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10 Things to Tell Your Roommate Before He or She Leaves the Kitchen

10 Things to Tell Your Roommate Before He or She Leaves the Kitchen

As scary as it is to admit it, sometimes our living companions need a reminder or two about how a kitchen is kept clean

10 Things to Tell Your Roommate Before They Leave the Kitchen

Summer is winding down and everyone is heading back to school or settling back into their apartments after being away all summer. This means one thing for many who share their abode with others: roommate filth. There’s nothing worse than a messy roommate, whether they're a stranger, your best friend, or your significant other, and it’s even more frustrating when that mess is in the kitchen.

Click here to see 10 Things You Should Tell Your Roommates Before They Leave the Kitchen

Let’s face it, we all have our shortcomings, but it can get pretty maddening when the simplest of tasks seem to be overlooked over and over again by our fellow dwellers. Even the most intuitive things can be snubbed, so sometimes it’s best to keep a checklist for yourself and for your roommates. So The Daily Meal has compiled a list of 10 things that, while they may seem obvious, are often overlooked and can lead to quite the messy kitchen. Give your roommate this checklist and you’ll be one step closer to having that clean kitchen of your dreams.

Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce


10 Ways To Deal With The Worst Roommate Ever

Living with people in a roommate situation can be challenging, and things can get tense. Sometimes you can work out your differences, and other times you can’t, making a parting of the ways your best solution. I’ve had lots of roommates over the years: people that I’m still friends with, people that I'm distantly friendly with, and people with whom I would avoid if at all possible. But no matter how many people you've lived with, figuring out how to deal with roommates from hell can always be a major challenge.

Out of all my roommates, there was one that stands out in my mind as the absolute worst-we’ll call him Shawn because that’s his name. Shawn was everything you don’t want in a roommate as he was an annoying, thoughtless, narcissistic idiot who spent most of his day getting high, and sneaking bites of pizza to my cat. Sean was such a bad roommate, that I not only moved, I sold my house rather than have to deal with him a second longer.

“Are you serious?” was Shawn’s usual response when he was told things like his rent was past due,or that he wasn't going to become a huge star just because Leonardo Dicaprio appeared to him in a dream and told him so, or that he needed to take his old pizza boxes to the trash rather than stack them up in a corner so that the bits of pepperoni that were still stuck on them wouldn't attract ants, rats, or any other kind of vermin into the house. If I could live with Shawn, I could live with anybody.

1. They're always surprised when rent is due, and they're almost always late with it (if they manage to pay at all.)

What To Do: Start reminding them one week before that rent is due, and again two days before the actual due date. You might feel like you’re the annoying one, but it’s worth it to avoid having to pay the entire rent by yourself or being late on the payment.

2. They eat your food without permission.

You’ve been dreaming about that last piece of birthday cake that’s in the refrigerator. Chocolate-your favorite, and besides you want the celebration to continue, you only turn 29 twice, right? But when you look for it, the cake is gone. Dang, the treat thief has been at it again. Your roomie is constantly eating your food, and never replacing it, even when you’ve clearly marked you name on it.

What To Do: After you have yet another talk with them about how your food is yours, and theirs is theirs, hand them a bill for the food they’ve eaten. They probably won’t pay it, and it might piss them off, but it will work as a visual reminder to keep their hands off your ice-cream!

3. They don’t eat your food, but they stink up your apartment with their own horrible smelling and you can only imagine, awful tasting food.

I had a roommate once, who was a very nice guy, I liked him a lot, and he was very easy to live with except for the fact that his go-to dish was a mixture of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Miracle Whip, and un-drained canned kidney beans. I understand if you just threw up in your mouth a little, because I would every time he made this horrifying concoction of un-edibleness.

What To Do: Since you can’t tell someone what they can, or can’t cook in their own house, encourage them to take a cooking class at a nearby college, or implement a plan of household meals, where all the roommates prepare, and share a meal together. It’s fun, you’ll learn about different kinds of foods you might not normally be aware of, and it cuts down on the possibility of Tuna and Chocolate Chip Surprise permeating the house with its stench.

4. They use your stuff without your permission and often damage or break it in the process.

When one of my roommates admitted to me that they had used my wildly expensive tweezers to pluck out their nose hair, I had to immediately dispose of those tweezers and buy a new pair.

What To Do: Make it clear that your stuff is yours, and that they aren’t to use it unless they ask first and you verbally give them a yes. They are never to assume it’s ok to use your pasta bowl to mix peroxide in.

5. Your roommate’s messiness is spreading and isn’t confined to their room, but has now overtaken the living room, dining room, kitchen and bathroom.

You can only clean up after your roommate so many times before you start resenting them. Every time you bring up their slobitude, they promise to be better at cleaning up after themselves, but you’ve yet to see any improvement.

What To Do: People can feel shame regarding their cleanliness issues, so try to bring up the subject in the least confrontational manner possible. Tell them that you don’t feel comfortable watching T.V. in the living room when there’s rotting food within your eyesight, plus it’s hard to focus on The Fall when your roommate's dirty underwear is sharing the couch with you. First of all teach by example and keep your areas clean. If your roommate doesn’t get better after you’ve talked with them about the problem, you could put all their dirty clothes in trash bags, put cleanser in your sinks, shower and toilet (so that they are scrub brush ready,) or leave the vacuum where your roommate is sure to trip over it.

