On your last day of first year, you walk out of residence, and on your first day of second year, you walk into a student house. While approaching this house, excitement is packed between an exorbitant amount of sweaters and redundant kitchen supplies. You can’t wait to start pasting posters on bedroom walls. Maybe you’re moving in with close friends, or perhaps you’re meeting some Facebook friends. Overall though, it’s going to be a turbulent experience you won’t get anywhere else.
However, I wish someone had given me some advice before diving into a house with five other teenage girls who share one bathroom. At times it was gonna be loud and messy. Sometimes it was going to be supportive and nurturing. Unfortunately, it seemed I wasn’t prepared for any of those moments, and I was learning on the fly. This article is meant to give you advice and solutions I wish I had before this all began.
Where should we begin? “The shared spaces”.
Try your best not to leave all your things around common rooms such as the living room and kitchen. When four to six people all do that, it becomes nearly impossible to keep clean. In addition, many people refuse to clean up something that isn’t ‘their mess.’Therefore, it becomes a bit difficult if everyone is avoiding each other’s messes. To be proactive if a bunch of plates are left to soak in the sink, try cleaning up everything you used within the hour. When it comes to big cleaning tasks, like taking out garbage or sweeping. Set up a rotating schedule! It’s going to save you so much passive-aggressive conflict if you assign a weekly responsibility each member is in charge of. I’ve heard comments that this is weird, but frankly, I don’t care because we no longer have issues of people feeling like they’re always taking out the garbage and no one is helping them. It’s by far the most effective way to solve these feelings.
Next, laundry is a shared space, and I have one thing to say about it. When you do it, set a timer and pick it up right after it’s done. Please don’t leave it there for 1-3 business days.
Sure, it’s okay to slip up sometimes and leave some plates dirty here and there. However, notice that mental health can put off cleaning tasks or even coming out of the bedroom. Be empathetic, and don’t make each other feel guilty for letting their to-do list get a bit too long. Instead, take some stuff off of someone else’s to-do list by helping them out where you can. If it’s been a day or two without seeing them, I recommend just taking a few minutes and checking in on them. Those quick minutes remind them there is someone around the corner they can reach out to.
If any of these housekeeping issues are repetitive and you can’t see a foreseeable end to them, bring it up. I recommend this confrontation should happen in person because the tone is never properly conveyed over text (no matter which or how many emojis you use). Don’t let these problems fester inside you. If you’re scared of confrontation like me, think of this as doing them a favour. One day they’re gonna be living without you, and it’s going to be a sad day when they learn magical little fairies who vacuum and tidy the house don’t exist.
While sharing cleaning tasks, you also share cleaning products. No one wants to be the person who is always soaking the cost of shared household items, resulting in chasing people down for e- transfers. Instead, once a month or every few weeks, go on a big shopping trip. During this trip buy everything the house shares like garbage bags, bag tags, dishwashing liquid, dryer sheets etc. The second you get home, split it equally and e-transfer each other on the spot. Resolve it as quickly as possible, then it won’t awkwardly linger.
Moving on from housekeeping, I will touch on the routine logistics of living with other people.
Some people just want to be left alone. Some people hate hanging out alone. Be mindful of each other’s routines and schedules because it helps day-to-day to go a lot smoother. For example, if you’re binging Love Island on the T.V. late into the night, turn down the volume a few notches so you’re roomie, who has an 8:30 the following day, won’t struggle between nagging you to turn it down or just putting up with it. It also goes a long way to send a message to the group chat, if you have a zoom call and need the people standing outside your door to shut up, it’s nothing personal.
I leave you with my last piece of advice. It’s okay not to be friends with your roommates. It’s common at Queen’s to think of your roommates as your besties, but it’s often the reality that the people you live with are also not the people you want to hang out with on Friday night. These couple of months in Kingston fly by when running in between classes and Stauffer, so it’s nice to find a separation of atmospheres. It’s never going to be perfect, instead focus on enjoying it.