Ready to have a nervous breakdown!

momof2girls_2006October 11, 2006

I posted prior to moving into my apt. and everyone here was very nice~ now I've been living in my new apt. less than 2 weeks and I'm already panicked! A quick review~ I live on the 2nd floor of a two-story apt. with my 2 young children (toddlers). When choosing this apt. one thing that drew me to it (aside from beautiful grounds, safe area, and affordable price) was the complex put in their ad that they are 'sound insulated' between floors. I was on a waiting list and a 2 bedroom upstairs unit became available. They knew I have 2 young kids and I specifically asked about insulation, as I also play acoustic guitar and didn't want to cause any irritation to neighbors. They assured me it shouldn't be a problem, as other tenants have pianos.

Well, my acoustic guitar hasn't been a problem, thank goodness. BUT it seems my children are and I don't know what to do! It turns out the apts. have horrible insulation between floors~ there are areas in the living/dining room that if I walk across even lightly the sliding glass patio door will shake!

I have done what I can to prevent noise from myself or my kids. We take our shoes off at the door, I have been teaching my children even before the move to use "quiet feet" and that there is no jumping/hopping/running allowed indoors. I put down a heavy carpet in the main living areas over the existing wall-to-wall carpet.

I introduced myself to my downstairs neighbor a few days after moving in and told her if there ever is an issue where we are bothering her, to please let me know. She immediately made a comment about the noise/vibration my children make, as the insulation is poor and she has dishes hanging on her wall and she would be very upset if they fell off and broke. My kids had gotten out of the tub the night before at 8 pm (well before the noise curfew of 10 pm) and when they got out my little one was excited and hopped in the bathroom a few times before I could calm her down. She said if any of her dishes broke she would be complaining.

I was very upset to hear this, as I have strongly been working with my kids to be gentle when walking. I do what I can, but they ARE kids and occasionally (NOT all the time) they will run into their room, or hop when I'm taking them out of the tub, etc. I can tell they are making an effort, but come on they are 2 and 3 years old! I can't very well tie them up in straight jackets.

I introduced my kids to the neighbor and she likes them. She also has been friendly towards me and I've made a big effort to say hello and keep things good between us. I don't want to sound judgmental but it does sound like she may be someone who complains often to the apt. manager (she told me this is the fifth apt. she's been in here in town and this is by far the worst, and she has complained to the mgr about how she feels the apt. is cursed w/ bad luck, or something to that effect, regarding noise/problems/etc).

Today she told me she heard my 2 year old crying yesterday and was wondering what I was doing to her!! I told her first of all, we do not even spank~ we use time-outs for discipline so if she hears her crying then either she's in a time-out, fighting with her sister over something, or she's hurt herself. She said she figured that. I still thought it was odd for her to ask me about it!

I hear my neighbors, too~ loud music, tv, even voices, but I accept it and tune it out. This is apartment living, after all~ you have to expect to hear those around you!

I feel like I'm becoming a nervous wreck, trying to tiptoe around my apt. This afternoon I was carrying some candles and one of them accidentally slipped out of my hands and onto the floor. I thought I'd have a heart attack! I'm so self conscious and I feel like I'm constantly telling my kids to walk quietly, not run, not jump, not walk heavily, not go on their knees on the floor, etc. I can't do this to my kids~ kids do have to be kids! They can't walk on eggshells all the time, and neither can I.

My brother lives in the same complex and he thinks I should talk to the mgr myself tomorrow and just let her know my concerns~ that I want to be a good neighbor but I can't keep my children from being children, although I am trying to make them conscious of walking and not running or jumping.

Do you have any advice for me? I am so stressed out over this. :( Thanks.

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stop tiptoeing. I warned you about this--or tried to. Don't make yourself so nuts BEFORE youi know whether your kids are a problem.

Don't open the door for your neighbor to make some sort of comment like this--don't give her the idea that she OUGHT to complain to you about every little noise or vibration she hears.

You're doing your best, now stop thinking about it. Your best is all you can do, and the rest is simply what happens in an apartment. She'll have to live with it.

if her plates are so lightly hung that they can be knocked off the wall by a kid int he upstairs apartment, then she's stupid. She needs to hang them securely, or she needs to take them down and display them some OTHER way.

