Are we neighbours from hell?

(85 Posts)
takethatno1fan Sun 09-Jun-13 23:08:20

Have posted this elsewhere but thought I would get some other views, and wonder if others have had similar experiences.

We are a family of four - mum, dad, two kids aged 5 and 7. We moved from the country to a 'middle-class' residential housing estate in a small town, in order that our children could see more of their friends outside of school. We are respectable, working people and our children are well mannered and polite. We keep our home and garden in good order. Our house is, along with all others in the estate, detached, and there are five neighbouring properties (three to the sides, and two directly behind). We are on reasonably good terms with the neighbours either side (our actual next door neighbours), the other three are actually on another street and we have little or nothing to do with us.

We very much enjoy living here, although there aren't too many other families with children (there are a few), and many of the houses are owned by older or retired people. In fact, all of those around our house are older or retired.

The weather here has been great this weekend. The kids asked to get the paddling pool out. So on Saturday we were out all morning, and arrived back early afternoon and got the pool filled and the kids played in it for a couple of hours having a great time. They also played on the trampoline.

Today, from just before lunchtime, the kids and two of their friends were having a ball in the paddling pool, laughing and shrieking.

Our neighbours from directly behind us came round to complain about the noise our kids were making. I guess they are in early-mid 60s. Their opening gambit was to tell me that most of the people in the estate are older/retired and want to live in peace and quiet. They told me that they feel they can no longer use their garden or conservatory because of the noise of the children. They had even observed that the kids had had some friends back last Friday afternoon and it was noisy. I should say at this point that last Friday we had four school friends back and they all played on the trampoline in the back garden between 3.30 and 6.00. The neighbours say that it always starts at around 3.30 in the afternoon (coincidentally the time the kids return from school!).

Staggered by this visit, I remained completely composed and polite. I told them that I appreciated their issue but that they may have to accept that when young children play on a summer day in a paddling pool or trampoline that they'll tend to laugh, shout and shriek with happiness and delight. I said to them that while I understood that they had become used to having older, childless neighbours over the past few years, there could be no guarantee this would always be the case. I also made the point that their being retired doesn't entitle them to any peace and quiet. They questioned how many children we had in the house, almost sneering at the bikes on the front lawn.

We have had no other complaints or comments, but they claim around five other people (or households) agree with them. During this surreal conversation my wife arrived back home, and deducing what was being discussed became quite upset that we had a) caused distress and b) that we were the topic of discussion in the adjoining street. However, I told them that while I would raise this issue with the children, I thought it would be impossible for them to play in a Dickenzian silence, and completely impractical to police.

The neighbours claim that it's happening all the time, but it really isn't. The kids are at school from 9am until around 3.20pm each weekday, and we're frequently away at weekends visiting friends, which they told us was 'a joy' for them. Every few weeks the kids get to invite some friends round on a Friday afternoon for a play and dinner. Usually until around 6.30pm. Regardless of all of this, the weather has only been good enough for outdoor play for the past few weeks! The neighbours said they'd prefer it if the kids could play out the front of the house and on the road instead of playing in the back garden!

Dutifully, after lunch, when the kids went back out to play, I tried to get them to play a bit more 'quietly', but it was just completely pointless. They jokingly whispered for a few seconds then splashed back into the cold paddling pool with shrieking and laughter! I ended up making more noise telling them to shoosh! It was absurd.

Our kids are as equally entitled to have fun and play in our own garden as the neighbours are to do whatever they like in theirs. They're not excessively noisy to my mind, they aren't shouting, fighting or swearing. They're not kicking balls around or playing loud music, but even if they were, I can't see why that would be inappropriate. The kids are in bed by 8pm on weeknights, and have rarely been out after 7pm since the clocks went forward, so neighbours would never be disturbed by noise late at night (we're not irresponsible parents). I don't want to fall out with these people, but if they're annoyed by the kids playing for a couple of hours in the late afternoon, they're going to really hate it during the summer holidays, and I fear that the situation will degenerate into complete acrimony very quickly.

One of the neighbours actually used the phrase 'live and let live' during our discussion, which was more than ironic given the nature of the discussion. I am assuming that the root of the problem is that they're so used to having literally no noise from this house, that to move to having a young family over the fence is total shock to them. None of us though, has the right to choose who buys neighbouring properties. I feel that in a way, they are victimising us because we are a family. While I don't want to charactarise them, or make assumptions, I have little doubt that if we had been an older couple who had been having friends round for a garden party until late at night that there would be no problem.

We're not behaving anti-socially, or breaking any laws. All we're doing is making reasonable use of our property, which for comparatively short periods involves the kids articulating themselves when having fun. We don't want our kids to be sitting inside watching TV and playing computer games, we want them outside, on bikes and trampolines, getting fresh air and exercise. While it no doubt sounds a little harsh, my inclination is that if the situation becomes that big a problem for them, they should move to a retirement community where they can be guaranteed no families would move in. I totally understand and appreciate how noise can cause great stress to some people, but equally, we can't tell our kids that they can no longer have friends round to play, or that they can't use the back garden any more. We feel totally gutted that we have such intolerant neighbours, but I accept the sad fact of the matter is that we now feel as harassed as I imagine they do!

Any thoughts would be useful if you are in a similar position (on whichever side of the fence).

You don't seem like terrible neighbours to me. My dc have been doing the exact same today, the difference being our neighbours are like us, with young children.
I think you were very reasonable in response to your neighbour and I'd have given the same reply.
If I were you though, I'd move house, not sure I could cope with the stresses of that.

mercibucket Sun 09-Jun-13 23:40:14

we have neighbours like this. over the years it has become clear that nothing we do is quiet enough. recently i told them to deal with it. i recommend starting off with this tack as it will end up that way regardless.
the only thing i would do is ban any high pitched shrieking - that really isnt necessary

DeepPurple Sun 09-Jun-13 23:42:35

My neighbour's kids play out all day long in the summer, making tons of noise, whilst I'm trying to sleep after a night shift. How inconsiderate! Or not. As long as it is reasonable times and a reasonable level of noise then you aren't doing anything wrong.

