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How To Keep Social Distance From Roommates

How To Keep Social Distance From Roommates 

We’re probably all a little tired of hearing people say ‘times are crazy,’ but it’s just the truth. It’s one thing to figure out how to isolate yourself by not going out but it’s another set of issues if you live with roommates. People living with their extended family or couples with kids have the same concerns.

We scoured the internet for detailed guides on this topic and we’re disappointed in the results. However, in the interest of helping, we’re grouping up what we did find. We’re also going to give a little of our perspective. We’ll specify when we’re sharing information from a reputable source versus our own opinions.

This way you can make up your own mind about what to believe. Critical thinking is always key, even during a crisis. It might be even more important during a crisis!

Social Distance From Roommates: Let’s Be More Prepared, But Less Panicked

We’re all walking a thin line between being safe and being scared. That’s really stressful and taxing. It also makes us sad. There’s only so much we can do about that, but before we launch into a ‘to-do list,’ we want to encourage some grounding.

There’s a challenge to face and things feel uncertain. We really feel the best thing we can all do for ourselves is to try to stay calm. Feel your feelings and strive for preparedness over panic.

We hope this post doesn’t add to your worry. Instead, our goal is to give you some food for thought about talking to loved ones and roommates about social distancing.

Should You Worry If People You Live With Aren’t Social Distancing?

We actually want you to worry less, so we say don’t worry if your partner or roomie isn’t isolating. Instead of worrying, take actions within your control so you can feel less overwhelmed.

If you have in-home contact with someone who won’t or can’t isolate themselves, you need to isolate yourself from them. What this looks like in your situation will be based on your circumstances.

We recommend talking about things with your partner or roommate, and Healthline does too. Talk about quarantine with your roommate. It’s also smart to set some boundaries and guidelines you can all agree to. We’ll get to our boundary setting suggestions in a second.

How We’re Dealing With Cohabitation During The Coronavirus

Honestly, we’re all winging it a little in terms of keeping our distance under the same roof. But this is a new normal and everyone is feeling it out. So take our advice with a critical eye, but here are some things we’re doing ourselves.

Keep Social Distance From Roommates But Keep The House Clean Too

We’re all doing our part to keep our shared living spaces cleaner than usual, and that includes regularly disinfecting floors. There’s a lot of conflicting information about how long the virus lives on surfaces, but it does linger on them. Do your best to research the cleaning products you have on hand to choose the best disinfectants.

If you share a kitchen, use your dishwasher set to sanitize and run it often. We recommend disinfecting counters after using them as well.

We’re reacting a lot of transparency and openness right now, admitting if we touched common items or following through and cleaning them after. This is a really respectful way of working together to keep the household clean. We’re also regularly cleaning things like light switches and door handles because everyone touches those items a lot.

We’re guessing most roommates do their laundry separately, but we’re wiping down the appliances before and after we use them as a precaution and courtesy. If you’re living with family, consider separate laundry routines for now if you’re able to do that.

Pay Attention To Outside Things That Come Inside

We’re making sure we take our shoes off as soon as we enter and avoiding contact with them once we’re inside. Our house shoes don’t leave the house or even venture into common areas like building hallways.

When groceries or mail comes in, we keep it in one area until it’s unpacked, we remove the trash right away, and we disinfect the area the bags or boxes were unpacked. Obviously, wash your hands afterward.

Wash Your Hands And Body

In fact, everyone in the house really should wash their hands a lot right now. Practicing good hygiene in general is important, especially when one of you comes inside after being outside.

Don’t Stand So Close To Me

When we’re hanging out together we keep physical distance between us. It’s not a bad idea to consider the layout of common spaces to rearrange things to promote a little more personal space.

We’re also spending less time together and more time in our private spaces. Less time doesn’t mean no time, but we’re being mindful to give each other space. Is it weird to text your housemates from another room? Not right now it isn’t!

Set The Stage

Tissues are everywhere and so are trash bins with lids. We’re taking the trash out more often as well because it doesn’t hurt.

Social Distance From Roommates: How To Talk About It And Set Boundaries

Our quick tips:

  • Be honest and open about your feelings
  • ask for what you need
  • be firm about things that aren’t negotiable
  • compromise when you can
  • reciprocate by meeting your roommate’s needs as well.

How do these things look in practice? Let’s dive in.

Anxiety is running high right now and that can cause people to be short with each other. That’s not necessary or effective so we’re urging you to avoid that. We’re all going to lose our cool but let’s try to apologize swiftly and stay calm when possible.

If your housemate is respectful, try talking about how the goal is to keep each other healthy and not spread anything to other people you come into contact with. That frames the conversation well: it’s a mission you’re on together.

If one of you is more worried than the other about things, appeal to each other’s humanity a little. You can facilitate that by opening up and saying things like, “I’m a little more anxious than usual right now because I don’t want to spread this to others. Could you help ease my mind by wiping down the coffee pot after you use it?”

What If They’re Not Listening?

If they’re just not listening to you, ask for advance notice about when they’ll be home and when they’ll be out. Let them know that there are no hard feelings but you’ll be avoiding them for a while. Remind them that you’re available for communication by text or phone.

Then, set up your room with as many amenities as you can and hang out in there! It’s not ideal and we’re not telling you to refuse to leave your room. We’re just suggesting that when you have no control over a situation, find things you can control and embrace them.

Let’s Hang In There

At some point, this is all going to be over. Remember that and do what you can to be as calm and happy as possible right now. We’re advocating for a lot of self-care and listening to your emotions without becoming a victim of them.

Most importantly, just because you can’t be physically close to your support system right now doesn’t mean you can’t reach out. We must rely on each other so we can distance together.

It’s not mutually exclusive. Our connections will endure.


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