You are not responsible for fixing all the noise problems that occur in this apartment. You are only responsible for being a reasonable human being who occasionally drops something.

I agree w/ your brother, that you should go to the manager and say, "I'm trying, but I've discovered the floors are MUCH thinner than you advertised, and than I expected. So I just want you to know that I'm trying, but I won't be able to be 100% unhearable."

Stop stressing. Just live. Don't focus so much on trying not to impact the rest of the world. You have a RIGHT to be here--you are a child of the universe, remember?

And your downstairs neighbor is impacting YOU, right? (OK, some of that impact, you are inventing by worrying even before you moved in) So you will imapct her. Also, you're paying your dues, so to speak, by ignoring the noises of the other people around you. Your downstairs neighbor has to pay hers.

Start being more distant, and do not ever again ask her about the noise level.

I'm curious--had you visited your brother? Did you have any idea how thin the floors were/are? Does he have any problems?

(also, I have sometimes said to the parent of a crying child, "what did you DO to her?" but I have always been joking and have mostly been trying to express some jocular sympathy for the parent who has to live with the crying bout far more up-close than I. And I think they have always realized that I was--but may they didn't. Is there any possibility that's what she was trying to do?)

    Bookmark   October 11, 2006 at 12:10PM
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Thank you so much for your reply! You are right! I am going to take your advice. I know I created a lot of this stress myself. I just need to chill a bit, lol. I have visited my brother in this complex, as well as my disabled mom who lives in the complex (another reason I moved here was to be close to her when she needs help, she has M.S.). I haven't been in my brother's apt. much b/c of his smoking, but I have been to my mom's often. I can hear her neighbors occasionally walking around upstairs, but they aren't home all the time. I also think part of it is not all the flooring here is the same. It seems my mom's apt is well insulated w/ her upstairs neighbors, while mine feels like it has 'holes' in some areas of the floor. I'm not sure how else to describe it, like there are areas where there is no padding or firm foundation underneath.

You are probably right that she was joking about the crying comment. I think with all my worrying I'm being too sensitive. I'm going to just try to distance myself from her and try to focus on my own life~ I'll still try to be considerate but I need to let my kids be kids!

Thanks again. :)

    Bookmark   October 11, 2006 at 1:07PM
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OMG, well that didn't last. This afternoon my girls were playing on the living room floor (on top of the extra rug I put down over the carpet). They were playing with their Little People animals and just walking around normally. All of the sudden someone from below starts banging the he** out of the floor/their ceiling. It scared the crap out of my girls. My 3 yo was very upset and kept asking what the big boom was. I went straight to the office and talked to the manager. I asked her what am I supposed to do~ I have taken every precaution I can. If my kids even walk across the floor normally you can feel the floor shake and the sliding glass door rattle! I CAN'T HELP THAT!!! I can't rip out the floor and pour new concrete down, for god's sake! I am so upset right now. The manager said she will talk to them and let me know. She said usually when something like this happens she tries to get the tenants together for a meeting. She doesn't think it's the lady who lives there, but her son (an adult) who lives with her. She said they're probably upset because the previous tenants in my apt. were an older couple who were gone a lot so they aren't used to hearing people upstairs, much less children.

I am not even a month into my lease and already I want to LEAVE. I love my apt. but I am so stressed out about this that I'm going to need to go on tranquilizers to get through the next 11 1/2 months!

I don't even feel like the mgr. is on my side~ she asked me if my kids run in the apt. I said no, not usually~ but they ARE kids and sometimes will walk faster like kids do. They don't tiptoe around, and you can't expect them to.

