As a parent of two babies, I do not get as much “gaming time” that I might like to. In fact, it is difficult to get any time at all. When they are really small they sleep most of the time, but at this age, they are active enough to require my attention, but also too small to be able to join in the gaming.
But it is possible! So therefore, I worked out a list of suggestions and ideas! Remember that everything is always on the children’s conditions – so wherever you are in the gaming process, you always need to listen to the child’s needs! This post is thus mainly aimed for those who have kids so young that they do not appreciate the gaming yet.
1. LARP together
LARP must be the family-friendliest form of gaming! Of course it depends a bit on what genre you are playing, and if your playstyle works with children. I have larped with my youngest when hir was around one month – hir slept most of the evening. My partner and I larped in a horrorlarp once, where both children were with us – both of them a part of the LARP. It worked just fine! (I love our babywearing).
If larping together isn’t possible, try sharing LARP time with your partner (or friend), and take turns with the responsibility of the children.
2. Fast, easy to prepare games
Games that take a long time to set up and which contain many small parts is not recommended. Both because of the time to pick everything up and away, but also because the risk of something ending up on the floor and stuck in a curious child’s throat. Also, if a game additionally takes well over 2 hours to finish, you’ll need a playing surface that can’t be disturbed by happy babies.
3. Game at your place
First of all, it will ease stress for the whole family! You can put your children to sleep if needed, feed them without having to think of the messiness, and everything will also be children secured, since it’s your home. If you game in the evening/night, the babies will hopefully be sleeping…
Secondly, you have more control over your own time. If you are roleplaying, you can pause in a completely different way if needed. If you play board games or other types of analog games, then you, as already mentioned, know where you can set up the game out of the reach of small, curious hands. Also, you will always have the opportunity to break up the gaming, in case your baby needs you.
4. Planning is everything
Planning with babies and toddlers? I know, it seems like a joke every time you say it. Plan with young children seems almost impossible, but it also looks very different from family to family! You might have children who go to sleep early in the evening and then sleep well the rest of the night? Well then, try gaming in the evening then! Or your baby might be quite happy with sitting on the floor, playing with toys by him/herself while you game?
5. Enlist the help of people around you
Even if it’s your gamemates, friends or relatives, you must not always take care of everything by yourself. When the children are old enough, you can be away from them for short periods1, or let grandma or grandpa play with the kids while you get the chance to game! You must not go away, it may be enough to sit in the room next door.
6. Play games that allows you to pause
I will not say much more other than to repeat that you play on the children’s conditions. If they want you to stop gaming, then you need to stop gaming. Children’s needs go first, not yours.
When the kids are big enough, start playing games together! There are lots and lots of different games out there that works just fine for smaller ages, but to tell all about them, would become a separate post!
- Also very different from person to person, child to child and family to family! Do whatever makes you feel safe! ↩