Lured in by the promise of bee costumes and ball pits, I have decided to raise my very own child in The Sims 4. Squillions of people have raised babies so it can’t be that hard, right? Also I was a child once so I’m basically an expert. This diary is going to be a walk in the park.
I wasn’t actually that interested in a Sims child until I saw the Toddler Stuff pack for The Sims 4. As in real life, the children get all the best toys and all the best clothes. Suddenly having a digital child made sense.
Obviously, raising this human might be easier said than done. The Sims universe’s social services department has an entire shelf of paperwork dedicated to my misdeeds in earlier games. Countless offspring have been wrested from my care after I neglected the care part of the equation.
With that in mind, I have decided to pick a new name for my Sim instead of using my real name—that way she will be harder to trace. No background checks for… Loretta Hewitt? Yes. I am Loretta Hewitt of Daisy Hovel, which is in the cheap neighbourhood of Willow Creek.
I haven’t given much thought to the logistics of acquiring a baby other than outlining a vague ‘Boot Up The Sims—???—Get Baby’ process, where ‘???’ would just present itself. This is likely why I found myself four hours into Project Baby and was still tinkering around with my lawn plants.
Setting the scene
I should explain which bits of DLC I’m playing with before we go further. I went with all of the most obviously parenting-related bits, so there’s the Parenthood Pack (that one’s about shaping your Sim’s childhood and adding a bunch of family activities), Toddler Stuff (clothing and decor bits and the ability to host playdates), Kids Room Stuff (more decor bits and a monster card game) and Backyard Stuff (garden things I thought might be fun for an older child). I also have Romantic Garden Stuff because a) I might need to destress during Project Baby and b) I might need to romance someone. Possibly a social worker.
Almost instantly I forget about Project Baby and decide to nurture Loretta’s interest in gardening. I don’t feel bad about the distraction because gardening is the same as having a baby. You’re caring for a lifeform, protecting it, then taking cuttings and grafting them onto other lifeforms so you can sell produce and buy furniture.
As I start along the athletic career track I circle back to the logistics of Project Baby. The biggest problem I can see is that in order to keep money coming in my sim will need to be out of the house for significant portions of the day (until my potato farm enterprise takes off ). But absence is what caused so many of the social services house calls of previous games. My options are to either stockpile cash for an incredibly early retirement-plus-babyfest or to ensnare a mate so we can cover childcare between us.
I opt for finding a partner but the reasoning casts the relationship in a mercenary light. I vow to spend time wooing the lucky someone and making them feel less like an unpaid nappy dispenser. This may take some time so I switch off character aging to give me some wiggle room.
This is when a red-haired woman jogs past my house. I start making friendly overtures and, over the course of that chinwag, I find out that this new acquaintance is family-oriented. That seals her fate. I step up the flirting and pay attention to whatever it is she’s talking about.
It’s a tale as old as time, really. Girl meets girl. Girl directs all the romance options in the dialogue tree at girl. Girl goes on date with girl to local bar and eats four bowls of chips and dip. Girl takes girl home. Girl makes out with girl on the sofa right in front of a single potato...?
Right, so one of us has somehow placed a potato on the living room floor just in front of the television. We could spend time trying to assign potato culpability or we could just shrug and decide this is our lucky make out potato and leave it there to bless our relationship.
The make out potato plan works and the woman agrees to become my girlfriend. This level of commitment means I should learn her name. It is Katrina. Please do not ask me her last name.
Katrina calls me the following day—it’s her birthday! I panic in case I was expected to provide a gift but she only wants me to attend her party. That feels like an easy way to look like I care so I take the day off work and pop over.
Reader, I am batting so far out of my league with Katrina. I live in a place called Daisy Hovel. She lives in a mansion. She has a billion rooms and an ornamental giraffe. She has an upstairs. Perhaps when you can afford anything you want, you decide to pursue things that money can’t buy. You know, like emotionally-stunted potato-hoarding paupers.
The party actually seems to be going pretty well. I do a lot of romancing to lift Katrina’s mood and then suggest our first woohoo. She’s up for it and the hearts start pouring from the bed at a fair clip!
