DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: I’m in my first apartment since graduating college. It’s a three bedroom, two bathroom unit and I share it with two friends.
It seems like it should be big enough for three girls, but one of my roommates is a slob. She drops her stuff all over the place, uses groceries the other two of us buy, never cleans the kitchen and bathrooms, and leaves dirty dishes in the sink for days. We’ve talked to her about all this, and she seems like she gets what we’re saying and promises to do better, then in a day or two it’s the same thing all over again.
Neither my other friend nor I are good at confrontations, so we pretty much shut up and do her part of the work around the apartment. But it’s getting tense and even when we hang out together at other friends’ places, you can feel something is not right.
How do we get her to do pull her weight so we can all be better friends again? --- TIRED OF CLEANING UP
Dear TIRED: Your roomie must think she’s still living at her parents’ home, where she may have had it too good for her own – and yours. And you guys continue enabling her irresponsibility.
Since you’re not her mom or dad, you don’t have recourse to their motivational arsenal. But here’s one thing you can try right out of the Parent’s Handbook: No more vague requests like, “Hey, could you clean up the kitchen tonight.” Stick to manageable specifics – “It’s your turn to scrub the sink, counters, and cooktop.” Forget the passive, “I went to make my mac and cheese and it was gone.” It’s time for, “You need to replace my mac and cheese the next time you get groceries.”
Another road to communal harmony is paved with less communal sharing. If you haven’t already done so, assign cabinet/pantry shelves for each of you to store food and kitchenware. Label it all with your respective names. If things continue to disappear and the dishes are still not getting done, start doing only your own dishes and keeping them and non-community food items tucked away in your bedroom. Ditto with anything else you find your less responsible roomie has a tendency to use or abuse.
Petty as such measures sound, they might light a fire under your non-complying roommate when she gets the message that it’s every woman for herself – at least until there’s a fairer, more responsible distribution of labor and supplies.