How to Develop a Happy Communal Living


Living together happily requires that no one person feels that they are doing more than their fair share to keep the house running smoothly. This can be tricky, because, as individuals, we all have different standards and levels of expectation.

To get it right, everyone has to agree to a house standard – the basic level of cleanliness in the common areas of the home that will make you all happy and comfortable. Setting the standard leaves no room for any confusion.

Personal space is just that -personal. With the exception of children, who need to be taught to be tidy, adults should live as they wish. Don’t interfere with what anyone else is doing and you won’t be unhappy. This is a big lesson. Work at getting the balance and you will indeed be a happier person.

Show and tell

To begin, everyone needs to make a list, room by room, of all the things that they feel need to be done. Start when you walk in the door and go through all the rooms that you share. Sit down and have a group meeting and make sure that you listen to what each individual feels is important to them.

Once you have agreed on the basics, write them all down and keep them where everyone can see them. The list should be broken down into two sections – what each individual must do as part of their daily routine and specific weekly jobs that need to be done. The more that is completed daily, the less to worry about weekly.

It works for me

I always believe that if everything has a home and is kept there, your house will look tidy and liveable. It may not be spotless, but I can live with that.

The things that make me happy when done daily are:

  • Hanging up coats as soon as you walk in the door.
  • Putting all personal belongings in your room when you arrive home.
  • Picking up papers or post and dealing with them immediately.
  • Cleaning up your dishes when you are finished with them.
  • Running the dishwasher.
  • Emptying the dishwasher.
  • Putting away food when you have finished with it.
  • Always replacing the water in the ice cube tray.
  • Cleaning work surfaces in the kitchen.
  • Emptying the rubbish when the bin is full.
  • Replacing the bin liner.
  • Putting CDs/tapes away when you have finished with them.
  • Turning off lights and electrical equipment when you have finished.

I’m sure that there are many more things that may be important to you. Get the daily chores right and you will never be angry or unhappy when you get home in the evening.

The big stuff

Weekly chores are the bigger cleaning jobs in the house such as vacuuming, mopping, dusting, changing bedlinens and doing the laundry. Decide as a group who will be responsible for each job and when it will be done. Try to do it at the same time each week and it will become part of your routine.

Change the jobs weekly if that’s the way it works best for you or get everyone to pick the one they like the most and make it their permanent household job.

Setting the stage for personal development

If you have children, this is the time to teach them about sharing. Every child needs to learn that we all have a responsibility to join in for the common good of achieving a particular goal. It is an important lesson and the earlier you teach it the better.

Let them earn their pocket money every week by successfully doing their household chores. It will have a lasting impact on their development and attitudes towards sharing, working and responsibility and will make them better adults. Their future partners or flatmates will thank you for it!

Above and beyond

If your individual standards are higher than the groups, then by all means do what you have to do to feel happy in your own home. Clean until everything sparkles. Hopefully, other people’s participation in achieving the basics will make your job easier. Don’t ever get angry because you are going the extra cleaning mile on your own – it’s your choice!

Filed Under: Family & Relationships

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About the Author: Roberta Southworth is a psychiatrist by profession. She likes to help out people by writing informative tips on how people can to solve their family and relationship issues. She is currently staying in Ireland. She has 5 years of couple counseling experience.

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