Living in a city doesn't always make it possible to be alone in a single-family home. Often, you don't have a choice but to have people living below you. My family has found ourselves in this situation, and in an effort to respect our neighbors and to also teach our kids ways to live in urban environments, we have put together a few tips to help minimize the noise we produce as a family.
1. Teach your kids to walk with "little feet". The idea is to show them to almost tip toe. We have made it a game in our house, and as soon as we're home it's one of the rules that our "big feet" are left outside. So we stomp like dinosaurs outside as much as we can, and try to dance like crazy on our tip toes once we're inside. It cracks my kids up to dance on their toes.
2. Make forts. Making forts is not a particularly loud activity, and once it's made it's also easy for it to be a reading nook, a hiding place etc.
3. Involve the kids in elaborate craft projects like making a cardboard pyramid or whole theme night, building a cardboard tree house, making and playing with a paper plate marble run, or decorating the bedroom with craft paper to make it look like a castle.
4. Determine a general quiet activity time, like drawing and reading times, or even puzzle time. These are quiet activities and are good to calm down after school and before dinner time. Obviously, children who are in the age of having homework will probably be busy doing that. Montessori ideas are great to look into for this purpose. We have a whole Montessori shelf that comes in handy after school. They get to choose what they want to work on, and the structure of such activities is always slow and measured, which makes them more quiet than not.
5. Talk with your neighbors. Tell them when your kids are home from school, and what time they go to bed, what time they wake up and when they leave for school. Ask them what their schedules are and try to figure out solutions to make things work for everybody's timings.
6. Involve your children in making dinner or cleaning and organizing the house. Not only does it help with them not running and jumping around, but it also teaches them to be part of the family.
7. Schedule some technology time for your kids, like listening to an audiobook, playing on the computer, or even watching a little TV, if you need to make dinner or prepare for school/work.
8. Run around outside before coming back inside. Bang on pots, jump in puddles, climb on trees, make snowmen, throw snow balls, plant and harvest, go to the pool, take them to karate and dance classes, etc… then come home after all the excess energy has been spent.
(images: Séverine Baron)