July 3, 2007

The Sims As Postpartum Trainers


Here is a Swistle pregnancy tip: play The Sims computer game in your third trimester.

On The Sims, you monitor the mental and physical health of your Sims people by consulting a little panel of bars. There is a bar for hunger, a bar for fun, a bar for needing to pee, a bar for needing comfort, etc. A bar heading toward solid red means things are getting dangerously bad; a bar heading toward solid green means things are looking good. A little diamond hovers above the head of the Sim, giving a summary of all the bars combined: green is good, grey is getting bad, red is time to dive for cover.

If you experience postpartum the way I do, you will have times when you start feeling all darty-eyed and frantic and crazy and sad, and everything is bad at the same time, and it seems as if the only solution is to sit there and cry at the futility of existence. There are so many things I need, and I know that if I get them I will feel better, but I'm so overwhelmed by the sheer number of things I need that I can't even do a single one. It feels pointless even to try to pee, since the house will still be a mess and I'll still be starving and I'll still need a shower and the baby will still want to be clumped sweatily on my shoulder every minute of every day and I'll still have a dishtowel stuffed under my shirt because all my nursing bras are in the laundry basket.

If I've been playing The Sims for the last couple of months, however, I will be in auto-play mode, seeing little red/green bars wherever I turn. I will not try to get every single one of my bars to green but rather to improve the bar-averaging diamond over my head by fixing the things that are easiest to fix. It is helpful to remember that even just peeing will improve your overall situation; it works for a Sim, anyway. Eating a muffin improves things still further. Putting one dirty plate in the sink = even better. Every small thing you do will add up. And that is good, because there are times when a single small thing is about all you can manage. Go pee now, there's a good girl.

21 comments:

Jodi said...

I hate when they pee on the floor because they aren't smart enough to go to the toilet. :)

Soon enough the postpartum hormonal mess will be over. Hang in there girl!

P.S. I tagged you!

Marie Green said...

I love this comparison. I think I'm running on mostly greens, and then I have a day where it's red EVERYWHERE and it really throws me. It always boggles my mind how much there is to do in order to stay ahead, or stay green, and how easily the balance is tipped.

This is a good comparison for motherhood in general, I think!

nowheymama said...

Getting off the computer to go to the bathroom now...

Michelle said...

This is fantastic, and an excuse to play The Sims when I should be doing other things - see it prepares me for real life!

CAQuincy said...

I got hooked on that game not long after having my first. Imagine my horror when my Sim couple were "magically" granted a baby, and then I--the omnipotent operator--didn't realize the baby's crib had to be in the same room as the Sim. My Sim went to bed--and didn't hear the baby cry. And those darn nights go SO FAST I couldn't manually wake her up, either. Next thing I know, the CPA bursts their way into the house and took the baby! Yeah--how's that for making you feel like a good mother?!

Sleep deprivation is not good--whether real or simulated.

Hang in there, Swistle!

Swistle said...

CAQ: Social services took my first Sims baby, too! I was so horrified, almost weeping!

desperate housewife said...

Man, this made me laugh, remembering the days of Sims addiction... Not personally, in my case, but both my sisters. So though I don't play, I understand the game's mechanics.
Anyways, I thought it was a genius analogy about the overall wellbeing bar. I can get so OCD that I am constantly, constantly reminding myself, "Just do the next thing." Not, "Sit here and think despairingly of the hundred bajillion things you must do before you will actually feel like you've made a dent."

Omaha Mama said...

I like your theory about doing just one thing. It's my motto for the summer.

Except that it's not quite grand enough to make hubs appreciate my hard work. It's more likely to cause an eyebrow raise.

Ah well, just keep plugging away!

Amie said...

I just wanted to delurk and tell how much I enjoy your blog. I also have five children, in fact I had my fifth baby (first girl) just a few weeks before you so these postpartum posts really hit home.

Kelli in the Mirror said...

Do you know, I have already linked to your postpartum post twice because it's just so good, and now I will have to link to this as well. Because if you've played computer games even once, this makes total sense.

Shannon said...

must...buy...sims...

and fireworks!!

el-e-e said...

Love the Sims reference! Me too, it's been a long time since Hubby and I were glued to those guys. :) Happy memories.

Peeing = good.

Shelly said...

That Henry is one adorable baby!!!

Erica said...

Blah, blah, blah, Sims are great, blah blah blah.

What I really want to talk about is HENRY! He's so yummy looking. He's starting to lose that "plucked chicken" look that newborns have. He's scrumptious, Swistle dear.

Yummy? Scrumptious? Can you tell that I just want to nibble him?

Misguided Mommy said...

man i remember my baby blues, i cried over nothing, i cried if i was happy, sad, i cried if i hadn't cried in a few minutes and i remembered the last time i cried, i cried if i tried to eat while holding the baby, when i kept reading and reading those sids brochures. i just cried and cried...sigh

Karly said...

I LOVE the Sims! Do you play 1 or 2? I think my favorite part about it is building and decorating the houses! Screw taking care of the little people...I do that enough in real life.

Erin said...

Great comparison! I like this thought that fixing one little thing can improve your overall green-over-red balance. Now if only I coud get some sleep because my sleep deprivation gauge is all red.

Misguided Mommy said...

i tried to play sims once. after taking two hours to dress my girl i killed her in less then 20 minutes. i super sucked at that game

Mommy Brain said...

Yeah, but in the SIMS if you take care of the baby for three days it turns into a self sufficient child. Sadly, this didn't work when my own babies came home.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

I love that you play The Sims!

We have played it (obsessed over it) as well and it is a fabulous miniature of real life. It's clear that the developers put a ton of psych research into it.

I can see my Environment bar sitting in the red as we speak. All day...every day.

Sigh!

Carolyn said...

This goes back to your "drop in the bucket" post (which I LOVE!) Such a good visual to keep in mind when getting overwhelmed :)