Onesleeptillwembley Sun 09-Jun-13 23:46:14

If it isn't constant shrieking or yes, that awful high pitched shrieking then it's just life. Kids make some noise and people do forget. I can't say if you are they are right or wrong, but could potentially see both sides.

VashtaNerada Sun 09-Jun-13 23:47:07

It doesn't sound like you're doing anything wrong. Make sure they're always in at a set time (so if challenged you can say with all certainty "It's only ever between 3:30 and 6:30" or whatever). Also, look up your local authority's guidelines on noise nuisance. It will give you the confidence that you're not breaking any rules.

thornrose Sun 09-Jun-13 23:48:38

I think you sound like thoroughly decent neighbours, I love the sound of children having fun, I hate the idea of you desperately shushing them.

Ban high pitched shrieking, really? How do you go about that? Please keep your shrieks of pleasure under a certain level/pitch?

You should not feel the need to move. I second your opinion that they need to consider a move where there are guaranteed to be no families.

Sinkingfeeling Sun 09-Jun-13 23:49:03

Ridiculous. I would ignore them and carry on as usual. It's not as if you're a) having frequent all-night parties, b) running a drugs den or a brothel from the house or c) running a business selling second-hand cars from your driveway. Let your children enjoy their garden while the weather's good - your neighbours can have all the peace they need for 10 months of the year.

BoundandRebound Sun 09-Jun-13 23:51:30




BoundandRebound Sun 09-Jun-13 23:51:54

sorry caps lock

thornrose Sun 09-Jun-13 23:52:39

Great answer Bound.

pictish Sun 09-Jun-13 23:52:49

What miseries your neighbours are. We live right next door to a retired couple and they are very laid back about the kids playing/shouting/laughing/crying/singing...

Your neighbours are asking the unreasonable and the downright impossible. If they didn't want to be near families that badly, they should've moved to a retirement village. You can't live amongst other people at large and demand silence.

I used to have a neighbour who complained about the noise of normal family life all the time. Eventually I told him "Why don't you contact environmental health if we're so bad, or the police ....and you can waste their time instead of mine!"

He never bothered us again. wink

FannyFifer Sun 09-Jun-13 23:57:12

You were very polite, I would prob have just laughed at them.

Blessyou Sun 09-Jun-13 23:58:16

Your OP sounds very reasonable, however, my dsis could say the same re time restrictions and the noise being related to kids at play etc and I would HATE to be her neighbour.

The volume in her home/garden is set permanently to LOUD. They yell at each other from room to room, house to garden etc, they will have whole conversations in different parts of the house, there is screaming, bickering, yelling, banging around which is constant and goes unchecked. Her neighbours have complained and she has told them the same as you, which is why it made me think of her.

So, I remain on the fence, as it were.

It is possible to have kids playing from 3.25 to 6.30 pm daily and be a nuisance. If your neighbours are upset, I would say be mindful of the volume and make sure they are not making a full on racket for the full 3 hours between home time and dinner every day.

pictish Mon 10-Jun-13 00:07:33

"I'm sorry you feel like that but this is not a retirement village" is very good actually.
Just don't engage. Trying to keep kids quiet in the back garden on a sunny day is like trying to eat soup with a fork, or nail jelly to a tree.

We have rules here. From tea time (6pm) onwards, the kids are only allowed out in the garden if they play quietly.
This is because our neighbours are generally not at home during the day, but often use their garden in the evening when we are feeding our lot and putting them to bed. If the kids want an extra half hour out there they understand they must keep it down or come back in. They are 11, 5 and 4.
That way we all get along. No one has ever complained.

Your neighbours are pretty much trying to control your garden.
Seriously...I would bat them away.

expatinscotland Mon 10-Jun-13 00:08:47

If they want to live in a retirement community, there are plenty of them about. Tell them too bad.

Catrin Mon 10-Jun-13 00:10:37

I utterly despise excessively noisy children - though in my case the ridiculously loud neighbouring children have been replaced by a parent. (IWILL COUNT TO 3 AND YOU"D BETTER BEHAVE ..1..2..3..4.." My own DC are not allowed to be too loud - my mantra is "Just because I enjoy you, doesn't mean anyone else has to"

Ultimately, your garden, your rules. I am sure yours are very loud, or no one would feel the need to comment. But that does not make you anti social neighbour of the century.

thornrose Mon 10-Jun-13 00:22:22

You "utterly despise excessively noisy children", really? I utterly despise paedophiles, rapists and murderers, never children, however noisy.

MrsFrederickWentworth Mon 10-Jun-13 00:25:15

As a child I was told by my parents that screaming wasn't allowed because it indicated fear or danger, and you might try that.

But children having fun is lovely unless you're trying to get a small baby to sleep or someone is seriously ill.

Is there a way that your children can become friends with the neighbours? Do chores for them/ take a dog for a walk? Or you could have the neighbours round and the children hand round the nibbles? If you don't know them, 4 seems a lot. If you do, they become " the one who asks me about what it is like to do x" it " the sweet one who"

I think you sound great. But I would divide and rule the neighbours, invite them round, in due course take your kids carol singing round them for a local charity, and get them on side. Those who refuse will eventually sell up.

KeatsiePie Mon 10-Jun-13 00:27:06

So they are out shrieking and laughing and playing for about three hours a day during the week, and for longer, maybe 5-hour afternoons say every other weekend? So that averages out to be what, 20 hours a week?

