Six Ways to Make the Best of Communal Living: Halfway Houses for Women

If you are very used to living on your own, learning to live in a communal setting can seem daunting.  It brings up images of sororities houses and dormitories and hippie communes.  All of these images may seem overwhelming to someone who have been living alone. But there are ways to make yourself feel better and ways to survive the jungle of communal living with your sanity intact.

Be nice but not too nice

Everyone in a halfway house is likely to be a little bit on edge.  These women are probably all coming out of rehab and just learning how to navigate the world in a real way after becoming clean and sober.  Taking a little time to treat everyone with the care, kindness, and respect that you would like to be treated with will make your halfway house experience a good one.  It is important to be kind and compassionate, but not at the expense of your own treatment and your own well-being.  If you are feeling like your kindness is being taken advantage of, take a step back and reevaluate your situation.  Set some boundaries for yourself and for the other women with whom you live.

Be conscientious about your duties

As one of the conditions of moving into the halfway house, you will probably be assigned some things to do.  These tasks are usually everyday housekeeping things like cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming, cooking meals, washing dishes, and participating in other kinds of household maintenance.  Keep up with your assigned duties.  If you are conscientious most of the time, if you slip up once or twice and do not get your tasks done in a timely manner it is more likely to be forgiven by your housemates.  If you do not keep up on your tasks regularly, you may end up with a big problem with the other people who live with you.  There is little that causes resent as quickly as someone who is not pulling their weight.

Maintain your personal space and the personal space of others

If you have your own rooms, it is important not to violate anyone else’s personal space just as you would not want someone to violate yours.  Knock before going into another woman’s room and do not go into another woman’s room without permission.  If you are sharing a room with another woman, the same is true for her things and your things.  Do not go poking around in her drawers or under her bed even if you are desperate for a nail file, and you know she has one somewhere. It just is not good manners, and it can lead others to believe that you are not to be trusted.

Respect everyone’s differences

You and your housemates are going to be coming from all different places.  You have likely all gone though some recovery treatment, but it may not have been the same kinds of treatment.  You will all have different backgrounds and different stories.  Get to know the women you are living with and get to know their stories.  This might give you some insight into how best to talk to them and deal with them.  You may find that there is something in particular that someone does or does not like that you never would have thought of.

Keep up your determination

You have worked very hard to get to where you are.  There are going to be women who fall off the wagon while you are in the halfway house.  You must hold on to your hope and keep determined and remember why you are working toward living a permanently clean and sober life.

When all else fails, use baked goods

You will never make friends faster than when you bake some kind of amazing treat.  Something as simple as Rice Crispy Treats or Chocolate Chip Cookies can bring you all together to talk and eat and build the community that you would like to have in this halfway situation.

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