Writer of the Nexy Blog and host of the Nexy Show (formerly known as the Casually Casual Podcast), Esmeralda Sky juggles gaming, crafting hobbies, a full-time day job, being a wife, and, of course, being a mom to two mini-humans. She’ll be the first to tell you it’s not easy but it’s well worth every minute.
Location: East Coast, USA
Brood: Two kids, 17mo and 5mo
Current games: I am currently playing World of Warcraft but in a relaxed way! I have been playing WOW for 5-ish years now and I continue to play but I log in for different reasons now that I have kids. I log in if I have the time and energy at the end of my day. I log in to visit with my long time friends in-game and also new friends I have been lucky to make! I am also interested in a new MMORPG slated to come out this year called Wildstar. I am really intrigued and excited to see what Wildstar has in store for us. I am ALSO playing/addicted to Clash of Clans on my phone!
Hobbies (gaming related or otherwise): Jewelry making, specifically with natural stone and crystals. I love to wire wrap and build my own designs. I tried to pick more hobbies, but they are all of the crafting sort! My husband and I do enjoy fishing and shooting our bows when we have the time to do so. I love working with Fimo clay, painting, making rag dolls—anything I can make and have fun doing it is what I love to do. I currently podcast as a hobby, as it is something I can do that will not be a choking hazard like jewelry making can be. A lot of crafting hobbies can be dangerous around small children, but podcasting and even blogging allows me to create, share, and vent about something but also do it in the comfort of my home just like gaming.
Other stuff you’re into: I watch all kinds of TV. A LOT of kids shows while we are playing— Thomas the Train, Wonder Pets, Mickey’s Clubhouse, and Sesame Street, just to name a few. We do not watch any scary or violent shows or movies around the kids as I was raised that way. We do not want to put any of that nasty stuff in our children’s minds, which isn’t that hard because I do not like anything other than comedies and action for the most part! I mainly watch mainstream shows like The Mentalist, Person of interest, The Black List, Elementary, MOM, The Millers, The Middle… Pretty much any show that is action or comedy!
I love all kinds of music and listen to each kind depending on my mood! I love to read, but I don’t have too much time to sit down right now, let alone read; perhaps some day in the distant future I will! =D
Do you have employment outside of the home?
My husband and I work full time, 40 or more hours a week. We contemplated me perhaps quitting after we had our second child 5 months ago, but we decided to stick it out as long as we could in order to provide them with everything they need without feeling like they had to go without.
My mother was a stay at home mom and I feel that my sister and I turned out to be really blessed and happy kids. We haven’t given up on the concept of having me stay home; we are just waiting to be in a place financially where we can downsize in areas that would allow us to have the best of both worlds. So far it has been a struggle to balance family time, sleep, and work. I usually run on 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night and that takes its toll sooner or later.
We want to avoid day care as much as possible during these younger years as everyone of my friends and family who rely on daycare are bringing home sick kids every week with illness on top of illness. They are missing school and work and going through a lot of suffering as a whole. I also have a hard time trusting strangers with my kids. I would feel better having them go to a daycare when they are older and with someone I know and trust. I am definitely one of those paranoid mommas, but I feel most times often than not, my paranoia is justified. I envy any mother who has the ability to stay home with their children and I hope they use the time they are given to mold them into amazing little people. It can be hard on parents on both sides, working and stay at home parents— each has their own individual struggles and the grass always appears a bit greener on the other side.
I know my mother wouldn’t trade being a stay at home mom for the world, but I know she often wonders what sort of a career she would have had if she would have chosen to be a working mom. It was also hard on her once [my sister and I] were both grown and out of the house. You would think she would have cheered and felt relieved, but her identity for so long was that of a parent, that when her parenting skills were not as needed as they were before, she had to “find herself” all over again. That was a struggle, but then came her grandkids and she felt right at home again. Being a parent is not easy. Being a working parent is not easy. But realizing you will never know it all and each day is a new opportunity to be better at it can help get you through it.
How long have you been gaming?
Since I was 6-7 ish? I started gaming on my parents’ Atari. I quickly got addicted to Frogger and I decided it would be pretty cool to pretend I was sick so that I could stay home and play their Atari. Needless to say, they quickly caught on!
