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the noise level

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Our two older kids are four and five, a boy and a girl. They're homeschooled so they are home all the time. They generally behave well except for one thing: they are loud all.the.time. They wake up early, even if they stay up late, and make enough noise to wake up the baby and I early every morning. I'm expecting again and really need the sleep and the baby (one year old) is cranky quite a bit because he's tired all the time. They wake him up early from his nap just about every single day.

I'm constantly asking them to be quiet, use 'inside' voices, and so on. I've tried taking things away, like dessert, toys, and favorite articles of clothing. At their age school time only lasts for an hour or so each day and they are both well ahead for their age and are to the point where they don't have the motor skills for more writing so spending more time on school wouldn't make sense. I've tried things like craft and science projects but they get just as loud as when they are playing. I've tried rewarding being quiet with treats or special outings but they tell me they would rather play so the rewards don't make any difference. I've tried reading to them until I'm horse but after the first book they start talking over me. I've tried giving them parts of the day, even several hours, where they can make noise and I won't complain. I've tried putting a heavy blanket 'curtain' behind DD's bedroom door to sort of sound proof the room and allow them to make all the noise they want as long as they stay in that room but not only does the noise carry but they don't want to stay in there all the time. I've even tried hiring a babysitter to take them for walks or to their house during naptime but I have yet to find one that is less than half an hour away and charges less than $20 per hour and I just can't pay $50 a day for a quiet naptime. I've tried letting them watch tv but they're just as loud while it's on.

It's tough to try and come up with something to change the behavior because they are playing nicely together 90% of the time, they're just talking or playing loudly. I should note that the noise is all them, the only noise making 'toys' we have are musical instruments that are not available to them all the time, just during 'music class', they almost never do things like bang toys together to make noise - it's all their voices.

In good weather, which is most days, they play outside for at least a few hours and usually 3-4. When they're outside they're constantly coming in and out of the house for things (almost all things they must come in for like potty breaks or sand in their eyes) which makes so much noise that it wakes the baby up and I can't very well lock them out, they also make lots of noise outside when playing in the super tiny yard (they only safe place for them to play) and it can be heard in the house so well that it wakes him up that way too. Our house is two floors but the stairwell is open and the second floor is small but the whole place has high ceilings which echo terribly (military housing so no option to make permanent changes and we're moving in 6-8 months anyway) so no matter where they play the noise carries throughout the house and when they play on the second floor it wakes up whomever is sleeping in the first floor master bedroom (including the baby).

I'm at a loss and something needs to change. I'm exhausted and the baby is cranky and tired all the time. I can't count the number of times I say 'quiet' or go 'shhhhhhhhh' during the day. I'm getting headaches and jaw pain from clenching my teeth over the stress of the noise. There isn't a moment's peace from the constant noise, even in the car (the baby won't even sleep there because of their chatter). DH is just as stressed over it. Is there anything to do to convince them to be quiet or at least less loud?
post #2 of 12
Is it possible that they have a hearing problem and can't tell how loud they are being?
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post
Is it possible that they have a hearing problem and can't tell how loud they are being?
No, they can hear whispers and faint sounds just fine. It's as though their volumes are stuck on high when they play with each other. It's not that they can't talk quietly, they just choose not to.
post #4 of 12
ouch - this is tough - a couple of things to maybe try - would your baby be able to sleep with some music or white noise to help drown them out?

Have you tried keeping them separated during naps/until you get up? Books and quiet activities maybe until you/ you and baby get up? Pretty hard to enforce when you are asleep, I know...

Also - have you tried asking them for suggestions and consequences - include them in the problem solving of the situation?

Sorry I don't have much more here....
post #5 of 12
Working with other people's children, I have included the children in making a construction paper thermometer and marking off different "levels" of noise on the thermometer. "Inside voices" would be like a 3 on a scale of 0-10. During our activities I frequently make comments like, "You are at 7 right now, and I need you at a 3." Eventually, I can just point to the 3. So -- maybe have the kids create a big wall thermometer that you can use as a visual aid. You could have them practice what the different volume levels sound like, and then end with the "inside voice."

