Is it ever OK to complain about a neighbours noise when you have a baby? Probably not, but I did, and the anxiety and rage it resulted in make me wonder whether it was a really bad idea.
Let me set the scene…
With the adjoining house being virtually empty for almost a year, we’d got used to the luxury of silence, until Max came along of course, but that’s our noise so it’s different.
Max, so far, is a joy at night, and goes down straight to sleep after his bottle around 8pm. I honestly can’t remember the last time he cried at night, he starts stirring for his dummy or a feed around 4am, but never cries. I know, lucky us.
New neighbours moved in in January.
The walls are generally much thinner than we realised for the age and sturdiness of these houses. We can hear them talking – not only do their alarm clocks wake us up in the morning, we don’t even have to open our eyes to know what time it is because we’ve heard him announce the night before that he will be setting his alarm for 6:45, 6.50 and 6.55 – and the sound from their TVs reverberate through our house as though they’re watching Suits in our bedroom, not theirs. Oh and they have dogs, which at first left my nerves jangling at every bark and still leave me on the edge after an hour and a half of incessant barking when the owners are out (usually when I’m trying to get Max to nap, and I’ve talked before about my nap time struggles!). But, those sessions are few and far between and they don’t bark through the night. Could be worse, yes?
Friday night, Max was asleep in our room and we’d just got into bed at 10:15pm. We could hear the sound of music or a TV, and it was loud. Really loud, especially when set to the backdrop of a silent room, two very tired parents and a (just) sleeping baby. We were tired, the noise was stopping us sleeping, and we snapped. My husband banged on the wall out of pure annoyance. I know, it’s wrong and he shouldn’t have done it (the volume didn’t change, by the way).
Saturday morning and he felt bad so, as he was busy feeding Max, I offered to knock and apologise. Stood on the doorstep I could hear the music blaring, the hoover going and the guy neighbour belting out Ed Sheeran on repeat. He didn’t hear me knocking so I went home and wrote a quick note, words to the effect of ‘I tried knocking earlier to apologise for banging on the wall last night’ and something about a sleepless week and being tipped over the edge by the sound of the TV. I then said that we can hear TV noise at night so we would really appreciate if they could try to keep it in mind, especially as we’re trying to get/keep the baby asleep. Totally polite, totally apologetic and totally fair (isn’t it?!) We were out for the rest of the day and I wanted to get this boxed off and forgotten about, hence the note.
The following morning, he was at our house asking what time it was we could hear the noise and, with no hint of apology, said he’d bear it in mind but, ‘you know, we can hear the baby crying’.
He was on the defensive and his offers of bearing it in mind didn’t seem sincere, it was as though he was saying it with a gun to his head and would actually rather be telling me where I can shove my note.
When I told my husband about the baby comment, he wasn’t happy and admitted he’d heard through the living room wall the previous night (I told you the walls were thin and the voices are loud) the guy boasting to whoever was in their house that he was going to come round and tell us that very thing, as though we’ve got a cheek to complain about the TV when we have a baby. A baby who cries now and then, god forbid.
My husband still rose above it and took the flowers he’d just bought them, to be the bigger people and to welcome them as new neighbours – there is nothing worse than fighting with neighbours and we would genuinely like to get on with everyone that we live near. But, the baby comment has really grated on us both and while I’m trying to be all cool about it and just, in the words of Tay-Tay, shake it off, it makes me angry every time I think about it.
Yes, I’m sure you can hear our baby crying. It happens maybe two or three times a day, very rarely at night and never in a room which is attached to their bedroom or living room – unlike their barking dogs, which live in the kitchen attached to our living room. There ain’t no relaxing going on when those dogs kick off. And I can promise you that my baby crying is more stressful for me than it is for you and I can assure you that I’m doing literally everything I can to stop my baby being upset. Oh, and I never go out for the day leaving my baby at home to cry. Just saying.
It’s not all about comparing the baby to the dogs, but babies cry and dogs bark, in our case they’re probably about as disruptive as each other yet we never complained about their dogs because we don’t doubt that they do everything they can to stop them barking when they’re at home.
But were we really so out of order asking them to be mindful of their TV noise at night, to the point that they hit back by bringing our baby into it? To a degree, Max crying is out of my control. How loud they have their TV is fully in their control. So regardless of the fact that Max currently doesn’t cry at night – no doubt he will at some point, and will generally become noisier as he becomes a boisterous little boy – were we wrong to (politely) complain about their noise?
I’d love to know what you think and hear from anyone who has been in a similar situation, as I hate confrontation and it’s all left me a little anxious and annoyed. Partly because I don’t know whether we were in the wrong but mostly because you bitch about my baby then we’re never going to get along!!