Sound Masking for Work

The benefits of sound masking are numerous, but the main factor of the establishment of speech privacy.  Businesses, counseling services, churches, medical facilities, as well as government and military officials have found speech privacy crucial for two main reasons:

  1. Reduction of distractions.  As mentioned above, workers can’t understand co-worker chatter, so they tend to be less distracted by it and more able to keep their focus on work, make fewer mistakes, and be more productive overall.
  2. Establishment of private confidentiality.  In addition to allowing workers to work better, speech privacy allows for privacy when necessary.

Sound Masking for Home

You can even choose soothing nature sounds.

You can even choose soothing nature sounds.

While these are indeed extremely important factors to consider for businesses and other facilities that need speech privacy, many of us need it for quite another purpose.  And while measurably less professional and corporate, many would argue that this use of sound masking is closer to the heart because its intended subject is closer to our hearts: our children.  Here’s the deal: I have had 3 children in the past 7 years.  Each one has had his or her own sleep patterns and sleep needs, but the consistent thing was that they all needed a certain amount of sleep,t hat if not gotten, was heck to pay later.

Thus, I did and do what I have to to protect their sleep.  My older two are past too many sleep problems, but their antics do tend to bother their baby sister, who would love to stay awake with them.  Interestingly, while her room is practically miles away from their room, she seems to be at the hub of virtually everything else.  Her room is literally surrounded by doors {4 to be precise}, doors that not only slam but also lead to important places, such as the back yard, the basement, our room, and the kitchen. This is challenging because while she is a good sleeper, she has to actually fall asleep first.  And falling asleep while the big kids are running in and out or up and down or I am cooking in the kitchen is harder than it might seem for a socially aware child.  This is where a sound machine comes in.

Rather than a corporate application, individual sound machines are ideal for the situation described above.  The baby can tune out the intermittent noise the family makes and not only drift into a peaceful sleep, stay in a peaceful sleep.  This brings a certain peace of mind for stressed parents like myself who tend to feel hamstrung during nap time or at bed time.  There’s no reason not to live just because you’re trying to get the baby down to sleep.  White noise is a great resource for every parent if a small child.

The Many Uses of White Noise

Sound machines have been great for our family.  We started using them for our kids when they were babies to help them sleep through noise.  We ended up overseas in a tiny apartment, so close quarters were more like cramped quarters and every noise reverberated throughout it.  Thus, we used them in bedrooms.  Then, I started working from home and used  my trusty sound machine to tune out distractions.  I figured I had exhausted most normal uses for white noise.  And maybe I have- in terms of normal anyway.

White Noise for Home Delivery

A portable sound machine is ideal since it allows you to take it anywhere.

Last month a very dear friend of mine had her third child.    Crazy woman decided to go for her second natural home delivery.  This is tricky when labor takes place in the middle of the night when older siblings are supposed to be sleeping.  My friend told me that once again, white noise had triumphed.  I kid you not, she pushed a 9lb 4oz baby out naturally and her kids slept through it!

Like me, this friend of mine had lived overseas in a tiny apartment with multiple small children’babies, so she and I had learned to use white noise together.  Unlike me, though, she opted for natural home deliveries.  My last delivery was natural, not by choice, and I was anything but quiet.  Thus, I am very impressed with our trusty sound machines once again!  Our kids’ sleep is precious to us, so whatever it takes to keep them sleeping peacefully so they can wake up refreshed is worth it.  Sound machines are an easy way to achieve that, or so we’ve learned.

All this to say that white noise has a new application for a new noisy situation: natural home delivery.  For those of you looking to deliver at home, with other children present, you might consider a sound machine in case they stay at home during the actual delivery.

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.

When we had our first baby, I quickly became a fan of my fan {pun intended}.  I found that my ultra-social baby could hear the carpet crunch.  Seriously.  If something fun was going on, she did not want to miss it.  That said, I found myself tip-toeing around during nap time and at night.  I would cringe when the phone rang, and Lord forbid if someone unexpected came by and the dog started barking!  Thus, I found a floor fan down in the basement, blew it off, plugged it in, and turned it on for sleep times.