Another thing I've seen teachers do is use some sort of noise maker (a clacker or a bell) as a signal that things are too loud. I guess the only advantage to this is that it replaces the need to yell over the kids. I kind of like my method better because it helps the kids learn to pay attention to different volume levels and learn to self-monitor. The down side, I guess, is that I only have to use this method for discreet periods of time.
post #6 of 12
How about ear plugs, closed doors, and a white noise machine for you?
post #7 of 12
We love the book "Ruby Sings the Blues," by Niky Daly about a loud girl who learns to control her volume by learning to sing. Not that it helped, but it's a good story that might get them thinking about how powerful their voices are. We've had one neighbor move out because of our noise and the new neighbor has complained (even after the landlord soundproofed the adjoining walls). I can totally relate. My little guy is 2 1/2 and I can easily count on my fingers how many times he's been allowed to sleep through his nap.
post #8 of 12
I agree with the PP. I'd try a white noise machine. Really, your kids are just being normal kids. Maybe an afternoon preschool would coincide well with nap time? Then you can homeschool them once they're school aged.
post #9 of 12
Oh man, can I relate to this. I have a little boy in my home daycare, nearly 4yo, and is just so loud all day long. He makes this "whoooooooooooooo" noise that is just about constant. He makes it playing trucks (sirens), pretend vaccuums, horses, trains, and just about anything he does all day. Every toy has to make some kind of "whhooooooooooooooo" noise. By the end of the day I am twitchy.

Even colouring requires siren noises for some reason. When I feed him it is all "YUUUMMMM!!! MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!! THIS IS GOOD!!!! MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I DRANK ALL MY MILK!!!!!! LOOK, THE BABIES LIKE IT TOO!! MMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

I think separating them would be a good idea. Do they have separate bedrooms that they can play in? What are they doing in the morning before you wake up? If you really can't get up with them, could you give them each a granola bar and a glass of water or something in their rooms each night, and have them stay in their rooms until you get up? This would only work for a relatively short period I realize.

When I am really ready to snap I enforce five minutes of quiet time where nobody is allowed to speak. I know that sounds harsh, but I find that my kids just don't "get" quiet voices all that well, so it is easier to ask (and enforce) them to be completely quiet for few minutes so I can get my wits about me.

And definitely put a fan or a white noise machine in the baby's room. That helped a lot when my own DD was still little and napping twice a day.
post #10 of 12
My 6 year-old is very loud, too,. Adn we've had his hearing checked, o it isn't that... He just speaks loudly-- like sometimes he'll be right next to me and practically yelling!

We joke that his head is very thick, so he isn't hearing himself correctly, so he gets louder. In a very loving well meaning way (between my dh and I, not to my son).

I just answer back to him in a whisper, and he usually helps for a bit. I couldn't imagine 2 of them... I just think they haven't learned to regulate their noise level...

I am pretty sound sensitive, and like quiet. I usually send him outside to run around and be as loud as he cares to be. He's typically less rambunctious after that.

I think they'll just learn with age... hopefully.

mama hang in there. can you guys get outside at all?

edit to add: Can you get books on tape or cds from the library? My kids will all sit and listen to story songs like pete seeger or books on tape/cd for a looooong time. That might keep them quiet...
post #11 of 12
Honestly, they sound bored. Bored kids are loud, especially if it gets your attention. and most 4 and 5 year olds are loud anyway and it is totally developmentally appropriate for them to have trouble with voice modulation, especially for extended periods of time.

I think you need to address the boredom and break up the day into "loud/high energy" activities and "quiet activities" -where the quiet activities overlap with naptime. Nothing gets my kids all quiet and restful like being happily exhausted from running around doing stuff earlier in the day.

And sometimes babies have an easier time napping on the move (my oldest when he turned 7 months would only nap while nursing while I was walking - I lost a lot of weight!). As the weather gets nicer, long walks with a stroller or sling may help baby sleep and kids get their wiggles & shouts out.

You may also want to explore a babysitting swap with another family with similarly aged kids - even just an hour long "playdate" can give you some down time.

I know you are homeschooling but you might also want to look into preschool - both my sons went to a play-based cooperative preschool that was great fun for the kids, and the moms were very much involved in the running of the school. The schedule was only 3-4 days a week for half days, so not a lot of time, but the kids come home exhausted!
post #12 of 12
I'm at a loss and something needs to change. I'm exhausted and the baby is cranky and tired all the time. I can't count the number of times I say 'quiet' or go 'shhhhhhhhh' during the day. I'm getting headaches and jaw pain from clenching my teeth over the stress of the noise. There isn't a moment's peace from the constant noise, even in the car (the baby won't even sleep there because of their chatter). DH is just as stressed over it. Is there anything to do to convince them to be quiet or at least less loud?

With all kindness, is it possible that the noise is bothering you more than the baby and your consequent tension is bothering the baby? Babies are usually fairly adaptable and you might find that he will sleep through it if the house was noisy but at peace. I know my mom used to say I'd sleep through a tornado. ;-) That's due in part to the family NOT quieting down for my naps; she would even run the vacuum if that's what she needed to do at the time.
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