When Nintendo came out, I spent an entire summer break trying to beat Maniac Mansion. I almost beat Zelda when my younger sister removed my memory card form my Nintendo and I had to start all over again. I was too upset and fried on that game to even contemplate starting it over! We then played a lot of interactive games like ATV Racing, World Olympics, and Duck Hunt. In my later teens I became interested in PC games like Age of Empires and Sims-type games. Later in life we bought a Wii when it came out but we do not really play it anymore as I play PC games; we will play with it with my kids as they get older. I Prefer MMORPGS over all else, so I’m really not into console games anymore.
How did you get into gaming?
My parents had an ATARI and my father was addicted to playing Pac Man! He would get out of work at 11pm and play Pac Man until 2 to 3 am. My mother hated the noise it made and had to sleep with ear plugs. :)
What was your first game?
Gaming and the Family
When your little ones are old enough, will they be getting into video games?
I have thought about this a lot. My husband is not a gamer, but ironically he is the one who got me started on playing World of Warcraft! He has played console games more than computer games, but he is an outdoors-type person above all else. I myself can see us allowing games as something done when homework and chores are done, as it was when I was growing up. I use gaming like that for myself as an adult. I do not log in or play unless my housework is done and my family is taken care of; then I will head down stairs and log in and exhale.
Will/Do you seek out games you can play together?
Ideally, I would like to play with them , or at least have the game in a family room heavily traveled by other family members. I want to avoid having them become addicted to gaming as many people of all ages can be, so I plan on balancing game time with outdoors, family, playing, and reading time.
Are there things you (want to) do in your current games with your kid?
Currently, both of my kids are too small to really play, but I have BG’d/quested with them on my lap. My daughter is in love with my keyboard and loves watching the screen to see my character run and fly around. She loved watching the brightly colored wasps in the Jade Forest in WOW. I would love to get the family playing a TCG game with friends in the future! They look like so much fun!
Where do you personally draw the line between “Games for Mom/Dad” and “Games for everyone?”
I will allow games that mirror the values we will/have instilled in our kids. We will not raise them to respect others, then have them sit down and play Grand Theft Auto where you can run around with a bat and rob and kill people. We will not have them learn how to responsibly use a fire arm with their father on hunting trips, then hand them a video game where they use the firearm to mow down people in a shopping mall. Part of being a parent is being a role model, not always their friend. I feel that if you spend more time trying to gain “Cool Parent” points by allowing them to play video games that promote violence, then you are going to run into more problems down the road. There is a time and a place for everything. When kids grow up and are old enough to understand that what they are seeing is a game—and only a game—then I think it is OK to start introducing more mature games as you see fit.
For example, my nephew is 5 and loves to play his Lego Star Wars game. He also has a hard time realizing that it is a game as he gets so involved in attacking the bad guys. Once, when he was playing with my mother ( his “G-ma”), she accidentally shot his character instead of the bad guy they were after. This sent my normally calm and sweet nephew into a rage where he then turned around and started punching my mother! When my mother shouted out at him to stop, he lunged at her in order to try and cover her mouth so his mom would not hear. My sister’s only form of discipline has been verbal reprimands and time out. He has never been swatted on the butt or hit in any way. He is not allowed to watch violent movies, yet he still became violent when he started to look at his fictional character as being real. He identified with his Lego character to the point that he felt like my mother was shooting him when her “toon” shot his “toon” on accident.
We have to be very careful not only to what we expose our kids to, but how they are perceiving what they are being exposed to as well. There is no umbrella statement that will cover every age and reaction— it will have to be weighed on a kid-to-kid basis. I think we need to just gauge what our kids can personally comprehend on a fiction level because what they can understand at certain ages might be night and day in comparison to what another child can understand in regards to fiction and non-fiction circumstance.
Will there be games that are “just for the kids?”
A game would have to be pretty boring for me not to play it with them, as it does not take much to entertain me! :) I have heard a lot of great things about “ABC Mouse” on the computer for younger kids that mixes academics with gameplay, while also teaching them how to use a computer. That seems pretty beneficial in a lot of areas but I would still only rely on it in moderation.
What are the rules you lay down— or will lay down— for gaming to the kids?
1. Age appropriate games
2. Games will not be sexually suggestive or violent
3. Games will be played after homework and chores are complete.
4. Gaming will be evenly balanced with time spent outside, crafting, playing, etc.
Do you try to make gaming educational even if it’s not a “for kids” or “educational” game? Or do you try to keep gaming strictly as entertainment, fun, and for relaxing? (Not that learning can’t be fun, entertaining, or relaxing, but you know as well as I do that sometimes you just want to smash pixels and not have to think about it.)
