The big change I mentioned is that I have new next-door neighbours and, at the time I wrote my last post, I was revelling in the huge reduction in noise pollution. The new people are a teacher and her son, so they are out most of the day during term time. It’s amazing what a difference it makes to my well-being to have a good chunk of predictable quiet time during the day.
It’s not all perfect, after the blissful last few weeks of term the summer holidays were very hard going with six long weeks of decorating, carpentry, garden clearance, footballing and visitors. Not to mention having their bloody TV audibly on morning, noon and night. The previous neighbours may have had world champion crying and tantruming kids, but I never heard their TV.
August is always my worst month of the year, but once again I survived. I’ll be better prepared next summer, but I think my hopes and expectations were too high this year. I didn’t expect the amount of home-improvement work that took place and assumed that they would go away for at least a week or two. I also failed to take into account the fact that 11 year olds go to bed much later than 3 and 6 year olds, so I didn’t even get a quiet hour or two in the evening.
It’s an odd thing that while under duress I long for respite, but when the stressor is removed I find it hard to get going on all the things I imagined doing if only I had the energy and a bit of peace and quiet. Distraction can be a useful strategy for coping with a difficult situation, but after a while it becomes a habit that isn’t useful when circumstances change.
It took me several weeks after the change of neighbours to stop startling at certain kinds of noise, as my system went on alert waiting for the next outburst of shouting or crying. I still scanned the street for their car as I approached my house when I’d been out, tensing to see whether I would be returning home to peace or mayhem. I felt triumphant the day I realised I’d parked my car without wondering whether the neighbours were in.
The last three months have been challenging, but interesting and enlightening. Overall my life has changed for the better at least in terms of my living environment, so now have the challenge of deciding how to use the extra time I have available and getting on with it…