We live in a condominium complex on the top floor. We have an almost 3 year old DD, and we are expecting our second next month. The condominium complex isn't the best place to raise kids, but the advantages have thus far outweighed the disadvantages. There's no play space for kids, but there is a large common balcony that could be used for running around, not really a place I can quite have DD go on her own quite yet, but she's getting close to the point that she could walk down the stairs and play by herself if I kept my door open to see her. I think it will happen this Summer, but not yet.
DD is very active. I work hard to get her out of the house every day, and DH takes her for walks many evenings. Still, she finds that she has times that she has energy to burn while we are at home. I see this as pretty normal for a kid. She's maybe a little more active than many other kids her age, but she's a skinny little girl even though she eats a ton, and she's healthy and happy. She has bursts of energy throughout the day, again normal for a healthy child, and she seems to just explode with joy, dancing around the house, acting like various animals, and running to the next activity. I can't help but be inspired by her enthusiasm for life.
Because we live in a condominium complex and share walls and floors with other residents, there are quiet hours that we are expected to follow. We work very hard to comply strictly with the quiet hours. Many days, DD is asleep for the whole time, and when she gets up early, we make it a point to do something quietly until quiet hours are over. Other times, I mostly just let DD be a kid and move around as she likes as long as she's not hurting anyone or anything. I do try to minimize banging on the floor that doesn't need to happen. I teach her to move her stool carefully, and I don't put up with her stomping or banging things when she's angry, but if she wants to pretend to fly like a bird, hopping around the house for 15 minutes when it's not quiet hours, I figure that's not really a problem. Our neighbor below us has at times banged something on her ceiling/our floor to let us know that she thinks that there is a problem, and when that happens, I ask DD to stay on the carpeted area to dampen the sound.
So, last night, our neighbor came up to talk to me. DD had spent the last half hour going back and forth from my laundry pile to a place on the kitchen floor where she was using cloth wipes to assemble a swimming pool and a swimsuit and was happily pretending to swim on our kitchen floor while I got some sewing done. She was running some of the time, and she pretended to jump into the pool a couple times, but I didn't think that 5:30 in the afternoon was an inappropriate time for such fun and games. Our neighbor had a different opinion. She let me know that she thought that I should be teaching my daughter to use soft indoor feet at all times even in her own home.
In her defense, this condominium building was not very well built. The contractor cut every corner possible, and there is basically no insulation in between the units... like you can hear conversations if they get above a certain level. I'm sure that my daughter's fun and games are much louder for my neighbor than for me when she runs and jumps. I believe in respecting others and trying to live in a way that doesn't cause unnecessary bother to other people, but I don't think that there need to be arbitrary rules for things that aren't hurting people, and my discipline style is to provide a more appropriate outlet for the behavior instead of stopping it.
For example, when DD wants to use a loud or high-pitched voice that is hurting my ears, I ask her to go in another room and close the door to do so. Usually, she gets in about one or two more screeches before she's done. Asking her to run on the carpet when she's obviously bothering the neighbor is another example of that. I'd be happy to send her outside to run, but it's harder when it's cold, and the air quality is bad, and it involves me stopping what I'm doing to go with her. Sometimes, it's an our or more before we could get out the door if I'm making a meal, and it has to be ready by the time DH gets home so that he can eat in time to go to his meeting.
I've got some ideas in my brainstorm of things that I'm planning to suggest to my neighbor. I'll give her my phone number so she can call me instead of banging on my ceiling. I'll ask her to let me know if there are times that she really needs some peace and quiet so that we could plan to either be out of the house or doing some quiet activity if possible during those times. I'd like to know if there are times that she's regularly gone so that I can not worry about DD being quiet during those times. I also think we should look into options for adding remedial insulation between the units. I'm open to other ideas as well.
I'm mainly questioning, though, what do you think is reasonable for a young child living in a condominium? Is it enough to follow the quiet hours rules and let your kid be a kid the other times? Should there be a "no running" and/or "no jumping" rule in the house at all times? (One of her favorite CD's has a song that she likes, and one of the verses is about jumping and another about running, so I'd have to prohibit that.) For you other apartment/condo-dwellers, how do you deal with respecting the neighbors while raising your kids?