Cleaning The Kitchen (With Authority!)

It’s a balancing act.

Today I’m home on the first Monday of my new life. I get my exercise in and do my Internet rotation of checking email, comments, messages, yada yada yada. I’m going to vacuum the house and actually remove the mattresses spread across the living room from the 7th grade sleepover held on Saturday night.

Then Jennifer calls and tells me youngest is in the nurses office at school. For the last four years a sick kid has required Jennifer to bail out of work and go get them. I couldn’t go because someone has to be having a genuine 911 emergency to leave my shift. I gotta be honest, when Jennifer called me and told me youngest was sick, I totally missed the cue and was in nurse mode like I was dealing with one of my staff reporting one of my clients was ill. Crap I mean ex-clients. Dammit ex-staff.

Anyway, half of my brain is running the circuit where I tell the kid off patiently teach about faking illness to get  ginger ale from the sick food cabinet and/or a day off school. The other half of my brain is wondering why Jennifer is even calling me about this without knowing what youngest’s temperature is. I need vital signs.

Oh… oh… duh. Sure I’ll go get youngest. No problem.

I go back to email for about twenty seconds and…. holy crap I can’t sit here, or I’ll zone out and be here for another two hours.

To the Atholmobile!

/Spinning TV Transition Effect

I go collect Princess Nausea and bring her home. She immediately plops on the mattress in the living room, pulls a blanket over her and falls asleep. She didn’t give me a chance to get vital signs. She didn’t even ask for ginger ale. I have a speech I want to give.

Anyway, youngest is a pain and suffering trooper so I’m good with all this. But sleeping in the middle of the living room floor is messing with my vacuuming plan. So I Plan B it and start cleaning the kitchen.

Well I mean I’ll start cleaning the kitchen after I get all this email cleared away… and maybe one more level.

/Spinning TV Transition Effect

Crap is that the time? Cleaning the kitchen, cleaning the kitchen, cleaning the kitchen…

I actually mildly enjoy cleaning in the “bringing order to chaos” sense. I’m not a fan of scrubbing, but I do like having completed cleaning something. About halfway through the process Jennifer comes home. About two minutes of being home, Jennifer is getting in my way by attempting to finish the process of cleaning the kitchen. She probably has a mixture of “dirty kitchen guilt” and a mild fear that I’m perhaps angry about something… probably the dirty kitchen, plus she asked me to pick up youngest from school. Like I’m about to go all Hulk and break shit.

I’m standing there holding a dish towel unloading the dishwasher etc and now she’s physically standing between me and the sink/dishwasher. She blocking me and starting to wash dishes in the sink…

In days gone by I would have simply gotten pissed off about this and… well…  literally thrown in the towel. “Fuck you bitch if my cleaning the kitchen isn’t up to your standards” I would have said loudly and firmly in my internal monologue. “Do it your own damn self.” would have been a great follow up too. I would have just grumped away in reality though.

All I did was shoo her out of the kitchen. “I’m just cleaning, let me finish. I told you I was going to do one chore a day and youngest is sleeping in the living room so I can’t vacuum.”  Jennifer looks disoriented. I tell her again, “I’m not mad or anything. It’s over. We made it.”  She still looks semi-lost but she prompts me to use the old baking soda I’m about to toss out to clean the sink. I do. Holy crap the sink shines shines like Excalibur. I did not know that would happen.

Eldest comes in and looks around at the shiny kitchen. She looks concerned. “Are people coming over?”

Damn you people.

“I’m just cleaning the kitchen!”

I twirl the dishtowel and SNAP! it against the cutlery drawer like a whip.

Peace at last.

Jennifer: It’s going to take some getting used to lol. Fear the whippy dish towel LMAO.



  1. Ha! Definitely looks like a lifestyle adjustment. I’m not sure what your office setup is like or if you use one, but do you find yourself making whatever setup you use more office-like? I think I’d have to or else I’d drift off into something non-work related for a few hours. Especially when faced with other distractions.

  2. I have just semi-retired and it has made for some interesting, but relatively painless, adjustments to the marriage dynamic.

    You might want to think about doing a post on SAHD Game, when you have some miles on the clock.

