Flats can be noisy. Well, not the flats themselves, but the people in them, and sound tends to travel more easily in flats. Internet forums are full of people complaining about noisy neighbours and trying to find solutions. If you live below people you can be subjected to hearing footsteps, hoovers scraping along the floor, things being dropped, just everyday noises really, but really fucking amplified. If you live above people you could be the unknowing perpetrator. We lived in a Georgian conversion flat in Deptford and slept on a double loft bed (like a normal bed, but on stilts). The man who lived in the flat above, let’s call him Casanova, used to go to the pub to watch football, and if his team won, shag all night. The noisiest shagging I have ever heard. I’m sure the bed was directly above us, and as we were on our bed on stilts, just a few inches from the ceiling, we were practically having a foursome. Yuck.
Luckily now we have moved and the noises we hear are different. If someone has a party in the summer and the windows are open, it is really loud, but generally our neighbours are not too bad. We do hear kids running around upstairs, people shouting next door, people walking and skating along the walkway, thudding down the stairs and some heavy handed inconsiderate motherfuckers bang-bang-banging the rubbish chute in the middle of the night. Oh, and a phone which is just the right pitch and frequency to be more audible to us than our actual phone. I used to worry that all this would wake our son up, but actually all these noises are so familiar to him that in fact he does not.
I cannot lay the blame entirely on other people though, our own noise travels within the flat just as easily. Our solution? White noise. It has become an essential part of living here. If we know there is likely to be more noise than usual, for example if we have guests over, we switch the white noise machine on next to our son’s cot. The white noise is like some sort of magical protective forcefield which enables him to sleep through practically anything. I anticipate we will be using the white noise a lot more when baby number 2 arrives.
We have a white noise machine, like this one:You can get one from eBay for £20ish. It’s ok, but not particularly loud and doesn’t come with an AC-DC adapter. (Actually, our one requires a voltage that doesn’t match up with the pin/jack/whatever. So you need a variable plug thing, which does something like 6v but using a 9v pin/jack/whatever. I think most variable voltage plugs will do it.)
You can also get apps for phones. “White Noise Baby” is free and pretty good. We use an old phone for this purpose sometimes e.g. when staying somewhere else overnight.
We used to use an analogue radio tuned into white noise but every now and again it would tune into a radio station and we worried the sudden change could cause our son to wake up.
Aside from white noise, a few other things that can help: carpets or rugs, in particular a carpeted stairway, other soft furnishings (sofas, cushions, curtains etc.) can all help absorb to noise.
Another trick we have found useful is to buy a portable doorbell. You can put the chime unit anywhere within range of the doorbell, so if your child is asleep in the buggy near the front door, you could hide it under a cushion in another room, turn the volume down or off.
Noise nightmares? Or have you found some clever ways to combat the racket of small space living with kids? Comment below or take part in our Facebook group forum here.