The House Husband 10 Commandments

I’ve been doing the House Husband thing for a month now. As long as I ignore the bloodletting, all is going quite well! 

To make sure things stay that way, I have composed a list of self-imposed Cardinal rules.


  1. Thou shalt not leave the house – not even for an itty-bitty-not-even-getting-out-of-the-car moment – looking like a hobo. (On a related note, sweatpants are not pants. They are pajamas with a better PR campaign. Act accordingly.)
  1. Thou shalt not be afraid of the toilet brush; he is your staunch ally. Fight well, brothers.
  1. Thou shalt not grumble when The Wife leaves her stuff scattered around the house as if she had to suddenly flee from the police. She supports you now. Pick up her things and be nice about it.
  1. Thou shalt not forget that The Boy is a boy, and boys like to scatter things around the house. That said, The Boy does not support you like The Wife does, so The Boy must pick up his own crap.
  1. Thou shalt not fart about on the internet, except for the purpose of finding work or maintaining a blog. For only these are honorable online pursuits.
  1. Thou shalt not use housework and organization as an excuse to avoid writing.
  1. Thou shalt not use writing as an excuse to avoid housework and organization.
  1. Thou shalt not be complacent in thy new career. Stay hungry.
  1. Thou shalt not eat unhealthy lunches. Hot Pockets are not healthy. Brussels sprouts are too healthy. Find a middle ground. (Said Middle Ground may be a few steps closer to Hot Pockets.)
  1. Thou shalt not ever forget that this new chapter in your life is a dream come true – and that your family helped to make it true. Never forget. Never. Ever.


94 Replies to “The House Husband 10 Commandments”

  1. My kids and I are in an ongoing debate over the latter part of #4.

    We have agreed that they are not the maids of the house, because all I want them to do is to clean up their stuff. Likewise, I am not the maid of them.

  2. #1 is pretty much the Golden Rule for me. Always dress like you wouldn’t be embarrassed to me someone important to your life.

  3. Haha, a couple of years ago, a friend called, and we chatted, and she asked how things were. And I was like “MY HOUSE IS SPOTLESS. I’ve vacuumed, I’ve scrubbed the bathroom, the dishes are caught up, I’ve swept and mopped…”

    And she went “So. Writer’s block, huh?”

    If my house is clean, you can bet I haven’t been writing, haha.

    1. When Ellen was faced with a task she didn’t want to tackle (organizing files, say), she would go on a laundry kick. Suddenly the drawers were full to bursting with every scrap of clothing we owned. The file drawers, of course, were duly ignored. By way of explanation she’d say, “I didn’t have time! I had all of this laundry to do!”

  4. This is wonderful. Number four made me laugh out loud. As for the sweatpants not being pants part, maybe you could convince my oldest teen son of that. Even if I do talk him into wearing a pair of jeans (jeans have become dress clothes for him), he reminds me next year in college he’ll wear sweats every day. From what I’ve seen out there, he won’t be alone…

      1. Ha, thanks for the great tune! Gave me a nice writing break. Now, as long as my son doesn’t grow a beard like the ZZ boys, we should be good.

  5. Nice list, but I have trouble with #7. #9 is also an issue if, let’s say, I’ve had a rough morning and I’d like to have a Haagen Dazs Dark Chocolate Chocolate ice cream bar for lunch.

      1. I don’t like making lists. Then I have to follow them….Oh yeah, there supposed to be doing some collaboration on BKPTSD. Dueling BK posts? I’m going to the SCBWI Golden Gate Conference on Friday and have a story (adult lit) for my critique group due up so it can get critiqued the following Friday, and a meeting with my SCBWI kid lit goal-setting group tonight, and…..maybe I can get to work on BK sometime next week? Sheesh. Oh, and I’ve got an audition for Listen To Your Mother: San Francisco on the Tuesday I get back from SCBWI. Did I already say, sheesh? I thought being a writer was all about sitting around watching the soaps and eating bonbons…

      2. Sheesh is right! I won’t be able to do a BK story yet either. (Psst… Don’t tell anyone, but I’m gonna have a doodle contest next week.) Let’s post on April Fools Day. Wanna ask around to see who might join us?

      3. Doodles! Yay! You can trust me. I won’t tell anyone that you’re going to have a Doodle Contest! My lips are sealed. I wouldn’t dream of saying a word about your DOODLE CONTEST THAT’s HAPPENING NEXT WEEK!!!! Not a single word. Chicken Little and I are tight. We’d never dream of spreading rumors…ABOUT YOUR DOODLE CONTEST!!!!

        Hmmmm. I think I could get my act together by April 1st.