I have not had to cross this bridge yet, but I think I will mold the game into fun and educational appropriately depending on the kind of game we are playing.
On Being a Gamer Parent
Do the non-gamers in your life confront you about “still being a gamer” after, or even before, you became a parent?
At first, but my family sees how it does not take precedence over my responsibilities and my relationships.
Consequently, do you ever feel like you have to hide your gamer pride when you’re with your kid or doing “adult things” (e.g. groceries, etc)?I have not really run into any gaming talk in public settings, but I do not have anyone else in my life or my circle of friends whom I can discuss it with, other that one of my close friends who got me started playing WOW. I really do not discuss it too much unless someone else begins the discussion. I guess I feel the stigma still exists that if you play games you’re childish. I honestly can see where this comes from, though, as I have seen people get addicted to the “game” and see their life spiral out of control. I am just the type to not really talk about myself in general, so that might be another reason why I do not discuss my gaming, as I also do not discuss my podcasting. I will, however, talk to random parents about their kids and my kids at great length!
Do you sense any scrutiny, resistance, etc from others simply because you’re a gamer parent? (E.g. Do you get weird looks if you’re at the store wearing a Horde/Alliance shirt with your kid in tow?)
I haven’t received too much scrutiny. I have actually found it to be like a secret club that if you say a word like “Aggro” or “QQ” you will get a raised eyebrow and a look craving you to say something a little more that will make them sure you are a gaming parent and will talk to them about gaming.
Has gaming affected your parenting at all, or vice versa? Do you sometimes feel like some instances with your kid/baby are raid/BG deja vu?
I think that gaming has been a nice release for me in a world where I have to be serious and on guard over 2 other baby humans. I have found that it has offered an outlet for me to group up with others all over the world who enjoy the same stuff in game as I do. I have been able to create friendships with other players based on our love of the game, void of our real life roles, titles, and responsibilities.
Do you think you’ve gained some skills from gaming that make you a better parent, and vice versa?I think gaming has allowed me to stay in touch with my inner child, to be able to feed my thirst for fun in a healthy way from the comfort of my own home. Keeping in touch with your inner child comes in handy when you are a parent because being serious all the time frankly “sucks,” and I strongly advise against it. I may be a bit biased on that topic as my mother was a professional clown! We were raised to laugh and have fun! I think that gaming as parents, if done correctly, also helps us to unwind from other areas in our life that stress us out. Having gaming as an outlet also helps us not to take out our frustrations on our loved ones, too.
How has becoming a parent affected your gaming? Do you game less? More often? Only at specified times?
I game less. I game at night or when my kids are napping. I also game less buzzed than I used to! In the past I would get out of work and grab some wine head to my computer. I would laugh it up and run Battlegrounds without a care in the world all night long with friends in WOW till I could barely keep my eyes open. I used to run a guild full of fun, friendly, and amazing people. I used to spend a lot of my free time in Azeroth.
Now, I spend my free time with two amazing little babies. I might have a glass of wine when they fall asleep while my husband is home. I do not want to be any level of buzzed if I am the only person home in case of an emergency and I have to drive them to the Emergency Room. Being a parent has allowed me to see my priorities and align them very fast. It has shown me how to shelve my hobbies accordingly for the betterment of two amazing little humans. I think being a new parent is hard on every parent at first because you cannot do your “special me me me things” as much as you were used to. I cannot fathom choosing to bring a beautiful soul into the world only to turn around and resent it for taking away my special “me” time. They should replace your hobbies, in my opinion. I believe if you’re a parent it is your duty to raise your child to the best of your ability at all times— and in order to do that you can not be a selfish, grouchy, mean, and self absorbed individual in my book.
Just for Fun
If you could adapt 3-5 video game abilities into real life to help with parenting, what would they be?
1- I would like to have the Crafting/cooking ability WOW offers where I could just gather all of my ingredients, click CREATE, then walk away while breakfast lunch and dinner made itself!
2- I would like to have access to flying mounts. I would like to buckle my family into our flying dragon and soar over the traffic and land at our destination.
3. I would like to have aspect of the cheetah so I could work and do my chores faster which would grant me more time to sit down, relax, and play with my family
My kids are most like my hunter pets in WOW when they are set to aggressive because… They will follow me around most of the time unless they catch something out of the corner of their eye and I look to my side to see them and , POOF! They are getting into trouble within a half a second later!