I get that that is suddenly a lot of noise if before it was very quiet on your block. But it's not at all unreasonable. It really isn't. This is normal spring and summertime noise -- kids yelling, water splashing, balls bouncing, dogs barking, neighbors mowing. I can imagine I would sometimes breathe a sigh of pleasure when quiet fell in the evening; that's partly what makes a summertime evening so lovely: all the bustle stops. Tell them to look forward to that! Or tell them that right now "live and let live" means your kids are out playing for 20 hours per week, and they get to have quiet for the other 148 hours per week, and would they prefer a 50/50 split instead.

SoggySummer Mon 10-Jun-13 00:38:18

They sound a bit unreasonable imo. My inlaws are like this. They bought their family home on an estate as a newbuild in 1970 something. Most of their original neighbours have moved away and been replaced with families and all my ILs do is moan and moan about how noisy the kids are. Drives me insane.

I have teens now and live on an estate of 3 bedroomed houses. Alot of young children playing out. I love listening to them play in the most part although we do seem to have a screamer (high pitched) moved in 3 doors up and I have to admit I did say to DH this afternoon "bloody hell that kid cant half scream which he would bloody shut up". I think it would have to be hideously constant to make me actually knock on their door and complain though.

kotinka Mon 10-Jun-13 00:43:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OldBagWantsNewBag Mon 10-Jun-13 00:43:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Myosotis Mon 10-Jun-13 00:55:32

Self righteous gits. I live in a council estate which is mostly older couples. Every time some one dies, a new family moves in, but so far we are still in the minority. When we first moved in, we apologized for the noise, but we're told not to be stupid, that it was lovely to hear the children enjoying themselves.

Perhaps it is different where we live because it is council housing, which was originally allocated to families, and that ethos has remained even as the families have aged.

Move to a council estate op, kids are more valued!

olgaga Mon 10-Jun-13 01:01:26

I think your neighbour needs to get to grips with the fact that they are living in suburban family homes. Just because their own, and their neighbour's children have grown up and moved away doesn't mean they are no longer family homes.

I live on a similar kind of development and even though we are surrounded by families of various ages I do sometimes have to point out that screaming, shrieking and shouting are unfair on the neighbours.

Similarly, the children need to get to grips with the fact that their noise does disturb other people.

It can get a bit noisy occasionally when DD (now 12) has friends around, but she knows perfectly well that I will come out and embarrass her check their behaviour if the noise level gets too much.

I did have to speak to one girl in particular who seemed to be prompted to scream at the top of her voice whenever she got on the swing grin. Thankfully after the transition from primary to secondary school, she is now in a different group of friends and no longer comes!

It is possible for children to enjoy themselves playing without screaming and disturbing the neighbours - especially if this is a regular thing.

There's also nothing worse if you have young children who you're trying to get to sleep in the early evening.

Something you might have to bear in mind OP as the age profile of your immediate neighbours changes!

I think I'd just murmur "we'll try to kee it down" placations.

As an aside, I'd like to congratulate you on a most thorough scene-setting OP. I don't think I've seen one so exhaustive if background. Well played.


cupcake78 Mon 10-Jun-13 04:10:32

No your not but children can get very loud and back gardens can echo noises and make it sound worse.

I don't enjoy shrieking children. I love children playing and laughing and having fun but shrieking goes right through me and i don't think it's necessary. This applies to my own children as well as others.

We were always taught that playing noise is fine but not everyone wants to hear us so to be considerate of others. Its not a bad life lesson to learn. If we got too excited (loud) we were asked to keep it down. I now do the same with my dc unless we're in a park/playground away from residential areas thats what fields are for. Even then do they really need to shriek?

Your neighbours do seem a bit uptight. I think they are being unreasonable to live where they do and want silence however I also think there is no need for children to shriek and they must consider others. Laughing, playing splashing etc all lovely! Shrieking and screaming are not necessary in school aged children. Sorry

MyShoofly Mon 10-Jun-13 04:29:23

YANBU at all. You and your family have a right to play outside and enjoy your garden. As you's not a retirement community.

NapaCab Mon 10-Jun-13 04:32:21

What BoundandRebound said:

Make sure you say it with the caps lock on too, just to annoy them grin

Seriously, though we would all like to have our neighbours adhere to our specific guidelines regarding the use of their home but that's not possible. My childless neighbours have me thinking murderous thoughts when they decide to take their bins in noisily when I'm trying to get my son down for a nap. I'm sure my son screeching while playing outside with his water table drives them insane too.

If your neighbours want peace and quiet, they need to move to the countryside. It's not as if your children are out shrieking in the middle of the night, which was the case with my previous neighbours whose children had camping parties in their garden, shouting and hollering until 1am at times. Now THAT was annoying.

ChasedByBees Mon 10-Jun-13 04:46:02

They are bring unrealistic. I would also ignore them but I know it's hard when you can virtually sense waves of tutting coming over the fence.

prissyenglisharriviste Mon 10-Jun-13 04:56:36

I broadly agree with you (we have very quiet neighbours and two houses complained about the noise of my children after we moved in) but with one exception - I make my kids come inside or do something sitting down quietly during the time it would be reasonable to expect people to be sitting down to their evening meal/ relaxing for an hour when they get in from work. So, around 6 ish, it is our turn to be completely considerate for a short while and ban any noise.

I occasionally let them go outside for an hour after dinner, but there are no loud games at that point.

Weekends, fair game. They don't go out until ten at the earliest, and the other considerations for the evenings are the same.

I'm entirely happy that I'm upholding my end of the bargain. I don't think it's inappropriate to teach children that at times they are not the centre of the known universe and need to be respectful of other people's feelings. Hence the dinner hour rule. If they can't be quiet, they have to come inside.