6. They do their portion of the housework but they do it badly.

Ok, so I have what I think is the perfect method for washing dishes, you could even say I’m a little anal about the way I want the cleaned dishes placed in the dishrack (but it makes sense to go from bigger to smaller with plates.) My boyfriend believes in air drying the clean dishes. Sometimes things aren’t completely dry when he puts them away (which makes me cringe.)

What To Do: I try to be grateful for the chores that are done and let go of the annoying cleaning habits that I don’t agree with such as my roommate insisting on one sponge for cleaning cat dishes and another for human dishes. Sometimes you just need to pick your battles.

7. Your roommate drinks (or smokes) too much, at all hours and often brings their drunk friends home with them.

Hey, it’s a party at your house, and you’ve got a very important biology exam tomorrow. When your roommate's drinking has morphed from one or two drinks to twelve every night, and they’re not just interfering with your life, but your roommates as well, that’s a real problem.

What To Do: Again, you’re going to have to tell them how worried you are about them, and how the situation isn't healthy for either of you. You can offer to go with them to an AA meeting, or do whatever you can to assist them to get control over their life. It’s what you’d want them to do for you.

8. Your roommate’s partner spends a lot, I mean a lot, of time at your house, and doesn’t contribute in any way to the rent, utilities, or food.

You come home and the roomie’s S.O. is there. You know that they’ve had sex on every piece of furniture in your apartment, from the way they burst into laughter when you’re about to sit down on the couch, or lean against the kitchen counter.

What To Do: The passive aggressive response might be to immediately get a significant other of your own and encourage them to hang out at your house exclusively thereby showing your roommate how annoying it can be to have an interloper there all of the time. You could also explain to the roommate that now that there’s three of you, their S.O. needs to pay their share of the rent and expenses, and that they need to restrict their sexy time to certain areas and times.

9. You love animals, and in your home pets are definitely allowed, but your roommate is a terrible pet owner.

They keep their cat confined their room, and rarely clean the litter box so your apartment smells as if a mentally deranged cat hoarder lived there.

What To Do: First get an approval for you to visit your roommate's pet in their room. Then get permission for their cat/dog to have supervised visits out in the apartment. Purchase a strongly scented candle, and give it to your roommate for the smell. Remark how you read somewhere that litter boxes should be cleaned at least three times a day, but how you think that’s a little excessive, that once a day is just fine. Hopefully your roommate will get the hint without you having to get up in their business about their pet’s business.

10. Your roommate is super self-centered and inconsiderate.

They’re up all hours, or loud when people are trying to watch T.V. or work. You want the toilet seat down, so that your (not-genius) cat doesn’t fall into the toilet again. You’ve tried asking them to keep it down-the noise level, and the toilet seat, but it never seems to stick. When your roommate continues to talk to you during a critical moment in Nashville, you ignore them, hoping that by not engaging with them, they’ll get the hint to shut-up, but they don’t.

What To Do: If you’ve tried talking to them and showing by example and nothing works, then you have to decide if living with a narcissistic A-hole is worth it. If not, it may be time to give your annoying roommate their notice.

It all comes down to communicating with your roommates in an empathic and kind way.

Try not to be confrontational without sensitivity. Talk in person whenever possible and don't use texts, emails, snapchat or Facebook messages to discuss any issues you might be having with them. Living with anyone has its challenges, and its benefits. If you're clear what you will and won’t stand for, you have a better chance of improving your living situation. If not, change is always good and maybe your next place and roommate will be better.


10 Coach's Training Success

In the pilot episode, before he leaves for two seasons, Coach is revealed to be Schmidt's personal trainer, though he struggles to connect with female clients at the gym where he works. The latter part is in the original script, but Coach's lean physique and commitment to training himself is not.

Instead, Coach is actually written in the pilot as someone who is out of shape. There are multiple references to the idea that he should choose another career path. He even tries to lift the couch that Cece is sitting on at one point and hurts himself.


Ways To Deal With Passive-Aggressive Roommates

Let's be completely honest with each other — that's the big lie we tell at the beginning of every roomie relationship, including the one I had with Debbie (not her real name). And that pledge failed as soon as I turned on the TV in our apartment.

I owned the television, but graciously decided it belonged in the living room for everyone to enjoy. Debbie immediately started joining me as I watched my favorite shows — Scandal, Bob's Burgers, and Game of Thrones, to name a few — and it was so awkward. Then she began making so many comments. Among them: "None of these characters make sense" "I don't get why this show is considered funny" and "Why don't you like any good shows?"

After the last remark, I remember tossing the remote on the couch and storming off to my room. What I didn't realize then was that I had given her exactly what she wanted: the TV all to herself. Her commentary was her passive-aggressive weapon in what would become an ongoing War of the Couch Potatoes.

"When you’ve got a passive-aggressive roommate, you’re dealing with someone who has honesty issues," says relationship expert April Masini of Ask April. "Instead of being upfront with what’s bothering your roommate, he or she is going to turn an insult into a joke, which is a passive way of being aggressive."

Passive-aggressive roommate "warfare" isn't new — it's actually a tale as old as friendly cohabitation itself. (The popular website Passive-Aggressive Notes has a whole category dedicated to roommate communication.)

But experts say there are plenty of ways to clearly tell your roommate to do his or her dishes, keep the volume down, and, in my case, mention you'd like to watch TV.

