Written by: Karla Clark
I don’t have to tell you that motherhood is time-consuming. It isn’t until you have a kid that you realize how much free time you squandered before their arrival. Hyper-focusing on your child has resulted in stacks of unopened games, dusty books, and an ever-growing Netflix queue. Quite simply, you’re losing yourself! Don’t worry, I’ve been there, and while I haven’t fully recovered, I have been able to reestablish my nerdy identity. So here are a few strategies to help you stay afloat.
Skip the Chores
I know everyone says sleep when the baby sleeps (and this is solid advice), but if you did that every single time nothing would ever get done. If you’re like me, you might spend that time attempting to tidy up the house. Well, stop it. Seriously, just stop. Picking up, cleaning, and organizing the same toys for the third time in one day is futile when you know you’re little one will undo all your hard work in under a minute. So, what should you do instead? Spend this time watching movie trailers, reading webcomics, or catching a few Pokemon. Just be mindful of the time. The point isn’t to make some grand display of nerdiness; it’s to make sure you’re making time for the things that interest you—even if that time is limited.
Take Some Time Off
Remember all of those people who volunteered to watch your kid before you’d even heard their heartbeat? Well, bring receipts because it’s time to cash in on those poor, naive souls and their premature promises. Get your spouse, parents, close friends, babysitter, nanny, the big bad wolf (okay maybe not him), or whomever else you trust to watch your halfling for a few hours, the entire day, or maybe even the whole weekend. Your goal is to get some much-needed, uninterrupted time to yourself. And use it wisely! That means you have to go big! Marathon Game of Thrones, read that novel you’ve been putting off, fire up an open-world game like Horizon Zero Dawn, or get your costume ready for an upcoming con. An empty house means no interruptions, which, in turn, means a fully immersive, nerdy experience of which dreams and unicorn horns are made.
Before parenthood took over, it’s likely that you played the biggest titles, dedicated entire weekends to watching anime on Crunchyroll, or maybe spent your time geeking out at a local comic shop. You could do anything that you wanted. No task was too great, no side quest too small, and no crossover event too over the top. You had time for it all. You were a completionist. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to maintain the same level of dedication as your former, childfree self. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the things you love. You just have to make a few adjustments. If you’re a gamer that means you don’t want to boot up Mass Effect: Andromeda during naptime. You’ll barely have enough time to customize your character, let alone to complete your first mission. So, instead of playing a triple-A title, maybe it’s time to give an indie game a try. They’re typically smaller, which means you can still be a completionist but on a smaller scale. Or perhaps you switch from open-world RPGs to fighting games like Mortal Kombat X (or Marvel vs. Capcom 3 if you’re hyped for Infinite). Online matches are timed, so it’s a quick way to get your gaming fix. If you’re used to watching series with hour-long episodes, but no longer have the time or energy to do so, then try switching to half-hour ones or, better yet, try getting into a web series (The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is an excellent choice for fans of Insecure). Scaling back your expectations keeps frustration and disappointment from rearing their ugly heads. Not to mention it feels great to accomplish something regardless of its size or difficulty.
Find Online Communities
One Monday morning you bite into a bagel as you collapse on the couch. You blink and suddenly six months has passed, you’re planning a birthday party, and are shocked to learn that Wonder Woman is getting her movie—and it comes out next month! It’s difficult to keep up with new releases when you’re knee deep in diapers and playdates. One great way to stay up to date is to find an online group with interests similar to your own. Facebook is a great place to start. The social media giant has so many nerdy groups that one is bound to tickle your fancy. You can also follow blogs or sites—like Black Girl Nerds—that cover topic that interest you. Twitter is also a useful tool. I follow several blogs (along with my favorite artists and game developers) so that I receive a constant stream of news. Also, since there is a 140 character limit for posts, they often read like headlines or synopses, which means you don’t have to click on each article you come across. Not only will these activities keep you in the loop, but they’ll also give you something to talk about with your newfound virtual friends.
Include Your Kid(s)
Last but not least, have your child join in on the fun. They are with you all of the time anyway so you might as well expose them to your fandoms early. If you’re a cosplayer, there’s nothing more adorably awesome than themed family costumes. Last Halloween, my daughter and I dressed up as Wanda and Waldo (from Where’s Waldo?) after our Pokemon Trainer/Pikachu costume fell through. We didn’t get to go out, but making the costumes was a lot of fun. Disney fanatic? Get on Spotify and sing Disney songs to start your morning off right. Literary nerd? Read books to them. When my daughter was a newborn, I would read Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” or scenes from The Fellowship of the Ring (particularly Bilbo’s party) to her. Excitement is contagious. If you’re really into, they likely will be too. If you’re feeling adventurous, take them with you to a convention (and show off your new costumes). They probably won’t last as long as you do, but it’s better than nothing. Plus, you’ll get the bonus of bonding with your mini me and have hobbies that you can share for years to come.
Have I missed anything? Are you a new or experienced parent who has managed to find the perfect balance? Feel free to share your accomplishments, failures, or general wisdom below.
Karla Clark is a writer and blerdy mommy from Oakland, California. When she isn’t soaring across the Andromeda Galaxy or spending far too much time customizing her character, you can find her talking to herself on Twitter at @Decaf_Pixel_Kat.