Raiding vs Parenting

My wife and I like WoW a lot. We've played it together for more than two years now, and have been endgame raiders for most of that time. Sometimes as many as three nights a week! There have been ups and downs, but we're both excited about Wrath.

As new parents, we've learned what the hardest part is about instances and raids: no pause button.

Our daughter is six months old. What I've learned about infants + WoW:

  • Infants don't care about sharing you with a raid full of your friends.
  • Infants don't care about voice chat, especially when sleeping.
  • Infants don't get excited about your zomgepics, and they don't get disappointed when you don't get the drop. (Actually, that's not so bad.)
  • Infants don't care if you're in combat or not.
  • Infants really don't care about progression boss fights, where uninterrupted concentration is required or else the raid will wipe.

When an infant senses that you're asking for patience… they flip out. It's an emotional thing. Babies don't understand: "I love you very much but I'm doing something else right now, so if you can just keep yourself busy for another five minutes, and then I'll give you the binkie back while the raid buffs?" And when my daughter doesn't understand things of this nature, like the grownup, complicated, give-and-take social stuff?

The leaves on nearby trees shake from her cries.

Bad Parenting 101? Well, yes. At least the raiding while having first baby experiment didn't last long.

Now, before you leave a sternly-worded comment, take heart that I now know that the answer is easy: stop raiding for a while. And you know what? It was easy, once we saw that. Like so much in life, none of this stuff is obvious. I've never been a father before. Heck, I haven't spent time around kids since I was in that age group. In unrelated news, I'm starting to understand where all my parental scars came from.

Also, a quick caveat: this is a shared hobby of ours. Yes, one of us could babysit while the other played, but that's not how we came to love the game. We tried raiding separately and it's not as much fun. WoW is something we enjoy doing together. We do plenty of things apart, but playing WoW isn't one of them.

We gave our best towards balancing the overwhelming everythingness of being new parents while keeping up any semblance of a raid schedule. Ultimately, we decided to start our offseason. We haven't raided in two months, and have no plans to do so until at least Wrath. Our approach to Wrath is going to be slightly different than waiting in line at the shop at 11:30 the night before the midnight opening. It's going to be a big experiment with plenty of trial and error.

In the meantime? We log on now and then, and our friends playfully ask us: "Hey, want to join us in ZA this week?" I gently deflect them, but really I'm thinking: sign up for raids? Insanity! How can I know days in advance what next Thursday night is going to be like in my home? Will there be crying? Kicking? Screaming? But never mind my wife, what about my daughter? (Try the veal!)

I always counseled my guild members to keep their life right over any game or guild concerns. Right now my wife and I feel like we're barely above water, as I hear that most parents feel at first. Raiding had to take a back seat. It feels weird to take that advice, even though it's my own.

Any other WoW-players/parents out there? How did this go for you?

More Words!

5 thoughts on “Raiding vs Parenting”

  1. My kids are so much older than yours. Hey, my oldest was a baby about 16 years ago… So there was now WoW around at that time. But I can't imagine how it would have been possible to raid at that point in my life, or even to play a few minutes. She had pains in her stomach and hard to sleep and cried constantly her first months… It was a HUGE change in my life really.

    Nowadays with teenager in my house I do raid. It's a passion. But it's a struggle, an constant fight for my right to have a life of my own. Becuase they still want my attention… and can't understand and accept that I sometimes give it to someone else. To WoW as a parent will always be a challange as long as your kids stay at home. At least if they're not playing themselves.

    However, your choice here was really a no-brainer. Still I really recommend you to try to give each other "baby free" time from time to time. Be it WoW-playing (a little farming or questiong) or something else you enjoy. 24/7 of baby sitting will become a bit suffocating after a while.

    You must make sure that you'll last the whole way.

  2. Heh. Raiding with a child is where I got the name for my blog :)

    When Helena was born, Amanda and I weren't really into raiding so it wasn't an immediate issue. However, we did like to instance with our friends in game as a way to wind down and would do so with Helena bundled up into a sling( pretty much the only way she'd sleep for the first three months ). I got -really- good at tanking with one hand while the other was gently patting her back!

