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Like I mentioned in my last post, we’ve had some experience with renting a room in our home for some extra income. You won’t believe the oddities of living with roommates I’ve experienced, so I’ll start with that guy on the couch. When my kids’ dad had his teenage daughter inviting other teens over to spend the night without permission, and he’s quite the yes-man when it comes to his kids, I definitely had to ask who we rented the couch to on more than one occasion.
Having teenage roommates…
No, we weren’t charging rent to the teenagers who stayed up too late playing video games and then years later passed out on my couch, drunk. But these are the people we live with! Our teenager’s friends!
Okay I know we get to choose who comes over, who stays over, what they do, what they watch on tv, etc. because we are the parents and this is our house. However, my kids’ dad figured he’d rather them be at his house doing the bad stuff they’d inevitably leave to go do than ban activities, people, sleepovers, loud music, or guys on the couch, within reason.
Whoever’s kid he is– I guess he’s better off here than on the street. That’s been my motto, and my mindset when dealing with kids and other folks who are different or overstayed their welcome. Someone’s son is here, and I’m someone’s mom to him. It’s when they don’t respect me like a mom that my attitude and reactions tend to change.
Being the mom…
So there wasn’t just one, there were several, guys on the couch I dealt with. There was the snorer, the one who rolled his own cigarettes, the one who bought scratch-offs all the time, the one who talked a lot, the one who gave so many compliments, and the moocher.
I’m not the best hostess, for the people I invite over to dinner I’m sure it’s acceptable, but it might be shameful how I neglect the guy on the couch I didn’t invite over, and this time neither did my step-daughter. Sometimes the guy on the couch needs to be a little less comfortable.
How to tell them to leave…
I’ve posted signs about my expectations for occupants, started conversations about things that wouldn’t make them stay, and to top the list a good friend of mine actually had the electricity turned off temporarily, so that the guy would stop mooching her internet and tv. It always surprises me the entitlement that some people have in another person’s home, when mental illness or other understandable circumstance isn’t the cause. Some people’s children! 🙂
Something I did to try to curve the demographic of teens that stuck around our household, was to make specifically posted guest house rules. You know I had house rules for the kids and our actual roommates, too, but this was specific to people who didn’t pay rent.
Post the house rules
The rules encompassed meals, snacks, drinks, clean-up, appropriate behavior, alcohol use, illegal activities, parking, appropriate language, among other things as they came up. We also had a small child in the home at the time, so I was able to blame a lot of my restrictions on limiting his exposure to things.
Some creative ways to express your wishes for your household and its culture include felt board signs, chalk boards, laminated in a picture frame, or even on a landing page for people who sign into the wifi. I point it out to my kids’ and man’s friends one of the first times I see them in the house, to let them know it’s me who has the strict rules, not my cool counterpart.
Have a cool counterpart who somehow ends up looking like the good guy no matter what you do? This is one of those times you just take the credit so they don’t expect the cool-guy response when they’ve broken a rule. Hold adult and teen guests accountable for their actions, but the fault also belongs to the kid who invited them. And don’t worry, the kid who usually hears it is the dad.
Speak up, Mom!
Sometimes it’s difficult to envision changing an uncomfortable home situation, especially when it requires you use your voice. Often you’re not the only one who is uncomfortable, and other people’s moms will likely agree if they hear about your unreasonable restrictions. Before you throw a fit or make a big deal out of every little thing, set some bare minimum rules you’d like followed so you can enjoy your home, and stand by those.
Instead of taking it up with facebook friends about whether or not you’re being unreasonable, sit down and talk about the house rules in person with your roommates, print off a few sets of examples, and see who can come up with some creative rules for your household. Then make them presentable in some way to your guest if you decide to make guest rules.
Click here for the printable house rules mentioned in this post.
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