When my first daughter was born, my mom always told me not to be intentionally quiet around her. “Newborns are used to noise,” she would say. “You don’t want her to get used to such a quiet environment.”
Oh, how I wish I would have taken her advice.
But instead of running the vacuum under her crib while she slept, we started tiptoeing and speaking in whispers. It seemed unnatural to carry on at a normal decibel when there was a sleeping baby a few feet away.
The result is that I now have two of the lightest-sleeping children I know. Add a one-story ranch house, where our kids’ bedrooms abut the living spaces, and you’ve got yourself an interesting predicament.
For those of you who find yourself in similar circumstances, my sincere condolences. Here are some tactics for survival:
1. Only Move When the Furnace or Air Conditioner Kicks On
When that humming starts, frantically race to get anything you consider noisy accomplished. But hurry, because you never know exactly when it will kick off again. And when it does, freeze! Everything enters slow-motion again. Who knew that a sound most people don’t even notice could be so important to parents of light sleepers. The alternative? Dead silence—literally.
2. Stop the Microwave Before the Timer Is Up
Never let it reach the end of its set time, lest you want to hear the loudest beep known to man. It’s as if the microwave thinks that maybe in the 30-second duration it takes to warm up whatever pathetic piece of leftovers you’re eating, you decided to take a gander over to the neighbor’s house, as if you aren’t simply standing in front of it with your hand on the handle the entire time.
3. Learn Where the Creeks in the Floor Are Located
Avoid them at all costs. Even if that means doing gymnastics-like moves from one room to the next. Loose floorboard right in front of the bathroom sink? Too bad. Stand back and lean your body at a 45-degree angle to brush your teeth. Consider it an ab workout.
4. Watch TV on Volume 1
The funny thing is, you’ve probably become accustomed to this barely audible volume. When you have guests who nonchalantly crank it up to level 6—gasp!—kindly inform them that they will either have to read lips or wear your wireless headphones. (Yeah, you have two pairs of those).
5. Invest in a Sound Machine
Don’t be afraid of the volume. So what if others think your house sounds like the latest tropical storm? What you don’t hear are kids crying because you woke them up by opening the refrigerator door.
6. Be Kind to Your Spouse
Accidents happen, like when your husband accidentally drops the remote control, sending it crashing to the hardwood floor below. Before you whip your head around to give him the nastiest, most evil glare you’re capable of, remember that one time when you cracked open a can of Sprite without thinking, only to hear the baby cry five seconds later. Accidents happen.
You might be thinking that no family with light sleepers should ever live in a house with such close proximities. However, in my experience, no amount of flooring, nor layers of insulation, will stop a light sleeper from hearing the one creek that exists in the house. Shift too loudly in your squeaky bed? She will hear it. My suggestion? Vacuum under your sleeping newborn.
This article was originally published on