Having a kid in The Sims is like having a kid in real life — except for when it's not

Updated Oct 12 2015
My Sims 3 family!

I've been a fan of The Sims since the first version came out and I promptly began shutting myself in my room, creating little Sim worlds. My best friend and roomie once roamed the super store near our university in the middle of the night, on the prowl for The Sims. I always created myself, of course, and then every boy I had a crush on, and then a few friends. I have experienced long periods of not playing — until now, the last time I had played was when we bought The Sims Castaway while I was pregnant. I may or may not have spent hours obsessing over my Castaway baby, which we named Lentil, and deciding we were having a girl after "we" did on Castaway (we had a boy in real life), and worrying about poor little Lentil, who had to deal with Castaways-Stephanie who apparently didn't own any slings or want to breastfeed.

ANYWAY.

I borrowed The Sims 3 (note: it's fucking awesome. You can have bikes as your primary transportation, choose to be vegetarians, and if you buy the travel expansion pack, take trips to Paris and Egypt) a few weeks ago from my sister-in-law and have returned to my Sims-obsessed state. This time around I've created the family that I actually have (myself, husband Sean, and our son Jasper), and try to model their interests on our own (note: why isn't "blogger" a possible profession yet?). I've noticed that Sims-Stephanie and Sims-Sean are similar parents to both of us, and Sims-Jasper is very interested in music, like real-life Jasper. These are signs, I've told myself. Signs of awesomeness to come.

I've also noticed that Sims-Stephanie and Sims-Sean get pissed off when the house is messy or they don't get to see each other a lot, so I've played with their sleeping schedules (and, um, hired a maid, which is something real-life Stephanie and Sean haven't done) to see if I could give them some more time together. And voila — as soon as they started waking up at 4AM, Sims-Stephanie and Sean had plenty of time to clean up the bathroom (why is it always the most disgusting room in Sims worlds? Or is it just in mine?) and hang out on the couch together before making breakfast and tending to the kid.

Also: cheat codes are LIFE SAVERS. Give your Sims all the money you want and then they don't have to work and BOOM. Love abounds.

Like real-life kids, Sims-Jasper has his own challenges and rewards. Here are the things I've noticed about parenting Sims-style vs. parenting in real life:

Similarities

  • Sims parents have to be on the same page or they get stressed out: Sims-Sean and Stephanie have sometimes been annoyed with each other because they're a) over-tired, b) don't get enough time together, and c) Sims-Sean doesn't get enough time with the Sims-kid. See also: this happens in real life unless we have our shit together.
  • Your Sims-kid will totally throw tantrums when you don't want him to. Like in the grocery store.
  • Luckily, Sims-Jasper loves to snuggle as much as real life-Jasper does, or all bets would be off. Of course… snuggling with a digital version of Jasper is NOTHING like snuggling with Jasper in real life.

Differences

  • It took Sims-Jasper two days to learn to use the toilet. Real life-Jasper has been working on it for months.
  • Sims-Jasper has so far never, ever pooped in the bathtub.
  • Real life-Jasper won't let me sit him in front of his xylophone for an hour while I shower, eat, and clean the house at a relaxing pace. Sims-Jasper not only lets Sims-Stephanie, he loves it!
  • Sims-Stephanie is prone to leaving Sims-Jasper at the library when she's going home. Turns out you have to make sure the Sims parent is physically holding the child before you go anywhere, they don't just automatically pick them up when it's time to leave.
  • Sims-Jasper will happily sit in his crib for up to two hours while his parents sleep! Real-life Jasper will barely stay in his bed long enough for us to fall asleep, let alone while we're actually sleeping.
  • It's way, way easier to throw birthday parties in Sims world. You make one phone call, pick up a cake and some balloons, and BOOM. Insta-success. Or maybe it's that easy in real life and I'm over-thinking it?

Sooo… maybe there are more differences than similarities. IT'S STILL FUN.

  1. SIM LOVERS UNITE!!!! I LOVE this post. You can never help but to actually make sim-yous. It is like the unspoken rule of playing the game. I have Sims Castaway. Hubby bought it for me after I had surgery. Just as fun!!