And anyone that shrieks gets to come in. I can do laughing, shouting, hysteria even. No shrieking. <bah humbug>

differentnameforthis Mon 10-Jun-13 05:33:08

I hate other people's noise generally & I think that way too many people think we want to listen to their music as we go about our lives...but it is restricted to music! If I hear children laughing/playing I love it. Kids should be outside, having fun!

I have no idea how many kids are on my street, as I rarely, if ever hear childlike noises unless they are coming from my kids.

I agree that if they want perfect peace & quiet, they need to move to a retirement village set up!

alpinemeadow Mon 10-Jun-13 06:28:11

A couple of thoughts. Sound does funny things, so worth bearing in mind that you can't be sure how it sounds to your neighbours - as someone has said, noise can get amplified so that weirdly, it is noisier in someone else's house than your own.
More controversially, i completely agree that it's lovely for children to play in the garden, and they should obviously be allowed to do so, and to make a noise! but i do actually have some sympathy for your neighbours - children are fantastically noisy sometimes, particularly when shrieking! And sunny weekend afternoons are prime time for people to want to enjoy their gardens. I do tell dcs to keep the noise down in the garden, and as another poster has said its good for them to learn that their noise affects others. Unfortunately there are no easy answers - but i second the idea of trying to make friends with your neighbours. By the way one thing i picked up from your op - i do think loud music more than a couple of times a year would be inappropriate (realise i may have to hide!).

Bunbaker Mon 10-Jun-13 06:44:21

It's the shrieking that annoys. There are loads of children in our village and I often hear other children playing out. Laughing, calling out to each other and even the occasional shouting is fine. Shrieking is NOT.

Morgause Mon 10-Jun-13 06:47:11

On the whole I don't think you are being unreasonable but I agree with cupcake about the shrieking. I have sensitive ears and couldn't tolerate shrieking from my own children and their friends where they were playing and used to stop them for my own sake, let alone the neighbours'.

Our neighbours' children are growing up now and I live for the day that the trampoline goes into permanent storage. "Boing, shriek, boing, shriek!" Drills into my head and I can't sit outside while they and their friends are playing on it - the girls more so than the boys because little girls have a shriek that hurts my teeth.

I can't sit in the garden while the shrieking is going on and have to come inside and shut the windows and turn some music up. Fortunately their parents can't put up with it for longer than half an hour or so and tell them to get off the trampoline when it reaches skull-cracking point.

I have lovely neighbours and wouldn't dream of saying anything, though.

Morgause Mon 10-Jun-13 06:48:00

Cross-posting. Ditto what Bunbaker said.

Vickibee Mon 10-Jun-13 06:52:42

plant some trees or a tall fence between you and neighbour to keep noise in your garden? just a thought
I think it is ridiculous, have they not had children themselves?

WinkyWinkola Mon 10-Jun-13 06:55:48

Normal noise like laughter even yelling is okay.

Shrieking and screaming is horrible. My dcs were in the garden all weekend and my ds2 kept screaming. I brought him inside in the end as I don't think this is a noise to which anyone should be subjected.

The rest is normal noise. If people don't like it, they should live in the country.

We are moving to the country on a month and I expect our neighbours will be glad. grin

In short, I would ask your dcs not to scream or shriek is all. Otherwise, it's just normal noise.

You sound really upset like your good character has been questioned. I wouldn't be upset. It sounds like you're fine neighbours even if the rest of the street like you better in wintertime. wink

JakeBullet Mon 10-Jun-13 06:58:32

YANBU at all. This is normal and reasonable use of your property and garden. They are being totally unrealistic about this, it's summer (finally) for goodness sakes. What do they want you to do, keep your children cooped up indoors? Madness.

Agree with those who are saying the response "this is not a retirement community".

Even better, tell them to get n touch with environmental health who will laugh them out if their dozy little world.

lollylaughs Mon 10-Jun-13 06:59:39

When we moved into our current home our older neighbours invited us over for tea and cake. Lovely, we thought until we found out it was for interrogation purposes... to find out what ages the dc were and if we intended getting a dog. The conversation went something like this: "Oh, I see you have two children - we don't like noisy children, perhaps you could bear that in mind. Are you planning on getting a dog? We don't think you should get a dog as they bark all the time and its really annoying"

So the dc played outside, made a noise as kids do, and we have two big dogs grin. The wife has never spoken to me since.... Her husband passed away since, but I fondly remember the last time I saw him. A balcony of theirs looks onto our front garden, the dc were playing in the front and he was sat on the chair watching them play. He was smiling and I waved to him. He passed away that night sad. But his wife has still never greeted me even when I took flowers round!

You cannot be living according to their demands. It is your property and you are entitled to use it how you please (of course within reason). How can they be so unreasonable to complain about children enjoying the outdoors. Now each time they are outside you are going to be walking on eggshells. I would try to ignore them, you are hardly being unreasonable by letting the dc out till 6.30pm.

JakeBullet Mon 10-Jun-13 06:59:55

Yep, echoing the "plant some trees between you and them" idea. I hear Leylandii are very nice!

BranchingOut Mon 10-Jun-13 07:07:53

I think there is a bit of a middle way in all this.

But firstly, dress the kids in something cute and take round a home made card and a packet of biscuits or something to say sorry. They won't know where to look grin.

I do remember, as a little girl, having 'who can scream the loudest' contests, so it is reasonable to check with your children that there is nothing like that going on. Also, talk explicitly to your children about the need to be considerate, say that neighbours may need to 'rest' in their garden.

Also, maybe just try to alternate it a bit, so if they have had friends round on a Friday, take them out for the afternoon on Saturday.

Plus, consider putting in something plant-wise which has a lot of foliage and will break up the sound - bamboos grow quite quickly if you water them well, plus they look great.

