By the grace of fortune, I’ve been recently blessed with a
screaming rage demon delightful little angel of a daughter. This naturally precipitates some lifestyle changes, along with raising important questions like, ‘When do I paint my toy soldiers?’
Babies sleep a lot, right? Initially, I’d thought that I’d just pop her in her Moses basket while she slept and I’d get on with loads of hobby. Oh, how misguided this was. In reality, even when it seems like a drop pod smashing through the house wouldn’t wake her, popping her in the Moses basket unleashes a force wilder than Kharn the Betrayer on a particularly ragey day. So much for a hobby renaissance.
Still, there are always ways to work around a problem.
Wrapping the baby up in a sling has been a game changer. Not only is she nice and cosy while she snoozes, it also frees my arms enough to pick up a brush. Detail work isn’t recommended as they can be wriggly little things, but washing, base coating, drybrushing, and contrast paint work is all perfectly feasible. If you do try a sling, keep your eye on the baby’s temperature and breathing, as it can get hot in there, and don’t keep them there too long.
Take the Game Online
One thing that’s kept me sane through these first months is my weekly Dungeons and Dragons game. Because there’s nothing like pretending you’re a wizard and fighting goblins to maintain an iron grip on reality. Leaving the house for a good 4-5 hours (even when there’s not a pandemic going on) would not only be unfeasible while baby is so needy, but potentially grounds for divorce. Fortunately the pandemic prepared us for this by forcing all our games online anyway. Now, I can walk the baby for a while using the above sling, sending her to sleep for a couple of hours, then I get myself over to Roll20 for my game.
Redefine the Hobby
There are limited things you can do with a baby sleeping on top of you. Cat owners will also relate. Fortunately, I’m a reader, and you only need one hand free to use a Kindle.
Many of the major games franchises have a wealth of novels backing them up. If you’ve not delved into them before, you’ll find heaps of background stories and lore to add an extra dimension to your games, particularly if you’re into cinematic or narrative driven games. Lately, I’ve been reading the Siege of Terra while trapped under baby and found them some of the best in the Horus Heresy series. Not that it feels like Angron battering at the gates or anything…
Favourites authors of mine are Gav Thorpe, Dan Abnett and Guy Hayley for Warhammer stuff, while R A Salvatore and Weis and Hickman are great for Dungeons and Dragons related works.
Those are my best tips so far. I’m keen to hear what’s worked for others. Feel free to drop a comment below.
It’s funny, because I thought exactly the same thing at first! My daughter is 18 months old, and I reckon it was easily two months before we were anywhere close to a routine that allowed me to get proper hobbying done. Instead, I was able to read, like you say – oddly, she found the Grey Knights codex quite soothing, so I was able to stay in the hobby while also being a dad 🤣 But things definitely get easier; we’ve got our second due in June, so it can’t be all that bad, after all! 🤣
There’s nothing to keep those daemons away quite like the Grey Knights. We’re 2 months in now and still far from a routine (she has a different opinion of day and night to me) but we’re slowly getting there. Best of luck with the second.
Thanks for sharing your story. I’m also a dad with a daughter (and 2 boys) and all young. The struggle to maintain the hobby and other things changes a lot, doesn’t it! You may find a few articles on my site sharing similar things, too. They are buried a bit, as I haven’t written much on the personal side in a while. But, this is definitely something I’d love to write more about. Anyway, great work and love what you’re doing with the site!