PDA

View Full Version : Handling real life family, pregnancy, children, and the desire to game



Kol Korran
2015-11-07, 10:01 AM
My gaming group has lasted quite a few years now, but our gaming frequency lives something to be desired- we game every 4-5 weeks usually, though when we do, we have long session (8-10 hours). Why? Well, we are all busy people, in the mid thirties- early forties. Three of the players are married, two have children, and frankly I am proud that we've manged to keep it going this far, and have a good time. Though every once in awhile frustration creeps in with the low frequency, yet we've sort of come to understand this is the best we can do... so far.

For some time now, I have been seeing a most wonderful woman, and about a month ago, we got engaged! :smallsmile: A week later, we also learned that she is pregnant! :smallbiggrin: I am... happy beyond words. This is so amazing and wonderful and fantastic, that I am at times simply awed by all of this! This thread is not about that... :smalltongue:

So what's the problem? I'm the main GM for the group. and so far I was able to put some time off to plan the sessions and the game. I am one of those GMs that likes to prepare a lot, and think about the game a lot, since I love GMing and giving my group a fun and engaging game to have a good time with, especially since we meet so rarely. I take it both seriously, and as great fun, but both actually meeting and the preparation takes enough time, that I've been managing to spare time for just barely.

Family and children are important, and will come first. But... I wonder, am a bid sad, and am a bit frightened that I will not have enough time to devote to the game, and if so, will the game end? How do you juggle an already very busy life, and now supporting and helping your wife through her pregnancy, and later children, with gaming? So my question to you forumists, who have played with either being pregnant yourself, or your spouse was, or with very young children- How did you manage? Especially if you were a GM?

A few small notes:
- My wife to be is VERY supportive of me gaming. She never before experienced the roleplay world, but she approves of it warmly, and thinks I should keep doing it. My problem is with my own feelings about time spent as a father and husband, Vs. Gaming.
- Except for me, one of the players sometimes GMs for our group. He is one of the guys with a family of his own. But... most likely due to his family, he has far less time to prepare, and have quite DMing the game after a few sessions a few times due to not being able to spend time on it. The others are highly unlikely to GM.
- We mostly played D&D 3.5 and PF systems, and might try Shadowrun. We did try a much lighter system (Rules wise)- Fate Core. But... it didn't fit our gaming style. After reading the 8 aesthetics of play article by the Angry GM (http://angrydm.com/2014/01/gaming-for-fun-part-1-eight-kinds-of-fun/), I understood that our group's core aesthetic is Challenge, and as such require systems with considerable mechanics to them.

I'd love to hear stories, examples, and ideas of how any of you, and your groups, might have dealt with this. Again, family comes first, and if gaming will have to cease, than it shall. I'd just like to find a way to keep the hobby going. I like it! :smallamused:

Kol.

goto124
2015-11-07, 10:18 AM
So, this thread is about family, pregnancy, and children IRL, not in-game?

Seto
2015-11-07, 10:30 AM
Congratulations on your engagement ! Thanks for sharing the news, wish you the best :smallwink:

You said your fiancee is very supportive of gaming ; would she be interested in joining your game ? It won't solve the issue of not having much time, but it might help you stop seeing family time and game time as opposites. Plus, you'd be able to figure out solutions, and manage your time, together.

If not, or if you really don't have time (newborn pretty much require constant care), stop gaming for a while or just leave the DM chair to your friend who's got older kids and more experience at managing family and game at the same time.

Kol Korran
2015-11-07, 10:37 AM
So, this thread is about family, pregnancy, and children IRL, not in-game?
Yes, in real life. Sorry if I hadn't made it clear. I just added this to the title. Thanks!


Congratulations on your engagement ! Thanks for sharing the news, wish you the best :smallwink:

You said your fiancee is very supportive of gaming ; would she be interested in joining your game ? It won't solve the issue of not having much time, but it might help you stop seeing family time and game time as opposites. Plus, you'd be able to figure out solutions, and manage your time, together.

