No doubt about it: kids make noise. What happens when you have kids, noisy kids and your neighbor doesn't? Apartment living can be tough, but it's even tougher when a case of shared walls meets very different lifestyles. Here are a few guidelines for ensuring everyone gets along just fine.
1. Get to know each other. Invite your neighbors over for dinner. Nothing beats a shared meal for wearing down divisions and clearing up misunderstandings. A neighbor of ours informed us once in a strangely candid moment "your kids always used to bug me when they were noisy in the hall, but when I came over to your house and got to know them, and got to see how you worked as a family, I really warmed to them. Now I like hearing their happy voices. And I get that they have to be kids."
2. Apologize when the kids are noisy. If your baby is crying through the night, why not drop off some earplugs, a plate of cookies and a card that says "I'm sorry?" And if your toddler throws a monumental tantrum in the hall, no need to go knocking on doors, but when you next run into your neighbor, try saying, "I'm really sorry if we disturbed you the other day." Saying sorry isn't easy, but it means a lot. It shows you care how your world affects theirs.
3. Let neighbors know your down times. Whether you are just moving in or your new neighbors are, casually let them know when your kids are expected to be quiet. Something like, "Yep, we have small kids, but they go to bed every night around 7:30 and take naps from 2 until 4," should do it. That way, your neighbors can know when to plan their own rest times during their day.
4. Give your kids plenty of time outside. This can be hard in the winter months, but when the weather is warm, make it a priority every day to get some outside time. Kids get stir crazy when cooped up for too long. They'll be getting their daily dose of exercise and your neighbors will get a little extra quiet time.
5. Take this as an opportunity to teach your kids about the care of others. "No running inside" and "inside voices" may seem like stuffy rules from a bygone generation, but they are actually one of the stepping stones to understanding, as adults, that we need to consider others before ourselves. Rather than get frustrated that you can't do what you like when you like in your own place, see this as your chance to challenge your family to love your neighbors.
6. When problems come up, be sure to talk face to face. When conversations are difficult, and emotions run high (and they really do when it comes to noise in the building), discussions over email or text message don't cut it. You can't know how someone is responding and adjust your tone of voice accordingly when all you're doing is sending a message. If a neighbor has made a complaint about noise from your place, go on over and speak face to face. This just might be the difference between a heated or diffused situation.
Live in a situation just like this? Share your words of wisdom below!
(Image credits: Alison Gerber)