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to let my children play in the garden?

(361 Posts)
SlightlyHassled Fri 10-Apr-20 10:07:35

Our neighbours have complained about the noise caused by my two boys in our garden. They are age 10 and 7.

They were playing very happily (Top Trumps, as it happens) at the end of the garden furthest away from the house (and the neighbours' house) while I was indoors. I heard one of the neighbours shout, 'Oi!' but since I didn't hear anything else, I didn't think anything of it. A few minutes later, one of the neighbours yelled my name, then the other did. As I was indoors, and my boys were still playing happily, I just ignored it. A few minutes later one of them came round to say we were too loud and they were unhappy about it. He said I was reading aloud to the children and that he and his wife could hear every word. (I had been reading aloud to my children in the same part of the garden earlier in the afternoon but I wasn't doing so at the point when they complained. I don't think I was doing so any louder than the volume you'd use for a normal conversation.)

I don't think the problem is really me reading to the children. I think the problem is general noise. They have complained to us before on a number occasions about our noisy children. They are retired and don't have grandchildren, and there aren't a lot of other children living near us, so ours are the ones making all the noise that they hear. We also home educate and our boys are around and outdoors in the daytime more than the average children. We do lots of our structured lessons in the garden, and the neighbours have previously said they don't have a problem with us doing "quiet learning" out there. We don't have a TV and don't use electronic devices much, so our children do a lot of playing outdoors. It's been a long-standing problem, though the neighbours have complained about noise from indoors too. (We are two halves of a semi with only a thin wall between, and we have very echoey acoustics in our kitchen, and an open-plan layout downstairs.)

There isn't any goodwill on their part because they think we don't care and do nothing. The wife told us once she should be able to read a book in her garden at 6pm without hearing our children. They wrote to us once complaining about the noise, and complaining that we never told our children to be quiet. For the next 3 days, I did nothing different from normal but I made a note of every time I asked the boys to be quieter because of the neighbours. I did so 35-40 times a day (!), and that was pretty typical of what I was doing before they complained. We wrote back to the neighbours explaining that, but never had a response.

They don't wake up until 8.30am, and when they complained about noise from the garden before that, we stopped letting the boys out of doors until after 9am, and stopped eating breakfast in the garden. When the neighbours complained about noise from indoors, we spent £500 on sound insulation boards to go against our party wall. Unfortunately when we put the first one up, DS1 and I had an allergic reaction to something in it, and we had to take it off the wall and throw them away. We did tell the neighbours about that.

With garden noise, we always bring the children indoors as soon as they start fighting or stropping or screaming. I understand that people don't want to listen to bickering from over the fence (something else the neighbours have complained about in the past).
My children aren't especially quiet, but I don't think they're especially noisy either. My parents are always telling me how much quieter they are than my brother's 4 boys, for example.

If they're not behaving in an antisocial manner, I think it's fine for my children to be playing in their own garden and that I shouldn't be constantly on their case to play indoors, or to play with hushed voices. AIBU?

GinDrinker00 Fri 10-Apr-20 10:09:14

Just let them out. Long as it’s not during unsociable hours there’s nothing they can do. Sod the neighbours long as they aren’t having screaming matches I don’t see the issue.

Soubriquet Fri 10-Apr-20 10:09:27

They are being unreasonable

Sound is normal in gardens especially with kids

As long as it isn’t continual screaming, let them have fun

SlightlyHassled Fri 10-Apr-20 10:10:12

Ironically, the day of the complaint, the boys had been having a lovely day and although they'd been in the garden for most of it, they hadn't had a single argument or spat, and had been really happy just entertaining themselves. So antisocial behaviour was really not a trigger for the problem when it happened.

Mammaaof Fri 10-Apr-20 10:10:38

Oh ignore them!! I'm the only one with children in my row of houses and I always apologize to neighbours about the noise and every single time they say it's lovely to hear them having fun! X

Umnoway Fri 10-Apr-20 10:10:59

YANBU. Provided your DC aren’t running around screaming at 6am or 11pm then they’re being massively unreasonable and they sound insufferable.

Aroundtheworldin80moves Fri 10-Apr-20 10:11:46

Sounds like you could master hovering and never say a word and they will still complain about the noise.

As long as they aren't playing loud music, kicking balls against their house, swearing or screaming, let them play.

SpillTheTea Fri 10-Apr-20 10:12:21

I can understand how annoying it can be listening to children outside, but they're allowed to play and the neighbours will have to suck it up.

Soubriquet Fri 10-Apr-20 10:12:41

Sounds like they are the type who think

“Children should be seen and not heard”

heartsonacake Fri 10-Apr-20 10:12:56

It sounds like they’ve got a point if you’re having to tell your kids to be quiet 35-40 times a day.

Perhaps spend some time teaching them appropriate noise levels instead of randomly throwing out useless “be quiet” platitudes every now and then.