  3. anonymouse says:

    What is it with boys and their whippy dishtowels? ;)

  4. alphaguy says:

    Athol, speaking from experience. I highly recommend you find an office outside of the house before you end up getting divorced. My wife and I nearly got divorced working on our business at home with each other all day long. I quit my corporate job in 2005 and work from home. In 2008 my wife quit her job to join me. In 2011 wife and I nearly get divorced and she goes back to the corporate world. Sure there were some other extenuating circumstances that made things bad, but being together all day 7 days a week can make things go from great to crappy in short order if you don’t watch it very carefully. It’s my thought that married couples need some separation during the day (unless you are on vacation) to create tension and attraction. YMMV…

  5. You snapped a towel in front of Jennifer. This is conclusive proof that you are holding her down, keeping her in fear for her life, you savage beast. :)

  6. I would have been lost too if I were Jennifer, the kitchen is my turf.

  7. @alphaguy:

    Could be wrong, but it sounds like Jennifer still works outside the home so hopefully this will be less of a problem for her and Athol. Definitely agree that both living and working in the same space with an S.O. would drive most people to the brink of insanity.

  8. Heh.

    Mrs. Ironwood’s kitchen privileges are limited to begin with, and I don’t believe even once in our 20 year history has she tried to get between me and the sink. If she did a load of dishes I would faint from surprise, and then go see what she did wrong. She’s not a natural domestic.

    In regards to making the transition, I would strongly encourage you to go ahead and develop a routine schedule, else you’ll soon find that all of your family errands are sapping the strength from your writing time. If you aren’t spending at least two to four hours a day hammering away at the keyboard, you’ll find plenty of excuses not to before long. Keeping a good solid block of time that you set-aside to write is going to be key to your success.

    Oh. And go have lunch with Jennifer at work at least once a week. Makes a big difference to see her someplace other than home.

  9. Trimegistus says:

    I said this before when you announced your new career, and now I’m going to chime in and agree with Alphaguy. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!

    You’re already becoming the “stay-at-home mom” of the family, even though you left your other job to remain the primary breadwinner. Rent a cheap office, or rent a storage unit and put a desk in it, or find a coffee shop with lots of electrical outlets and baristas whose tastes in music you can stand. If there’s a university nearby, the library is another good option.

    But if you expect to get ANY work done — and expect to remain The Captain in the family — GET OUT! NOW!

  10. I'm a man says:

    I’ve worked from home for 14 year, i have an office with a door. I use the door …touching the door is not cool. No knocking, opening or standing outside the door (food or beverage delivery is the exception). Yes I’m around all the time and that’s a problem that i have to address by leaving the house for other activities. An alpha male should be able to discipline himself, set boundaries and operate in the corporate world without fighting traffic and donning a suit.

  11. Stargate Girl says:

    Snap that towel Athol! Jennifer just might like it :D

  12. I swear, If my huband ever cleaned the kitchen, I would find it very difficult not to jump his bones right then and there on the kitchen floor. Of course with the kids around that would be difficult, but a girl can dream…

  13. Over It says:

    OK, I laughed at all the comments reminding ATHOL (Hello? The guy who writes this blog?) that he needs to step up and be the Captain. Or how to continue being alpha. Doesn’t anyone else see the humor here?

    I will agree that distractions are easy to get into, though. I like to put a door between me and anything I might be tempted to clean. Problem solved!

  14. Highlander says:

    I agree with the ‘get out of the house’ posts, been there, done that. For some reason, at some point, your wife will resent you being home, even if you are the primary bread winner. While women claim they’d died and gone to heaven if they found a man who could clean the house, do laundry run the kids around and pay all the bills, it’s not so.

    Other women hate the idea someone has a husband like that and they egged on the wife about it at work, with the fact you get to stay home and she doesn’t, she misses out spending that time with the kids, Your probably sitting around in the yard and not working like you say you are etc. yada, yada,yada….After a while they believe all this crap.

    They get into their 40’s and suddenly the job does not seem so fulfilling anymore, even if they were the one pushing to go to work, mean while you got to do what you wanted… it’s so unfair, I hate this shit….. Before you know it , the the speech time and she’s shagging some guy in accounting…..

  15. @Over It: Indeed, too funny. I think Athol knows what he’s doing, guys.

  16. Re: posters saying you should ‘get out of the house’, having worked at home, my advice would be to plan on eventually getting out of the house, but for now enjoy every second of getting to stay at home. It is a great change of pace when you are coming out of an office/corporate environment, even moreso if your kids are around. Be diligent, get your work done, be careful about distractions, but also enjoy yourself… otherwise what’s the point?

    I managed to work from home for just shy of two years before I realized it was time to move my operation to an office. When it’s time, you’ll know.