If you make sure they're only outside at reasonable times (esp not too early in the morning) the neighbours can't really complain. If they carry on tell them to contact environmental health & see what they say about children's noise between 3.30 and 6.30 (they'll get laughed out the office).

We live next door to an unreasonable neighbour (to do with our cat). We offered some fair solutions, he said no he just wanted to shout at us. We said fine & he hasn't spoken to us since ( until his drains blocked when he had to). It hasn't been a problem really, he doesn't like us having cats but is aware there's not much he can do about it as we are behaving within what is seen as reasonable boundaries by society.

TheRealFellatio Mon 10-Jun-13 07:20:23

takethat I really feel for you. I think they are being unreasonable and selfish and with the summer holidays coming up they must expect this from a house with small children. However, I do think some children to make a bigger deal out of screaming and shouting in the name of having fun than is strictly necessary, so maybe just keep an eye on yours to make sure they are not going completely OTT and shrieking their heads off beyond a 'normal' level.

I used to live in a road similar to the one you described and the fallout between various neighbours over children being noisy, trampolines invading people's privacy, footballs hitting cars, bikes blocking driveways etc, was unbelievable. I mostly managed to stay out of it as my children were a bit younger and so not really involved, but all the bickering and back biting and the fishwife yelling, and the complete pig-headed intransigence of all involved made me so depressed I moved in the end.

I think you have handled it really well so far, and you should just try to remain calm and keep saying what you are saying. Unfortunately some older people do become terribly intolerant, and have very short memories of what it's like to have a young family.

It's not as if they have to put up with this for 12 months of the year is it? And they still have until 3.30 every school day, even when the weather is warm. And your children are little so they are hardly going to be yelling until 11 at night! They are lucky you are being so reasonable - I know plenty of people who would have told them to Fuck Right Off.

Jaynebxl Mon 10-Jun-13 07:24:06

I'm afraid I wouldn't be taking anything round to apologise because this makes it look like you agree with them and are going to try and make the children play in silence in the future. I would leave it, and if they come again I would explain politely that it is only for a couple of hours on odd days and you're sure they must remember what it was like when they had kids / were kids, and how much nicer it is than teenagers down the bottom of the garden blaring out loud music on their transistors (note use of appropriate audience related language there grin. I'd then try and engage them in conversation about other things to smooth it all over and connect on the subject of something else.

TheRealFellatio Mon 10-Jun-13 07:24:38

Maybe you could do what prissy says, where you set a time limit and make sure they get a couple of hours peace and quiet, perhaps when your children have their dinner, and then immediately afterwards. but then at 5 and 7, with the dinner, school reading and bath routine I am sure that happens anyway, and when the evenings are light and long they can probably sit in the garden long after your children are in bed anyway!

BellaVita Mon 10-Jun-13 07:30:49

Tell them to go live in the middle of a field. Do not apologise.

EleanorFarjeon Mon 10-Jun-13 07:37:05

I'm sure you're not neighbours from hell. And your neighbours have to accept a degree of noise from children playing.

However, if there was shrieking or shouting from our children in the garden, I'd always tell them to stop out of courtesy to neighbours. I have a friend who has a very shrieky daughter. She lets out a high pitched scream when playing. I always tell her to stop. My friend said, 'but that's what kids do..'

Not if you tell them not to.

WynkenBlynkenandNod Mon 10-Jun-13 07:42:03

As long as you make sure they don't do that screaming shrieking thing I would totally ignore and carry on as you have been, the times are totally reasonable. Our children were the only ones round here for ages and all our neighbours were lovely about the noise, they said they liked hearing them play.

Mine now are a bit older and aren't out there as much but a couple of families have now moved in. I could hear them the other day and was thinking it was love,y to hear them and thank goodness I no longer have to deal with toddler tantrums (just teenage ones).

If they say anything again the it's not a retirement village is a good one to use . Start it with I'm sorry you feel that way and finish up with they are welcome to contact environmental health if they feel you are being unreasonable , all said in a calm, reasonable way.

LumpInTheCustard Mon 10-Jun-13 07:45:39

I agree with many other posters - your neighbours are being utterly daft expecting you to keep your children silent and you should just ignore them. Really, the only thing I think it is fair of them to pick you up on is the full on shrieking. Which I must admit I find unacceptable too.

One of my next door neighbors has three children under the age of 9 - so on warm afternoons and weekends I fully expect to hear them having fun in their garden. I can happily sit out on my patio, drink my wine and tune out their laughing, chatter and even their shouting. But when they get over-excited and go in for high-pitched squeals and shrieks it really sets my teeth on edge, and spoils my enjoyment of my garden.

And why should their enjoyment be more important than my enjoyment?

I am fortunate though. My neighbour doesn't particularly like to hear it either. One shriek gets a warning not to do that. And a couple of shrieks in quick succession means she marches the offender indoors and has them fold laundry, tidy their room or do something else not-fun for 10-15 minutes or so.

She hardly ever has to employ this tactic though, because her kids seem to have learned that horrible high pitched noises just aren't necessary.

Ledkr Mon 10-Jun-13 07:48:10

There's nothing they can do so just carry on being reasonable about noise as it sounds as if you are.
We have an old lady like this who thinks she can boss us around about what we grow in our garden.
She has been known to shush the children when they are playing.
This from someone who mows her lawn about twice a week at around 7am.
Some people don't know they are born tbh. Let's hope they never get any really bad neighbours!

superbagpuss Mon 10-Jun-13 08:01:59

we live in a quiet estate and have the youngest DC in the row, not yet school age so outplaying all day in good weather. also more noise in the house due to shouting and tantrums - sometimes even the DC blush

I have spoken to older neighbours around and they have said its nice to have DC in the street and haven't noticed the extra noise. we are trying to keep the noise to sociable times and not to much shouting etc

Lavenderloves Mon 10-Jun-13 08:04:50

We have a neighbour who hates noise. She doesn't complain directly just moans. She has issue with her adjoining piano playing neighbour. ( plays very well) she's one of those people who should live in a detached house.