Disarm with honesty

Instead of storming off to my room and cueing up Hulu to watch Olivia Pope's latest adventure, experts say, I should've opened up communication immediately by saying, "Are you saying my TV shows aren't your type and you'd like to watch something else?"

"Generally, the feeling that you feel from the individual that is acting out passive-aggressive can give you some information on what they are trying to communicate however, the goal is to not trouble yourself with reading into the implied message," says marriage and family therapist Lisa Bahar. "The idea is to communicate in an assertive way. Be matter of fact, avoid gossip, cold shoulders, huffing and puffing."

Hailey, a renter who declined to give her full name, found that this approach worked when she invited a friend to stay over — and one of her roommates got mad and involved their third roommate.

"I found that what worked best was to have a conversation with them about them being able to come to me if they had an issue, and I tried to make a point of talking to them about my issues rather than leaving a note," she says.

Realize the reason(s) behind it

As I lived and reluctantly watched TV with Debbie, I soon learned that she grew up in a household filled with three brothers who never let her have their family TV to herself. That made me understand her possessiveness a little more — just a little. Mind you, it was still my television and I needed it when I needed it so I could see what was going on in Westeros.

"One of the reasons people act in passive-aggressive ways is due to irrational beliefs about the direct expression of anger," says Los Angeles–based psychotherapist Aimee Martinez. "Most likely, these beliefs that anger is unacceptable, dangerous, and should be avoided developed while they were growing up. So as a coping strategy, the person attempts to hide anger behind infuriating passive-aggressive behaviors."

For Alan Abel, he found that the passive-aggressive route was the only one that worked with his roommate, Greg (not his real name). Abel moved into a Manhattan apartment, but former tenant Greg needed more time to find another place and Abel agreed to let him stay — until he caught Greg drunk and asleep with a cigarette dangling from his mouth that set a curtain on fire.

"I had put out the smoldering curtain and took the cigarette out of his mouth," Abel says. "The next day, we had a confrontation. I said I wanted him out of my apartment pronto. He refused and said I would have to go to court."

Abel had to concoct an eviction scheme with his landlord that finally — and passively — got Greg to move out. Abel changed his locks and lived happily ever after. As for Greg, Abel heard that he's still starting fires. (Yikes.)

Have you dealt with passive-aggressive roommates before? Share your strategies for success in the comments.


Wait. Is it okay for me to ask for space?

Wanting time to yourself isn't a sign that there's something wrong with any given relationship. We all have routines that we follow in our solitary moments that make us feel whole, Winch explains things like cooking, running, journaling, meditating, going for a walk in nature, or just having the autonomy to spend a few minutes (hours, or even an afternoon!) doing whatever you want. These moments contribute to our sense of identity, and not doing them makes use feel disconnected, which then takes a toll on our own mental state, Winch explains.

The loss of those routines &mdash as small as they may seem &mdash will put us on edge.

Previous studies (not specific to COVID-19) suggest that quarantines alone increase rates of depression, stress, insomnia, PTSD symptoms, anger, and emotional exhaustion. We know from several reports that a majority of adults in the U.S. are reporting that the COVID-19 pandemic is negatively affecting their mental health. And a Nature Reviews Urology article, published earlier this year about how the COVID-19 pandemic (and social changes it&rsquos forced upon us) has affected our relationships, reports that people are struggling to make personal time.

Taking time for yourself keeps you well, but it&rsquos also important for the health of your relationships with those around you, too, adds Kruti Patel, Ph.D., an Austin, Texas-based licensed clinical psychologist, who offers individual and couples therapy. &ldquoIf you don&rsquot feel connected to yourself, it&rsquoll be hard for you to feel connected to others," he says. Your relationship with yourself is foundational to all your other relationships &ndash and if you neglect it, it&rsquos going to affect all the other relationships in your life, Patel adds.


A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Along With Your Roommate

Unless you attended Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, or shared a room with a sibling growing up, college is probably the first time you’ve ever had a roommate. Whether you’re literally sharing a bedroom with another person, or just sharing an apartment, living with a roommate is a whole new world compared to living with your parents.

And, really, it’s not something anyone ever talks about until you get to college. Sure, there’s the odd glimpse in college movies or maybe a weird story from one of your parents, but nothing can truly prepare you for the experience of coexisting in close quarters with someone who’s quite possibly a complete stranger.

I can’t pretend I can take the mystery and uncertainty out of the roommate experience. But after living with roommates for three years of college, I can tell you what did (and didn’t) work for me.

My hope is that by the end of this article you’ll have a better idea of how to, at the very least, get along with your college roommate. Even if they’re a total rando. Who doesn’t shower for weeks. And leaves anchovy/pineapple pizza under the couch cushions (may or may not have happened to me).

So find a comfy spot somewhere your current roommate isn’t reading over your shoulder, and let’s get started!

How NOT to Pick a Roommate

Assuming that you can choose your roommate (which isn’t always the case your first year of college), I really have only one tip: Don’t room with your best friend from high school.

Living with your best friend sounds like a dream come true. But much like moving in with a romantic partner, living together can reveal some, well, less savory aspects of people’s personalities. And personal hygiene.

I’m not saying that rooming with your best friend will be a disaster, but often it can put a strain on the relationship at the very least. To paraphrase a popular joke about marriage, rooming with your best friend is like a month-long sleepover.

