Cooking & cleaning
Disputes over cleaning are common, especially after the initial ‘novelty’ period where tolerance towards other people begins to wear off! Some of your child’s housemates are likely to have varying standards of cleanliness. Some people are cleaner and tidier than others, some may have very different lifestyles and ideas about what constitutes being ‘clean’. It may sound baffling but many young people are quite happy to live in a mess and this can be hard for those who want to keep the standard they had when living with parents.
In a shared house or flat, each tenant should do an equal share of the cleaning and other household chores. This is the ‘ideal’ situation but it is more often the case that some will always do more than others. Emptying the bins and washing up are the two main causes of disputes in student accommodation. Encouraging your child to take responsibility for their own actions can help your child to understand how leaving their washing up for days is going to annoy other people. Likewise, it is to be expected that there is always going to be some level of untidiness if your child is sharing with other people.
Any help a parent can do to prepare their child for household chores would certainly help them negotiate these tasks in the future. If your child does not already take part in the chores at home, it might be worth getting them active now! Occasionally, when some parents visit, they can be horrified if the communal areas are unclean or untidy. Sometimes a parent may be more concerned than their child about this too! Some parents immediately get ‘stuck in’ however, it might actually be more productive to direct your child and give them some orders under your supervision. It is surprising how many young people simply do not know what product or equipment should be used to clean different areas of the property.
There are many young people moving away from home for the first time who have ‘accidents’ with cooking too. A common ‘accident’ is starting to cook, then forgetting that something is under the grill, going back to their room and then getting involved in something else! Thankfully, serious cooking accidents are rare so if you can prepare your child with a few basics, they are likely to eat a little healthier and be safer too.
If your child is struggling with a dispute over cleaning, firstly encourage them to discuss this with their housemates. Getting everyone together to talk about ‘who will do what’ is the first stage in resolving cleaning disputes. Some students find that making a house meeting a weekly ‘occasion’ with food and drink helps keep the communication active and helps everyone to discuss how managing the chores can be shared. If your child is still concerned about the cleaning in the accommodation, encourage them to discuss it with their flatmates and perhaps draw up a rota (Unipol has created one you can download here).