You can not expect to have peace and quiet outside if you have neighbours. I can hear the children playing in our village across two fields, i think it nice.

Mine are out from 7-7 on a sunny day. They are noisy of course they are. I do tell them to keep in down early (before 9 )and late (after 6 ) the couple who border us use their garden in the evening so that works ok.

I would also make the comment about not living on a retirement village. It's worth them bearing in mind all if these big houses will change hands and children numbers and noise will increase.

samuelwhiskers Mon 10-Jun-13 08:14:03

OP - I think you sound quite nice neighbours in that you don't want to fall out with your neighbours and have posted here to see if you are being unreasonable. But you mentioned five households feel the same as the neighbour that complained to you. Also, you admit your DCs squeal and shriek so maybe, as loads of other posters have said, you need to tell your DCs shrieking is not tolerated and they have to come inside if they do that. I agree that there is nothing worse than a summer meal outside and loud squealing and shrieking from next door.

TheRealFellatio Mon 10-Jun-13 08:18:27

Do we know for sure that the other 5 households agree with Mr and Mrs Moany though, or is it possible that they have been having a whinge to anyone who will listen and the others have just made polite nodding and 'hmmm' ing gestures, which they have taken as complete agreement?

Wishiwasanheiress Mon 10-Jun-13 08:31:33

I agree with thereal. There's no proof of 5 others agreeing.

Read up on local gov processes just for your own knowledge but after that just ignore. Be civil, but no more.

And as for the "nothing worse on a summers eve than squealing/shrieking" yes there is. Drum n base. Silly remark.

BranchingOut Mon 10-Jun-13 09:42:23

I suggested the apology, not because they should particularly mean it, but because it may help the neighbours to have a bit of feeling towards the children. Also, because sometimes it is easier and simpler in the long run to appear to be highly accommodating, than to set against someone.

I had a very awkward colleague a few years ago, who caused me huge amounts of trouble and upset when i disagreed with her. In retrospect, it would have been simpler to get her on side and be much nicer than I actually felt towards her.

MadeOfStarDust Mon 10-Jun-13 10:03:25

I have kids - I know they are just having fun outside in the sunshine...
but I understand the neighbours side too - it is the repetitive nature - when school ends, you wait for it to start and know there's going to be another 3 hours of shrieking..

I work nights...

Mintyy Mon 10-Jun-13 10:11:40

Well, I've skim read that as its so excessively long, but you have elderly neighbours complaining about your children making too much noise in the garden? What compromise did you offer them? You really must explain to the children that other people are outside enjoying their gardens and too much noise is just as rude as going in to other people's front rooms and yelling their heads off. Please try and find some kind of middle ground.

Chubfuddler Mon 10-Jun-13 10:12:47

Apart from the shrieking you are in no way unreasonable. I would bet the farm they bought that house when their children were young, and they behaved exactly as your do now. Ignore.

(I also think they do not have five neighbours in total agreement either, but have interpreted non committal hmms as complete agreement)

C4ro Mon 10-Jun-13 10:19:20

We had some miserable old neighbours and some really gorgeous old neighbours that I still think of as extra grandparents.The miserable ones didn't want us to ride our bikes over a piece of land that they didn't actually own, po-faced, sancimonious etc... The really lovely ones used to let us take sugar in our tea (forbidden at home) and watch their TV (tightly rationed at home) and once came to collect me from school when I couldn't get through to my parents (pre-mobile phones).

Don't assume for one second that all your neighbours agree with the miseries at all. I expect many of them are delighted to have some kids around. Encourage your kids to know the lovely ones.

MrsMeg Mon 10-Jun-13 10:19:53

Can you get your kids to make them a card to say sorry? I would encourage the use of lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of badly glued on glitter and sequins grin

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MaryPoppinsBag Mon 10-Jun-13 10:27:00

You don't sound like a bad neighbour, just a neighbour with children.
I'm a childminder and have extra children playing out after school. They make noise but are asked to be quiet if they are screaming/ playing you loudly or banging. They have a habit of opening and closing the playhouse door which I hate.

Unfortunately for me last week my neighbour decided to take umbrage with my profession. Complaining about the noise - it had been an inset day monday and then Tuesday they played out after school.

I heard her chuntering about me being a CM and how if she wanted that noise she'd live next door to the local school, and how I should have permission etc. all this was said loudly for my benefit, peppered with expletives and whilst loud dance music was thudding away and she had at least 2 of her own grandchildren there. Who we've listened to playing in her garden almost every day in the summer since we moved here 10 years ago (we don't mind the noise).

The hypocrisy of it was unreal.

I challenged her she let rip with a tirade of bad language, and told me when I asked her not to swear in front of children, that I should not 'take children in'. As though it was ok for her to swear in front of my children.
It ended with her threatening to come round and leather me!

Obviously she felt the sound of children playing was worse than her behaviour. We've put up with loud music, swearing and 'smoking' but she finds me childminding offensive!
I left them in no doubt that if they started anything that I would report them for their behaviour. It has been strangely quiet since.

I guess what I am saying is people can be very unreasonable and think that they own the whole street rather than their garden.

I would just ensure your children don't scream and a get to loud then you will have the upper hand.

landofsoapandglory Mon 10-Jun-13 10:37:39

I doubt it's the general laughing and playing, it's the shrieking. There's no need for it. I can totally understand why they don't like it, it goes right through me and makes my ears ring. You should be telling your DC not to do it.