Six years later, I use a sound machine and not a fan.  My friends ask me why.  So, here goes.  Basically, both a fan and a sound machine function on the basis of white noise, the idea that a consistent hum helps the brain tune out unwanted noise.  Here are three simple reasons I prefer a sound machine.

This portable sound machine fits in your hand and comes with plug adapters for other countriesFans have cords that can be tripped on or, horribly, be wrapped around children’s necks.

  • Fans have cords, which can trip or get tangled around children.
  • Fans are big and bulky and change the aesthetic feel of the room.
  • Fans move dust mites, which can be problematic for allergies.

In contrast:

  • Sound machines do have cords, but can be battery-run as well, thus avoiding potential danger.
  • Sound machines are small and desktop and barely noticed in any room.
  • Sound machines do not affect allergies in that they do not move air.
Thus, since having children, we switched to safer, just as effective sound machines.  Our kids can’t get caught up in the cords and if they have allergies, won’t be affected.  Plus, when we’re on the road, or just napping the baby at someone else’s house, a portable sound machine is so much easier to take with us.

 

Noisy co-workers…they are annoying, but at least they’re at work and you escape them at home…right?  Right?  Well, not always.  This last week we had construction workers at our house all day and through the evenings.  It’s not all bad- we did hire them to reconfigure our 1920′s kitchen so we could chop and cook at the same time.  The problem is that the end result, a functional kitchen, required a bunch of noise…during nap time.  Audible sigh.

Can I say again how useful sound machines are?  Babies are not as complicated as adults in many ways.  The worries of the world do not pester them as they attempt to fall asleep.  However, the sound of cabinets being wrenched off walls and adhered to other walls is pretty crazy loud.  I mean, seriously loud.  You just can’t expect socially aware 10 month olds to sleep through that noise…which is why I moved her away from the kitchen and plugged in a sound machine.  Construction work can be heard anywhere within a confined space, so simply moving her wasn’t going to cut it.  I set up the pack n play in a distant room and with the addition of a small sound machine, she was asleep as usual for both naps all 3 days.

You may not currently have construction going on inside your home or even consistent noise problems, but you probably have noise issues every so often you wonder how to deal with.  They may present as play dates for your older kids, dinner parties, TV on adjacent walls, neighbor kids outside the window…most babies and kids can sleep through these unexpected events with the right tool.

Usually, I write about office privacy solutions…seems to work well with the title and all.  However, some of us work from home, or even in the home as moms.  Whether we actually get a paycheck or not from our work at home, as moms, it’s our business to make sure kids sleep well {so we can also sleep and get everything else we need to done}.   If you’re a mom, you know exactly what I’m talking about- the juggling act of balancing domestic duties and even job responsibilities can be pretty challenging.  That’s probably why I’ve been asked by no less than 3 friends on Facebook which white noise machine I use and why I like it.  I actually recommend 2.

Sound Oasis Travel

This is my go-to sound machine.  I have used it in our own bedroom, as well as for the kids.  There are 18 different sound choices, though my husband is fairly committed to the “white noise” option because of its uniformity.  I prefer some of the other more natural sounds when it’s just me.  The kids have even used it to play to simulate rain or trains or animals!  I keep this one in my room now because I like the backlit clock (bright enough to see, but dim enough to not be annoying as we sleep) because it helps me orient myself in the middle of the night when a child calls out.  I also like that I can adjust the volume so I can still hear the kids when I need to (at night), but not when I don’t need to (for my own naps when my husband is watching them!).

  • Why I love it:  Ease of use; portability; ability to be used internationally.  It comes with a carrying case and various adapters.  Can be run with batteries or with a cord.
  • How I use it: For sleep, either for us or one of the kids

Free Online White Noise Generator

My next pick is for people who just aren’t sure if white noise is “for them”.  It’s a free online white noise generator that you can play with while you work or run during a nap.  Since it has a time limit, I recommend using it for smaller chunks of time, like a work session or a nap.   While there are some fantastic sound machines for office use on the market {such as the Sonet}, most moms are splurging just to get a machine for baby.  And since baby uses it during the day for naps, mom can’t exactly bogart it for her own use.  Hence, the free generator.
  • Why I Love it: It’s FREE!  You can try out white noise and see if it’s for you.
  • How I use it: For work time or relaxation.
Thus, if you’re a mom or care giver needing kids to sleep better or a little time of your own, there’s a sound machine for you.