  2. I LOVE THIS POST. and whenever I'm waiting anywhere play sims on my iPhone bc my computer needs more ram… and is clearly an argument of upgrading to a macbook pro so my resolution isn't all weird and "not enough ram"-my

  3. I never got into the Sims myself, but I love the idea that finding solutions is somehow easier when you're controlling your life as a third person. Sometimes solutions seem so obvious when you're talking about "other" people. I mean, of course it would be easier if you had boatloads of money and never had to work, but besides that… 🙂

  4. I swear to God, I was JUST THINKING ABOUT THIS TODAY. So weird! Except I was thinking about how I wish actually having the kid could be like the Sims. As in, pregnant for three days, five seconds of labor at home, miraculously walking upright immediately after, and then go about your business like nothing happened with the same exact body as before. Awesome. Sign me up. Can you tell I'm 8 months pregnant?

  5. WOW – you guys continue to read my mind. I came across this post while waiting for my Sims to load. I've been playing with my dollhouse, er, computer game since the first one came out. I actually never create myself, though. I create Sims who are like me and give them names related to mine, but I much prefer making stereotypes and extremes. The merry widow is one of my favorites in every game – she marries and then kills all the characters I don't much like. I also sometimes run my towns like warped Twilight Zone eugenics experiments – I'm running into some inbreeding problems right now. I like to think I let my inner dictator run wild onscreen to preserve my loved ones in real life.

    Oh, and in the Sims 3 you can take on the journalism career, which gets you to "Professional Blogger" at level 4. The description:

    "The internet thing is really blowing up and the Editor wants you to start writing for the Online News Group. The Professional Blogger is able to take advantage of hip new slang, cleverly modified images, and web links to spread news and opinions to readers worldwide. ROFL."

  6. Love this. My roommate in college and I shared a Sims game, and even though we set up heteronormative family units, they all broke up and created same sex families and adopted tons of babies. It was great!

    I love Sims 3 though because my family grows all of their own foods and takes romantic trips to the library and rides bikes to the beach.

  7. sometimes you have to put your infant on the floor.

    i though about the sims/real life parallel when i was nursing my newborn on the toilet (damn those post-natal stool softeners!) and to wipe… i had to just, put him on the floor lol.

  8. Great post!!! I LOVE the Sims as well – have since the beginning. I as well go through droughts of no game play – but then quickly get obsessed and play constantly for quite a while!

    I'm currently awaiting Christmas where I'll hopefully get Sims 3: Pets pack so that I can own a horse, dogs, and cats!

  9. Hahaha, this cracks me up. I have been a big fan of the Sims since the first version, and I have the Sims3 and several expansion packs right now. Like you, I go a while between playing, sometimes, but I've also always had Sims-Kara and whoever I had a crush on or was dating at the moment. I've also found that having a Sims family with my partner quells my real life baby-crazy a bit, haha. We are still years off from having real kids, but we have two teenagers in the Sims world!

  10. My sister owned the Sims when I was a teenager, and I remember being annoyed that my family-oriented Sims mom was so stressed and bored when she stayed home with the baby all day. Come on, it's a baby! It's fun! Why are you putting it on the floor to play video games?!

    Years later, my sister had a real baby, and I suddenly realized that newborns are five minutes of sky-raising delight and five hours of under-rested drudgery mixed with terror that you are going to kill the baby. Ohhhhhh…

  11. My friend and I usually have quarter annual SIMS obsessions. Since having my beautiful son Sage I was slightly dissapointed that I could not use cheat codes! My SIMS babies were left in their cribs sleeping until they could actually do cool things. I would just slide the sleep bar to negative and slid everything else to 100%. Cant do that in real life. Then again, you cant cosleep in SIMS.

  12. I love the sims! I currently have sims 3, and virtually all of the expansion packs. I highly recommend the new supernaturals game – I currently have a witch and a genie couple, although there are fairies, werewolves, vampires and ghosts. In case it isn't obvious I'm currently right in the middle of a sims obsession phase.

    I enjoy pretty much all of it, but ditto above as I frequently use it to 'practice' having children and 'plan' my wedding…. I might be a sad sad individual.

  13. Funny story: I was dating a guy in college who decided it would be romantic to make him and me in the Sims. Our digital selves soon had a baby, which was adorable and prompted all sorts of heavy conversations. We realized that having a child was something we could maybe, hypothetically see ourselves doing together someday. That all changed when he used a cheat code to SELL OUR BABY for something like a million dollars, and them proudly showed me the expansion he put onto our house with the proceeds. Suffice to say, he is not the man I currently have a child with.

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