Sharing your home, condo or apartment with a housemate is often a new experience for older adults. Many of us get set in our ways, and some of us have rather peculiar rituals or habits. Some of us wash our dinner dishes at night, and some leave it for the morning wake up ritual. Some are neat as a pin with shoes off at the door, while others are more relaxed.
For successful homesharing, talking about the little things can be key. Often, a simple conversation and respect for our long acquired habits is all it takes. Cathy Thompson is the author of “Jumpstart to Getting Your Laundry Organized,” a Certified Professional Organizer® and offered to share a section from her workbook with Silvernest that is specifically tailored to housemates:
When we share our living space with another human being there are going to be issues at some point. It is necessary to create systems for our laundry when we share spaces and responsibilities.
1. Sort Into Categories
First ask yourself if you’re going to do the chore of laundry together or if each will do it on your own. If you’re doing laundry separately, having two systems for collecting dirty clothes is a good idea (e.g., each person has their own basket). For households collectively doing the chore, putting all the dirty laundry into one sorting system is an idea.
2. Treasure What Counts
Sharing spaces allows for opportunities to compromise. You may need to toss the baskets you brought into the household because you don’t agree on how useful they are to the both of you. Keep what you love and use, and get rid of what one of you hates or what’s broken. Honor your household or your relationship above having it your way.
3. Establish Homes and Systems
You’ll need to discuss who does the chore and when. Don’t assume one of you has the responsibility. Discuss it and come to an agreement. You may divide the task into parts. Here are some examples:
- One person washes, and the other person folds and puts away.
- One person washes, and the other person make the trips to the dry cleaners.
- One person washes, and the other person has a different chore for the household.
- One person washes on Saturdays and the other person washes on Sunday.
- The point is to talk about it, and customize the schedule for doing laundry to fit your household needs. Many times, homes get out of balance, and relationships suffer because assumptions and expectations are made without having a discussion.
4. Plan Your Container Strategy
Consider your preferences. Do you like having a closed basket with a lid, so your laundry is “unseen?” Or, do you like to toss and pile up, so your clothes are “out?” If your intent is to share a system, but you have different preferences, you may reconsider. Trying to make your roommate adapt to your style may not work, and it may be easier for your flow of laundry to have the container match your preferences.
5. Start New Habits
After you’ve decided on where dirty clothes will be sorted, who is responsible for what, and when you’ll do the laundry, put it into practice. You may need to use a reminder system on your calendar. One of you may be the reminder for the other in the home. Be gracious. Keep your communication clear and be open to re-evaluate. Don’t let frustrations build and then “air your dirty laundry.” Decide to be a team and work together.
This post was contributed by Cathy Thompson of Major Organizers. Check out the Major Organizers' Organizing Store to order a copy of her book.
Thompson, C. (2014). Laundry Systems for Your Lifestyle. In Laundry Organization Tips: Your Jumpstart to Getting On Track (pp.30-32). Greenwood Village, Colorado: Organized 4 Life, LLC.