A Reading List for #shittyhousewife

This is how I know I have fully embraced my life post-PhD as a #shittyhousewife: I’m rather excited by the prospect of getting a new dishwasher, and two things on my wish list right now are a vacuum cleaner that has attachments and a food processor. To be honest, I’m not really *that* shitty of a housewife: we’ve never run out of clean underwear, the house is usually clean, and even though there’s a magnet on my fridge that says “There should be a food group called ‘Fuck it”’, I cook a lot of the meals that we eat and they tend to be reasonably decent.

But there is something to be said for managing expectations, or setting the standards low. Before I moved to America and got married, my domestic capabilities ensured survival, but were never anything to write home about. It was a bit like the domestic equivalent of subsistence farming. Even though in reality I feel like I have reasonable standards of home-making, I like the badge of #shittyhousewife. It’s almost like insurance against “domestic goddess” expectations.

There are beautiful and wonderful books out there that can teach you how to be a domestic goddess: cookbooks of all shapes and sizes, books about cleaning, home-making, parenting, gardening, and housewifery in general. Everything you could possibly need to know about being the best cook, cleaner, gardener, or parent you can be. And I do really quite enjoy looking at and reading those kinds of books.

This post is about the *other* books, though, the ones for the #shittyhousewife in all of us (Or maybe it’s just me? For books specifically on the realities of parenting, check out this list.)

How to Be Married by Jo Piazza

This isn’t so much about being a housewife, but more about being a wife. Piazza spends her first year of marriage searching the globe for advice about what makes a good marriage. It feels like a part travel book, part memoir, and part advice book. Piazza doesn’t shy away from all the less-than-perfect parts of marriage, and is open and honest about all the shitty parts of being married. Marriage isn’t always the beautifully curated Facebook and Instagram stories presented for the world to see, and it’s refreshing to read about the difficult and the mundane, knowing that I am not alone.

Sh*tty Mom: The Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us by Laurie Kilmartin, Karen Moline, Alicia YBarbo, and Mary Ann Zoellner

I’m not quite a parent yet, but I’m tossing in a couple of parenting ones because the role of #shittyhousewife is going to become #shittystayathomemum pretty soon, and I think for a lot of stay-at-home mums, those two roles are closely intertwined. This book is a hilarious take on parenting that embodies the philosophy of #shittyhousewife to a tee—doing just good enough. Full of helpful tips and lists covering a range of topics from travelling with children, dealing with other mothers, awkward conversations, and what to do if your child is sick and you have to go to work.


Toddlers are A**holes: It’s Not Your Fault by Bunmi Laditan

Written from the perspective of The Honest Toddler, it covers similar topics to Sh*tty Mom but from the other side. You read about feeding time, sleeping, tantrums, going out, and how your entire life changes once you introduce a little a**hole toddler to the mix.

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

Unlike the other titles on the list so far, this is fiction. Samantha is a high-powered, highly-strung lawyer who, for various reasons, finds herself posing/working as a maid for a wealthy couple in the British countryside. And she has no idea what she’s doing. This main theme of this book is personal growth (with the added bonus of the love story), but some of my favourite parts are where Samantha is figuring out how to do laundry, make the bed, and cook. She goes from not knowing how to make a single thing in the kitchen to roasting chickens, baking bread, and making multi-tiered cakes. The scenes where she’s learning how to be a domestic goddess are deeply satisfying.

Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan

Another novel. ‘There are good moms and bad moms—and then there are hot-mess moms. Introducing Ashley Keller, career girl turned stay-at-home mom who’s trying to navigate the world of Pinterest-perfect, Facebook-fantastic and Instagram-impressive mommies but failing miserably. When Ashley gets the opportunity to participate in the Motherhood Better boot camp run by the mommy-blog-empire maven she idolizes, she jumps at the chance to become the perfect mom she’s always wanted to be.’