The 8:30 Pants Rule

The Pants Rule Enforcer

The Pants Rule Enforced

It’s 8:25 pm, I am at home, and still wearing pants.

Don’t freak out. If you’ve ever read this blog, you know that pants at night normally signals some sort of emergency that requires visiting firemen or an asbestos reader.

But no.

If you, like me, harbor a long-held hatred of pants, you might think it’s a special occasion, unrelated female company or colleagues over for dinner.

But no.

I am wearing pants and have been home for 6 hours. I’ll explain…before my anti-pant friends disown me.


For many moons the first thing I did upon arriving home was strip off my pants. The. First. Thing. If I was carrying four bags of frozen goods into the flat and found that the cat was on fire, I’d strip out of my khakis before smothering her in frozen peas. I’d spend my days post-work in pajamas and lounging on the couch like an Egyptian goddess. Uh, I mean, god.

But it wasn’t all comfy sunshine and cottony rainbows; there were some issues. In the first place, it occurred to me that I was spending like 80% of my week in pajamas. If you’re not a mental patient or 94 years old, that’s a lot. And while I fall into neither of those demographics (shut up), I began to feel like both.

Being in pajamas all the time certainly led to a mental “mode” of sorts. At the worst, it came along with a lethargy that suggested I was waiting for my 1 pm creamed corn, my 4 pm wheatena, or my 5 pm lithium booster. Underneath the ostensible ‘comfort’ lie an underlying unpleasantness.

At the very best, it made me comfortable. Too comfortable. Pajamas signal ‘relax’ to my brain, the same way a beer signals ‘work is done for the day.’ And while I did relax more once in my pajamas, I started realizing that none of the things I wanted to do at home actually got done.

These ‘things’ are primarily writing and editing. I would walk into my home office, sit in my chair, pull my legs up, and watch TV. Sometimes I’d go on the Facebook and look at the zany world of outrage, politics, drunk people at Walmart, and cats. When that was all over, I’d go in my kitchen and cook in my pajamas while watching a sitcom in my pajamas. Then I’d eat in my pajamas, lounge and read on the couch in my pajamas, and then go to bed in pajamas. At home, there was no difference between not being in bed and being in bed, it was simply another place I wore pajamas.

Comfort is grand, but I was comforting myself out of doing anything. I was comfortable all the time, but was that a good thing? It was helping to destroy my motivation and productivity. If we take this a bit further, couldn’t we suggest that never leaving one’s comfort zone is a perfect way to stagnate socially and creatively, among other ways?

Well, maybe. But one thing was for sure, something had to change.

Enter the 8:30 Pants Rule. An experiment. I decided that I had to leave on pants every night until 8:30 pm, at which time I could change out of my pants into pajamas or lounge pants.

I won’t lie, the first two weeks were very difficult. Pants never strangled at my waist more than when I could actually watch my pajamas mock me from the corner. For the first month, I spent the time between 8:15-8:30 staring at my clock, tugging at my belt, and cursing the luck of cross dressers.

Despite the initial discomfort, I have found that my mindset stays peeked for work later than before, and that my productivity has risen. I sit down to write in the afternoon even after writing in the morning and teaching all day. Perhaps being kicked into the ‘relax’ mindset isn’t so easy when I am in pants. Also, probably as a result of wearing pants more often, I have started to lose weight. I think my waist decided it would just make things easier. My mouth, stomach, and brain complied, and trimming down has made pants less unpleasant.

It’s been two months and I have worn pants until 8:30 every day. The work is getting done, the books are getting written and edited, and I spend a lot less time lounging on my couch. I don’t tug at my belt too much anymore, and sometimes I don’t even sing my ‘goodbye, pants’ song as I change into pajamas.

I won’t say that keeping on pants is a silver bullet fix-all, but it has certainly helped change around my perspective. I wish I could thank pants for this little change in my life, but I just hate them so much.

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