You're Not A Real Grown-Up Until You've Done These 11 Awful Things

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stressed woman

Having kids didn’t make me feel like an adult. Neither did buying a house or paying for my own car insurance.

I realized I was an adult when I looked at a household task and realized, crap. No one’s going to do that unless I do.

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That’s what being an adult means: knowing that no one’s going to do those invisible, annoying tasks unless you do them yourself.

No longer can you rely on your mom to do something (childhood) or just ignore it (college student). Nope. You want it done, you do it yourself (an inevitable part of growing up). And chances are, no one will notice.

You're not a real adult until you've done these 11 awful things:

1. Cleaned the toilet

I’m all for gender equality but I know the ratio of toilet-cleaning moms to toilet-cleaning dads is severely skewed. Toilets get disgusting — worse if you have little boys. And no one will ever look down and think, wow, look at that super-clean toilet. They just pee on it.

2. Washed the baseboards

I spent a childhood gloriously ignorant as to the very definition of the word ‘baseboard.’ Now I spend too much time looking down at them, realizing someone has drawn a superhero head on them and scrubbed them in Magic Eraser. Thanks, adulthood!

3. Stocked the medicine cabinet

Do you want an aspirin? You gotta buy it yourself. No one else will remember to stock up on Neosporin, latex-free Band-Aids, Calamine lotion, Benedryl, baby Advil, Immodium, and all those sundry things you need for minor household first aid. You might not be Dr. Mom, but you’re definitely the sole supplier.

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4. Replaced the toilet paper

No one else will replace the roll when it’s empty. But that’s only half of it: you’re also the one who remembers to buy toilet paper in the first place. No one else will do either one until it’s tragically too late: you’re either limping poo-butted to get another roll or raiding the tissue supply  another item only you remember to buy.

5. Bought more printer cartridges

Before the ink runs out, that is. Otherwise, your documents go from black to light gray, and finally to invisible. You remember the make and model of the cartridge you need, and you remember to pick one up at Target. Oh, for the days when ink flowed like wine!

6. Washed the cabinet faces

These get disgusting with food scrapes, handprints, and nasty smudges. It’s even worse if the previous homeowners painted those stupid cabinets white (thanks, people). You have to magic erase them regularly but don't worry: they’ll look a lot cleaner — and no one will even notice.

7. Replaced all cleaning accouterments

You remember if you need detergent, Clorox, or more of those Magic Erasers you use so often. Probably because you’re the one using them to scrub off the baseboards. But seriously, the trash bag elves don’t wave their magic wands and make tall kitchen bags appear. You are the trash bag elf.

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8. Sorted the laundry

Maybe this used to mean separating whites from colors but you don’t have time for that anymore. No, “sorting the laundry” means “putting everyone’s laundry into their very own clothes basket.”

It doesn’t mean folding, it doesn’t mean putting away  you should just ditch the dressers because you live out of baskets, anyway. Your standards are low. But you need some relief from the chaos and those clothes won’t separate themselves. No one will thank you. But you have the dubious honor of owning more clothes baskets than anyone else you know.

9. Designated a shoe area

You can’t live with shoes tossed willy-nilly wherever they happen to fall off your feet. Nope, you need a special place, be it next to the door, in the closet (ha!), or in a corner somewhere. But the shoes have to go there or chaos will reign supreme and you’ll never get out the door in the morning.

10. Cleaned under the couch

It’s a dirty job. It’s a treasure hunt. It’s a serious excavation. But unless you move that furniture and pull out all the shoes and Legos and dog hair and ossified pieces of meals unknown, no one else will do it. Consider it an adventure with prizes for the grossest, most missed, and most unidentifiable items. Then you have to touch it all. Welcome to adulthood.

11. Used Oxyclean

You're not a grown-up until you use some serious stain remover. This goes beyond Tidestick and into the concoction. Bonus adult points for removing red wine stains with seltzer water and scrubbing. It's that scrubbing, really, that means you're an adult. You can't just toss stained clothes anymore (college) or leave the stain (grad school). Feel the pain of growing up in every bubbly scrub.

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Elizabeth Broadbent writes a column for ADDitude Magazine. Her work has appeared on Today Show Parents, Babble, xoJane, Mamapedia, and Time Magazine Ideas.