HeddaGarbled Fri 10-Apr-20 10:14:51

I think you can compromise here. Reading to your children could easily be done indoors, for example. If your neighbours get quiet hours in their garden now and again, they may find it easier to tolerate the non-quiet hours.

Malbecfan Fri 10-Apr-20 10:15:02

Have you thought of teaching your boys a musical instrument? I'm thinking bagpipes, harmonica or violin, something that the neighbours can really enjoy. If they did complain to the council now, nothing would happen because you are still allowed to have a reasonable family life during the daytime.

If your neighbours want a quiet life, you could suggest the cemetery. I believe that most inhabitants there are very peaceful indeed.

Ledkr Fri 10-Apr-20 10:15:05

Ignore them they are bullies.
My neighbour knocked on my door to tell me there was too much stuff in our garden shock a swing set a hot tub and small trampoline.
She can only see it from her upstairs bedroom window as we have fences and hedges.
I was pretty speechless

UAintMyMuvva Fri 10-Apr-20 10:15:48

Miserable gits! Especially in current circumstances.

My nextdoor neighbour has three young children and they are out in the garden making the general level of noise kids make when they’re playing from about 8am-6pm. They’re children! What is she supposed to do?

I’d politely ignore.

FudgeBrownie2019 Fri 10-Apr-20 10:17:52

Your neighbours are dicks. Ignore them and let your DC play.

If they were screaming and going nuts for hours on end, I'd have a bit of sympathy, but yelling "oi" over the fence because your DC are playing top trumps is ridiculous, as is suggesting they should be able to read at 6pm without hearing anything from your DC.

Oysterbabe Fri 10-Apr-20 10:23:10

I'd tell them to get fucked in so many words and continue as normal.

TheHumanSatsuma Fri 10-Apr-20 10:24:45

We are retired with no grandchildren, the house2 doors up has 3 boys who argue, charge about the garden playing and spend their days being boisterous boys.

I love hearing them. They are a happy family unit and it’s just so full of life. Wouldn't change it for anything

SlightlyHassled Fri 10-Apr-20 10:25:26

Thank you for the replies. smile

I should perhaps point out that back when I was telling my children to be quieter 35-40 times a day, DS2 was in a particularly bad patch and screaming a lot, and most of me telling them to be quiet was because I was feeling paranoid about the neighbours. Now I probably tell them to be quieter about 5-10 times a day - but if we lived in a detached house, it would only be a couple of times a day.

aSofaNearYou Fri 10-Apr-20 10:26:27

It's always hard to tell on threads like this because it really depends how loud they are. On the surface it sounds like they are being unreasonable, which they probably are, but a lot of parents say their children aren't particularly loud when an outsider would disagree. It also sounds like you are in the garden pretty much all of the time and being honest, this would grate on me too. I wouldn't say anything but I would be wishing for the odd day when I could go outside and not be hearing them all day. If you were previously letting them out and being loud before most people were up without a thought, too.. yeah that would be pretty annoying.

It's good that you no longer do that but I would just apply your common sense; if they've been out for hours maybe bring them in as you know there are others around who can't enjoy their garden as a result. Don't let them out too early or too late, because that's just antisocial. All basic stuff that it sounds like you're doing anyway.

When you ask them to be quiet, do they actually listen? I think sometimes when people say "you never made them be quiet" they actually mean you asked in that kind of half hearted way that the children ignore, which is more or less the same thing to an onlooker.

parrotonmyshoulder Fri 10-Apr-20 10:27:34

We had a similar complaint from a neighbour who enjoys spending their day gardening with godawful ‘smooth radio’ playing at full blast. I prefer the sound of my DC arguing.

VividImagination Fri 10-Apr-20 10:28:48

I think the problem is that’s she’s hearing them but not getting the enjoyment of seeing them play. Can I suggest a treehouse and a 12ft trampoline. Preferably up against her fence.

Seriously, they are children. They should be playing in the garden. Especially at the moment when it’s the only place they can play. I would write them a letter outlining the measures you have taken to try and help with their (the neighbours) problem and letting them know that they won’t be out before 9am or after 9pm and you will ask them to come in if they are screaming or fighting but that normal garden and household activity is what you sign up for in a semi. Then ignore them.

PinkiOcelot Fri 10-Apr-20 10:32:24

They sound like a pair of miserable arses. You’re just as entitled to use your garden as they are.
Perhaps they’d be better suited to a retirement village.

welldonejean Fri 10-Apr-20 10:32:33

Tell the to F right off. If they’re complaining about the sound of their voices playing cards then there’s nothing they’ll be happy with.
I’d be considerate but not bend over backwards. So don’t have them screaming outside at 8am etc but let them play.

CalleighDoodle Fri 10-Apr-20 10:36:26

My neighbours daughter shouts Constantly when she is talking. When she is in my house i find myself frequently tell her to lower her voice / Use inside voice etc.

What time did youR boys go outside to play?

CeibaTree Fri 10-Apr-20 10:38:24

Meh, just ignore them. They are obviously bored and looking for a scapegoat for their frustration.

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