ideal gaming time.  If they’re too old for naps, try scheduling “quiet time” for them.  Let them have the freedom to choose a quiet activity, like reading, or coloring, that they can do for a scheduled block of time.  If they have chores, you could schedule those during your gaming time.  I have found that my kids do not appreciate me gaming during meal time though.  I’ve tried sitting them down to lunch, and logging on while they eat.  They have begun to request that I sit with them at lunch time though.  
  • Set a Good Example. ~ As easy as it is to get sucked into a virtual world, we have to remain aware that our children watch everything we do.  Often they will emulate our behaviors.  They learn to value the things that we value.  If we put gaming ahead of our responsibilities, then we teach them this behavior.  We should not then, be surprised when they disregard their chores in favor of playing video games.  If we always choose online socialization, over real life relationships, then we should expect our children to prefer gaming over playing with friends, or spending time with family.  If we make them aware of our attempts to balance our gaming with our responsibilities, and teach them the importance of family by taking time to play with them, then they will learn to prioritize appropriately. 
  • Use a Timer. ~ Seriously.  Whatever length of time you’ve scheduled for gaming, set your timer, and don’t go over! Set a Good Example. ~ As easy as it is to get sucked into a virtual world, we have to remain aware that our children watch everything we do.  Often they will emulate our behaviors.  They learn to value the things that we value.  If we put gaming ahead of our responsibilities, then we teach them this behavior.  We should not then, be surprised when they disregard their chores in favor of playing video games.  If we always choose online socialization, over real life relationships, then we should expect our children to prefer gaming over playing with friends, or spending time with family.  If we make them aware of our attempts to balance our gaming with our responsibilities, and teach them the importance of family by taking time to play with them, then they will learn to prioritize appropriately. 
  • Consider – dare I say it? – being a “casual” gamer. ~  Because, let’s face it.  We aren’t kids anymore.  We have kids!  And we alone are responsible for leveling them up!  We have to balance their skill trees, and make sure they’re always up to par for whatever life brings at them.  Ok, yeah, that was cheesy, I know, but it’s TRUE!  If you’re a parent and a gamer, you have got to recognize that your children are more important than your in game character.  When they need your attention, don’t be afraid to upset your party by logging off.  If your kids are more important to you than gaming, let them know by your actions!
I sincerely hope that these suggestions are all obvious and unnecessary.  I really wrote them out for myself.  This will help keep me accountable, but on the off chance that someone out there is a “Clara”, like me, I hope this helps.  Also, FYI, don’t be a Tink!  No caging the babies while you play!