ThingummyBob Mon 10-Jun-13 10:39:59

I can't believe that people think its ok to restrict children playing out to 3.30 - 6.30 or thereabouts shock

There are precious few days of light and sunshine as it is, I wouldn't dream of then putting time limits in place in order to placate knobby neighbours.

The kids have all been out around here til gone 8 or 9pm most nights recently as we all know the nice weather won't last long

dogrosie Mon 10-Jun-13 10:53:06

I live on an estate where the kids free range a bit in the street and in gardens, but mine are always in by 6pm Sunday-Thursday and 7pm Friday and Saturday. Otherwise it's just not fair on families with babies, people who work shifts and people who want to enjoy a glass of wine in their gardens after work. They are noisy but the rule is no screaming or roaring. I think this is a compromise. Having kids running about the street shouting at 9pm would do my head in - even if they were mine, let alone anyone else's!

ThingummyBob Mon 10-Jun-13 11:01:29

Well, quite.
The kids round here are not roaring or screaming though to my knowledge, simply playing and making usual sounds as they do so grin

Chubfuddler Mon 10-Jun-13 11:26:56

I live in a terraced house but it's old and well built. Normal conversation, TV etc cannot be heard. Shouting etc can.

My next door neighbours have three children of between about 10 and 15. I say nothing about them playing in the garden until about 8.30pm even though I'm trying to settle my little ones, they say nothing about my toddler crying during the night (I've no idea if they can hear her or not but if be surprised if they never heard anything at all). That is live and let live.

oinkment Mon 10-Jun-13 12:02:31

My favourite bit is when the neighbour "almost sneered" at the bicycles on the front lawn.


takethatno1fan Mon 10-Jun-13 17:13:01

Thanks for your views.

I think the one area from all of them which lacks consensus is the matter of what I have described as 'shrieking'.

To put this into some context, these are 4 kids, aged 5-7 playing on a trampoline, and in a paddling pool on a hot sunny afternoon. There is bound to be a mix of different noises from a child when they're having fun, moreso when it is in the open air.

Funnily, I've always found that I have a really very low tolerance of the kids raising their voices - in fact, I'm always ticking them off for it. I did not however think it was inappropriate given the context in which it was happening (and still don't).

Maybe different people have different ideas of what constitutes shrieking. My own personal view is that from time to time, in your own house, at work, during leisure time, we may all be exposed to sounds which we don't have any control over. The noises made by children as a natural by-product of outdoor play in cold water seems to me to be perfectly reasonable to expect in a residential area on a hot day, therefore it should be one of those things in life that one simply has to accept and get on with.

I can't be expected to prioritise my neighbours feelings on this matter over my own parental views/standards. I didn't deem the noises they made to be inappropriate given the context. On occasions when they make what I consider to noise which is too loud, or too shrill then I have done, and will continue to tell them that it's not acceptable. I cannot however in good conscience let my neighbours view be the determining factor of that threshold.

During the paddling pool fun for instance, my daughter stubbed her toe and started screaming. While this might have 'gone right through' my neighbours and compounded their bad feeling, the noise could hardly be helped, and it was contextually acceptable.

The situation today, is that right now, my two and two others are playing out the front having a water fight with water pistols. Again, a good wholesome after-school activity and far preferable to watching TV or stuck indoors for some other reason. My son and another boy have fallen out over who gets to use the 'the big one'. He was crying loudly because he was upset (we were all kids once I suppose and it's probably a big deal if you're seven). It's so frustrating for me now that I'm more concerned about my neighbours getting annoyed at the noise that dealing properly with the situation is secondary to me keepng the noise down!

I have actually recorded the noise from the paddling pool yesterday, and am currently recording the water-fight sound just now - I may post edited highlights later on as an example if anyone would be interested?

This morning I called the Local Authority Environmental Health/Community Safety people to explain the situation. The lady there was very understanding and explained to me that there is no chance that young children making noise when playing would ever be considered unreasonable or a nuisance noise. This was reasonably reassuring. The officer said it actually sounded like it was the neighbours themselves that were being unreasonable for expecting the children to be quiet! If the neighbours complain again, I can direct them to call the Council, and they will be told what I've been told.

Further, I have also spoken to my next door neighbour. She is a lady of about the same age as the complainant. Ironically she says she likes the sound of the children playing! Apparently it makes her feel safe because she knows there's activity around, and she also thought it was too quiet in the street before families started moving in.

The one really funny part about this whole sorry situation is that apparently the same neighbours complained to the previous owners of our house because she was playing Susan Boyle CDs too loudly for them!

I think (considering all replies so far) I'm going to conclude that like it or not, the noise of children having fun is something that people either have to enjoy, be ambivalent to, or tolerate if they choose to live in a mixed residential housing estate. As far as these particular neighbours go, I have a feeling that if we went around our home whispering it still wouldn't be ideal for them. On that basis I can't see what else can be done.

takethatno1fan Mon 10-Jun-13 17:26:53

I would also add that I've been finding this afternoon that I feel like I'm being 'listened too' by my neighbours over the fence. I've just been out the back while my daughter goes on the trampoline (in silence obviously) and I can hear one of them pottering around in their garden. The feeling of knowing that they're actively listening to me is an altogether unpleasant one, which I wouldn't wish on anyone! Even though my daughter was actually just bouncing quietly, it feels like I don't even have private use of my garden because I'm under surveillance!

schobe Mon 10-Jun-13 17:32:22

Stop recording your children. Calm down.

Forget that they may be 'listening' to you. They probably are as they sound like they have very little to occupy them to get wound up about children and/or SuBo CDs. Throw in a few references to made up sexual antics just to keep them on their toes.

Do the smiling and nodding thing. 'I'm so sorry you feel that way' is such a powerful and yet completely passive phrase.

