Rows and rows of cubicles, or even worse, shared trading-style tables, with little space and certainly no privacy are what the modern office offers most workers.

Man, it is hard to quiet the noise (without and within) to spend a few moments in silence and solitude! {Facebook}

Still expected to work productively, workers are faced with few alternatives.  Some suffer through it, their ears pricking at every nearby voice, others try to book a conference room for their own space, and still others flee…what a sad fact, that workers have to leave work to get any work done.  It’s not surprising in that the average worker is distracted more than 2 hours every day!  And the culprit is conversational distraction, or as “overheard conversation” as  workers called their biggest complaint.  That’s why many workers work outside the office- if they can escape the cubicle farm, then maybe they can escape the noisy effects.  Unfortunately, conversational distraction is not exclusive to offices:

To the two girls sitting across from me: We all get it. You’re the only two people in your office who do any work in your office. You’ve been BLATHERING ON about it for 30 minutes. Maybe it’s time to go back there and show everyone else how awesome you are? LOTS of Love, The Girl in the Corner Booting Up Her Favorite White Noise Channel… {Facebook post made from Barnes & Noble}

Recovering Lost Time with White Noise

Love that it's portable any very small, yet offers tons of options.

Love that it’s portable any very small, yet offers tons of options.

The first friend mentions how hard it is to find a serene peace of mind in which to even think, let alone function.  The second comments on a common issue- how annoying and distracting conversation is, both within and outside of the work place.  The irony is that while those ladies were bragging about their work ethic, they were distracting people trying to work at a coffee shop, while simultaneously not working themselves!

So, in honor of my friend who never works in the confines of an actual office, here are several white noise options:

  1. Free white noise generator.  Anyone can use this online generator for free and can even customize it.  It is ideal for a quick work session at a coffee shop or bookstore or anywhere else you’d rather not have to pack up an extra item.
  2. Portable sound machine.  I love portable sound machines because I can use them at home and on the road, for work and for sleep.

If you’re tried of losing hours a day to preventable problems such a noise, then be sure to try a white noise generator or portable sound machine.

Avoiding Hotel Noise

I can’t tell you how many times people complain about noise online.  Just the other day, my husband’s sister commented:

In a hotel in Peoria, AZ and just heard a man peeing in the hotel room next door. Gross. Talk about thin walls.

You can imagine where the thread went wit regard to unwanted noise overheard in adjacent hotel rooms.  I’ll leave it at most of it is gross, and it is certainly distracting, unwanted, and unnecessary.  I say unnecessary because though people are loud and their human voice travels, they don’t have to invade near-by areas.  Sound masking can be quite effective in these situations, whether instigated by the hotel or the guest.  There are several options, both laid out below, so that either party can take noise problems into their own hands for happier guest stays.

A More Effective Move

A good night of sleep is just a plug {or a few batteries} away!

I have two suggestions for these situations: one for the management and one for the guests, but both revolve around the idea of sound masking, or the use of white noise to cover unwanted noise.  Essentially, this unstructured, uniform sound {white noise} masks the structured, annoying, sleep-depriving sound{s} so often found in hotels, be it barking dogs, loud guests, elevator dings, blaring TVs, crying babies, or street noise.

  • Sound Masking System.  Hotel owners or managers can easily, quickly, and affordably install a sound masking system for various zones of the hotel.  Since some rooms may be more likely to experience noise {those adjacent to elevators, for example}, it might be reasonable to have a zone for that area.  You can’t control for loud guests or where they stay, but you might as well try to deal with predictable noise.
  • Sound Machines.  Some people sleep straight through the night without issue {such as my children}.  However, most of us adults have trouble letting go of the worries of the world, especially when there’s a persistent, disturbing noise.  Thus, I believe it’s wise to carry a portable sound machine with you when on the road.  Thus, even if you’re close to loud hallways, you can still enjoy a peaceful and good night of sleep.

