While the soundtrack of my life as a stay at home mom is filled with wonderful things, like my children laughing, and sweet little “I love you, mamas”, it can also be a ceaseless barrage of four small children vying for my attention, talking on top of each other, screaming, whining, and other brain scrambling drivel. It makes my ears bleed and my anxiety spike. The noise is inescapable.
Even when I try to hide out in the bathroom to relieve myself and snag a few moments of blessed silence, one or more of them appear and start asking questions (if the door is unlocked) or start talking to me through the door and asking me to unlock it. I’m doing my best to teach them boundaries, but their desire to be with me and the overwhelming excitement about, well, ANYTHING, overrides any training I’ve poured into their heads. When one of them stops talking, the other kids fill in the silence. I’m getting kind of desperate.
Desperate times give way to desperate measures, so here’s a list of things I’ve started doing to make the cacophony in my house more bearable:
1. Turning on the Garbage Disposal. It’s like fighting fire with fire…. Or senseless unnecessary noise with more unnecessary noise. While this may sound counter-productive, I can either make motions like I can’t hear them over the grinding of the disposal, or just pretend to be completely oblivious that they are trying to get my attention. A word of caution to those who might give this a try: This only works if you’re already in the kitchen and preferably doing dishes. We must maintain a level of plausibility or risk having our motives exposed.
2. The “Wait… What was that noise?” Tactic. Sometimes, especially when more than one of my kids is talking to me at the same time, and attempting to talk over each other to snag my attention, I use this method. I raise a hand and make a focused, confused look on my face, and say “Wait! Did y’all hear that?! SHHHH! Hush! I’m trying to figure out what that noise was!” They will stop talking and start listening intently, anxious to hear whatever sound I’m listening for. Usually this gives me a good minute or so of quiet while we strain to hear, and then I can send them to investigate the “noise”. Even if they don’t go looking for the source of the noise, they generally forget whatever they were prattling on about and go do something else.
3. Movie Time. There are times when I openly embrace the modern conveniences (crutches?) of the 21st century. I do my best not to plunk them in front of the TV too often. Limiting TV time actually makes it a more powerful tool when I choose to wield it, especially if I’m smart enough to put on a movie that they haven’t seen in quite awhile. The four of them will stare at the screen, hungrily absorbing the plot of Despicable Me while my mind has a chance to gasp and wheeze for a few breaths of sanity.
4. Offering Snacks to Soothe Savage Beasts. In my house we have a heavily enforced “no talking while your mouth is full” rule, so if I offer them a snack they’ll usually forget whatever they were badgering me about and focus on the tempting treat then there’s only the sound of munching. My level of desperation for quiet determines the power of the sugar-filled ammo that I use. Grapes or Goldfish crackers are for when I’m only mildly overwhelmed Popsicles (which must be eaten outdoors, i.e. away from me INSIDE the house) are for when I’m in danger of a Mommy meltdown. These people are always hungry and never refuse a snack. And I have the Costco receipts to prove it.
5. Whip out the Chore List. When they start throwing nonstop questions at me like, “Why are lemons yellow?” Or “Is my pillow supposed to smell like feet?”, I know it’s time to start asking questions of my own. I begin rattling off rapid-fire inquiries about the state of their rooms and other chore jurisdictions, and remind them that they won’t get to go to wherever we will soon be going, like the pool, if it’s not clean.
While these strategies don’t completely alleviate the endless hailstorm of kid-noise, they at least momentarily distract them. And they help to keep me from going over the edge until cocktail hours rolls around.
Related post: The Newfound Joy of Quiet