WoW bloggers having babies is a popular theme right now, with Fannon‘s Dwarfling and Angelya’s Sprout being the most recent. Angelya’s isn’t even here yet! Of course, the Murlocs have a Twig, there was a baby over at HotsAndDots last month (followed by the site mysteriously going dark… hmmm) and of course Phaelia at Resto4Life left blogging in part to concentrate on her baby.
And it’s not just bloggers, but people in guilds and around the servers that have kids too. In our regular raid, we have a couple that has two little ones. Other guildies have to take baby breaks too – almost as many baby breaks as puppy breaks (Hi Grom and Log).
Since we’re coming up on two years’ worth of Playing While Parents, I guess we’ve learned a few tricks. I’m not claiming we’re experts on balancing WoW and babies but hey, it’s a topic I like so here you go.
First off: babies are actually really freaking easy at first. They scream, they eat, they poop, they sleep. That’s about it. They also like to be held a lot and sung to and coo’ed at but the sleeping bit happens a lot more than you might think. If you’re fortunate enough to have a baby with dependable schedules, schedule your playtime around her naps.
Second, there are some awesome devices you can get that help you snuggle or feed the baby while playing. I really really recommend the “Boppy” pillow or similar. It’s a giant horseshoe shaped pillow, probably my favorite little baby gear ever. When Nomster was nursing, I could have it on my lap, her on top of it, and manage feeding her with one hand while I healed with the other. As long as she didn’t need to switch or start fussing, we were good. If she did, well… I did have this song, “Baby wipes the raid”…
There’s also various slings that can let you cradle a baby hands-free. These are awesome for shopping (way more convenient than those carseats you’re supposed to lug in!) or chores, or playing WoW. Nomster really loved sleeping in a sack next to Mommy’s heartbeat and it left my hands free for raiding!
When they get bigger, they get more demanding but also more predictable. Bedtime starts being a thing you can really plan on. You can either plan your playtime for after the baby’s bedtime, or schedule a baby-break into your plans. We’ve had a graduated series of containers to keep Nomster in near our computers; a pack and play when she was little, a big play yard now. She hangs out and plays and visits with us for a little while between dinner and bedtime, we play WoW. Since we’re both right here, when she needs something, one of us can take the aggro while the other covers in-game.
Make sure you communicate with your party or raid if you’re doing some group activity. Saying “BRB baby aggro” has never yet gotten me any negative feedback. Don’t abuse it; if the baby aggro is a little bruise or a new diaper, go for it. If the baby needs playtime or a bath, well, maybe you’d better let them find a new healer…
Solo activity works well naturally; I recommend doing your daily quests and such while you have active baby time, and save instances and raids for bedtime. If some of your WoW time is on a laptop in the playroom while Toddler shows you what he just picked out of his toes, solo stuff is probably your best call. At the very least be prepared to explain to your party that when you just said “wetgwrebvfastew” what you really meant was “Ooops, kiddo got the keyboard”.
Exposure to adult content – you don’t want your toddler having nightmares. When I was playing Dragon Age I made sure only to play when Nomster was sleeping. I didn’t need her seeing that violence or even the sound was just too much. I don’t really want to wake up at 2 am to a heartbroken toddler sobbing incoherently. WoW is pretty darn mild. The blood is basically nonexistent, death is fairly tame, and the sounds aren’t very scary. Vent, however, can be another matter. Remember if you hang out with people who use language you don’t want your toddler picking up, that headphones might be a good call.
Before very long, your little one is going to want to play right alongside you! Now that’s a topic for a totally different day! I always get a kick out of reading about bloggers’ six year olds running around Goldshire killing sheep. But Nomster is only 2, too young even for a death knight with all the keys bound to Death and Decay. If we’re still here blogging in four years you may get some posts about ways to incorporate WoW into educational stuff…