    1. I’m glad you approve, but I hold firm to the sweatpants line.

      Speaking of which, what’s with these girls wearing sweat pants with messages on the butt? “Don’t objectify me! Now look at the bumper sticker on my ass!”

      I’m too old and crabby to understand these things.

  6. Wow, you have really figured out the playing field quickly. I’ve been working on #1 too, after having too many people say, “wow, you worked out today!” and me saying, “um, nope.”

      1. P.S. at some point you will move into the “we need some new rules around here” phase. For laundry these may include requiring everyone to wear their PJs twice, use towels twice, and buying everyone 20 pairs of the same socks to ease sorting.

  7. Yeah, this is all so real for any “writers at home.” Been there, my sons are now grown and I have a one year old grandson. People don’t always believe you are working at home, so the dressing like a grown up really helps, as so work charts and major incentives (bribes) for getting your kids to clean up. My kids became great cooks. Because I just didn’t. Thanks for your honest humor.

  8. Brilliant! I’ve been moaning about picking up hubbies stuff but really on top of all the other stuff, so if the kids pick up all the other stuff I shall not moan again (*coughs*) I shall remind myself of this list often.

  9. Have you seen The Stepford Wives? In this movie, the reason their husbands conspired to turn them into living Barbie dolls and obedient servants was because they didn’t like their less than perfect appearances, and they didn’t like them grumbling about things being left around or their conflicts with toilet brushes.

  10. And Thou Shalt Allow for imperfection in following these commandments…except #10–no slippage on that one! 😀 I’m also assuming it’s only on work days that Ellen “flees from police”? 😉

    1. Unfortunately, what Mr. Mike views as “fleeing from the police” is usually a few cosmetics left out in front of the bedroom mirror… sigh. That being said, he is so much better at being a house husband that I was at being a stay at home mom. He makes life easier every day for me! I highly recommend an OCD house husband to all!

      1. As a gentleman, I will not mention the many other objects strewn about besides cosmetics. Besides, I don’t have time to list them; I need all the time I can spare to put them all away.

      1. OK, you know what’s weird about that statement. Literally, about 2 minutes ago, I replied to a comment on my blog to Erik about my username on Pottermore: QuillWombat110. Seriously—how many times does anyone even SAY the word “wombat” and it’s in my life twice in two minutes with no direct correlation between the two whatsoever! lol

  11. Ha! Great list! Looks like you covered all the bases…loved the differentiation between #3 and #4. Good luck with that! 😉

  12. I now understand the reason I give my husband grace to not pick everything up, but not the kids. Thanks for the perspective. Having said that, after a few years, I get testy.

  13. I’d print out your rules for Newly Freelance Me (but you could NEVER call me a House Wife. I’m a writer who happens to do laundry and wash dishes when the muse is not [a]musing…), but I’d need to strike out #2. Not my thing. Ever. (Since my guy ‘freelances’ also, he can take care of #2, ur, I mean, well, you know what I mean). #5 – can we include that the Internet is okay for research purposes also? Like, right now I’m researching 10 ways to eat Brussels sprouts for lunch.

  14. Hi Mike, Great post, as always. Have you read “The Sidetracked Home Executives” by Pam Young and Peggy Jones? Amazon has a more up-to-date version than I bought back in the 1980s, but it was killer help on the home front. Lots of humor as well. Good luck, and remember to check the oven at least once a week to make sure you didn’t forget a pan of lasagna in there (yep–I ended up throwing out the dish and buying a new one on that adventure 🙂

      1. If you figure out the secret to “great cooking” (grain free, fat free, lots of veggies but everything tastes delicious) please let me know! Still trying after almost 40 years.

  15. Haha on #6 and #7! I’m taking March off from writing/editing novels and I’ve been attacking my house. All those months of editing left my apartment in a dire situation. Funny how cleaning and writing are always a trade-off.

  16. Sweatpants have a bad rap that is undeserved in my opinion. Sweatpants denote an active lifestyle. One could always be on the way to the gym. Or returning home from said gym.
    And what other article of clothing has an ode written to its utility by Childish Gambino? The answer is, none.
    Though as a father myself, I would hesitate even to mention the words ‘Childish Gambino’ to The Boy who lives with you.
    Believe me, it is only a matter of time before the words ‘Childish Gambino’ mean something (or, a lot) to The Boy, but no reason to hurry the process along.
    And please doodle a salamander for the kids of Whatcom County!

    1. I’ve never heard the musical stylings of Childish Gambino, but I have seen “active” people try to pull off sweatpants. My advice, Wes, is change at the gym. If one is active enough to work out, then one should also be active enough to change pants.

      Now, what’s all this about a salamander, now?

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