->'''Susie:''' Hey Calvin, you want to play "house"?\\
'''Calvin:''' I don't know. How do you play?\\
'''Susie:''' Okay... first, you come home from work. Then I came home from work. We'll gripe about our jobs, and then we'll argue over whose turn it is to microwave dinner.
-->-- ''ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes''

A game in which children take on adult roles, focusing on domestic matters.

Playing "house" is a common game among young children, trying on adult roles seen around their homes. As opposed to the more boisterous CowboysAndIndians games, "house" revolves around day-to-day matters such as husband-and-wife negotiations, childcare (usually with dolls or pets in the "child" role), cooking (mud pies are the traditional fare) and tea parties. Stereotypically, this is a girls' game that boys are roped into with some degree of unwillingness. In Britain, this game is traditionally called "playing Mummies and Daddies."

In fiction, kids playing "house" can be evidence of a ToyShip (though often one-sided), demonstrate a childish misunderstanding of family life (either innocently or because their home is actually that twisted), or be a commentary on the goings-on of the adults who are the main focus of the story. A common "bit" is a young boy forced into a humiliating "baby" or "mommy" role by an innocently sadistic female playmate.

Sometimes InnocentCohabitation will jokingly be called "playing house" as the cohabitors fall into the roles of a married couple without the full benefits of same. It can also be used as a mocking euphemism for non-innocent cohabitation- the implication being that the relationship needs a legal marriage before it counts as real. (It's a more upscale version of the term: "shacking up")

See PromotionToParent for a much sadder trope related to this.

Not to be confused with [[Series/{{House}} what Hugh Laurie does for a living]], which in turn should not be confused with [[PlayingDoctor playing "doctor"]]; nor with HouseRules.

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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime And Manga ]]

* In ''ShinChan'', Ai declares to Penny that she's pregnant because she and Shin kissed while playing house.
* Shizuru and Tomoe did this a few times near the end of ''MaiOtome''. [[FetishFuel When two grown women play house, it's not quite as innocent as usual.]] [[DieForOurShip Shizuru X Natsuki shippers were not amused.]]
* ''GreatTeacherOnizuka'' played house with [[{{Cloudcuckoolander}} Tomoko]] and discovered that she had a real talent for acting.
* In ''{{Doraemon}}'', Nobita tried to use one of Doraemon's gadgets to get out of playing house with his younger cousin (as his friends were teasing him about how girly that was), but of course HilarityEnsues.
* There's a variation in ''JungleWaItsumoHaleNochiGuu'' where Marie gets everyone in Hale's family to play house with her, but ''she's'' the child and it ends up being a ploy to be able to get parental affection.
* Yotsuba and Ena play house briefly in the second volume of ''[[{{Yotsubato}} Yotsuba&!]]'', before being distracted by the prospect of cake. Yotsuba later sets up house, complete with kitchen, under her father's desk. And then there's the zoo of wooden blocks ...
* In an episode of ''UruseiYatsura'', Lum goes ten years into the past and finds Shinobu playing house with Ataru. Young Ataru has a little difficulty with the concept of "pretend."
* In the AnimatedAdaptation of ''LightNovel/ChuunibyouDemoKoiGaShitai'', Touka (in her mid to late 20s) and Yumeha (4 or 5) have been seen playing house of a ''divorce'' theme several times throughout the season.
** In episode 5, they were finalizing a divorce when Yuuta walks in. He's not very pleased with what Touka is teaching his little sister.
** Again in episode 10, when they're in a divorce lawsuit.
** Once more in episode 11 when Touka leaves and Yumeha asks if she'll be allowed to see the kids.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature]]
* In Judy Blume's ''Iggie's House'', Winnie Barringer and the three Garber children play house in a house that's being constructed in the neighborhood while they're on their way to a picnic near the end of the story.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action Television ]]

* ''MadMen'' uses this subtly to portray StepfordSuburbia; at Sally's birthday party, when the kids are playing in her new playhouse, they can be heard saying things to each other like, "I ''like'' [[ExiledToTheCouch sleeping on the couch]]." Helen Bishop, [[EldritchAbomination the one divorced mother in the neighborhood]], comes outside fresh from being hit on by a male adult guest and sniped at by several female ones, and says to Don, "Interesting crowd in there." Don replies, "Same crowd out here."

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Magazine ]]

* ''PrivateEye'' ran a cartoon in which we see a girl sitting on a blanket surrounded by dolls and a boy in the background escaping over a fence; the caption is "Playing Modern Mummies and Daddies" or somesuch.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Newspaper Comics ]]

* In addition to the page quote above, Calvin and Susie of ''CalvinAndHobbes'' play house a few times, once with Calvin refusing to accept Mr. Bun as their child, and another ending with him deciding to be a [[NatureHero jungle man]] and running off in his underwear. For these sequences, the strip had an ArtShift to a ''MaryWorth'' style soap opera comic.
* Margaret always wants to do this with Dennis in ''[[ComicStrip/DennisTheMenaceUS Dennis the Menace]]''.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]

* Emma and Otacon from ''Franchise/MetalGear'' used to play house. They are step-siblings.
* [[TokenMiniMoe Nowi]] from ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAwakening'' likes to play house with her comrades, among other games. [[ImmortalImmaturity She's actually a dragon that's centuries old]].

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* ''WesternAnimation/{{Rugrats}}'' did it a lot.
* ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' did a version of this with Stewie and Oliva but Stewie ends up getting angry over the lack of sex... whatever that is. [[PingPongNaivete Some sort of cake]]?

[[/folder]]
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