Building culture in the home

What culture does your home have?

What feelings and emotions do you get when you walk into your home? There is a chance you feel overwhelmed with the house chores you are behind on, which prevents you from enjoying the serenity of your home. Now, how would you feel walking in to hear laughter coming from the kitchen with the smell of freshly bakes cooking lofting through the air? How would you feel to be greeted with smiling faces, a clean home, and a warm home-cooked meal awaiting your arrival?  

It is a fantastic feeling when you have a fun, supportive, and positive culture in your home. This is something unique that can be found with companion housing.

sharing-meal-housing-companions

A fun and welcoming home environment like this does not spontaneously occur without some effort to get it started. You may be thinking that you are busy, and you just want to do your own thing. It is easy to retract and not engage with your housing companions. However, you will likely find that sharing a couple of meals a week and talking about your work, studies, or your new boyfriend/girlfriend provides a significant boost to your self-esteem and happiness.

The first step in creating a culture that you can enjoy is establishing a consistent routine of activities that everyone enjoys. This commonly revolves around food but can also include physical activities, house chores and cleaning, shopping, movie nights, or other activities you enjoy. Find activities that everyone would like to do and find days of the week that everyone will be able to participate. It can be overwhelming if you try to do too many activities, start with one week-day activity and one weekend activity as a starting point.

Group activities for inspiration

Sharing a meal: There is no better place to share stories than around some delicious food. Having a conversation over food is a great way to get to know somebody’s background and culture. If you live in a multi-cultural household, try sharing dishes from each person’s cultural background. Aim to share meals on days where there is less time pressure, such as a Sunday brunch or a Friday evening after the week’s work is done. 

Having your morning coffee together: Yes, you’re still waking up, but after half a cup, you’ll be chatting all morning!

Games night: Are you a Canasta or a Cribbage fanatic? Play among yourselves or invite a couple of friends over to share. Start with simple games to get everyone engaged before trying more complex games. 

Movie night: Catch up on the latest trending films with a glass of wine and relax together.

Shopping together: Need to restock on groceries or cleaning supplies? It might be more fun together! Maybe even go shopping for decorations or artwork to add to the house.

Cleaning: Why not make cleaning fun? Turn on some music, designate the tasks, and before you know it, the whole home will be spick and span.

Task exchange: Do you have a hole in your blouse you need to sew? Perhaps you need to fix the flat tire on your bicycle. Using your talents to help others can be a fun way to get all those things done on your to-do list.

Road trip: Have you always wanted to go see that waterfall? Perhaps you want someone to go on a wine tour with you. Who better to bring than your housing companions?

Household meetings

Regular meetings are essential to ensure your household does not drift off track. A weekly or monthly meeting provides a safe time and place to talk about the little things bothering you. You may feel awkward establishing a household meeting, after all; isn’t that something you do at work? Maintaining your home environment is very much a job on its own. If you can call a meeting at work, you can call a meeting in your home.

The following model is an example of what has been successfully used by groups sharing homes. This meeting structure was considered the backbone of their successful collaboration over several years.

How to hold ‘house meetings’ – example model

  1. Have weekly or bi-weekly house meetings.
  2. The Check-In round – What’s going on in your life? Allow each person 1-2 minutes to talk about the good things in their life and the things they are struggling with.
  3. Appreciation’s round – Each person says something that they appreciate about another resident and thank them for what they did. This can be related to something done around the house, but not necessarily.
  4. Self-Appreciation round – This is where you get to mention things that you did, especially things that others may not have noticed!
  5. Self-Clearing round – This is an opportunity to admit to “blowing it” – when you didn’t hold up your end, or you regret something. It also offers you a chance to explain why something was, or wasn’t, done.
  6. Clearing round – This is when others notice something that was or wasn’t done, and they need to share their feelings/observations about it.
  7. Consciousness-raising round – Bring up issues that need resolving.  Prepare an agenda and decide what will be discussed at the meeting to stay on topic.  In making a final decision, consider what is “good enough for now” or “safe enough to try.”
  8. Process Time round – Take a few minutes at the end of the meeting to answer – ‘How did this meeting go for me?’

Food For Thought

It cannot be said enough, that if a person argues about following through with having regular meetings and writing things down, then there is problem.  If they try to pressure others into not having meetings unless there is a problem, or infer writing things down is just not necessary, or makes statements like “what are you worried about” or “you worry too much”, they are problems that will undermine your entire household.

Life is full of choices, and if they wish to live with others in a shared home, they need to agreeably put out as much effort as everyone else.   When things are not written down, they are left to everyone’s memory of the event, and you can be assured all memories will be different.  If you want to succeed, then you will have meetings and you will keep notes.

Exercise

How can you build a fun and enjoyable home environment? What would that look like for you?

Complete the below self reflection exercise to earn points.

Self reflection