So although your friend’s messiness may never have bothered you when you spent the night at their house every couple of weeks, now it’s right there in your personal space. And the fact that they stay up till 4 am every night chatting with their significant other on Skype–that’s suddenly very relevant to your sleep schedule.

All this is to say, if you want to room with your best friend, hold off for at least your first year of college. Living with your friends can be great, but I’ve also seen it destroy friendships. Don’t let that happen to you.

How to Get Along with Your Roommate (Random or Otherwise)

Throughout my time in college, I lived with two random roommates, as well as a couple others that I barely knew. So I learned a lot about how (and how not) to live harmoniously in small spaces with strangers. Here are my most important takeaways:

1. Make a roommate agreement

Repeat after me: always make a roommate agreement. Even if things seem great now. Even if you’re BFFs. Because as fallible, illogical humans, it’s inevitable that some kind of disagreement will arise. And the moment you have a disagreement is the worst time to decide to draw up some house rules.

Now, a roommate agreement doesn’t have to be a formal, notarized, watermarked document. It doesn’t have to be long, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. All it needs to include are a few standards the two of you agree to abide by, as well as the procedure for handling disagreements or violations of the standards.

That second part is the key. Don’t just make a list of what you should and shouldn’t do–make a plan for what you’ll do when things go wrong.

1. Lights out at 1 am.

2. Inform each other of overnight guests.

3. Take turns taking out trash when it’s full.

4. When conflicts arise, we will first talk about them with each other. If that doesn’t work, then we’ll ask for the help of our RA to mediate..

5. We’ll be open, honest, and polite when the other person does something that bothers us.

Signed,

YOUR NAME

YOUR ROOMMATE’S NAME

Your RA will probably have some kind of template you can use for this, and there are of course dozens floating around online. Above all, what matters is that you make the agreement.

Ignore this tip at your own peril.

2. Treat it like a business partnership

In the same vein as making a roommate agreement, be realistic about the roommate experience. Despite what you see in movies, there’s no need for the two of you to be best friends or hang out a bunch (although having dinner together every so often can be good for keeping open communication).

Having a roommate is, at the end of the day, a way to make efficient use of limited living space while also saving money for both of you. It is, in essence, a business arrangement. As long as the two of you respect each other and live together pleasantly, that’s all you need.

3. Be aware

If you’ve never lived with someone before, it’s easy to take for granted that yours is the only way of doing things.

Your different lifestyle, however, could be a source of potential discomfort or annoyance for your roommate. Because of this, it’s important to remain aware of how your actions might affect your roommate. In practice, this is pretty simple stuff.

For example, if your roommate is trying to study, don’t blast heavy metal. If you come back and find them asleep, don’t turn on all the lights. Simple stuff, but it goes a long way towards getting along.

4. Practice empathy

It’s easy to get mad at your roommate and think that they’re some kind of villain put in your life to torture you. But no matter how incompatible the two of you are, no matter how much you may disagree, remember that your roommate is still a person with feelings, hopes, and dreams.

Practice empathy, and recognize that from their perspective you’re the one who’s in the wrong (which, in many cases, you probably are, at least partially).

Here’s a quick primer on empathy from Brené Brown:

5. Address disagreements openly and respectfully

Honest communication is built on truth and integrity and upon respect of the one for the other.

– Benjamin E. Mays

Roommate problems are a lot like a cold. If you address it early and give it the attention it deserves, it’s no big deal. But if you ignore it for too long, you could end up with bronchitis or even in the hospital.

The keys to resolving disagreements with your roommate are respect and open communication.

The respect part is especially key. Respect means being honest without being a dick. It’s the difference between “Hey, can you get your stupid dirty underwear off the floor?” and “I know you’re really busy with class and school, but you keep leaving your underwear in the middle of the floor. Could you find a different place for it?”

(Tone is also really key here. The second statement can still come off the wrong way if you say it sarcastically).

And if your roommate doesn’t understand your request, don’t get mad. Just explain how you feel.

Obviously, this goes both ways. Don’t brush off anything that your roommate brings up. In essence, follow the Golden Rule.

6. Appeal to a third party when necessary

If you and your roommate can’t work out a disagreement, don’t be afraid to go to your RA (or, if you live in an apartment, a trusted impartial third party). Sometimes it can be tough to work out a sensitive issue together, and these are cases when having an impartial mediator to hear both sides of the argument can make a world of difference.

Again, there’s a right and a wrong way to do this. Your RA is not the police or the teacher watching the playground. Don’t go to them for every single little problem that comes up.

And if you do have to approach them, don’t accuse anybody of anything. Just explain your problem as objectively as you can and listen to their advice. They (hopefully) have training in how to mediate conflicts, so be sure to actually let them help you.

7. Treat it as a learning experience

Some of the most important learning that you’ll do in college happens outside the classroom. College is kind of like practice for being an adult but with a large support system and safety net. And one of the most valuable skills you can learn is how to get along with other people, especially people who are very different.

Your roommate experience, for better or worse, is a chance to learn about conflict resolution, empathy, and how to have a sense of humor when life gets weird or unpleasant. This is a tricky thing to do in the moment, but it’s key to making your life a lot less stressful.