If not, or if you really don't have time (newborn pretty much require constant care), stop gaming for a while or just leave the DM chair to your friend who's got older kids and more experience at managing family and game at the same time.
She isn't currently interested joining the game. She prefers just talking to her friends, and she also feels that the game needs to be my time hang out with buddies, do a bit of escapism and not worry about real world obligations. Have fun, you know? (Did I mention I love her? :smallamused:)

Taking time off to set into new family life and letting the other guy handle things for some time may be worth looking into, though the party is in a middle of a campaign (Wrath of the Righteous, see my sig), which may take a year or more to finish. I promised to them I'll see it to it's end. I hope I won't need to disappoint them though... :smallfrown:

Grim_Wicked
2015-11-07, 11:28 AM
I once read an article by someone who tried to do the same, but with writing a novel instead of gaming. He just got up an hour early every day and do his writing then. Or you could go to bed an hour later, if that's more your cup of tea.

If you can't see that working, maybe you can reserve every Sunday morning or something for D&D preparation? Pick a time during which your fiancée is napping, reading, visiting family without you (I don't know, does that happen with you?), something like that. Of course I don't know what your week looks like exactly, but I'd think there's always time. If you're working 40 hours a week, you might want to forgo some sleep.

If you don't want to miss any sleep and can't find the time consistently, maybe spend some time improving your improvisation skills? Improvising GMing can be really fun, too, and preparation obviously takes less time the more you improvise...

Does this help at all?

YossarianLives
2015-11-07, 11:35 AM
Is running a module an option for you? There are some really great ones out there that require minimal preparation from the DM.

Florian
2015-11-07, 12:19 PM
My optinion on this matter is slightly coloured by personal experience.

It's quite healthy to get away from home and kids for a while and get your minds of family and work matters. An evening off every week or the other, some 4-6 hours gaming and relaxing with frinds, that'll actually recharge your battery.

Now, every 6 weeks, then the whole night till exhaustion, that may be a nice experience, but'll drain you even faster.

Darth Ultron
2015-11-07, 12:22 PM
It is not so hard. My life is similar.

First off, think back to when you were single. How much time did you really take creating stuff for the game? An hour a day? Three hours a week? Five hours once a week? You most likely did not take up ''that much time'', after all your only planning one game a month.

Now you like to ''prepare a lot'', but how much? If your say making city maps, naming each street and doing a full npc write-up for all folks, that might be too much. You might want to take short cuts, like using per made things.

Then come down to the dreaded problem of daily life. Ok, 40 of work. 8 hours of work a day, plus an hour of travel. Then lets say two hours of chores a day. That is still 5 hours of free time. And that assumes you ''must'' do two hours of chores a day. So you have a lot of free time to fill up.

Do a time study on yourself: write down what you do for a week. You might be amazed to find things like ''7pm-10pm watched TV'' or other huge blocks of time. Then ask yourself if that time was well spent. You watched some horrible reality show for two hours...for no reason....why?

Saturdays/Sundays work great. A lot of weeks I will get up at 7am on Saturday and I can have a good 2-3 hours to do game preparation. A good trick is to get up at 5am on the Saturday before the game, where you can have a good five hours to do things.

It is also important, right now, to make sure she has a life beyond you. So, so, so many women get trapped in the ''my husband and kids are my whole world'' idea. And if she is attached to you, 24/7 except for work, then you will have problems. So you need to encourage her, starting now, to keep her life going. Sue wants you to go shopping all day? Well have a nice time honey, bye!

With a tablet, phone or even just a pad of paper you can do game things any time your ''stuck'' waiting somewhere. So at the doctors waiting for 30 minutes? Pull out your pad and make a couple monsters, npcs or whatever. You can fill in tons of fluff, and later check the books for the stats.

It is not really a lot of work(people that say it is work are doing it wrong), you just need to be smart about it.

