I usually play by directing one young adult/adult sim, either living alone or as part of a family, and direct most of their actions, because they tend to be, well, stupid, and drive me crazy. But I thought it might be fun, or at least, interesting, to see how a larger household of sims acts fully on their own, without me telling them what to do. And it turns out that kind of full family acts just plain colossally stupid.
I set up a house with a married couple, a child, a toddler, a cat, and a dog, and all the items they would need to fill their, um, needs. But what I found was they are simply terrible at this, especially when it comes to helping with the needs of others. The adults walked around smelly most of the time, and their sleep habits made no real sense. And I really thought they'd be able to fill a pet bowl on their own, or give a pet a bath, but they never did. They also didn't pay hardly any attention to the toddler, just taking the time once daily or so to plop her in the highchair just before she starved to death. But bathe her, no. Not in a week's time. And hardly any interactions. Most of the toddler's bars were in the red most of the time, and she stomped around enraged. They did find time to grab water from the sink, play with their phones, and watch tv. And cook single serving meals. So the child was never very well fed either, but could at least grab peas and cereal.
I mean, really. Who programmed this thing? If a line of code can make them eventually feed a toddler, then why can't it make them give a bath to one with zero hygiene? Or give 'em a hug? And why do teens and up have to take a nap the second their energy turns yellow, but they won't shower until their own hygiene enters a failure state? Pretty pathetic.
As it is, it seems like a family game can only be played through micromanagement. If you are playing a house with kids, it's more like a parenting simulation than a family simulation. Get the parent up, direct them to shower, cook a group meal, fill the pet bowls, put the toddler in the high chair and feed them, take them back out, empty the cat box, tell the dog to go pee, try to catch the toddler in the short time between it's not worth it to potty train them and when the fill their diapers, yell at someone for making yet another mess on the floor (kid, cat, toddler, dog), etc, etc. No wonder the people who enjoy playing this style wanted laundry; it'll be just another thing to add to the list to direct a sim to do. I used to be able to just let my Sims 3 sims go, and while they weren't perfect, they surely weren't this useless. So much for "Smarter Sims".