At 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Tarrant County residents will be ordered to shelter-in-place except for venturing out for essential services like grocery stores and medical facilities until 11:59 p.m. April 7.
Now that they’re under mandated restrictions because of COVID-19, many people have begun to wonder how they can survive the upcoming days confined at home with their families or roommates.
However, for roommates Benjamin Bui, Pranav Mane and Mario Ramirez, confinement isn’t a major concern. The three have lived together since last semester in an apartment near campus, and now that they’re seeing each other more often, they said they’ve grown closer together as friends.
Here are a few things they agreed are important for everyone to remember while living with others.
Mane, an information systems senior, said it’s important to take the coronavirus situation seriously, but you shouldn’t let it get you down. Ramirez, an acting junior, is especially good at helping make light of situations and keeps everyone laughing with a steady stream of jokes, he said. And good spirits help keep everyone from getting tired of each other.
Arguments are inevitable, Ramirez said, but they’ll usually blow over after a few hours. It’s not something that he plans on worrying about ahead of time.
“At this point, we’ve been through kind of a lot together,” he said. “So we’re just gonna stick it out because we know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Plan bonding activities
Ramirez said once social distancing began, the three began cooking together more often and eating together as a group at home. Isolation helped them form a family.
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They became friends through shared interests like video games, concerts, working out and eating, said Bui, a theater junior. Now that they’re isolated together, they’ve capitalized on those interests.
When social distancing first started taking off last week, Bui said the roommates mostly stayed in their rooms. Now that the situation has become so prolonged, they’ve begun sharing more time in the living area and watching TV shows like “Paradise PD” together.
“In a way, I guess it feels a lot more familial,” he said.
But also plan alone time
Although they’ve enjoyed watching movies and walking the dogs together, Mane said it’s essential to respect each other’s personal space. When he needs to be alone, he said he locks his bedroom door and communicates to the roommates that he’s taking some alone time. Like with any roommate situation, it’s important to knock on the door before entering someone’s bedroom.
Usually, Mane tries to get his own personal work done during the morning and afternoon and allows social time with his roommates in the evening.
Each roommate having their own room has been a lifesaver, Bui said. Heated arguments can be avoided by simply walking away from the situation and cooling off in the privacy of your own room.
Depending on how long the isolation lasts, Ramirez said it’ll be hard to see the same faces every day, but when they get tired of each other, they plan to maintain distance.
“No matter how good you guys get along or how well you hit it off at first, there’s still, like, a boundary that can’t be passed,” he said. “I think that everybody should learn how to respect that.”
Pets might be an issue
Bui has two dogs, a pug named Choji and an Australian shepherd named Loki. Although the roommates will occasionally walk the dogs together, they’ve mutually agreed that it’s Bui’s job to care for them.
Although he loves both dogs and his roommate Bui, Mane said the dogs have caused tension in the past by shedding fur and leaving accidents in the living room.
Ramirez said as long as the dogs stay out of his bedroom, he doesn’t usually have an issue with them.
Even though the dogs had already been living with them before the isolation began, their care and personal boundaries regarding them was a topic that had to be revisited once everyone became restricted to a confined living space.
Be accountable for yourself
Bui said their house rules aren’t extreme enough to have a written copy. Most rules, like caring for his dogs, are implied.
They clean up their own messes, Ramirez said. When he cooks for himself, it’s his job to clean up the kitchen afterward. However, when they cook together for everyone, they all pitch in to clean as a group.
“It’s funny because, to some extent, I feel like we’re all kind of at the same level,” Ramirez said. “We’re all equally messy.”
It’s like a family situation when it comes to doing chores, Mane said. Everyone helps.
However, if one roommate notices they’ve been doing the majority of the house cleaning, Bui said they can speak up or call a roommate meeting to voice that concern. It doesn’t have to be combative, but everyone needs to be present to understand the message. It’s important to have meetings to discuss plans and updates as well, he said.
Mane said to approach roommate meetings with a constructive attitude because hostility or anger over things like washing dishes won’t lead to anything but overall disharmony.
Bui said their friendship has made it easier to share resources, and all of them share what they can.
For example, Bui had stocked up on toilet paper and paper towels even before the coronavirus pandemic began.
“He was stocked up before for some reason,” Ramirez said, chuckling. “I don’t know why, but he was.”
They also already had an abundance of Lysol wipes and other cleaning supplies simply because they clean the apartment frequently, he said.
When it comes to basic necessities like groceries and cleaning supplies, Mane said everyone shares. However, other supplies like alcohol are personally owned.
Sharing makes it easier for supplies to last, Bui said. By adopting a “buy for the house” mind-set, no one needs to worry about others using their supplies. They’ve adopted an honor code of making sure to replace things once they run out, and each roommate contributes what they can.
“I feel like generosity is really a major factor in us all getting along,” he said.
Communication is key
Communication is important in any relationship, even for roommates, Bui said. Talk about issues when they pop up rather than letting them build up over time, and they’re likely to be resolved much more quickly and smoothly.
“If you get irritated, don’t let the problem build up,” he said. “Just stop it right when you start seeing that there is an issue.”
You shouldn’t be pushy about your needs, but you should definitely communicate them with your roommates, Mane said. Everyone has their own needs, and now it’s extra important to respect your roommates.
“After all, you’re living with them, and you kind of want a happy environment,” he said.