Sounds like you will do as much as you can to stop your DC being excessively whiney or shrieky. You can do no more. Learn to live with the fact that some people are arseholes.

mercibucket Mon 10-Jun-13 17:36:05

its good to have got feedback from the council too, now relax and forget about those neighbours. funnily enough, our annoying neighbours also felt their previous neighbours were too noisy. in other words, they are over sensitive to noise

wrt shrieking, there is a particular noise some young children make, high pitched and done for maximum annoying impact, like a group of young girls egging each other on to louder and louder screaming. its not a standard shout, scream, cry, but really really annoying. it can definitely be stopped if the children are simply brought inside every time they do it, or reminded about not doing it. it doesnt sound like any of the noises you describe

EuroShaggleton Mon 10-Jun-13 17:47:16

I think I agree with the consensus - the noise of children playing is absolutely fine. High pitched shrieking is not so good.

My parents are in a similar position to your neighbours - early 60s, live in a very quiet street, etc. They have neighbours over the back with a young family. The noise does impede their enjoyment of the garden, no question about it. The biggest bugbear is the trampoline. The neighbours have put it at the far end of their long garden, meaning that it is closer to my parents' house than their own! Also, because there is a mound (I think spare earth from where something was dug out at some point) and the tranpoline is on that, the children bounce higher than the fence and look right into my parents' garden. So whilst I think the noise of children playing is not a problem (and can be lovely), you can be considerate towards your neighbours. Is the padding pool and trampoline at the far end of your garden? Could you move them away a bit?

My parents haven't complained (except to me!) but I can see it is not nice for them to have bouncing shouting children a few feet away while they are trying to enjoy a quiet cup of tea on the patio in their own garden. Their neighbours definitely could have been more considerate. Could you?

cocolepew Mon 10-Jun-13 18:05:06

I think you are now over thinking this grin. You have spoken to the council and you can tell your neighbour to phone then if they moan again, you know what the outcome will be so no need to worry.

The only time I stopped my children or their friends making noise was when the people behind us had a baby. When I saw the curtains close they all had to leave the trampoline and go around the front.

The only thing I can't stand, when in the garden is other people's music.

takethatno1fan Mon 10-Jun-13 18:15:10

I dare say that I could be more considerate in their eyes/ears, but this is where the quandary lies. At which point does our consideration for our neighbours' wishes start to affect the enjoyment we should expect from our own home? One is no more important than the other. They don't want to use their back garden because it isn't quiet enough when my kids are playing in it - that's a choice.

Again, I don't want to appear to be difficult or unreasonable in any way, but taking your example of your parents' living in a quiet street... it presumably isn't quite as quiet as it was because a family has moved in? That's the chance you take if you live in a mixed community instead of a particular social setting, then you have to accept that your neighbours will change from time to time. Equally, if my neighbours chose to smoke in their back garden and the smoke blew over our fence onto our patio we'd just have to tolerate it even though we hate the smell of cigarette smoke.

So am I being unreasonable by allowing my kids to play (within my rules), or are the neighbours being unreasonable for expecting to be able to have tranquility during every hour of the day in their own garden. I suppose we're both being equally as reasonable/unreasonable about it.

People don't like change very much, but sometimes it's outwith our control.

I suppose my point is that neither party has any more or less entitlement do whatever they want in their garden (provided it's legal of course), but in complaining the way they did (which I've probably not articulated very well in my original post), they've in fact put us in a position where we feel uncomfortable for using our own garden at all. Which I guess makes us the considerate ones!!

schobe Mon 10-Jun-13 18:20:29

Y'know when coco said you were overthinking this? Refer to that.

You are starting to sound like hard work.

THEY are being unreasonable. That is unless you have jammed the trampoline and paddling pool right up against their fence when you have a ginormous garden, or are training your DCs to win the loudest, most piercing shriek in the world contest.

Now STOP obsessing grin I mean that kindly.

pictish Mon 10-Jun-13 18:25:19

Look - they're a pair of miserable scrotes, that's all!
Some folks are like that. Just tell them to do one.

All this mooning and pondering over it is needless.


Miserable scrotes


Do one

End of.

PearlyWhites Mon 10-Jun-13 18:26:58

How sad when the sound of children happily playing is considered a disruption. Op you sound a lovely family and the neighbours are very rude.

alpinemeadow Mon 10-Jun-13 18:33:04

Re the 'neighbour listening' thing - that is just a feature of close together gardens, I think. Your neighbours can't help the fact that they aren't making any noise when they're gardening, so you think that they can hear you talking (which they probably can!) - you just have to kind of have a mental block, I think, nothing else to be done about it.

swampytiggaa Mon 10-Jun-13 18:52:48

Tbh i wouldn't worry. As long as they aren't it before 9 or after about 8 i can't see an issue.

I bring my little horrors in if they are too noisy smile

WinkyWinkola Mon 10-Jun-13 19:35:06

You recorded your dcs noise and will edit it later?

Okay now I think you're being very daft.

Move on.

Theyoniwayisnorthwards Mon 10-Jun-13 21:18:36

YANBU and I dont think you're being daft either, sounds to me like you were just a bit mortified that your neighbours did this and now you feel the need to check your own opinion against that of others. I would react similarly.

I do think you need to just chalk it up to difficult individuals, remain polite but firm and continue to let your children enjoy the garden.

KeatsiePie Mon 10-Jun-13 21:51:46

I too really think you should let it go. Again, it's 20/hrs per week of completely reasonable noise in daytime hours. Probably the best hours you could possibly have picked -- not too early not too late. I get concerned easily about neighbor relations and I still think you should stop worrying now.

And, since your wife was upset by it, it's probably up to you to be the calm reassuring one -- "Honey I've called the council, there's nothing to worry about. People are not talking about is, I highly doubt everyone feels like that couple does, so we're going to just forget it. Come on let's go watch our kids play in the sun."

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