The Fury
2015-11-07, 01:26 PM
I'm about the worst person to ask about balancing real life family stuff with RPGs. Even though I can't offer really anything in the way of constructive advice, I'd still like to offer my congratulations. It seems like you're really happy with this person and excited about starting a family together.

hymer
2015-11-07, 02:03 PM
I've only experience with seeing this problem from the outside. I guess I can mostly say that it's very easy to understand even so. I just wanted to add my congratulations. :smallsmile:

mephnick
2015-11-07, 04:23 PM
I'd honestly take a six month break when the kid is born, those are by far the hardest to deal with. You will be tired and stressed, your wife even more so. Trying to force yourself to be creative on 3 hours of sleep a day is tough. Once the kid starts sleeping through the night and takes reliable naps it gets a lot easier.

As supportive as she is with your hobbies, abandoning her for an entire weekend day to play D&D (likely on one of the only days you get to hang out as a family) likely won't go very well for very long. We've been sticking to weeknight hobbies. Especially in the first year, your wife likely won't have much of a life (especially if she's breast feeding) so don't forget that all these fun days for you become lonely days for her and it will be tough for her to get equal social time.

It's definitely doable, but there will be some give and take.

Honest Tiefling
2015-11-07, 04:34 PM
I'd honestly take a six month break when the kid is born, those are by far the hardest to deal with. You will be tired and stressed, your wife even more so. Trying to force yourself to be creative on 3 hours of sleep a day is tough. Once the kid starts sleeping through the night and takes reliable naps it gets a lot easier.

I'm not terribly experienced with the babies, so I bow to his presumable greater experience. Also, congratulations on spawning!

Another tip: Get the players on board. Get them to give you their character sheets well in advance. Get them to make a more cohesive party to cut down on time spent debating what to do. Ask them if they don't mind a more limited game. Not that they cannot have creative plans, but that the game takes place in a more confined space (A jail, an island, some ruins, etc.) so ducking out is not an option. And that they agree on a goal before the game, so you have less to prepare. If everyone has a reason to kill the evil Lord, then you probably just need to prep some towns around him and his own defenses as opposed to the entire countryside.

I've found that people are more willing to accept rail-roading of the plot if they can still be creative with their plans and get to have some say on where the destination is. Have you also considered a co-DM? Some people have luck with that.

And I wonder if it is poor ettiqette to ask those without such obligations to consider bringing/preparing/setting up food if they are so inclined. Even if they lack the funds to purchase it, setting it up and cleaning up would probably help out a ton.

Ozreth
2015-11-07, 08:10 PM
My current group has been gaming for about 4 years together. Two of us have been playing together for many more years than that. Our group ranges from one person in her early 20's, about five of us in late 20's, two in early 30's and the DM is early 40's. There are no children involved so I can't speak to that, but at any given time we've had people who were working and in university full time, one of us owns a business, one is married, several of us have been in relationships for many years etc etc. We're a very busy group. The DM is married and owner of a successful tattoo shop. We meet every single Monday for 4-6 hours almost without fail.

The thing is that every person in our lives know that we have our set aside gaming time. It is so ingrained in our lives that our bosses, significant others, co-workers, friends etc just know it. We plan our schedules around it aggressively. We've realized that the older we get, this weekly meeting because so much more important than it was to us in high school or college. It's the fun, away from home stress reliever that I think any person with a lot of work, a marriage, children etc would be smart to take advantage of.

As for finding time to prep a game, you've got a few options. As somebody above noted, simply wake up an hour earlier every day. If you actually stick to that it's amazing how much you can get done. Just make sure everybody in your life knows how much you want this time, find a few hours throughout your week and stick to it.
'

DigoDragon
2015-11-07, 08:36 PM
My daughter loved when I had friends over for D&D. The group was around since her birth to about age 5. She didn't understand the game, but she like the part about drawing maps, rolling dice, and then adding numbers to win at the game. :smallbiggrin: Having children is tough because of the time demands each one needs, but I found that if I let my daughter do rolls for me when I GM, she could participate in a way.

And when it was her bed time, that was the time we all broke from the game to get our food runs in. Timing things made it work out.

