Is it possible to give your housemates space in shared spaces? Across the country, nearly 20 million people live with non-relatives, according to Census Bureau data. Among 18- to 34-year-olds, one in four lived with housemates. While many people are spending more time working from home and taking online classes, sharing space requires more thoughtfulness than before. Giving your housemates space helps everyone’s mental health as well as their physical health..
The first step is to agree on some house rules. The keyword here is agree. If everyone isn’t abiding by the rules it diminishes the likelihood of everyone in the household staying safe. If everyone abides by the same rules, the household minimizes the likelihood of a new housemate — the coronavirus.
What should the rules include? A commitment to practicing safety precautions, cleaning and disinfecting regularly, communicating, and limiting unnecessary interactions. This is much easier than it sounds. We promise.
Let’s start with the obvious. Commit to giving your housemate six feet of space. This should be a habit that we should all be comfortable with by now. We practice social distancing with strangers, but people tend to be more lax when they come home and are around people who are more familiar. Though it may not be necessary to wear your mask indoors, it’s best to keep up the habit of remaining six feet away — even with your housemates.
Clean up after yourself. Whether you are in the kitchen or the bathroom, finish your task and immediately clean up afterwards. This prevents unnecessary overlap in shared spaces as well as spares your housemates of your germs. You can also avoid having to maneuver around your housemate in a tiny kitchen or occupy the bathroom more often than you need to. Your housemates will thank you.
Sharing your schedule with your housemates is also important. Plan on using the kitchen to record yourself making a salad? It may be best to do this while your housemate is on a Zoom call in their room or out for a run. Knowing your housemates’ schedules helps you to plan for when you can have the home to yourself or when to avoid common areas. Communication is key. If you are having friends over, you should share that information too. You may be ok hanging out with friends, but your housemates may not be.
Lastly, don’t cut them off. It’s good to check in with your housemates. Keep them abreast of how you are doing and feeling and check in on them too. Humans need other human interaction — even if it is from a distance.