After a post-woohoo nap I decide to ingratiate myself with Katrina’s friends by making veggie burgers on the grill in the yard. It seems to be working! I have a burger, Katrina has a burger, some other people who I stood near in the hall for a while all have a burger—this is the dream.
Then the grill catches fire. I have set fire to my rich girlfriend’s fancy mansion and have absolutely no way to extinguish the flames that are currently raging. I click ineffectually on the blaze picturing a smoking ruin in my immediate future. Luckily, a passing elderly woman has stepped in to save the day!
I feel like my time at the party has run its course so I try to find Katrina to say goodbye. But I don’t see her on the lot. I pull out my phone to try to call her but I can’t see her in the menu—I’m scanning the portraits for her red hair. Then I spot her and I realise what has happened. The elderly woman who put out my grill fire is Katrina. I switched off aging for myself but not other sims, so as part of her birthday (or maybe in response to the trauma of the fire) she has passed from adult to elder.
I turn off aging for everyone while I try to figure out what to do. Loretta is stuck as a young adult with a fondness for incredibly splashy bathtimes and Katrina is a silver fox with a mansion and an ornamental giraffe.
I ask our UK editor-in-chief, Samuel Roberts, for advice. He thinks I should try to marry rich and take the mansion for myself. That is a horrible, mercenary plan and I immediately disapprove (even though it was exactly what I’d been considering doing before I asked him). Instead, I decide to double down on romance.
That means more potato-farming in order to do the house up a bit. Katrina will still be slumming it in the hovel but at least I can make it a hovel where one could raise a child. I move the make out potato to a shelf so that it isn’t a choking hazard for any children passing by, then cap off this streak of responsible behaviour by getting Loretta a promotion at work. Loretta’s is promoted to Team Mascot and must dress up in a llama costume every day. I guess Katrina is into that as she keeps coming round for cuddles and kisses.
The time is right for the pair to move in together, so I am tasked with dividing up the previous homes. I already decided we would take the hovel to prove Samuel wrong (and because I find houses with upstairs rooms confusing) but this is when I learn Katrina has been living with three other people; her two daughters and a man called Don Lothario.
I have no idea whose responsibility Don Lothario is but I figure I can’t take the mansion away from the two daughters – it’s bad enough that their mum is banging someone their own age who dresses as a llama. I relocate Katrina to my abode and leave the others at the mansion.
A change of plans
Days pass and the daughters keep dropping by to see their mother. I busy Loretta in the garden, harvesting and selling potatoes so as to be able to afford new furniture. This is also when I discover that Katrina has the hothead trait. It means she gets really cross sometimes and wants to yell at someone nearby.
One of the daughters bugs out on our porch and just stands there with her arms outstretched. I try to get Katrina to take her anger out on the daughter because she might as well be useful while she’s bugged out. Alas she’s also untargetable so Katrina remains furious. I reload to get rid of the daughter and try to cheer Katrina and Loretta up.
I figure I’ve proven what a good person I am to Samuel by this point and have really started to go off Katrina. My revised plan is now to adopt a child, make Katrina do the childcare while Loretta works on the potato farm, and then quietly switch Katrina’s aging back on when the kid is old enough. Death is a coward’s greatest breakup tool.
I make Loretta browse the internet for babies but chicken out of a final purchase and settle for a woohoo with Katrina instead. The game warns me that putting Katrina through more strenuous activity could kill her. I am very good at woohooing.
Later that day I take a final swing at romance and make Loretta propose (in front of the make out potato, obviously). The potato does its magic and she says yes! And thus, with a loving home, a strong vegetable economy, and the second best shower unit available in the game, it’s baby time!
Under cover of darkness I make Loretta scan the web for babies. Katrina is asleep so this will just be a lovely surprise for her. In the end I settle on a baby called Lena and sneak out to fetch her. The game asks whether I want to stick with the name Lena or rename the child. I hadn’t actually thought this far ahead but I figure that I might as well see if the game understands nominative determinism.
I leave Excellent Child Hewitt on Katrina’s side of the bed and go to sleep. Project Baby has been a phenomenal success so far.