HOAs vs. ‘kid noise’
12 February 2016
As many of my readers know, my husband and I are raising a blended
family (his, mine and ours). We have seven children ranging in age from
19 years old to 7 months old, and our home is lively and fun.
have this many children, stability and structure are key, as well as
making sure that the kids get outside and exercise and run around so
that they can find peace in each day.
We have never allowed an
overabundance of electronic time for them and they really don’t seem to
mind. They can be seen at any given time running around outside, riding
bikes, playing whiffle ball and shooting baskets.
This should all sound
simple and it is very similar to the life that I was able to enjoy in
our neighborhood growing up; however, the times have changed and people
aren’t used to seeing or hearing children outside much anymore.
moved two different times
We have moved two different times to be able to accommodate our
children’s desire to be able to play basketball. It sounds crazy that
this could occur but it truly has.
Many neighborhoods now have strict
homeowner’s association laws and basketball hoops seem to be the
biggest problem a neighbor could face. The first time we had to move,
we continued to be in violation of rules as we would leave our movable
hoop upright so that the kids could play basketball when they returned
It was too heavy for them to lift back up if we laid it on
the ground, so the choices were leave it up or don’t play at all. We
lived on a cul-de-sac with 22 children and I never could decide who was
reporting the hoop standing by our garages at the beginning of a very
It wasn’t an eyesore, and other than the occasional
bouncing ball and the sound of a swish followed by kids cheering, I
could never figure out the problem.
Ultimately, the choice was made to
move so that we could make sure our children had the freedom to play
we were following all of the rules
Our next move, which was recent, was prompted by basketball once again.
We never had any complaints about the temporary hoop but after several
incidences of the wind blowing it over into our car and once right in
the path of my stepdaughter, we decided to do something more permanent
in our backyard.
We read all of the regulations and believed we had
done everything right. The hoop couldn’t be seen from the street. We
confirmed with a former HOA board member that we were following all of
the rules and constructed a patio/basketball court using pavers. We
wanted it to look nice as one of our neighbors would be able to see it
from their deck.
That is when the letters started to arrive.
The HOA wanted permission
from one of our next-door neighbors and we easily got it (this was the
neighbor that could actually see it). She said how happy it made her to
actually see kids playing outside again. It had been years since she
had heard the laughter in the cul-de-sac and had to retrieve an
occasional ball from her yard.
We sent the letter in and then received
another request to get permission from the other neighbor. That is when
we started realizing that someone had once again filed a complaint.
tried to get permission from that neighbor but she indicated that she
didn’t like to be bothered by “kid noise” and many other neighbors felt
the same way.
I worry about many things going on in our country right
now but if we can’t even have neighborhoods where kids are allowed to
play freely, what do we expect for this generation of young children?
Is the goal to park them inside eating boxed foods and playing video
games? Will that keep all of the neighbors happy?
We have now moved to where there are no HOA laws, and moving a family
of nine is no small task.
There is already a permanent hoop in our
backyard so the kids know they are allowed to laugh and enjoy their own
yard without worrying about letters from neighbors.
If we are really
going to stand by and allow small committees to determine the health
and goals of our children, we are not going to succeed as a society. A
child who has been at school all day needs to play outside as much as
In the summer, they should be playing until the sun goes
down. They should be making up games and playing hide and seek and
running around until they can barely stand. When they finally come in,
instead of playing video games for hours, they should be so exhausted
that they fall asleep right when their head hits the pillow only to
wake up and do it all over again.
This keeps our children healthy
mentally and physically, and teaches them how to play well with
siblings and friends.
I will always be bothered by these two neighborhoods that were both
very close to an elementary school but filled with people who didn’t
want kids playing outside.
We should all be supporting every giggle and
noise we hear from kids that are outside. We should be relieved that
they are doing something to better themselves and stay healthy.
with constant complaints about kid noise is a death sentence for
families with children. They can expect that their children will be
inside most of the time, which can lead to things like obesity and
Their children will be constantly tied to technology and
begin to develop unhealthy habits for life.
We should be cheering on
the kid noise. When we hear it, it should put a smile on our faces and
in our hearts whether we have kids or not.
Katie Coombs is the host of the radio show "Uncommon Sense with Katie Coombs."