We’ve done our best to minimize the noise level, especially when my son wakes up early, but this has been unsatisfactory for our neighbor downstairs. Learning to walk, then learning to run, sleep regressions, daylight savings time, you name it; they have all been reasons our downstairs neighbor has expressed dissatisfaction with us. Once, my son woke up at 4:00 AM crying inconsolably at the top of his lungs and threw everything out of his crib, essentially right on top of the neighbor’s sleeping head. Understandably, our downstairs neighbor did not appreciate the chaos— but the issue is that there’s not much we can do about it.
We follow the law that states 80% of the apartment must be covered by carpet. We obviously try our best to keep quiet until 7:00 AM, per the noise ordinance. We try to read books or play with puzzles until the sun comes up. We don’t let him play with balls before 8:00 AM, and we try to prevent him from running as much as possible. We really do try.
Doing our best to stay quiet has caused us so much anxiety—the emails our neighbor sends us and the constant worry that she’ll ring the doorbell or bang on her ceiling have been pure harassment. At this point, we’ve decided to just ignore her because we’re doing all we can to reduce the noise. At the end of the day, our child is two and has a mind of his own, on his noise level. Kids will make noise and this issue isn’t new in choosing to live the city life.
As my son gets older, he’ll understand more about when it is and is not okay to make noise. Until then, here are a few things we’ve done to help reduce noise or make things better with our neighbor. You can try them, too:
- Make sure to have at least 80% of your floors covered with carpet.
- Be mindful of the noise ordinance law that requires a quiet period from 10:00 PM to 7:00 AM.
- Also, know that this law may not apply to children (I have yet to find a reliable source to confirm this for sure, though).
- Encourage quiet play in the mornings by redirecting your child to quiet toys or reading books.
- Keep your child in a room that’s not above your neighbor’s bedroom until at least 7:00 AM.
- Fill your neighbors with kindness!
- You can offer them a gift like wine or coffee as a peace offering.
- You can offer them a white noise machine, headphones, or earplugs.
- Then, let your neighbor’s complaints roll off your back; you’re doing the best you can. You’re not asking your child to stomp or cry.
- Try mediation; my neighbor didn’t want to. If you’re renting, call your landlord so they can help mediate the situation. The San Francisco Rent Board also offers a mediation service between tenants—so that might be worth pursuing if the issue continues.
- Document all instances of their complaints, what time your child was up, and what they were doing, just in case you need it later
- Don’t start browsing Craigslist for a new apartment unless you have other reasons to move. You have the right to live there with your child.
And for a laugh, please watch this movie.