|"Why am I not playing a game?!?"|
The Seven P's
Have you heard of the Seven P's? Here they are: Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance. That means if you're going to get this right, you're going to need to plan it a little. This gets easier each time, so don't stress that you have to put some thought in ahead of time. Gaming with the kids around and minimizing interruptions of gametime requires a plan.
|"Let's get crafty!"|
Don't forget the food!
So... kids get hungry. True story. Adults do, too. And if you're going to be sitting down for long enough to play a boardgame, the likelihood of this happening is... yeah, it's going to happen. My advice is to have this scheduled and the food prepared ahead of time, something that can easily be eaten at the game table, that the kids don't object to, and that doesn't require a massive cleanup. Spaghetti? Bad choice. Pizza? Better. Add snacky finger food to the mix and you are golden. This all works especially well when a lunch/dinner time is scheduled and everyone knows there'll be crackers, apple slices and string cheese or something until then.
|Unsolicited deckbuilding advice...|
Adventures Nearby Babysitting
Do you know who kids think are absolutely amazing? Bigger kids! You know that 13 year old girl down the street who wants to babysit your kids for some extra cash, but is just too young to be responsible for the kids by herself? Why not hire her to watch your kids at your house while you game? We have done this before and it works out really well. And if other people are bringing their kids over, you can possibly arrange beforehand for the other parents to chip in. This is really an "everybody wins!" situation, but it does require a little cash.
Rotating Parental Duties
My wife Angie and I are both gamers, and when gaming is happening, we both want to be at the table. Sometimes, though, we know it's just not feasible for that to happen. Every now and then, one of us will take care of the kids while the other games. If you step this up a little, and you're planning a regularly occurring game day, one excellent way to have a satisfying game is to have one parent of however many participants to rotate being the one who hangs out with the kids. If there are three couples with kids, for example, being willing to sit out one in six games (or whole game days) gets you five others to relax and not worry too much about the parenting. That assumes everyone in the equation is a gamer; if there's a non-gamer spouse among the mix, making an arrangement with him or her ahead of time ("I'll watch the kids while you go out one night if you watch them while I game...") can really be a great setup.
Know When To Hold 'em
|"...and this is where Daddy crushes those other chumps."|
Know When To Fold 'em
|Ideally, you step away before this happens...|
After all is said and done, I recommend spending a little extra special time with the children. If you make this a habit, they will be more likely to behave during your gaming when they extra attention will follow. Snuggles, stories... whatever you do to show them you appreciate them.
I hope this helps! Adequate planning can get you back to the table and enjoying playing games once again. I don't think I even need to say that this isn't an exhaustive list. So... how do you make your game days fun for everyone? What are your best tips? I'll tell you what... leave a tip for making a game day great, and I'll tip you one GeekGold on BoardGameGeek. Be sure to leave your BGG username!