Having a roommate in college is inevitable for most people. I hope this article has given you a better idea of how to get along with your roommate, as well as some perspective on what a healthy roommate relationship should look like.

That being said, my roommate advice is heavily rooted in my own experience at a small, private liberal arts college in the Midwestern U.S.

To get some perspective on what things are like at a larger university, have a listen to the CIG Podcast episode How to Live With Roommates Without Losing Your Mind. And for more tips about how to live on your own, read this next.


I dropped off my first child at college: Here are 7 things I wish I had known

I wrote this article two weeks after I dropped my oldest child at a huge university thousands of miles away from home. For me, it was not a great two weeks.

My feelings reminded me of the start of my baby girl's life. After those first chaotic, emotional few weeks, I called my college best friend, who had a baby 4 months earlier, and said, “Why did you not tell me about all the crazy post-birth trauma I would experience?” And she said: “Because you would not have believed me.”

Here are things I wish I had known about the weeks following college drop-off. Of course, all parent-child relationships are different, as are all college atmospheres. But I would not have believed these things to be true a month before that first big goodbye. (And at the end, I've added one more thing I learned. a year later.)

1. The actual drop-off was not that emotional. There are just so many things TO DO. My daughter’s college is two plane flights away, so there were logistics to deal with. Mailing boxes. Packing suitcases. Spending hundreds of dollars at Bed Bath & Beyond for things like bedbug mattress protectors and shower shoes. By the time you get to your kid’s actual dorm, you are just so thankful other students are there to help cart all those things up to the 19th floor of the freshmen tower. You sweat, you figure out how those darn Command strips work on cinder block walls, you get hangry, you finally get everything moved in, and maybe do one more run to Target (for snacks). When you finally leave, you are all exhausted and pretty much just want to hug and hit the road.

2. It hits you when you get home, back to reality. I was not prepared for the feeling of being back home, where her bedroom, with all the Polaroids on the wall of her and her friends, is right next door to mine. The first morning, I went into her room and cleaned: changed the sheets, put away the pile of high school sweatshirts she decided not to take, and vacuumed. In her closet, I found a parting gift in the form of a hamper full of dirty laundry. A month ago, I would have been livid at the mess. Instead: "Yay! I can still do one more load of her laundry!" When I was done, I just shut the door. No need to face that emptiness every day.

3. The littlest things will make you miss them SO much. Besides having her general sweet presence around, these are things I miss. I miss her fighting with her younger brother. I miss the way she talks to the dog. I miss her shoes spread all over the garage floor, even though there are baskets right there to put them in. I miss her snacks. I went to the grocery store and saw pretzel rods and got teary, because there's no need to buy them anymore. I miss having high school soccer games to go to. I miss hearing her coming up the stairs after we are in bed, with her late-night nosh of crunchy things. I miss cooking in the kitchen and rolling my eyes as she sits nearby watching The Kardashians on TV.

4. You will cry at the most unexpected times. I did not shed an avalanche of tears until day 10. I was walking the dog when I saw a good friend of my daughter's drive by. She stopped to talk and I was so excited! And then she drove away and I got wistful. I miss her friends so much! So many years of girlfriend laughter. I went to the grocery store later that day and saw a friend who asked how my daughter was doing at college. I burst into tears, right in the middle of Safeway. Beware of day 10!

5. The lack of communication with your child will slay you. On a good day, she responds to texts with a monosyllabic response. ("How was your first day of classes?" "Good!") On a great day, she calls and my husband and I rush to the phone, put it on speaker, and hover over it, relishing every detail. (My own parents still do this when I call them. Oh, how I finally get it! They just want to hear us!) And then, there are so many days when you get nothing, know nothing. After 18 years of knowing pretty much everything, this is the toughest thing.

6. You will have moments of joy. She is in a new environment in a different state. She is excited about the classes she's taking. She is living independently. She already did a few loads of laundry. She hasn't complained of being homesick. We did it! Despite my feeling of loss, this is the mantra I keep repeating.

(Editor’s note: The following item was added nearly a year after the original story was published.)

7. They will survive that first year away … and so will you! It’s college move-in time, a year later. And when I recall the raw emotions I felt after dropping my daughter off for year one, I am amazed. For myself, amazed that after a lovely summer with our girl home making our family unit whole again, we are ready to send her back. No more walking by her room, with the mile-high piles of clothing! No more sibling fights over who gets the extra car! No more waiting up for her to come home from a late night out!

For my college girl, I am amazed at how that first year of separation — which included hard times, loneliness, growth, challenges and learning to enjoy the highs yet persist through the lows — has transformed her into quite a fine young adult.

With a year under her belt, she is returning to campus confident and excited. There is no more freshman dorm to contend with, no awkward roommate situation. She knows the location of all her classes, and has even devised a schedule that gives her Fridays off! She has declared a major. And she has friends who she can't wait to reunite with — despite the fact they have Snapchatted all summer. All of these reasons make sending her back so much easier. There is peace in knowing she is going to be OK. It’s like when you have a baby the second time around you know, from experience, that you really can’t break them. Everything is going to be fine.

For those of you sending a child to their first year of college, this is the biggest lie you will hear from parents of other first-year college kids: “My [son or daughter] is THRIVING.” Don’t let this stress you out because you are worried about your own kid. Every college student spends their first year of college adjusting… to a new environment, new people, new challenges. No one does it perfectly right away, they just don’t. (No matter what photos on Instagram suggest.) As a parent, it’s about adjusting to not really knowing just how well your child is adjusting. The not knowing is the hard part.