Mark Hall
2015-11-09, 12:48 PM
Congratulations. Parenthood is a wonderful thing. I spent the first couple months exclaiming how awesome the boy was, and apologizing to him for not being a better dad. :smallbiggrin:

That said, gaming can be rough. One of my current gaming groups has 2 couples and a friend of mine. The other couple has a 2 year old and she's pregnant again; we've got a 7 month old. Arranging times when everyone can get together is tough, especially with weird schedules.

So, keep it flexible, and get together to play, even if you don't play RPGs, whenever you can. Having a couple GMs means you can run a few different games, and have the person who is more prepared run the game.

Micah Watt
2015-11-09, 08:44 PM
I think it's been mostly covered above, but you probably won't know how you guys (especially you as GM) will manage until after the fact.

In my group we have one guy with grown kids, myself (GM) with a 1 year old, a guy with a 2 month old and a guy who's wife is having one this week (or there abouts). And one confirmed bachelor, but he doesn't count for the purposes of this discussion 😉

Myself and the guy with the 2 month old haven't missed a beat. We have very supportive partners and we are able to make 90% of the sessions. The guy who is having one this week is taking a hiatus - up to 6 months maybe. Everyone is different.

My advice is keep talking to everyone, and if you find the group getting a little small, maybe consider courting some casual players to reintroduce some energy.

Good luck with it!

Kane0
2015-11-09, 09:02 PM
Not much to add myself, but congratulations Kol!

My group is looking at similar problems in the near future, with one of our players getting married next year and another having their first child. Any advice for your group would also be advice for mine.

napoleon_in_rag
2015-11-09, 09:32 PM
Just look forward to the joy of introducing your kids to D&D. My father introduced my and my brother to the game in 1981 by running us through "The Keep on the Borderlands".

Telwar
2015-11-09, 10:04 PM
We're working on this in our group. Hosts had a kid, and evicted us for about 4-6 weeks while they got used to the baby. Then we had a bit of a test run to see how having the infant around a bunch of weird folks worked.

So far, so good. We'll have to rethink our cursing when the young'un gets to learning how to talk.

Also, it's amazing how hilarious baby projectile vomit is when it's not your job to clean it up.

I don't think that'll help the OP, though. :(

Winter_Wolf
2015-11-09, 11:51 PM
Speaking from experience, OP can expect to be on "parental leave" from gaming of any kind for "a while". I'd be surprised and probably a little envious if you can even get game time as a player, let alone GMing anything. Gaming is great and all, but you know what's even better? SLEEP. You don't even know. By the time you can get proper sleep, you physically won't be able to anymore. My kids sleep pretty well, but keeping up with 'em is so exhausting, I've had a week go by where the first and only thought after they're down is, "my turn—*snooorxxx*"

Congratulations on the baby. You will place sleep above pretty much anything entertainment related nine times in ten for the foreseeable future.

tomandtish
2015-11-10, 12:36 AM
Speaking from experience, OP can expect to be on "parental leave" from gaming of any kind for "a while". I'd be surprised and probably a little envious if you can even get game time as a player, let alone GMing anything. Gaming is great and all, but you know what's even better? SLEEP. You don't even know. By the time you can get proper sleep, you physically won't be able to anymore. My kids sleep pretty well, but keeping up with 'em is so exhausting, I've had a week go by where the first and only thought after they're down is, "my turn—*snooorxxx*"

Congratulations on the baby. You will place sleep above pretty much anything entertainment related nine times in ten for the foreseeable future.

I have to second this. While I don't have kids of my own, we have several friends who do. The best gift we learned to give them? During the first 4 months we'd come over one night a week, spend the night, and be the ones to get up when baby is waking up every two hours.

There is no such thing as a night's sleep. There are naps.

In short, your wizard ain't recovering spells for a while.

cobaltstarfire
2015-11-10, 01:36 AM
In the long run I think it really depends on you, your wife, and the babies disposition too.

You could need to take a few months off, or only a few weeks, and that's really dependent on each of you and your energy levels, and needs.

My gut feeling is that if your wife is supportive of your gaming and you find that you have the energy you can likely keep playing. Remember to give your wife similar opportunities to take breaks too though, otherwise she's going to end up run into the ground. Maybe try to get a rough skeleton for your game planned out before the baby is born, and cross your fingers that your group doesn't somehow shatter it into a million pieces early on.

