I usually post an article every other week focusing on gaming, technology, and how to best tie that in with our children. We are faced with parenting challenges left and right, but what about us? What about the parents who once lived a virtual life in video games, but have now taken a deep dive into adult life and had children? Surely there has to be some way to keep up with the constantly changing technology and games that we know and love. Sometimes we forget to continue to tie ourselves in with the video games we love, but that stops today.
When you’re a parent, you are often told to say goodbye to your free time, and to give up on your hobbies and give all your time to your little ones. But what happens when you do that? Who do you become? Recently, I caught myself chatting with colleagues—and remember, this is the games’ industry—and I noticed I couldn’t keep up anymore. The question “What are you playing?” went unanswered and that silence stuck with me, so much so that I’m writing about it now.
At the end of a normal day, I’m exhausted. Two kids under six will do that to a person, so I definitely don’t have the energy to take up an Olympic sport, but I should still be able to play video games—and why would I stop? Because laundry. Because dusting. Because meal prep. There will always be something more productive to do. But, that’s the point of a hobby, something you do because you like it, not because you have to do it. At some point, as a mother, I started filling my life with everything that I have to do, and forgot all about the things I love to do.
Now, this could tie into any hobby; exercise, art, movies, cooking—but video games get a particularly bad rep. If you’ve ever seen the internet’s depiction of a gamer, they’re usually repulsive and covered in Cheetos. I can’t say that’s NOT me some days, but for the most part, the gamers I know are pretty respectable humans. Gamers are people, teachers, doctors, servers, and, yes, even parents. So why do we all have this shameful, slightly geeky secret?
“Jumping into a round of Fortnite’s Battle Royale with a squad of friends I just haven’t had the time to see in a while is a lifesaver.”
Video games promote coordination, communication, problem-solving and even companionship. Parenting is a lonely, frustrating job, so jumping into a round of Fortnite’s Battle Royale with a squad of friends I just haven’t had the time to see in a while is a lifesaver. Not to mention how wiping out 96 other people after a particularly long day just feels good.
Most people will sit down at the end of the day and watch TV—which I also support—but for some reason, video games as a parent are mocked. Even though I’m using my brain, hands and social skills far more than if I sat down to binge the rest of Sex/Life on Netflix, gaming makes me less-than. This doesn’t even count the judgment parents get if they play games in front of their children. Heaven forbid we aren’t on the floor fully engaged in their Peppa Pig toys for the whole day. See below to see why we really, really don’t want to.
All of this collective guilt is piled on top of parenting challenges like already being exhausted, already worried they didn’t do enough for their children today, and already worried that they raised their voice one too many times today. And now here we are staring at a blank TV, hesitating to turn on the Xbox Series X—I’ll admit, the guilt has gotten to me.
At the end of the day, I sit down, and I’m at a loss of what to do with myself. I’m torn by all the things I should do instead of spending some quality time enjoying myself, and I end up frozen, just playing on my phone until I go to sleep (is that really better?).
“All of this collective guilt is piled on top of common parenting challenges like already being exhausted, already worried they didn’t do enough for their children today, and already worried that they raised their voice one too many times today.”
This isn’t the person I want to be—someone so consumed by people’s judgment or the chores that should get done that I am no longer doing things I enjoy myself. Today I’ve decided my life will be about balance. Some time on the floor with Peppa Pig (thankfully not Caillou), some time doing the chores that need to be done and some time doing the thing I’ve loved for as long as I can remember, video games.
Whether I fit some Elder Scrolls Online in after they go to bed—cause you know you can’t play an MMO while the kids are awake—or I play Minecraft (and hopefully Mario Party Superstars soon) with my kids during the day, I will find a way to make sure I don’t lose myself. Just because I’m a mom doesn’t mean I can’t also be a gamer, and a good one at that.
It goes without saying that I love my kids more than I love myself, but when we as parents put who we are aside for so long, we start to lose a bit of ourselves. To anyone who isn’t a gamer, it may sound strange for video games to mean so much to me, or any other gaming parents out there, but playing video games is completely a part of who we are as people. When we lose that, we lose a small part of our identity.
Here is what we need to remember, our children love who we are, every part of us, even the geeky side. They definitely don’t care if the laundry is done or the shelves are dusted, and I think that’s the part of parenting we all forget. Happy, healthy, well-adjusted kids are what really matters, and we can’t raise them if we aren’t happy too.
So parents, pick up that video game, watch that movie, go for a run or paint something magical. Find who you are and what you used to love, because the only people that matter, love you more when you’re happy—just make sure you choose a game you can pause.