No doubt about it, these are strange days for most of us. COVID-19 is changing daily life very quickly and on a global scale. Naturally, when the rest of the world seems crazy, home is where we feel most comfortable and safe.
If you're homesharing or have roommates, shelter-in-place can be stressful—even for the best of friends and most loving of family members. But the truth is, you and your roommate must rely on each other more than ever right now—you’re in it together, quite literally!
Here are our tips for making this time at home with your roommate(s) as smooth as possible.
7 Tips for Sharing a Home During COVID-19
1. Follow the experts.
It’s a good idea to periodically review the latest guidelines and information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Here are direct links to find out the symptoms of coronavirus/COVID-19 and ways to protect yourself and others. We also recommend checking out the CDC’s resources on coping with stress during this time.
2. Stay informed about local and statewide policies.
Right now, different localities have their own local guidelines regarding mask-wearing, the use of public parks, etc. To find your city/county and statewide guidelines, look for trusted sources. Your best bet is to find the website for these governmental organizations and/or follow them directly on social media.
3. Exchange medical and emergency information.
You may have already exchanged this type of info with your roommate, but now’s a good time to make sure it’s all up-to-date. Save your roommate’s information in your smartphone and/or a secure physical location in the home. You’ll want to gather and exchange emergency contact information, as well as copies of health insurance cards, primary physician contact information, and a list of known allergies and current medications. If there are pets in the house, make a backup plan for their care in the event of an emergency.
4. Discuss ground rules for minimizing COVID-19 risk.
Sit down together for a compassionate conversation around social distancing practices, cleaning and other precautions. Keep in mind, you may have to repeat this conversation as recommendations and circumstances change. Topics on the table should include:
- How often each of you needs to leave the house (and why)
- Which precautions you agree to take both in and outside the home
- How to handle groceries and deliveries
- New routines for regular cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched objects and surfaces in shared spaces. Think about things such as phones and remotes, as well as door handles, counters and sinks, light switches, etc.
Be detailed and specific. One of you may be more or less concerned than the other—or at a higher risk. It may be a little uncomfortable, but it’s better to discuss and articulate these issues sooner rather than later.
5. Talk about personal space and privacy needs.
Even close friends and family can get prickly with each other when everybody’s stuck in the same house all the time. That’s why it’s smart to have another friendly conversation about ground rules, this time geared around keeping you both comfortable together.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Working from home and the possible need for quiet during work periods
- FaceTime or video-conferencing considerations (using headphones instead of speaker phone, keeping doors closed, etc.)
- Using shared entertainment devices, such as the primary TV, stereo system, etc.
- Times of day when more or less interaction is preferred
6. Find ways to have fun together.
One of the more inspiring developments we’ve seen during the COVID-19 crisis is the many creative ways people have found to entertain themselves while staying at home. Be playful and open-minded—this is an opportunity for you and your roommate to learn more about each other and perhaps develop a shared interest that brings you closer.
Try one of these ideas (or come up with your own!):
- If you sing or play an instrument, make music together or introduce each other to recordings by your favorite artists.
- Share an exercise routine. Exercise is crucial to boosting your mood, alleviating stress and improving your immune function. There are lots of free online classes available via YouTube and others. Your local yoga studio or gym may even be hosting classes via Zoom, Facebook or Instagram Live!
- Institute a regular game night or ongoing puzzle challenge.
- Treat each other to an “I’ll cook” night and make it special by using your best tableware or having a fun theme. (Taco night is always a win!)
- Have your own film festival and take turns scheduling the movies you’ll watch together.
- Start a new TV show from Season 1, Episode 1 and binge-watch it together. We’re fans of Grace & Frankie, The Good Place and BBC Cooking shows around here.
7. Practice good self care.
In addition to the CDC link above, there are lots of good online resources to help support your mental and emotional health. We’re appreciating this TED Talk from Susan David on how to be your best self in a time of crisis. Your health care provider and local mental health authorities are also available to support you. Resources like these and many more are available in our "Silver Linings" resource library.
If you are actively looking for a new roommate right now, here are a few recommendations:
- Postpone all in-person meetings. Use FaceTime, Zoom or other videoconferencing tools to conduct interviews and get to know prospective roommates virtually.
- Take this time to declutter kitchen cabinets, the garage and/or closets to create some extra space for your future roommate.
- Carefully consider your move-in date—every situation is different and the situation is changing fast.
Silvernest is here to help.
Our team is committed to doing all we can to support you at this time. If you haven’t already, please visit Silver Linings, our COVID-19 resource library. It’s a central spot to find online resources and support, good news, free opportunities for fun and exercise, and more. We’ll be updating Silver Linings weekly, so check back often. And in the meantime, stay home and stay safe.