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September 12, 2016

Life hacks for a happier home: How to enjoy living with others

Lifestyle Relationships
Christie_LIfeHacks Christie Mandia/for PhillyVoice

Making mealtime fun. Candlelit brunch at home with scrambled egg whites, turkey bacon and pineapple breakfast sets the tone for a great weekend.

It isn’t always easy to live with someone. Whether it is your friend, a family member or your significant other, it is so common to fall into a bad pattern at home. This often leads to underlying resentment and unnecessary negativity.

Many people chalk it up to, “that’s just life,” or “It is what it is,” but that is simply not true. Sure, no situation is perfect, but, like anything in life, the grass is truly greener where you water it.

In other words, we all have the power to drastically improve the quality of our day-to-day lives by being mindful of a few key things. Below is my guide to mindful living that will help change your relationships and your life.

Set Clear Expectations 

First, and foremost, you must be crystal clear with what you expect out of one another. Communicating and managing each other’s expectations is an important part of any relationship. Verbalizing exactly what you want out of someone up front is crucial because no one can read your mind. This will help to avoid confusion on both ends. For instance, when my husband and I moved in together, I told him that I will do the laundry, just make sure whatever he needs washed gets into the laundry basket. It seems like a small thing but him not leaving clothes all over the floor shows me that he appreciates my help and respects our home, so it feels less like a chore to me.

Share Responsibilities 

Lopsided relationships rarely last because someone is bound to burn out eventually. At best, the party with too much burden on them will be unhappy and that will become transparent, which isn’t good for anyone. To avoid this, discuss what needs to be done on a regular basis and share those responsibilities. It then becomes a system, and there is no questioning or nagging when it comes to doing things daily. For example, my husband brings home all of our incoming mail and I send out all of our outgoing mail. I do the laundry and he takes care of the dry cleaning. I clean up the kitchen and he takes out the trash. I maintain the house and he maintains the cars. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you are offering your best effort to reciprocate when someone is helping you.

Pick Up Each Other’s Slack

Everyone has bad days and you have to make a conscious effort to be there for each other when someone falls behind. I love to cook and do so almost every night but there are some nights that I feel like I just can’t. Probably once a week, my husband will take the reins in the kitchen and make a nice dinner for me. I really appreciate that because it is such a treat to sit down and relax while someone cooks for you. Although the royal treatment is short-lived because he then signals for what he calls “the Zamboni,” aka me cleaning everything up! I don’t mind though. Again, it is all about balance.

Push Each Other 

There is nothing better than having someone to push you to be the best version of yourself. Be aware of what kind of influence you are having on those around you. Is it positive? If not, how can you impact others in a healthier way? Sometimes, one of us would rather skip the gym and go straight to brunch on the weekends but the other won’t let that happen. Other times, one of us will push the other into going for a walk after dinner instead of having another glass of wine. In the end, we are both grateful when we make the healthy choice as a result of the other’s persuasion.

Respect Each Other’s Things 

This should go without saying. If you are not the mom of a teenager, you shouldn’t be going through anyone’s things. You will almost always find something you will not like because many things can be misconstrued. At the very least, you will have broken the trust of the person whose privacy you invaded and have now created an insecure environment, when your home should feel like the most sacred place.

Make Meal Time a Special Time 

Eating together, at a table, without distractions like TV or phones, is by far the greatest part of my day, and has been since I was a child. Not only does eating undistracted encourage healthier, more mindful eating, it becomes a time of sharing what went on during your day. Relationships grow when you spend time listening thoughtfully and offering your opinion or a supportive ear.

AMY WRIGHT GLENN: Listen to your body: Our family’s number one food rule

Surprise One Another 

It is easy to fall into a mundane routine when you are sticking to a schedule within your house. The smallest thing can change someone’s day and attitude. I know when my husband comes home with flowers or a nice card I feel so happy and appreciative and he thinks it’s funny if I do something even as little as write him a note in his lunch. Boring is not enjoyable for anyone so the idea is to try to make someone happy; even a very small gesture can mean a lot.

Say Thank You 

Similarly; a little bit of appreciation can go a long way. Try saying thank you more often to your mom, your wife, or your roommate. Say it sincerely, too. If you let someone know how much you appreciate what he or she has done for you, they are far more likely to continue to do it. If you don’t acknowledge the action, they will think you have not noticed or are taking it for granted.

Let Some Things Go 

This may be the most helpful hint when it comes to getting along well with others, especially when they are in your home. The fact is, you will never see eye to eye with anyone 100 percent of the time so you must learn to see things from the perspective of others in order to have true compassion and, more importantly, a peaceful existence. If I have learned nothing else from my life experiences, it is that the passage of time heals almost all wounds. If you are frustrated with something, find a quiet place in your home, where you can decompress and regroup. Read a book, meditate, or practice yoga until you collect yourself and can readdress the issue in a more constructive way.

My hope is that these tips will make your relationships stronger and your home a happier place. Please join the conversation and share your ideas in the comment section below.

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I will continue to keep you posted on my health journey and would love to hear your experiences as well. Please feel free to share below or tweet me @christiemandia.