I recently shared my experiences on a post on the Independent Characters forum regarding how I am able to play miniature war games and be a father of three under six years old. I know that i struggle to this day with spending time with my children and spending time with my hobby. I imagine it will become easier as I am able to share my passion with my kids. But until then I have had to come up with some strategies to do both. I felt that I should share this the rest of the community as I do feel like I have been really successful in marrying these two major time sinks.
If I could sum up all of my wisdom in a word it would be organization. This is key for a few different reasons. You only have so much time in the day. I never really thought about this when I was single or even when I was married really. It becomes very apparent when you have children that you can’t do everything. So what did I organize?
1. My minis: storage solutions are a must. Quality methods of storing your miniatures is indispensable. I own multiple KR multicases and Battlefoam for my various games and armies and I need more! Properly stored minis helps you access the models you want quickly. Grab a bag and get to your next game fast… Don’t even look to see what you need to pull out! They are all there when you need them. Off to your next game. Not to mention this helps keep little hands from unexpectedly becoming mischievous and smearing peanut butter into the hatches and doors of your land raider turning it into a nergle touched pile of dross. This will also help you access your models for hobbling purposes. Down time is a big killer and you want to keep it to a minimum. I also use a movement tray that I keep the army that I play most frequently on to reduce set up time during home games.
2. My hobby space: for years I resisted but I finally broke down and purchased a storage device for my paints. I found that my family simply needed the space more than I did. So I got a tool box to put all my paints, brushes and tools. Next was a folding tv table. I end up pulling everything out whenever i want to hobby and make sure it is put away before I head to bed every night. It is true that doing this puts up more possible barriers to painting but it is better then packing up everything and kissing lovingly until you kids are old enough not to chug-a-lug your PVA glue. Besides, baby is most likely going to need that room as a bedroom. Not all of us are blessed with the financial means to afford a home that allows for additional spaces to dedicate to this thing.
3. My play space: want to play 10 games a week? If you figure out how to do it as a father of three kids under the age of 6 please tell me! Maybe we can get couple in… I don’t know about you but my play space is also my kids play space. Keeping games set up is no longer an option for me. I solve this by making my tables collapsable, my terrain storable and my mats rollable/foldable. If you have a realm of battle board and it looks like your gonna be in the same boat I was then I recommend selling it and looking into alternatives. A good way to get games in is to invite people to your place. So keep it quick to set up and tear down. You’ll most likely appreciate having people over to your place if you have little one to cut down on the stress of your partner.
4. My kids: that’s right. Even the kids. I do my best to structure my children’s evening routine. I close the drapes at 6:30 to signal that bed time is coming soon and to reduce the light in the house. 7:00 is PJs then two stories. Brush teeth (cause it’s better to brush teeth and stay up for 5 extra minutes then to brush teeth before stories and then go strait to sleep). Then 2 oz of water (to help calm the kids some more but not too much to cause accidents for the ones that are potty trained). This gets the kids in bed by 7:30-8:00. Kids thrive on routine as well and I have found that my kids are better behaved because of this. This also gets me a few hours to myself every night. This is extremely important to the hobby as you want to maximize your time available. The main reason for this is so that you can schedule game times with your friends. If you know that your kids WILL be down before a specific time then you know when you’ll be able to invite friends over or head out to their place.
i can’t stress enough that taking your time with things like gathering supplies, picking your colours as you go, not being ready to go as soon as you can when your opponent is are all things that will cause you to not be able to get very far in a night.
Feeling stressed out yet because your not the most organized person in the world? Just remember this. Babies start out pretty easy. They kind of just sit there for the first few months doing their thing. Sure they need feeding, changing and burping. But their demands are not many. It allows you to make these changes over a period of time. Fathers can be pretty irresponsible to start with. The more babies start to grow up the more these kinds of changes to you life are needed to maintain your hobby. Cheers.