  17. Rachael says:

    @Overit. Well said.
    I don’t agree with the ‘get out of the house’ posts. I work from home, i have 4 kids, and I get my job done. Yes you need to define work time and chore time, you need to be able to walk past the laundry that needs folding and the dishes that need washing on your way to the computer, but if you have any level of self control, it’s possible.
    Athol seems like a very self aware man, I doubt he’s going to let something as silly as laundry get in the way of something he has worked so hard to achieve.
    Also a point to consider, I worked with my husband, in close proximity in a small office for 4 years, if anything it made us closer. I was able to appreciate what he does for us everyday and watching him build/manage a successful business and be a great leader…well there’s nothing more alpha than that is there? I could have jumped him in the boardroom every single day. ;-)

  18. FeralFelis says:

    I get target fixation when I am concentrating on something (anything…it might even be cleaning the kitchen when I should be working on the computer…or vice versa!).

    Now I use the alarm clock on my cell phone as a timer; the alarm rings for more than a minute, so even if I don’t notice right away that it is ringing, at some point it gets my attention and I can switch to the next event on the schedule.

    What a world of difference it has made for me! Now I don’t lose myself in spreadsheets for 6 hours at a time!

  19. Over the years I’ve heard plenty of women say they couldn’t stand the thought of working with their husband all day. I never understood that. I would love to be with my husband all day. I would shake my head in confusion and think – why wouldn’t, you want to be with him so much? It sounded wonderful to me.
    I think now, what I was seeing was a blue-pill husband and a wife, who ofcourse, could think of nothing worse than having to boss and shit-test her husband around all day because he is constantly deferent to her. Why would she want more of what annoyed her every night? The husband was not her Captain. He was
    only her husband.
    The point I think a lot of you are missing is Athol is not just Jennifer’s husband, he is her Captain too. A woman may not be able to stand her blue-pill husband all day, but a First Officer is perfectly happy to be with her Captain every day.

  20. oops, sorry for the italic mistake.

  21. My wife worked outside of the home for a few years when I was getting my business up and going and then came to work for me. That lasted about a year, and we found that while we really enjoyed being around eachother all day, we (neither one of us) enjoyed having the boss/employee role in our marriage, and she wasn’t interested enough in my line of work to want to be a true partner in the business. So she started a seperate business that brings in a little extra cash each month but also allows her flexibility to take off for school events, shuttling kids around, etc… and her office is next door to mine so we see eachother throughout the day. We’ve been doing it this way for a little over three years now and it has been wonderful.

    I have a large extended family who are all pretty close, and have noticed that in our family there are a bunch of husband/wife working teams (my parents, grandparents, two sets of aunt/uncles, and three different cousins all work together daily with their spouse). I think it is a good set up for people who can do it. I also think there are some couples who have good marriages but for who working together would be a disaster. Either way, in modern society it is about as close as you can get to the agrarian system that made one-man/one-woman pairings a standard in the first place.

  22. Jennifer still works her job AND her little part time one as well. We have both been working very hard for a very long time. We’re balancing things here.

    It’s going to be an adjustment for sure, but bear in mind I’ve done all of MMSL to date “from home” in my spare time. We’re going wireless and turning the “office” used as a spare bedroom into a proper office fairly shortly.

    Step by step. We’re growing.

  23. alphaguy says:

    The other pitfall is that you’ll become the defacto person to do all the chores around the house. At first you won’t know it, but then it’s “honey can you run up to the store and get some milk?”. Then, “Can you pick up the kids at school”, next thing you know you are running around doing Honey Do stuff all day long. Be firm! Save it for the weekend or in the evening. I speak from experience!

  24. Oh I know how it can be Alphaguy. I tend to write best in the evening, so chores in the morning make more sense.

  25. Congratulations on quitting your day job.
    This is now a very interesting dynamic. Not only have you lost the status that comes with going out to hunt Sorry, I mean ‘work’.
    But also, having successfully monetized your sex life, you are now entirely dependent on its healthy continuity to earn a living…

  26. Doug1111 says:

    I thought you were supposed to be spending the time you’re no longer spending on your nursing job, more quickly and less exhausting finished the second edition of your book.

    You seem to be turning into a stay at home dad. If Jennifer doesn’t get docked pay from work to pick up a sick child, why couldn’t she do that?

    She has to use Paid Time Off or make up her hours somewhere else.

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