The Dynamics of Roommates & Tips to Maintain Balance

As wonderful as it is to have our own pad to call home, we sometimes need to live with other people to cut down on expenses and to meet our budget. Roommates can also be a great way to share domestic chores, have an extra pair of hands to help with yardwork, ease our “errand running” for the week and have company to hang out with.

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We can even consider the family we live with as roommates, especially if everyone is all grown up, new children are born, or if we need the extra support.

The dynamics of roommates can be interesting. When they are our children, our parents, our spouses, our friends and especially with complete strangers, we could use a few helpful tips to maintain balance in the home when living with other people.

Tip #1 Cleaning Up Our Own Messes

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This is probably one of the biggest annoyances between roommates. If you make a mess, you should clean it up. However, there are some people who are messier, lazier and even have expectations of their roommates to clean up messes they make. Don’t do it and don’t allow it to continue. Nip it in the butt as soon as it starts happening. Observe for a day or more. You clean up your messes, they clean up their messes. It is actually quite simple.

Tip #2 Communicate, Don’t Retaliate

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Someone keeps leaving the kitchen light on all night, you don’t know which roommate it is, but it doesn’t make sense to leave lights on all night in a specific room when it isn’t in use. You decide to start leaving a light on in another room in the house until they notice. This is your way of getting them to stop their behavior. This type of issue along with others like it, can be resolved differently. Instead of retaliating through passive aggressive or even aggressive-aggressive behavior, politely inform them of it and ask them to remember to shut the light off. Give them a reason why. Sometimes roommates are clueless. If you don’t have a logical reason other than it “bothering” you, it might be your problem to let go off.

Tip #3 Respect Space and Time

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Some of us need time to ourselves and space to clear our thoughts. We have our own personal belongings too. Be respectful of others space, time and property. You may find you all like to share! Ask before you take, unless there is another agreement beforehand.

Tip #4 Agreements

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This would normally go at the top of the list, but when it comes to family members, it can be a little strange handing your spouse, your child or your grandmother an agreement to sign regarding upkeep and other aspects of the home. It is perfectly understandable to have verbal agreements, mutual understanding based on amicable conversations and to express our wishes in the home each of us reside in. Written, signed and notarized copies of agreements is similar to lease agreements between landlords and tenants or between tenants who pay mortgage and their lenders. The difference is writing an agreement altogether, so all roommates have a say in the upkeep of the place where they reside. This applies to cost and security, but it can also be used for other concerns such as owning pets (such as the care of them) and the length of time of overnight guests.

Tip #5 Create a Chore Chart

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The idea of a written agreement, even if amendments are made together, can be a bit tedious and even uncomfortable for many of us. You can always make a schedule instead. This pertains to roommate living situations when mutual spaces are shared, such as deep cleaning of the bathroom and the kitchen. It also pertains to household duties like taking out the trash and putting out the recycling bins for the following day. Simply get a dry erase board and place it on the fridge. Come up with a monthly and week-to-week schedule for major household chores like mopping the floors or deep cleaning of common areas. Be sure to create it along with your roommates. It ensures that everyone in the household plays their part in keeping things clean and maintaining responsibilities in the communal spaces shared by all.

Tip #6 Sleep Schedules

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This seems to be another big concern between roommates. Being well-rested is an essential part of our lives. In larger homes, the amount of noise has less effect on roommates because a noisy roommate can go to another section of the house where they are undisturbed. However, in smaller households or in close quarters, it is important to let your roommates know your sleep schedule and the reason needed for noise reduction during certain times of the night or during the day. When there is just no way around it, because everyone differs, wear earplugs and eye masks. They help to block out sound and light.

Tip #7 Labeling

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If you need to do so, label the things you have to prevent others from using them. This tip applies to food in the fridge, rare spices for cooking or expensive beauty products. The truth is, everyone differs when it comes to certain personal items. A roommate may have a tupperware container with their lunch for tomorrow in it. However, they made dinner for everyone in the household the night before and you assumed they were leftovers. It is understandable. You eat them and they yell at you for it. The misunderstanding would have been avoided if there was a label on it. Be sure to label it next time.

Tip #8 Setting Boundaries

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Be sure to set boundaries with your roommates. Oftentimes, we forget to do so because we assume that our opinion on what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior is just “common sense.” For example, if your roommate likes to lounge around in communal spaces naked but you are uncomfortable with it, speak up and let them know. Speak with them about your boundaries, and ask them to express their boundaries. If things come up along the way, communicate amicably as they happen.

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Roommates are wonderful household companions, but sometimes we need a little extra advice to help us live in the best household possible! Are there any roommate tips we forgot? Share your helpful roommate tips to maintain balance in the household. Be sure to comment!