If you travel a lot, or even have a single trip coming up, and are worried about getting enough sleep, try taking a portable sound machine with you.

Facebooking for Answers

6 years ago my life changed forever, or so it seems.  One day I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and the next day I couldn’t.  I couldn’t count on a good night of sleep or even 3-hour chunks of sleep…usually this meant I would count on a nap, but those were not a given either.  That’s right, my oldest daughter rocked my world, and at first, it was not a good thing.  I had a really hard time enjoying my precious baby because I was so stressed and tired.  I read every book out there on sleep.  My biggest concern was that as my baby got a little bit older, she was very social and hated missing out on, well, anything!  Thus, every phone call, door slam, or social gathering was grounds for an awake and grumpy baby.

That’s why I chimed in the other day when I a friend of mine, a new mama {I now have 3- and am even surviving!}, asked about noise issues and sleep.

  • Who has a recommendation for a noise canceling sound machine for a nursery?

Love that it;s portable for when we’re away from home.

People chimed in with all kinds of suggestions, such as fans, iPods, humidifiers, etc.  

  • (Timed CD) That would mean it would have to play continuously while he slept. He is such a light sleeper. He hears every creak of this old house and ever noise outside.
  • (Fan) I was using a fan but its too cold now. Radio static is smart.
  • (iPod)I have a docking station. I tried once. I should try again. On the weekends when we don’t get up, he will sleep until 8 so I know he needs more sleep but gets up at 630 because he hears us in the week. During his nap it just takes a loud truck or a dog bark and he is up and mad.
  • (fan again; then humidifier) Thanks everyone! We were using a fan but its getting to be too cold up here for that! We used a humidifier a long time ago and i think i put it away when he started driving me crazy trying to get into it. Think we may go for a straight up sound machine!

My friend decided to go with a sound machine, as I suggested and even got a shout out for.  Plus, check out how this mom shows that white noise has not ruined her children. Amen.

  • I second that of your friend Emily, not for a nursery but I do use that same sound machine and its AWESOME!:) We use a fan and Jeff thinks I’m ruining our kids with white noise, it’s nice to see that we’re in good company:) I leave it on all night, to cancel out the house noises, and was relieved to discover that when we’re away from home they all 3 sleep fine without it.

So, if you’re tired and ready for more consolidated sleep for everyone, look no farther.  This sound machine is mom-tested and approved.

If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep because of noise, then you know the value of a good sound machine.  Whether you like simple white noise  or more acoustically diverse nature sounds, the consistent hum of a sound machine may be your best shot at a good night’s sleep.  You may even use them for your babies or small children who are sensitive to the everyday noise that is a part of your life.  This is true for us- even though we have 3 good sleepers, I’d like them to remain good sleepers.  My older two are fine now- they’re big enough to go back to sleep on their own when disturbed.  Our littlest one, though, I still don’t trust….which is why we have a sound machine for her.

Interestingly, with the first two I used a fan.  That’s what we had and it was simple enough.  Then, I heard about Mike Tyson’s daughter strangling on a cord and I panicked.  Plus, I was worried about curious fingers and fan blades.  So, I turned to a sound machine with a much shorter cord and no moving parts.  Easy enough.  However, I found myself in a bind when our electricity went out.  It doesn’t matter how short the cord is if you can’t plug it in.  Sigh.  Whether it’s a power outage from a storm, a breaker problem, or just the electricians re-wiring your house during nap time, there are sometimes reasons you simply need a portable sound machine.  The advantage is that since it is battery-run, you can use it anywhere, any time.  This is essential when you have little ones (or even yourself!) dependent upon routine.

Sound machines or sleep aids are great resources for adults, kids, and babies.  They help us fall asleep and stay asleep so we can wake up refreshed and ready to tackle a new day.  That’s why it’s important to have a portable sound machine on hand for travel or power outages.