But, trust me, a year from now they will be ready, and so will you. Ready for round two.


Tell us about your gross roommates!

My roomates are just. So fucking nasty. Same story you've seen a million times, absolute slobs, never clean after themselves, just let things go to shit after I got fed up and stopped playing maid. I just need to vent about it.

The place has an awful cockroach infestation. They insist they've done ɾverything they can' about it, but since moving in about a year ago I've never seen a single roach in my room.

Despite this they regularly leave dishes piled in the sink, food sitting out on the counter, never fucking sweep or wipe down the fucking counters. Their fryer had a solid inch of dead roaches the one and only time I tried cleaning it, and I haven't touched it since. Their microwave is caked in grease. Bugs crawl all over the toaster. The stove and oven are filthy. Even clean dishes/cookware isn't safe, because Iɽ have to rinse off all the roach shit to use them. Maybe, for the sake of eating like an actual normal adult, I could just suck it up and just clean whatever I need to use at that moment. but I can't go anywhere near the kitchen without gagging. There isn't a single appliance that isn't filthy, the smell is awful, and the very sight of a roach makes me sick at this point.

The point of all this is I can't store or prepare food anymore. The fridge is nasty and regularly overflowing with all the half eaten crap they leave to fester for months. I don't have enough space in my own room for a minifridge. And I won't lie. there's probably more I could do but I'm just mentally exhausted after a year of this.

As a result, I've been ordering delivery way more than I should. For 'groceries' I don't buy any food that isn't premade and sealed. People have suggested keeping my own food in tupperware containers or something, but most of it would still require some level of food prep that just isn't feasible for me right now. This shit is expensive and making it really, really fucking hard to save up to move out. I've gone days without eating simply because I couldn't afford it, and there's nothing cheap that wouldn't at least require the use of their microwave or stove.

I'm at the end of my rope. I want out of this nightmare so bad. The only solace is when my roommates parents (my roomates are a couple sisters who are inheriting the house, I'm just renting a room) come over and clean up the house for them(and I get to overhear them blaming everything on me lmao) every couple of months. I get about a week of using the kitchen without wanting to die before they slob it up again.

I guess if anyone has advice for saving food money when I literally cannot store or prepare food safely thatɽ be incredible. There's probably some really obvious ways of doing so, but at this point I get so much anxiety just thinking about food that it just wouldn't occur to me.


10 things I wish Iɽ known before I sent my child to college

(Editor's note: As school begins this week in some parts of the country, we begin a back-to-school version of our "Things I Wish I'd Known" series, where parents reflect on things that could have helped before every stage of schooling.)

When my oldest child followed the family footsteps to the University of Florida, we were thrilled. In the excitement, we never gave a thought to how much of a homebody Angie was. She didn’t either, until she was 2,325 miles away. The end result was many phone calls from a suffering child with suffering grades.

That was just one of those “things I wish I knew before my child started college.” From money matters to flaky friends to dining dilemmas, other parents point out plenty more to consider:

Location, location, location. Not only will your child want to come home, you will want to go there. When son Michael went off to Amherst in Massachusetts, Kentucky mom Lisa Sullivan remembers how hard it was for her and husband Tim to hear their son was alone in his dorm room for those three-day holiday weekends. Not only that, Sullivan says it also means that, if kids play sports or are in band, as daughter Megan was at Ohio State, watching them perform is another issue to consider.

Sticker shock. Parents unanimously agreed they wished they had known how much college would really cost. To that end, Florida mom Patt Caudell, who sent daughter Kelly off to school in Charlotte, North Carolina, and son Brad to junior college, wishes she had known how important it is to help your children make prudent choices about student loans and easy-to-get credit cards, decisions they can, and will, make without you.

There are no jobs? New Jersey mom Jean Bufalo says she wishes she’d known to check into schools’ job placement rates and how much help the alumni association offers. Oldest son Andrew, who studied industrial engineering at Rutgers, was told he’d have no trouble finding a job at $100,000 a year. Not. When youngest son Sean finished at Johnson & Wales with a degree from the School of Hospitality, he had several job offers thanks to the university’s determination to get grads going.

Home sweet home. That dorm room doesn’t have to be furnished well enough to make a magazine cover. Buy sheets and towels, says Sullivan, and wait till you see the room before you get other things on “the list.” And think about shopping once you get to the school rather than shipping it, packing it into the car or lugging it on a plane.

Hunger games. Jim and Alicia Trotter, who sent two daughters from San Diego to St. Mary’s College in the San Francisco Bay area, bought the full meal plan for Taylor, the first to leave. What they didn’t know was how much money would go down the drain because the plan doesn’t carry over from semester to semester. They asked Taylor about what and where she was eating and made necessary adjustments. They didn’t make the same mistake when Tara was a freshman.

Control issues. Colleges grant students privacy. It’s the law. That’s nice. Until you, the person paying for this education, wants to be sure your kid isn’t flunking out. Several parents said they didn’t know that. I didn’t either, until the third child enrolled. His university told me I would need his permission to see his grades. Oh yeah? I had the school send me the form and told my son to sign it. Or pay his own way.