You'll probably end up needing to shorten your sessions though, seems that everyone who has a child, particularly a first one is way more exhausted from it than they expected, even when they expected to be more exhausted than they thought they would.

Kol Korran
2015-11-10, 05:52 AM
Hey all! Thanks for the congratulations! :smallamused:

You write some very good and interesting advice, and I get it it is mostly between our family. I am already very very busy- I am a medical intern, and as such work about 6 days a week, and about 6 days a month I do... not sure if this has an equivalent in other countries... but in Israel interns and residents make some really long shifts, overnights, about 28 hours (Morning till the morning after and a bit more). This means I'm already away from my wife for 6 nights a month. The work load combined with doing two research studies, studying on my own, means that I am quite maximizing my time so I could spend some quality time with my wife, our families, and a bit too rarely- friends. I have stopped watching TV and series quite a few years ago, I spend little time on the net, except to search for research material, updates, and occasionally- GiTP :smalltongue: (An exception is writing session logs, which can take time). I am quite tired most of the time, and have come to live with it. This kind of life means having to handle your time quite well, or else you'll miss on a lot of things. I am already missing some stuff I'd like to do (I do very little sport, 2 hours a week), but so far I managed to keep time for our relationship, and we are happy with it.

She is quite busy as well, a clinical psychology intern herself, working at 2 jobs, swimming, and quite a social and cultural life. She has quite a full life, and great support from family and friends. That said... I thank those who said that at the first few months it may be wise to take a break, no matte how supportive she is... This seems very wise, with the new transition, responsibilities, and just learning to deal with the new life change... This is exactly what I was worrying about, that going out to play t. once every 4-6 weeks, for a god portion of the day may seem unfair. I'll need to think about, cause the point others make- the stress relief and fun that the gaming sessions give us,ARE important. I know they are especially for the two players who have kids in the group. It's important for their wives as well, a bit of time apart... :smalltongue:

So we'll need to see how we manage it... She has already said it is important I'll go on the meetings, but this may well change near delivery, and especially after.

I will talk to the group as well, and see what ideas they have. (My wife and me have so far kept this mostly to our family. But in our next session I'd tell them, and we'll celebrate a little! :smallsmile:) I am quite sure the more experienced parents will have some advice. I am just worried since I promised them to finish the campaign we're running (Wrath of the Righteous Paizo AP), which goes for 6 modules. They are in the middle of the 4th, but it has taken us about 1.5 years to get there, so finishing will definitely include he delivery and the few months afterwards. The players really want to finish this campaign, up to level 20 (level 14 currently). I'd hate to break it down in the middle. They re quite supportive already in helping me minimize prep time (We started using a module for the first time, thinking it would help minimize prep time. It didn't, but I wrote another thread about it.)

I do quite look forward into bringing the kid/s into the game, but that will be quite a few more years to come. The oldest child of our players is now 7 years old, and her father started GMing some roleplay sessions for her and 2 friends. They are having a blast! :smallbiggrin:

Thanks for the advice. It may be tricky, and we'll find our own way of doing it, but it's at least comforting to see that others have managed to deal with this, somehow, even if that meant taking some leave for a few months. I thank you again,
Kol! :smallsmile:

Kiero
2015-11-16, 05:49 AM
Contrary to some of the views here, one child is easy. Sure you'll probably need to go on hiatus for the "fourth trimester" at the start because you'll be needed for support and whatever else then. But once things settle down, as long as your wife is amenable there's no reason it should have any impact at all on your ability to play. Especially if you're playing in the evenings when the baby (and probably your wife too) are asleep.

I've been playing for the last five years with one, then two children. It's only gotten difficult since there's been a second one around, because I can't in good conscience leave the house before they're both asleep. Not fair on my wife to have to deal with two small children resisting sleep while I go off to have fun. When there was just one, though, easy times. Our hosts (and the main GM) have one child who's often there entertaining herself while we play, again no real issues now she's older.