MY gosh, I can't believe this. I feel unwelcome in my own home.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2006 at 8:37PM
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Well, here's one last update! I just talked to the neighbor downstairs. She and I passed eachother outside. She apologized to me!! (whew!) She said she wasn't banging because of us but because she was in a fight w/ her son and that's what she does when she's mad (she said she was slamming the door several times, hard). I told her I had talked to the office to see if it was a complaint about us and I told her as far as the noise from us, I've done what I can and because of the poor construction even if we walk quietly it's going to rattle the floors. She said she was glad I talked to the mgr so at least they know that there is a problem with the floors and maybe they will do something to improve them. We ended things on good terms and I feel like I got my point across that kids are going to be kids, play on the floor, etc, and I've done all that I can for my part. Anyway, thanks for reading.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2006 at 9:13PM
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momof2, I'm not an apartment mgr (rental houses). Your story made me think of a young single dad who came to look at a house I had. This guy had two daughters that stayed with him on weekends in a local complex that was once cream of the crop (it's gone downhill). I guess the walls/floors are so thin there, his lower neighbors complained so much that the bldg mgr told this young man to put his daughters in a bedroom and keep them there when they visited. This dad was desperate to get out, but unfortunately, he had such a bad credit record (really bad) he was too much of a risk to take on. But I was so infuriated to hear this father's story, I suggested he talk to an attorney, a consult was free. Attempting to coerce a parent to force their children to stay in a single room and 'not move around' is nothing short of abusive, imho.

In your case, you have two lively young little ones. They'll never be this age again, it's among the best of years. Just let them be toddlers. The day will come all too soon when you will so miss having a little one reach up to you, or be able to hold one of them on your hip. They need to play, they're going to fight. That's life. If the woman downstairs has plates so precious to her on her walls, why the heck is she slamming doors>vibrating walls in her own unit? She sounds like a lulu. It's good you're being friendly, but don't let your babies be her out. If she wants stepford children for neighbors, that's not realistic, and perhaps she needs to unload her grown son and consider a senior complex. Let your kids be free to be kids. :)

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 7:06AM
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Um, now who's being the noisy neighbor? She's scaring your children by slamming things downstairs. Did you mention that?

I'm w/ moonshadow, don't worry about her plates anymore.

Now do not EVER bring up your kids, and the floors, and the noise, with her again.

I live in an apt. bldg w/ thinnish floors (thick walls, thinnish floors). I hear my downstair's neighbors music from time to time--not loud, but I can tell it's there. I can hear the floor creak when my neighbor walks. if she puts together furniture, it's loud.

But it doesn't impinge on my life, BECAUSE I IGNORE IT. it doesn't even register--you could ask me 1/2 hour later if I heard the music, and I'll tell you no. I heard it; I just didn't remember it. But-- I can't ignore it if someone talks about it.

I hate when my dad comes to visit, bcs he's always commenting, "Oh, someone's using the elevator" (it opens into the apt., so you hear it faintly when it goes past). "Oh, your neighbor's walking around."

So then when he TALKS about it, I notice the noise suddenly. And remember it. I get really crabb with him. I've even said to him, "You are not to mention that noise--you must not talk about it. My neighbors and I live in peace by agreeing not to notice, and I can't do that with you commenting all the time!"
And on the same lines, what you've done is train yourself and your neighbor to only talk about noise--which means you both notice it. So stop.

Never talk about noise w/ her again. if she brings it up, change the subject as fast as you can. Talk about the weather. Or flat-out say, "I find that it's easier to cope with the noise of the people who live around me if I just don't dwell on it. So I hate to talk about it. See you!"

Right now your relationship w/ her is ONLY about noise. It needs to be less about that and more about the weather and which grocery stores has the best prices on chicken.

You're a considerate person; your kids will never jump repeatedly over her head for hours on end. So if they jump 3x before you can stop them, she can deal.

In a way, this is good, this last incident w/ her. Her scaring your child by slamming so much is YOUR out. At least your noise isn't hostile and frightening, and it doesn't happen for a long period of time. And a biggie here--it wasn't deliberately being created by a grownup. If your kids jump off the sofa while playing pirate, before you catch them, they're not intentionally making noise for the purpose of making noise, and neither are you. But she WAS!!

Relax now. Just live. Stop them from running, don't let them jump off the sofa, and don't worry about it.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 12:44PM
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It sounds like your trying really hard to be considerate. Too bad the manager can't move you to a ground floor apt. Kids need to be able to be kids. Is your neighbor home all the time? I wonder what the people below her have to say about the door slamming. Who is being childish now?

    Bookmark   October 21, 2006 at 6:43PM
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