How Video Games Made Me A Better Mum

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I am not a chirpy mother. I honestly don’t think I was wired to be one. But nevertheless, sometime last year I was handed a carefully wrapped up bit of pink squish that wriggled – shortly before I started vomiting everywhere due to a bad reaction to the drugs I had been given.

Here’s a quick recap for those who haven’t experienced the joy of procreation: being a mum is kind of like an RPG where every choice your character makes is met with condescension and judgement. For real – imagine like, in Skyrim, every time you did ANYTHING you had half the village out after you. I’m not talking about doing stuff like killing chickens – like, if you craft a leather shield you’ll have villagers wailing and moaning at how you’re basically worse than the dragons because you skimped on protection and didn’t get the dragon bone shield. And then you get home after a hard day being the Dragonborn and you’ve got puke and shit to clean up for the next two hours. Let’s just say you level up in your “cleaning like the adult you always promised you’d end up as” skill tree pretty damn quickly. But it’s somehow the best game you’ve ever played and consistently gets top scores on IGN. Yeah, I don’t know how either. It just does.

I guess the good news is that I’ve actually been training for parenthood for years without even realising it. Here are some skills I’ve picked up after my 20+ years of gaming:

The Multitasking
This one is a bit of an obvious one, and pretty obvious by the accompanying image to this article. There’s just something about learning to participate in a chat room while gaming at the same time that just sets you up really well for parenthood. In my case, it actually assisted in helping me relax enough to feed my child without crying about the pain of it. My days of playing Halo while sprint cleaning during deathcams ensured that when it came to getting shit done during the baby’s nap, I was basically a pro.

The Grinding
I swear to God that if I hadn’t spent like 100+ hours running around in Diablo there is no way I’d be able to handle the mind numbing process of patting a sick baby to sleep. Just grit your teeth and think of the loot, man. But seriously – there’s a lot to be said of the patience that you get from particularly tricky video games, and babies can sometimes be Dark Souls level frustrating.

The Marathons
I cannot overstate this enough: get rid of the people in your life that tell you that you stay up too late playing video games. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. If it wasn’t for all of those surprise sunrises while I played “just one more game” then I struggle to think how I would handle the lack of sleep that comes with being a parent. Actually, to be honest, my general go-to when my kid decides that night-time is for partying is to load up Hearthstone and sleepily craft weird decks.

The Communicating With Babies In Chat Rooms
Okay, this one is mostly a joke. But seriously, when my kid hits three I reckon my toddler negotiation skills will be on point.

I say a lot of this with my tongue firmly in my cheek, but on a more serious level, video games (and David Attenborough documentaries) were what got me through the first six weeks of my child’s life, so I am very grateful for them. Having something to zone out into (or to get stuck into) really helped when things got hard, or when it was 3am and I was up feeding a tiny spawn with nothing else to do except stare blankly into the dark. My life has now become all about the four Bs: Bioware, Blizzard, Bethesda and Baby – and I’m definitely down with embracing that.