Degrees of separation. Missouri mom Terry Pfaff recalls her only child, Maggie, coming home from University of Missouri saying she was so unhappy in her major and wanted to change to the Bachelor of Fine Arts program. Pfaff says she was speechless. How was Maggie going to make a living? There was no job security in the field, no stability, among other values Midwesterners hold dear. Pfaff says she wishes she’d known how important it is to listen to what our children want and not force them to study what we think they should. Maggie made the switch and excelled.

The drama of it all. Heartbreaks. Bad teachers. Peer pressure. No, they don’t leave all that behind in high school. And add roommate issues, says California mom Sylvia Mendoza, who says son Brian McCulley and daughters Kayla and Cassandra McCulley all had to deal with difficult situations. She remembers how toughit was to counsel from afar. She wishes she had known the importance of discussing how to handle relationship and other conflicts before they left home.

Letting go. Portland, Oregon, mom Debbie Frost was not alone in saying she wishes she had known how hard it would be to walk away from son Christopher on that first day of freshman year in Los Angeles. And to gently tell him no when he called two months later, asking to come home. She and others say they wish they’d known sooner how much care packages and cards and visiting as often as possible would help ease the separation anxiety on both sides.

As Pfaff says, in the end, “We think it’s all about them growing but really it’s about us growing along with them.”

Jane Clifford is a Florida-based writer and mother of four. She fervently believes her payback will be sitting back and watching as they all become parents.


10 things your personal trainer won’t tell you

Once reserved for the wealthy, personal trainers are now a must-have for the sweating masses. Today 91% of the members of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association trade group — typically full-service health clubs — offer training services, and some 6.4 million Americans are currently signed up for sessions. The personal-training profession is booming, defying the sluggish economy with faster-than-average job growth, projected to rise 24% between 2010 and 2020, according to the Department of Labor.

And yet, not all so-called specialists are properly trained. On the fast-and-loose end of the spectrum, you’ll find certification requirements as minimal as paying a few hundred dollars and passing an online exam. “The field is still full of charlatans that look great and have great smiles,” says Gregory Florez, CEO of v2performance.com, a health coaching firm. Some self-styled trainers don’t even bother to get the easiest certifications. For the consumer, Florez says, it’s “buyer beware.”

2. “There’s only so much I can do if you don’t lay off the doughnuts.”

Clients with serious weight-loss goals need to do more than just work out with a trainer, experts say. “Abs are made in the kitchen,” says Mike O’Donnell, a health coach and personal trainer in Atlanta. O’Donnell has seen clients overeat after exercising, or even munch while on the treadmill. To lose weight, clients need to couple regular training sessions with a reasonable diet and an active lifestyle, trainers say. Training helps ensure that clients lose fat, not muscle or water when they diet.

Consumers should be wary of trainers who offer pie-in-the-sky promises for weight loss. Even if someone helps a bride-to-be drop a few dress sizes before her wedding, that kind of rapid weight loss is rarely sustainable, experts say, noting that slow and that steady loss of one to two pounds a week is best for most dieters.

3. “I’ll push you till you collapse.”

When Jeanette DePatie was in college, she worked out with a trainer who pushed her so hard she threw up in the locker room afterwards. What’s more, he made her feel bad about her plus size. “There’s a sense among certain unethical trainers that desperation is a good way to get clients,” DePatie says. After DePatie decided to embrace her zaftig physique, she became a certified fitness instructor known as the Fat Chick, who specializes in training beginners. She says her philosophy for those starting out is, “I just want you to be safe and have fun and live to exercise another day.”

Indeed, many novice exercisers confuse pain with progress, experts say. Pain is a warning sign, not an indication of a good workout. Beginning exercisers can expect to feel soreness in muscles and tendons after the first few sessions, trainers say. This type of soreness is normal, while pain in the joints is not. A good trainer will always listen when a client says an exercise hurts and suggest a modification to the routine.

4. “We’re surfing the silver tsunami.”

Like many service providers, the training industry sees an opportunity in aging baby boomers. There’s been a rise in certifications for training seniors, observers note. “Everyone’s scrambling to get those out,” Florez says. Some 35% of gym members are 55 and over, according to a 2013 survey conducted by Idea Health & Fitness Association, one of the largest national trade groups for fitness professionals. Indeed, trends in fitness equipment reflect the graying of America’s gyms, with the increased use of balance-training apparatuses, body-weight leverage machines and other equipment that meets the needs of older exercisers, according to Sandy Todd Webster, Idea’s editor-in-chief.

Exercise can vastly improve older people’s quality of life and even mean the difference between independence and time spent in a care facility, experts say. Yet exercise injuries are common among older people, and some doctors recommend booking at least one session with a personal trainer to learn proper techniques before working out with weights or other gym equipment.

5. “We’ve got more fads than a middle school.”

Boot camps. Kettle bells. P90X. It’s hard to separate the noise from the substance with all the fads in the fitness industry. The good news? You don’t have to. Sure, the latest fads can be fun to try. Kyle Arteaga, 39, the founder of a PR firm in San Francisco, enjoys taking gym classes in boxing conditioning and other trendy themes. But he reserves his twice-weekly sessions with his personal trainer for unglamorous exercises that help him minimize muscle wear-and-tear when he runs marathons competitively. Arteaga has lived in four cities over the past 12 years and worked with multiple trainers. “It’s a very inexpensive way to look at health care,” he says.