Moving Back the US

Moving is always hard- tons of packing, planning, and then unpacking in a different place and space.  Even if the move is a good one you’re excited about, all that change is stressful.  Throw in children or a time zone change, and the stress just escalates…for both the kids and the parents!

We just did all that.  Four years ago, we packed up our toddler and infant and moved from the US to the UK.  Last week, we packed up our 2 older kids and our new baby and made the move back to the US {yea!}.  That move involved all the normal stresses with the added bonus of moving overseas which included closing up our flat and staying somewhere else our last night, enduring a 12-hour flight, and finally staying with our parents before we make our final move to Washington.  Even as adults, that can be rough.  Adjusting our 3 kids to sleeping at the new time and in new places was hard, especially for the baby.  They all thrive on routine- on sameness.  After years of flying overseas and doing crazy stuff like this, we have found that making a place feel like home is the best and most effective way to help them act like they’re at home.

Establishing Routine

Portable sound machines can literally fit in your purse and go anywhere you go.

Our first battle of our international move was surviving the 12 hours of flying. Step two was adjusting to the new time zone, which included establishing a similar bedtime routine to what we do at home. With the right cues, our children can feel like it’s bedtime, even if it’s hours off when they usually fall asleep. One of the main resources I have for this is a portable sound machine. You might think that’s crazy, but in hindsight, I wish I had 3! White noise is great for calming the kids- it allows them to relax and tune out the world, including each other. When traveling through time zones in which different children adjust at different rates, white noise can be your best friend since it helps each child get the best rest they can muster at odd times. Additionally, white noise is beneficial for the adults who also can be quite sensitive to noise, once again owing to strange circumstances. We found that having a sound machine on low helped us tune out unnecessary sound while still being attentive to our kids’ needs.

White Noise

I mentioned I wished I had 3 sound machines- I would have used one for our room, the shared room for our big kids, and the last for the baby. We only had one, so we resorted to fans for the others. Fans are a good option in a pinch, but they are typically big, not as easily portable, and don’t boast of sound options. Plus, they have long cords that can be dangerous for kids. Thus, I prefer a portable sound machine.

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need white noise.  There would be no excess noise, and we would all be able to work, relax, and sleep without any trouble at all because of it.  But we don’t live in an ideal world, do we?  And we have endless troubles working, relaxing, and sleeping because of what’s going on around us.  For some, it’s the sheer existence of noise that’s the problem; for others, it’s noise that grabs our attention and teases our minds into not focusing on what we should {work} or focusing on what we shouldn’t {anything other than sleep}.  Thus, I thought I’d show how different kinds of white noise work for different situations.

  1. A portable sound machine covers all of your needs.

    For work.  I like a plain jane sound machine for work.  I don’t mean that it’s not a great machine, but that I don’t need a ton of bells and whistles because I just want something to help me tune out noisy co-workers.

  2. For relaxation.  To relax, I prefer a nature sounds sound machine.  Lapping waves, running water, and waterfalls really help channel a vacation feel that puts the mind at ease.
  3. For sleep.  I definitely do NOT want erratic nature sounds for sleep.  Chirping birds keep me on edge, though a consistent waterfall is nicely relaxing and helps me stay asleep.  If you’re having trouble falling sleep, though, I would recommend a sleep aid.
  4. For travel.  I definitely have a portable sound machine available at all times.  I use it on the road for work and for sleep, both for us as parents and for the kids in new places.

Since we don’t live a perfect, noise-free world, having a sound machine helps us still be productive and sleep well in the midst of it all.

March Madness

March Madness is around the corner.  You might be counting down the days and hours, or you might be dreading the time suck this season inevitably is.  Before I say fightin’ words, all I’m saying is that there is a time and a place for basketball and championship games, and it’s my opinion that work is not the place.  While some may enjoy all the buzz surrounding the games, others like me resent the distraction.  Now I don’t mind others watching the games, but when a whole crowd groups around one cubicle, they can’t help but draw a lot of attention.  This is very frustrating to me since I’d like nothing more than to be able to get my work done.

