This might seem like a no-brainer, but the job of a stay-at-home parent is one where you try to squeeze the most productivity into limited free time. Most of my day is spent keeping little Halford happy and distracted. This is achieved by keeping his diaper clean, his stomach full and his little developing brain occupied. During the 10 or so hours that my wife is at work that leaves me an hour, at most, to get shit done.
My daily chores look a little like this (in no particular order):
1. Scoop cat litter
2. Take out garbage/recyclables
3. Wash dishes, baby bottles
4. Harvest fruit
5. Buy fortune cookies from Tom Nook
6. Prepare dinner
7. Farm Kor’kron Lumber, Stone, Oil, Meat
8. Tend crops in Halfhill
9. Contribute to Operation Shieldwall defense
10. Dig up fossils, donate new ones to Blathers
11. Feed dogs and cats dinner, put dogs to bed in their crates
12. Do the bidding of the August Celestials
Sometimes it is hard to get to the Barrens to farm all those Kor’kron goods after a long day. Before Halford’s arrival, I regularly stayed up until 3 a.m. writing and playing games. I can barely keep my eyes open past midnight now. It is not uncommon for World of Warcraft and Animal Crossing tasks to fall by the wayside. Of course, there are zero real-world consequences for this busywork going undone.
If I don’t wash Halford’s bottles, he won’t get fed. If I don’t empty the litter, the cats will piss on our dirty clothes. If I don’t sell all the oranges in my city, Burzum, nothing will happen. I could leave my Nintendo 3DS in sleep mode for the next year and Tom Nook will wait there, patiently, for me to pay off my mortgage.
But what I will miss is the satisfaction of paying off that loan and seeing my Animal Crossing home grow. In the past two weeks my Night Elf hunter, Tura, has equipped new boots, spaulders (with wicked tusks jutting out) and chest armor – purple items much stronger than anything she’s been sporting for the past six months. After several weeks of washing baby bottles every night, I have nothing to show but dry hands. Months of nightly cat litter disposal means you probably won’t smell the whiff of cat urine on my shirt when we’re hanging out.
I’ve got a fairly easy life when all things are said. These jobs I do are done in the comfort of air conditioning and without the fear of being shot by roving bands of marauders. Just the same, it is not hard to feel like I’m working just to keep my head above water. When the uninitiated wonder why folks dedicate so much time to FarmVille farms or World of Warcraft reputation grinds, I have to wonder what loot, rare items or achievements they manage to squeeze out of real life to keep them going. This Holy T-Shirt of Cat Piss Resistance just ain’t enough.
Pretension +1 is a weekly column about the intersections of life, culture and videogames. Follow Gus Mastrapa on Twitter @Triphibian.