Beginners should use caution before embracing the exercise du jour, especially if it involves a precise technique that takes time to acquire, DePatie says. For example, swinging a 30-pound kettle bell above your head leaves little margin for error: “A very small mistake can lead to a big injury and a lot of doctor’s bills,” she says. There are plenty of simple ways to do weight training and cardio, and the latest fads aren’t essential to follow, experts say.

6. “Bring a few pals and I’ll charge you half the price.”

An hour-long training session for two with The Biggest Loser celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels went for $4,250 this spring on an online auction site (proceeds benefitted the RFK Center for Justice & Human Rights). But not all trainers command such stratospheric prices for a shared sweat session. In fact, splitting the bill can be a great way to go. Many trainers offer group sessions that can cut individual prices by as much as half.

Though traditional health clubs don’t typically dangle the group option in front of you, most personal trainers will work something out if you ask. After all, it’s a win-win situation, since each individual pays less while the trainer earns more than for a one-on-one session. In recent years, franchises such as Orangetheory Fitness have sprung up specifically to provide group-based training.

7. “I’m just as qualified to train you as, um, that guy lifting over there.”

There are almost too many personal training certifications to count, experts say. Idea has about 100 certifications in its free directory Idea FitnessConnect, which allows consumers to verify that a trainer actually holds a given certification and whether or not the certification is current. And quality is all over the map when it comes to certification standards. While some programs demand a broad-based understanding of human physiology, others require much less from their candidates. Experts point to certifications from the American Council on Exercise, the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Strength and Conditioning Association as among the gold standards of the industry.

8. “Just because I’m more expensive doesn’t mean you’ll get a better workout.”

Personal trainers charge more depending on their level of experience and how booked up they are, and any fees you pay them are obviously an investment in your health. Nonetheless, a more expensive trainer won’t necessarily yield better results. “At the end of the day, it’s about behavioral change,” fitness consultant Florez says. So safety aside, finding someone who personally motivates you and with whom you click is most important, and that person may not be a top-dollar seasoned veteran. And don’t let gym décor sway your decision, DePatie says, since there are great trainers and not-so-great trainers in every type of facility: “Just because they have a fancy café in front and a fabulous pro shop doesn’t mean those trainers know more than at the local mudshop.”

To find the right match, ask for a trial workout session with a trainer before you hire one. Florez specifically recommends a preliminary consultation, which should include no exercise but rather an in-depth conversation about your personality and goals. A good trainer should ask a lot of questions, not just dispense advice, he says. And the interviewing should go in both directions. To evaluate a prospective trainer’s ability to produce results, ask questions like, “Have you worked with someone like me before and been successful?” If the answer is yes, request a recommendation from that person.

Long-time trainer client Arteaga says that while certifications may be a good place to start, he places more stock in the types of clients a prospective trainer works with. Since he’s looking for a long-term relationship, he’s less interested in working with someone who primarily helps clients meet short-term goals. What’s more, he prefers working out with trainers at independent gyms, since in his experience they have more flexibility to customize workouts than those at large corporate chains.

That’s not to say the templates chains impose on trainers necessarily prevent them from creating custom workouts. Equinox, an upscale nationwide gym chain, for instance, requires that its trainers work within certain parameters, to ensure clients make safe progress, and requires trainers to document how altering well-known exercise principles will help a client meet his goals, says David Harris, vice president of personal training. Yet far from putting trainers in a bind, he says, the chain’s rules let them use creativity in program design, make it easy to get input from other coaches, and provide a clear record of progress.

9. “We don’t need a full hour.”

Sixty minutes remains the most popular duration for a personal training session, according to Idea. But some experts say a full hour isn’t necessary. O’Donnell cut his training sessions down to 30 minutes for most clients. Some clients had gotten too comfortable, preferring chatting to sweating. He started telling clients to warm up on their own before the session and do cardio on their own afterwards, saving their time together for quick interval workouts. “I’m not paid to watch you walk on the treadmill,” he told them. The economics of this shorter session benefitted both client and trainer: Once O’Donnell started charging clients $45 per half hour, versus $65 for a full hour, he was able to squeeze in more clients during peak hours, making more while saving his clients money.

Science supports even workouts shorter than 30 minutes: Researchers at Arizona State University found last year that subjects with slightly elevated blood pressure experienced longer lasting benefits from three 10-minute aerobic sessions a day than from one 30-minute session.

10. “We’re part-time pitchmen.”

Gyms and trainers alike are “bombarded” with offers from manufacturers to sell products such as vitamins, shakes and exercise equipment, Florez says. (See also: 10 things direct-sales marketers won’t say) What’s more, some gyms treat their trainers like salespeople on the floor, urging them to push products. Rank-and-file trainers don’t make big bucks: The average trainer makes under $30,000 a year, and fewer than half of trainers receive benefits, according to Idea. So it’s understandable if trainers want to—ahem—supplement their salaries by selling vitamins and protein shakes.

But any products for sale should offer real value to the client, DePatie says. And some gyms ban the practice entirely. Personal training clients should be wary of product pitches, especially if they come early in their relationship with a trainer, experts say. Consumers are pretty savvy these days, and no one likes to feel pressure, says Melissa Rodriguez, senior research manager at the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, a trade association serving the health and fitness industry: “We know when we’re being upsold.”