I realize that this is a minority opinion indeed.  And I have no intention of making enemies in the office by suggesting they turn off the game.  I would like to be able to concentrate, though.  That is why, once again, I am a huge fan of my portable sound machine.  It enables me to tune out noisy distractions, such as basketball games and the ensuing chaos in which the office erupts with every basket, while maintaining good relationships with my co-workers.  Plus, the white noise is very low-level, so it doesn’t offer others distraction in return, making me a hypocrite.  In fact, most sound machines are quite adjustable and some even adapt to the environment, turning up as noise levels go up, and back down as they decrease, as well.  Certainly all machines can be turned off, as well, when unnecessary.  You can even select traditional white noise (a hum like an HVAC) or nature sounds if they are preferable to you.  Regardless of your preferences, sound machines these days are quite customizable so that each person gets what he or she needs in the moment.

A sound machine is a reasonable means of dealing with distraction that does not make workers resentful.

Ever since being a child, I love the holidays!  Maybe it’s part of being a Texan and having the opportunity to feel cold and maybe see a snowflake or two, or maybe the present,s or maybe the time off school…whatever, it was, I definitely anticipated November and December like no other time of year.  We were very blessed to live close to family and have our grandparents come visit us for the holidays and Christmas morning specifically.

Now, as an adult, and a mother of 3, it’s not so simple.  While I do still adore Christmas and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, I have a lot more on my mind, too.  We no longer live in Texas, but our families do.  Since we have had kids, we have had to either fly across several states or transatlantically to get back home for the holidays- all with kids in tow!  This is the first year we are not flying “home” but are staying “home” in Scotland.  Both grandmothers are flying out to meet our new little girl, though, so travel is still on the books, as is a lot of advance planning and online shopping since there are so many restrictions on luggage these days!  We are all making online wish lists so we can pay the right currency and ship to the right country for an affordable gift.

This has been by far the easiest Christmas season for me as an adult, so here are some helpful tips I adhered to in order to make it with a new baby even!

5 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Stress

  1. Make lists and prioritize daily.  Make a to-do list of activities you must compete for the holidays.  This list should be specific and date oriented. For example, instead of listing “get for the Christmas party at my house”, break down each aspect of your party with a target date for completion.  The more specific your tasks, the better. Making a general list sets you up to leave something out. Always set the dates early so you’re not in a frenzy to get the task complete.  Review and update your list on a daily basis.
  2. Shop online.  A lot of time is spent driving all over town as you shop.  Make your shopping list early.  Almost anything on your list can be found online. Sit down one evening, take your list, get focused only on shopping, and begin. You’ll be amazed just how much shopping you can get done in only one evening.
  3. Make time for yourself. Even if it is only one or two hours per week, take time for yourself.  Make a list of things you’d like to do that relax and refresh you. Read a book.  Get a massage. Watch a movie.  Whatever it takes to clear your mind and refresh you… do it!  You’ll be rewarded with more energy and a peaceful attitude.
  4. Don’t over-commit.  During the holiday season there are lots of things to do and many organizations and groups clamoring for your time. Choose your activities wisely and commit only to the ones you consider most important. Otherwise you’ll be anxious for the holidays to be over so you can get some rest.
  5. Get a portable sound machine.  Whether you’re the one traveling or you’re hosting, be sure to have a portable sound machine so everyone can sleep.  I find it makes even jet lag more bearable if privacy and boundaries are kept and no one is worrying about how much noise they’re making.

By following these simple tips, like shopping online and having a portable sound machine, you can avoid a lot of unnecessary holiday stress.

Holiday Travel

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and you are facing Christmas.  You may have gotten away with staying home for Turkey day, but with more time off, most families find that they end up traveling for Christmas, or at the very least, hosting visiting family for the holidays.  Having family around is actually a blessing most of the time, but finding the space and doing all the planning can be tricky, if not downright stressful.

