Getting Along in Quarantine

How to survive being stuck at home with your parents or roommate


Illustration by Luka Steele.

    Many students have found themselves displaced during this era of COVID-19, and that comes with its own set of issues. Many of them are having to return home to their parent’s house, moving back in with their families, or needing to get apartments with roommates. Either way, many students right now are having to deal with living with others again and maybe not being in complete control of their day-to-day life anymore because of being stuck at home nonstop. If you find yourself in a situation like this, some of these tips may help you to better coexist peacefully with those you now have to share your life with 24/7.




    Family is precious to a lot of people, but can sometimes be difficult to be around, and everyone’s home situation is different in this realm. It can especially be tough if you are used to being away at college and not under your parent’s roof anymore. If you find yourself having tension at home around your family, try some of these things to ease it.

Take Responsibility for Your Part in Your Family

It may be weird to be back at home after being gone for a while, but part of that means that you are now part of the household again, and this time as an older, wiser person. This means that you will have to fall into your responsibilities, doing chores as you once did, doing your part in cooking, cleaning, or whatever else may be done. You may have forgotten for a while what it is like to be part of a family system, but as long as you do your logical part in the workload of running a household, tensions should stay low. Remember, your parents also have gotten used to not having you around! So they will have to readjust too. If they ask too much, maybe something like asking you to clean the kitchen when you have an exam the next day, just take a breath and calmly explain that you have to study. They will probably need the gentle reminder that just because you are home, you still  have responsibilities of your own. Learn to negotiate – think about what you need and what the other person needs. Try to meet in the middle, so both people are happy with the outcome. 

Get to Know Your Parents

As you get older, often you can start to find more middle ground with your parents, and they’ll become more like friends than authority figures. Spending time with your parents and communicating with them can transform your relationship. It is hard to understand or appreciate them if you always see them as that authority figure you grew up with, so take this time to have some honest conversations and get to know the real them. Take this chance to learn to see things from their perspective. This often helps to understand why people act the way they do. Maybe your mother isn’t very warm with you because she was never close with her mother, or your dad is hard on you because his dad was hard on him. It may make it easier to see where they are coming from and help you to respect them a bit more. Unfortunately, some people are just toxic though, so if this is the case, see the next tip and be sure you set strong boundaries. 

Take a Break and Set Boundaries

Being trapped in the same house together for days or weeks on end will be bound to drive you all a little crazy. Don’t forget that it is okay to take a break every now and then. Normally, you all would be doing your own thing, going to work or school, leaving minimal time together. With the sudden change from that to the extreme opposite, tension and frustration can easily build. So, let your family members know that you want some alone time, and then make sure you get it. Have your room be a safe space or maybe your yard. If it is safe to do so, go to a nearby park or just go for a walk around the neighborhood alone. This will help you to get away for a bit and reset your system.  Do what is best for you and whatever keeps you sane. If you don’t get along with a certain family member, then try to avoid being with them one-on-one. If possible, you can try to use another family member that you get along with as a buffer when you all have to be around each other. Having a third party will help to take some of the tension out of the air. 

When Met with Conflict, be Polite and Count to Ten, but Don’t Tolerate Bullying

Again, your parents are having to adjust as much as you are, and they are probably still used to you being a child in their home, under their control. If your dad is lecturing you about some harsh opinions he has, don’t lash out. Use the old trick of counting to ten before you react, giving yourself time to center yourself. If you have something to say, say it as politely as possible — remember, there’s no escaping an argument if you are stuck in a house together. Remember that when people are stuck in their ways, it’s often pointless to try to argue with them, and sometimes it is better to just keep the peace and walk away. With this, though, do not let anyone belittle you or bully you. Gently make your stance and remind your parents that although you may be back under their roof, you are an adult who has a right to your own opinions. Above all, try not to let anything negative they say get to you. It is a little like dealing with an elementary school bully.  




    Most people end up having to live with roommates in college, but even after years of experience, or perhaps if this is your first time, it can be difficult sharing a space with someone else. If you find yourself frustrated having to deal with someone else’s differences in living practices, see if any of these things might help. 

Make space for personal space

If your roommate is watching Netflix on their laptop while wearing earbuds, they likely don’t want to start up a conversation. Don’t take it personally, and the same goes if they spend all day in their room. Even the most extroverted people need their space sometimes, and it is important to respect that.

Communicate honestly and openly

When you live with other people, you will need to be honest and open with each other. If it annoys you when someone leaves their dishes in the sink or laundry on the chair – then speak up! Voicing your thoughts avoids potential conflicts and makes best-roommate-forever status much more attainable. Be sure to address little things as they come up before they turn into bigger problems. It is always easier to address the small stuff early on, than let it build up into something too heated to handle.

Embrace the experience

You may not have been very close with your roommate before, and maybe your relationship was more of a business agreement to help pay the bills. But with this unique situation, you are probably going to have to get to know each other pretty well, so make the most of it! Have some fun nights playing games or watching movies, or cook dinner or bake together. This can be a chance to bond! 

Make a roommate agreement

If you don’t already have one,  make a roommate agreement. Even if things seem great now. Even if you are best friends or have lived together for years. Because as illogical, emotional humans prone to mistakes and misunderstandings, some sort of disagreement is bound to come up eventually. When it does, it is good to have some pre-established house rules to fall back on. Being together in lockdown is only going to make those disagreements more likely, and you don’t want to be stuck establishing boundaries and preferences in the heat of a roommate battle that you cannot escape. It doesn’t have to be long or complicated, but you should sit down together and list some of the standards the two of you would like to abide by, and some sort of plan for when disagreements do arise. Simply listing things that you should or shouldn’t do is great and all, but it is useless if you don’t have a system of resolving a conflict when things go wrong.

Be aware

It’s easy to take for granted your own unique way of doing things. Your different lifestyle, however, could potentially be a discomfort or annoyance for your roommate. Because of this, it’s important to remain aware of your differences, and practice compromise. Maybe before, you stayed out all day, so your roommate was able to keep the AC blasting while you were gone, and now that you are stuck at home, you really don’t appreciate the freezing temperatures. Find a new temperature that you both agree on and be willing to sacrifice your own needs and wants too. You will likely have to share the kitchen a lot more now, or maybe even a bathroom, so just remember to be patient and don’t be afraid to give gentle reminders to do their dishes. It is simple actions that go the longest way of preserving the peace.