When you're living with your first roommates outside your parents house, there are a lot of ways to get under each other's skin and have a life of drama that you dread coming home to. But it doesn't have to be that way.
I suggest that you adopt a vision for your home life with your new roommates that puts all of you together in a situation where you can depend on each other and rest easy, knowing you can come back to the safety of the house and relax no matter what's going on. This is a bit deeper than just making sure the place isn't too trashed all the time, or figuring out how to split the bills.
Ages 18-24 are a super risky time for lots of people. This is the part of people's stories where you hear the part about them falling off the rails, seeing what they can get away with, making costly mistakes, figuring out their limits the hard way. It's not surprising! All your life you've been told what you can and can't do, and many folks decide to let it rip and do things differently! In any case, whether or not you exercise a rebellious streak or intend to be more wild than usual, surviving and growing through this stage of your life is important. People do have many of the same needs as when they were teenagers, but they're just terrible at expressing and protecting those needs in a way that builds a healthy home. Your household can be a tight knit tribe of buddies who come through for each other and provide a home base to operate from week after week, or even year after year.
Here are my best tips on how to set up a few simple agreements with your roomies that will absolutely make your lives less stressful and more joyful.
1. You only get 5 complaints. Yep, that's right. If you're a complainer, this will be tough for you. But you don't get an easy pass on this one. Tell yourself at the beginning that you only are allowed 5 complaints about anything towards your roomies for the entire time you live together. This may be 6 months or 3 years. It will force you to be creative about expressing yourself. You can say that you're not cool with something, and be assertive, and that's not a complaint. You can problem solve an issue and figure out how to eliminate or avoid it, instead of spending too much time focusing on the negative. You can ask for help or say how important something is rather than complain. A complaint is :
-a statement of dislike or negativity that the listener can't do anything about, such as an event that already happened
-a statement that does not mention or focus on a solution
-passive agressive or scolding in any way
-focused too much on negative feelings because the speaker is experiencing those feelings while they're talking about it, rather than waiting until he has his emotions in check before speaking.
Complaining never helps, and it quickly causes resentment. Just don't let yourself do it.
2. Rotate the important and meaningful chores. Most household arguments start over silly, "minor" things. So do this: Each roommate separately lists the top 3 chores that need to be done consistently and regularly or that person will go crazy. Everyone has their pet peeves and their little things that bother them. So write the top 3 down and come to the table and share them out. Sounds super corny, but just wait. Decide how often these things need to be done to prevent anger and resentment, and put those things on a calendar that hangs in the main part of the house. Then put your names on those chores in a rotation so that everyone takes turns doing each of the chores. Billy will sometimes do Steve's top chores, and sometimes do his own, and sometimes do Jon's. That way it all gets done and prevents you from raging out on each other over nothing. Plus, when your roomie does one of your important chores, it's a little boost because in the back of your mind you'll appreciate him doing it "for you," even though it could be just a chore in his mind. Pretty cool trick to help you take care of the house and each other, and there's no harm in giving it a try.
3. No questions asked calls. Set up an agreement that any time of day or night you will answer the phone for each other and come through. Sometimes people are just stuck, worn out, or in a tricky situation, and if they have someone they can depend on answering their call, everyone is much safer and their mistakes will be less likely to end in permanent damage. So, don't be a jerk and screen your roomie's call. Answer that thing even it's the middle of the night. The house is the home base, and it needs to be easy to come back to. Don't judge, complain, or preach. Just answer the call and bring your roomie back safely. Or whatever it is they need. Period. Problem solving and life coaching can happen later. Even if it doesn't sound like the person is stressed or in life threatening danger, there's a reason they called when they did and it's time to move.
Watch my video below to get the raw version of these tips. Let me know how you're liking the tips, and what results you're getting at the house with them!
Here's To Your Greatness,