So, maybe you have lots of company this month, or maybe you’re the company- either way, getting everyone to sleep and sleep well can be a challenge.  There are different bed times, different routine,s different needs, all based on different ages and people just being different by nature.  From snoring to slamming doors to midnight bathroom breaks to coughing to restful kids to rustling sheets, having company {and being company} is an acoustic nightmare, resulting in grumpy, sleep-deprived individuals.  And who wants cranky children, let alone adults, for Christmas morning?

That’s why I’m sharing my best resource with you- sound machines for sleep.  Even if you’ve never needed one before, having a little white noise as a boundary between you and your guests/hosts provides a little bit of freedom so no one feels badly about the extra noise.  Check out the various applications below.

Sound Machine App #1

If your company is making noise, use a sound machine for your own family.  It will help cover the added noise of extra people so that you (and your children) can still get good sleep.

Sound Machine App #2

If it’s your own children making too much noise for grandma or other visiting kids, why not offer a sound machine to your company?  They can choose a nature sound they like and tune out your own rowdy kids.

Sound Machine App #3

If you find yourself traveling for the holidays, it’s time to consider a portable sound machine.  Chances are, you’ll feel more relaxed and more at home.

Whether it’s for you or your guests, sound machines are a wise investment because they protect everyone’s number one concern: sleep.

I recently talked about how glad we were that we brought one of our portable sound machines on a family holiday to the Lake District in northern England, which got me thinking about traveling as a family in general.  It’s challenging and expensive enough to travel as a family, and since we’ve done it so much the past 5 years, I’d like to share a few tips we’ve learned for traveling as a family with small children on a budget.  I gave a few pointers last post and will continue with part 3 today.

Tips for Traveling as a Family on a Budget

I mentioned planning ahead is actually two-fold- booking ahead of time to get the best deals {see last post}, as well as thinking through every item that should be in your suitcase.  Thus, today we’ll focus on specific items to bring.



  • You know what you need as a parent: clothing for every day, pajamas, toiletries, a good book…all the stuff you require.
  • Do not forget identification, including driver’s licenses as well as passports.
  • You may want an under-clothing pouch to keep your money, IDs, and cards safe.
  • GPS/Sat Nav.  They really help you navigate foreign places and even help you get back on track when hiking off-trail.

Kids.  This is where it gets trickier.  You have to bring their everyday essentials and then some.

  • They will need more than 1 outfit a day because you won’t be able to do laundry.  Do NOT count on them staying clean and re-wearing garments.
  •  Bring extra underwear, as well as more than enough diapers.  Though you can probably buy them at your destination, bring enough for the travel time as well as at least a day’s worth in case it takes you a while to find a store.
  • Anything they require to sleep with- paci’s, toys, books, etc.  Because of this, we have intentionally not let our kids get too attached to any larger items- too big to pack!  They each have a small handheld “lovey” that goes on every trip.  It’s also smart to have a backup at home in case said lovey gets left anywhere.
  • Sippy cups.  I can’t tell you how annoying it is to have spilled drinks everywhere.  Just pack some take n toss cups from Walmart or Target and rinse them out at night or between beverages.  They’re clutch for the airplane or car.
  • Lots of snacks.  You can save a bundle by bringing snacks your kids will enjoy and not paying exorbitant prices overseas.
  • Portable DVD player and a couple of movies- while you can get around it on an airplane that provides in-flight entertainment, these are great for a road trip or for a rental car.
  • Sound machines/ear plugs.  Hotels and tossing/turning kids are noisy.  Whether your kids have their own room or are sharing with you, protect their sleep {and yours!} with a portable sound machine that will block disturbing noises.  I promise you will still hear their needs…you’re just blocking out moans and groans and turn-overs.
Don’t be afraid to travel as a family!  Traveling with kids can be budget-friendly if you plan ahead, even share a room with the aid of a portable sound machine.