    One thing we really lucked out on was keeping a very strict schedule for Helena's bed time and her bed time routine. Low lights, wave sounds, a bottle and some snuggling w/ Dad( designated putter-to-bedder ) all at about the same hour of night. Before long, she was constantly asleep by about 6 o'clock each night. Every so often, one of us would have to afk and rush upstairs to give her a pacifier back or run a bottle back up to her, but we were blessed with very understanding friends. People like K over at, who, consequently introduced me to your blog, were very understanding and would take time to make sure our group make up was of people willing to AFK for a short time while an emergency bottle was prepped.

    When my guild imploded and I fell into the Guild Leader role, my wife worked hard to make sure she could raid with us since it was an important part of guild functionality. We just had to be a little proactive about the short AFKs. I was usually tanking so after Opera, during the run up to Curator, I'd AFK and give the baby a bottle since those pulls only take one tank. If we'd hear her over the baby monitor during a boss fight we'd wrap up the fight( hopefully still winning! ) and then rush upstairs!

    If you can swing it, if your guild is amenable to it, try to raid together and see if you can get her down about an hour or an hour and half before raid start. If she doesn't really have a "set bedtime" try to wear her out during the day she she'll be ready for sleep and have an understudy ready to take your place if you or your wife have to drop. If you have to drop out of the raid, go deal with your daughter, when she back to snoozing, go back seat raid over your wifes shoulder :) Nesh loves when I tell her when to misdirect. Especially if it's on one of the paladin healers :)

    If you find that you can't raid or still only want to raid together, then start a new project. Run up an alt to 60 and get some instances under your belt on your new toons. It's a lot easier to find 3 people that are patient and understanding about children than it is to find 9 people.

  3. (Hi Scott!)

    I was going to give a lovely reply about how two friends of ours do it. But I see Scott already did.

    Obviously RL>WoW, but it can work. Maybe not three to four nights of raiding a week, but we typically do 2 nights (maybe 3 if Scott and Nesh give Helena Benadryl… JUST KIDDING) and our guild is based on that concept: RL > WoW. If you need to go because your kid is screaming or your dog just threw up on your shoes… or vice versa… take care of that first, we'll fill our time telling corny jokes on Ventrilo and dancing naked in the game.

    Because Friends > Raiding. :)

    But yeah, if you have friends who are amenable to it, start a lowbie pair of people to level together, get the names and email addresses of three other people who are willing to level/instance with you, and before you ever settle down to play WoW, try to work out what you're going to do that evening and this way, when you log in, you know exactly what you're going to be doing, with whom, and what you'll need to get. None of that 'What do you want to do?'… 'I'm fine with whatever. What do YOU want to do?' pingponging.

    (And see, even though Scott stole my glory, I can still find lots of babble to fill up your reply section with.)

  4. Yea, knowing what you're doing ahead of time is a big one. Getting online and spending 2 hours chasing bees isn't conducive to getting things done. Email out what you'd like to do. Everyone should be ready to log on for a good night as soon as the baby is down and dinner is done. If the baby wakes up. Oh well. It's not an issue w/ good friends.

    1. @Larísa – Thanks for the advice. The change is like you say, leaving us awed and humbled and at the same time, wishing that we had more hours in the day and energy to do something with them.

      @Scott – One handed tanking! There's a joke about masturbation in there somewhere. Back on topic: I wish that we could work out the time, but for some reason Blizzard doesn't put target time zones on their servers, and we ended up as offpeak people on our server, and we've grown roots there. Our guild spans the globe, and there's pretty much only one time where we can raid. Crazy! We've actually already on your second suggested route: new, completely separate side projects. Duo'ing and leveling again, just completely relaxed and at it's own pace.

      @kikidas – And here's the part where my wife and I eat crow. We were always the ones who pushed for efficient raids, planned breaks rather than random breaks, etc. Now we're the random break people… very uncomfortable, and I know it sounds silly but it's a real repellent to asking for understanding on random breaks. I wish I could go back in time and fix it, because now I understand! (Ok, not the guy who has to tend to his cat fourteen times a raid, but still.)

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