I recently got a message from a reader who recently became a father, curious about how best to integrate Magic, family and work all into one crowded lifestyle. It’s something I have been doing for over 5 years now, and I would have sworn I had written something on being a MTG dad, but I didn’t, so now I will.
A Planeswalk in the Park:
So, you’re about to become a father (or mother) and you are also a diehard Magic fan, Congratulations! Being a parent is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, and it can be for you too, you just have to become a master of time management.
Things WILL be different, before adulthood, I was drafting on Mondays, playing Warhammer Fantasy on Tuesday nights, Drafting Wednesdays, and playing casual on Friday nights. Once I had a job and a normal adult life, I cut back to once a week every Friday Night. Fear not, children are awesome and cute little combinations of you and your S/O. Babies take up a large portion of time, but Gaming/Magic can still have a significant place in your life. Here are the stages of being a Magic player with a child, and what to expect.
0-3 Months (BABY!):
When your baby is brand new, they will become the entirety of your universe for a good couple of months. Babies need to eat a lot, and so you likely will have to take a break from Magic for a month or so. I played very little immediately after the birth of my kids (each one) and with good reason! It was such an exciting time getting to meet the little one I had just helped create, and they were so awesome!
3-12 Months (Family/MTG [card]Balance[/card]):
This is where things get better (for sleep and MTG). Baby will not be sleeping all night yet, but will only get up 2-3 times at night. After this point, every other Friday night I played Magic, and on the opposite weeks I stayed at home and hung out with the family. One thing that is extremely important is not to neglect your wife/GF or baby. If you both work (or even just one of you does) it’s likely that you won’t see much of each other on weekends, so be sure to set aside some weekend time for the loves of your life! The most important lesson I have taken away from gaming with kids is to not let your family feel like Magic/games are more important than them. At this stage, It’s a great idea to invest in a table that is bar-height for preparing decks and storing cards on. Baby will be pulling-up and/or walking soon so be sure your [card]Library of Alexandria[/card] is FAR out of reach.
12-24 Months (the [card]Curiosity[/card] Years):
This is when you have to be the most worried for your cards. Your child WILL notice how much daddy (or mommy) LOOOVES those pretty colored cards, and wants to be a part of it too. You can use the aforementioned table of bar-height for part of this stage, but soon little one will begin to climb things…like your chair…and pull your Black Commons and Uncommons box down onto the floor…and ripping off one side, completely ruining your organization system. (Not that that exact thing happened to me or anything). This is when you probably need to move the table in to an “off-limits” room. It’s always good to have a space for adult-stuff to be. Kids will try (and likely succeed) to touch EVERYTHING they can see. Kids have an infinite amount of time and energy and love to explore. Cards will suffer from this.
3+ Years (Someone to Teach):
This is the best part, kids around this age will want to start playing games with you, and can probably grasp some of the fundamental ideas of Magic. I started playing with my daughter with a deck of all vanilla creatures and land around 3 years, and she loved it. We play all sorts of other games too, but Magic and Dragon Strike (D&D intro board game from the early 90’s) are some of her favorites. I can’t wait until my little gamer girl starts DM-ing and building her own decks! It makes me a little teary-eyed just thinking about it.
The moral of the story is, having kids and playing Magic (any hobby game) isn’t mutually exclusive. They, in fact, mesh quite well together in certain phases. The important things to remember are: Family First, Balance the things you love in the free time you have, let kids be curious (but not TOO curious), and let them in on the hobby ASAP! Follow these easy steps and it will be a breeze!
That’s all I have for now, so until next time…
Use YOUR shoes as counters!
Moderator of WOOBERG.net, the Encyclopedia of Magic Variant formats, Shoe has been playing MTG since mid to late 1994, He acquired the nickname ‘Shoe’ through a stupid joke made during a MTG game about the Chimpokomon episode of South Park. He loves MTG and gaming in general and hopes to work designing games one day. He plays mostly with his 6 year old daughter these days, but multi-player, and weird formats are his preference.