What's put paid to the whole thing for the time being, at least, is that we're shortly going to have a third. There's no way I can disappear on a weekday evening once that's all happened, even after the first three months. So when I'm eventually able to play again, it'll have to be weekend daytime - and I take the older two with me to entertain the hosts' child and give my wife a break (from two of three...).

hifidelity2
2015-11-16, 07:36 AM
Well congratulations


My group is very similar – we are all in our early 40’s to early 50’s with family. In most cases our other halfs are not interested in playing. However they all knew what hobbies we have and that’s part of what makes us the fine upstanding people we are today :smallbiggrin:

Anyway – what we manage is approx. 6 sessions a year – but they last for the whole weekend – starting late Friday and finishing sometime Sunday afternoon. We normally all stay one person’s house (we take it in turns to” host”)

When it may turn my other half goes away for the weekend to go and see other family and friends, for another one we do it when his partner is working weekends (Nurse) etc. where kids are involved we manage it and accept that the persons house with the kids maybe a bit distracted from time to time

Nobot
2015-11-16, 08:18 AM
Congratulations! I'm sure you'll manage!

I few things I do/have done to get time:
- commute to work with public transport, spend the time on train/tram on the good stuff;
- work part-time (needs to be financially viable though);
- throw out your TV (really, it's done wonders; you will not miss it);
- cancel your subscriptions to Netflix-type stuff;
- ignore the latest 'series'-hype that all your friends are talking about;
- alienate colleagues so they won't come over to chat and you can spend your breaks on the good stuff!

LnGrrrR
2015-11-16, 04:03 PM
I have that same issue sometimes, and the best way to handle it is to ask your players to take on some of the responsibility of world building. You can do something quick during gameplay, like, "You come to a fork in the road, that has a sign pointing to two different towns. Player 1, what are the names of those towns? Great! Player 2, you remember hearing something about Town A, what is it? Does anyone else know anything about Town B? (Player 3 raises hand, and then you choose to either have them share knowledge or roll or whatever.)

This method requires responsibility on the part of the players, but if you've all been gaming together for awhile I trust you guys have developed some ideas of what is and isn't acceptable to the group. And as a DM, you can always veto. This method may make things slightly more haphazard, but it lets the creativity of players shine. Sometimes they come up with way better ideas than you will.

BWR
2015-11-16, 04:21 PM
I have to second this. While I don't have kids of my own, we have several friends who do. The best gift we learned to give them? During the first 4 months we'd come over one night a week, spend the night, and be the ones to get up when baby is waking up every two hours.

There is no such thing as a night's sleep. There are naps.

In short, your wizard ain't recovering spells for a while.

I remember a Dragon article with a wizard that had made several spells and magic items to help with babies, like self-cleaning diapers and magical cribs.

LnGrrrR
2015-11-17, 09:11 AM
I remember a Dragon article with a wizard that had made several spells and magic items to help with babies, like self-cleaning diapers and magical cribs.

I am totally going to saddle a party with a mission escorting a baby.

goto124
2015-11-17, 09:45 AM
Any babies of fantasy races that are worse than human babies?

LnGrrrR
2015-11-17, 11:08 AM
Any babies of fantasy races that are worse than human babies?

... a baby dragon? You'd have to be REALLY careful burping him...

mephnick
2015-11-17, 12:29 PM
I have to second this. While I don't have kids of my own, we have several friends who do. The best gift we learned to give them? During the first 4 months we'd come over one night a week, spend the night, and be the ones to get up when baby is waking up every two hours.


Dude. Can you be my friend? That would have been amazing.

Mark Hall
2015-11-17, 12:40 PM
I have to second this. While I don't have kids of my own, we have several friends who do. The best gift we learned to give them? During the first 4 months we'd come over one night a week, spend the night, and be the ones to get up when baby is waking up every two hours.

There is no such thing as a night's sleep. There are naps.

In short, your wizard ain't recovering spells for a while.

You are an amazing human being. While our boy started sleeping through the night pretty early (yay for big babies who maintain body heat), there were a couple nights where he got passed off to the parents so I didn't have to sleep with him on the couch.