Thursday, July 16, 2009

Roomates 101

My nephew (G) recently moved in with my brother (his Uncle A) to go to school at a nearby university. The house is actually owned by my brother J, currently stationed overseas (his father). This has set up an interesting and unhappy dynamic.

Uncle A and Brother J have been roomates for a long, long time. They are extremely compatible, with similar tastes in food, fun, and standards of cleanliness.

The problems since G moved in became apparent when I called my brother A about another matter and mentioned that ZBoy and I would be coming to visit in a couple of weeks. "Good. Maybe you can run interference with G," he sighed. Uh-oh.

A is a police officer in big city. It's an extremely stressful job and when he goes home, he wants to be able to relax and find a little peace. Obviously, this is not happening.

Later that same day, G posted as his status on FaceBook: A is going to kick my ass.

I noticed that he was still on, so I "chatted" to him - Why is A going to kick your ass? What followed was an explanation that seemed reasonable to G, but knowing A as well as I do, I can see why he would be pissed. A and I lived together for a while and I'm very familiar with his tolerances for mess.

It occurred to me after our chat was over that this is the first time G has lived away from home as an adult. The rules are different in this situation than they are when you're still living with Mommy - who can yell at you and punish you with impunity when you don't do as you are told. And even though he's living at Dad's place now, he is expected to be an adult and behave as one. But has anyone actually explained to him what that means and what it entails? I'm guessing not.

So, as a first step towards household harmony, I would suggest dinner together in a relaxed atmostphere, and a frank talk about expectations. No anger or accusations, but a quiet, unstressed chat. And as a little prod to get them on their way, I offer the following "rules" for living together peaceably:

1. Keep your room neat. Do not leave food or old drinks or anything that can attract pests in there. Pick up your clothes and put them in the hamper. Put away clean clothes. Make your bed. It takes maybe two minutes out of your day and goes a long way towards keeping the peace. Once a week, wash your sheets, run the vacuum and dust.

2. Clean up after yourself in common areas. If you use a dish, wash it and put it away immediately (or put it in the dishwasher). Do NOT leave it on the counter, in the sink or in the livingroom. Leaving your mess for other people is the surest way to cause discord in a house.

3. Don't eat other people's food unless invited to do so. Provide your own or contribute to the grocery fund. This rule applies to sodas, beer, chips - all of those things cost money and someone has to pay for it.

4. Speaking of costing money, be frugal with your utility use. Don't shower until the hot water heater gives out. Turn off the lights when you leave a room. Don't leave the door standing open allowing the heat/AC to escape. Utility bills are high enough already and just doing these little things can make a huge difference.

5. Keep it quiet. Roomates don't always have the same schedule. One may be sleeping when the other is up. Don't slam doors, play loud music, rattle the ice bin or stomp on the stairs. Keep your voice down when talking.

6. Pull your weight. If there are household maintenance projects that need to be done like mowing the grass or sweeping the walk, do it. It should not be left to one person unless that person prefers to do it themself.

In a nutshell, if you open it, close it. If you turn it on, turn it off. If you dirty it, clean it up.

These are by no means all of the ways to be a good roomate, but they are very basic to keeping the harmony in a home.

Do you have any other suggestions?

I hope they can work out their differences. Dinner together and a frank chat will go a lot farther than yelling and high blood pressure.


Jan said...

No more suggestions, just wanted to say I think it's a great list, whenever roommates are involved. Good job.

Sandcastle Momma said...

That's a great list. I'm going to post it on my fridge for hubby and the kids - who don't seem to have a clue about any of those things LOL

Anonymous said...

What a really good set of observations.


this new place said...

I could never ever live with another family member, ever again, other than my kids, that is.

karisma said...

HA! I am going to print this out for my teens! LOL! Now the bad news is, we have had this same discussion with them a gazillion times! It goes in one ear and out the other!

Good luck with it! My sympathies!

Island Rider said...

If I give you my youngest son's phone number will you call him? PLEASE? I just threw away some dishes that were so gross I couldn't stand to even put them in the sink to soak. PLEASE?

Anonymous said...

The situation has been resolved. All parties know what is expected of them, and how to maintain a peaceful, happy household.

Clean slate, square one.


Anonymous said...

I am glad to hear it.
The trouble with being shielded from the consquences of your actions (or inactions, as it were)is that it retards your ability to make the connection between action and reaction when that shield is gone.

Best to get this lesson out of the way EARLY.


Sayre said...

I am thrilled that you guys have resolved your issues. Others will come up, I'm sure, but this is an important learning experience for G - and you guys are doing him a great service by helping him learn how to live as an adult with other adults.

Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Anonymous said...

My husband's nephew just moved in with us and may be bringing a "guest."
I'm going to print out your rules and hang it on the fridge!