I married an electrical engineer 11 years ago and figured we were pretty settled in Dallas, TX.  Since then, he has earned 3 more degrees and been a graduate student, a college pastor, a young adults’ pastor, a graduate student again, and now a college professor.  Little of that took place in Dallas.  We’ve moved 6 or 7 times in 11 years, in addition to expanding by 3!  I thought moving was hard enough with all the packing, unpacking, replacing, filling new spaces, and starting new ventures.  I never realized how tricky it got with small children!  Getting it all done on time is a hassle in itself.  But, even more than logistics is the emotional side of things.  We were in the situation of packing things for shipping overseas, things for the moving truck, things for the plane, and giving away the rest.  This was hard for the kids.  They did not understand that they would see much of it again.  Plus, they were worried about finding new friends, going to new schools, and living in a new house and state!  In hind sight I see that there things I did that made the move a little easier for the kids, whether I meant to or not.  I thought I’d share them with you in case they’ll help your family adjust to your new job.

Tips for Moving with Families

  • I folded these Eclipse curtains in half for ultimate thickness to block out excessive sun in the baby’s room. They were cute, affordable, and practical!

    Talk about the move positively.  Regardless of how you feel, make the move an exciting, good thing for your kids.  Focus on any positives you can think of (near-by ice cream store, big back yard, close park, own room, etc).

  • Look at a map.  No matter where the new place is, check it out on a map and show the kids where it is and how you’ll get there.  They might like to be able to visualize it.
  • Pack while the kids are away.  When possible, try to pack things discreetly and while the kids are at school or napping.  We found that seeing their things go away was traumatic for the kids, even when we explained they’d see them again.  On the flip side, you know your kids- it may be that helping the process, or at least seeing it enables an easier transition.
  • Make the new room as similar as the old room.  Even if you redecorate, keep precious items at hand for night time especially.  This can be blankets, pacifiers, stuffed animals, etc.  Pack these items for the car/plane so you are sure to have them for the first (possibly the hardest) night.
  • If you are making a time change, check out these tips for jet lag.  In addition, we moved farther north, so sunlight lasted longer in the day and came earlier in the morning- not exactly a recipe for good sleep for my smallest ones!  Thus, thick curtains and a white noise machine helped the kids tune out the seeming day light and all the noise of a new house, including my own unpacking!
  • Spend time with the kids each day- tour a new park, or play area, or get a special treat.  Do something that makes the day fun for the kids in the midst of so much disorder, unpacking, and overall change.

Moves are stressful, especially for kids who aren’t sure of what’s ahead!  Make sure to do what you can to make the transition as smooth and painless as possible.

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.

Every night, week day or weekend, my neighbors crank up their music around 10pm for several hours.  Prior to that we listen to them slamming doors and clunking around.  It’s a bit disconcerting when it sounds like someone is coming into our flat, only to realize it’s next door.  It’s also frustrating to finally be winding down, just to have the college kids crank it up.  In all fairness, though, our lives are simply opposite.  We’re done with college and late nights (that we choose and not centered around sick kids), and we have early mornings.  So, if I were my neighbors writing this, I would say, “Every morning around 5am, I hear that baby crying, and then at 7am, I hear tons of stomping…just when I finally get to sleep, they wake me up!”  I’m the first to say it goes two ways for sure.

That’s just the way life is, isn’t it?  Part of being in a community is dealing with other people, their choices, and not getting angry about it.  It’s just not worth the emotional energy, in my opinion.  However, when I’m trying to get “that baby” to sleep, whether for a nap or at night, or when the big kids need to be able to sleep through the night for school the next day, I tend to stress about excessive noise that keeps them awake and less than pleasant the following morning.  So while I cannot control what my neighbors do (nor can they control our noise), I can take charge in my own home and how we manage less than ideal distractions, especially when trying to sleep.  We use sound machines.  Not every night and not in every room, but where and when it’s necessary to block noisy neighbors, we turn those bad boys on and we sleep.  Such a quick, relatively cheap, and stress-free remedy to a very common problem.

If noisy neighbors are getting you down and keeping you from going to sleep, try a sound machine- it’s easy to turn on and just s easy not to use when not needed.