According to 311, noise from a neighbor is one of the biggest complaints they receive.
And as one PSP parent observes “unfortunately, these brownstones and such were not made with multi-family living in mind.” Living in tight spaces means noise can carry and even the slightest movement can seem disruptive and loud.
While we have talked about what families can do HERE to make their home more noise-proof, what are the steps to take when you are the recipient of noise coming from an adjacent home?
1. Are you being realistic?
Think of the situation from your neighbor’s point of view. As one parent commented:
“You need to understand the difference between “sound” and “noise.” “Noise” is excessive, “sound” is you living your life.” Ask if what you hear is noise or just sounds.
And another PSP member cautions: “Life in the city is all about learning to be tolerant.” And another parent describes her situation: “Noise is a fact of life while living in an apartment. We all make noise ourselves and we all are annoyed when others make the noise. My son cries and tantrums every night at bath time. My neighbors complain. They do not have crying child, but they do have high heel shoes (clickety clack, loud video games and music and poker parties. I did not complain. I live in Brooklyn and within arm’s reach of many people.”
2. Be ready to comprise
“The awful truth is that everyone has different push points regarding sound. I remember complaining about neighbor noise to someone and them saying, you live in NYC, deal. I've always tried compromise (you can bang your drums around my son's napping, and I'll let him run around rampant b/w these hours) first then if that hasn't worked, I've asked for assistance in mediating from a coop board member.”
3. Go to your neighbor with solutions
Come up with a list of things that could help cut down the noise.
4. Drown out the noise
“Two other things we do are run our AC in the summer and a loudish humidifier during going-to sleep-times in our son's room. This drowns out almost everything, he sleeps soundly so we turn them off or down once he is asleep.”
Also, many parents recommend a sound machine to create an ambient atmosphere. A fan can also muffle sound.
5. Arrange times when loud sounds will be acceptable for you
“What we did when the first toddler upstairs started walking was basically make a special agreement that he wouldn't toddle over our heads in our bedroom until 10 on weekends and 8 on weekdays, this gave him a large amount of space to run around in, and we rarely heard him. This worked out well, they were very receptive and willing to work it out. The next toddler was told by her parents that we were asleep and she was always shocked to see us awake and on the street.”
6. Devise a “finish line”
Come up with a time frame. Hopefully sleep training, if done correctly, is a short term process—talk about how you expect that by the end of the month things will be calmer and that if they do not change that you expect them to put down rugs, etc.
7. Buy your noisy neighbor rugs!
—that’s right. One parent says: “I used to calculate that a good night sleep was worth about $50 a night (since I was consulting and being dead tired meant I didn’t get as much done). If it means that you get more sleep and they don’t have resources to buy rugs, it’s worth it for you to make the change you want them to do.”
And another parent shares: “One of my neighbors recently bought a rug and they sold it to him w/ a pad that is really thick and dense. I've been in the apartment underneath his and it really muffles his feet, he's a tall guy with a heavy step.”
8. Use Ear Plugs
If your child is co-sleeping you will probably be able to hear her but not the upstairs noises.
9. Work on your sleep skills
If you do get woken up, meditate, relax, and learn ways to get back to sleep.
10. Record the noise they make at night
Play it for them (in a diplomatic way) so they have a better understanding of what you’re dealing with at night.
11. Don’t retaliate back
Hitting the ceiling with a broom, banging against the wall, blasting your own music – these actions (while tempting) will just result in a more hostile environment for you and your neighbor.
Further Reading on PSP
New York Times’ piece “The Noise Children Make.”