10 Ways To Fake Being A Proper Adult, Because Sometimes Life Is Really Hard

Fake it 'til you make it.

confused woman Asti Mak / Shutterstock

My husband and I have come to one undeniable truth recently: Our parents had it all together, and we quite simply don’t.

They were organized, mature, meticulous, and intelligent. They ran smooth households with perfect attention to meal planning, household repairs, responsibilities, and cleaning.

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We try to model them—we really do. We are modestly successful at being adults when it comes to the big things. We do have careers, houses, and some semblance of a functioning household. However, the harsh truth is this: We are terrible adults. 


Over the past five years of our marriage, though, we’ve become masters at working together to fool everyone into thinking we’ve got it all together—for the most part.

Here are our top 10 tips for faking your way through the adult world.

1. Have a two-minute closet cleanup plan.

We’ve mastered the art of a deceptively clean house. We have a system down in which we can have the house appearing to be tidy and organized in under 5 minutes. We each know which closet is ours to fill, and we know which items to leave behind in our last-minute purge. Just whatever you do—don’t open any closets if you stop by for a visit.


2. Wear a sparkly, bedazzled headband to cover your inability to style your hair.

The perfect, sleek hair I imagined myself in adulthood is just too hard and takes too much effort. Keep a supply of chic headbands on hand. They make even the grossest, flattest ponytail or bun look like you tried.

3. Serve pre-made food in fancy dishes.

A grab-and-go rotisserie chicken just looks better in an elegant serving dish. Even chicken patties can be improved with the right presentation.

4. Create a cover story for your endless hours of Netflix and video games.

Learn how to talk up your responsibilities and chores to cover the fact that you spent most of your day in your pajamas eating popcorn and binge-watching shows. We’re great at making a one-hour job sound like it took hours.

5. Keep an endless supply of Clorox wipes on hand.

Muddy paws from our mastiff on the kitchen floor or living room carpet? No need to bust out the mop and bucket or the rug scrubber. Cleaning wipes take out the hard work and still help it smell lemony fresh like you actually cleaned up as you should.


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6. Only buy clothes that won’t wrinkle.

Who has time for ironing? Buy clothes with some polyester in them and you’ll always look perfectly polished without really trying. There aren’t any khakis in my closet because there isn’t a dryer in the world that can run long enough to keep them freshly pressed...and I’m certainly not getting out that behemoth of an ironing board.

7. Keep a blanket and grocery bag in your car for impromptu cleanups.

When someone asks for a ride from me, I make sure I race to the car before them. This gives me time to cover the mound of dog hair on my backseat with the blanket and toss my food wrappers into the plastic bag. The car appears clean, and I didn’t have to visit the pesky car wash and use my quarter supply to run that annoying vac.

If you ride in my car, know you’re riding with a lot of mastiff fur.


8. When you go out of the house and are social, take tons of pictures to keep up the appearance of a busy life.

Walking the dog around the block? Heading to the local convenience store? Snap some pics to make it seem like you are out and about. No one needs to know you spend every evening napping on the sofa, watching Jane The Virgin, or scrolling through social media. You don’t have to be busy—you just have to look busy, and no one will be any wiser.

9. Have a handyman in the family or as a friend.

We pretend we know how to fix things, but usually our discussion of water heaters and car engines is just a word-for-word replay of what my dad, our handyman in the family, told us. Also, when we try to fix something with superglue, he can come to bail us out and fix it correctly.

10. Or, if all else fails, just own the fact that no one has any idea how the hell to be a real adult…at least that’s the story we tell ourselves.

There’s no need to hold yourself to a perfect level of adulthood. Being a grownup is exhausting, tiring, frustrating, and difficult. Although our parents certainly seem to have had it all together, I’m sure there were times they cut corners too.

I’m sure there were times they were faking their way through adulthood with a faux smile and a genuine prayer that it would all turn out. At the end of the day, being a good adult isn’t always about being perfect at housekeeping, house repairs, social life, or work.


Sometimes being a good adult is just being innovative enough to make it through, no matter what that looks like.

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Lindsay Detwiler is the author of five contemporary romance novels including Voice of Innocence, Without You, Then Comes Love, Where Love Went, and To Say Goodbye.