Saturday, April 01, 2023

The stay-at-home dad: Noise-cancelling parenting

by TYLER WILSON/Coeur Voice contributor
| May 8, 2021 1:00 AM

That’s it. I’m not listening to them anymore!

Noise never stops in my house. With four kids, talking and screaming and whining are constant forces from 6:30 a.m. until at least 9 p.m., and even then, some kid will be rustling about, complaining about a tummy ache or demanding more water or claiming they “can’t go to sleep.”

Hey, kid, you won’t be able to go to sleep until you stop talking!

I’ve also had a ruptured eardrum since Christmas (long story), and while it’s improving, my ears are computing noise at different levels. All sounds are slightly different in my left ear compared to the right. It’s maddening.

In my case, being a stay-at-home dad doesn’t pay all the bills, so I’m involved in a few side hustles (writing for the Press being one of them). I’m also currently enrolled in an online course that requires several extra hours of the day I don’t really have, but, oh well, being an adult sucks sometimes, blah, blah, blah.

This leads me to explain the birthday gift I just received from my wife - fancy, bulky, noise-cancelling wireless headphones. They are a revelation.

Yes, I know wireless, noise-cancelling headphones have been in existence for years now, but I’m a slow adopter when it comes to technology. I prefer physical media, including books made of paper, and I inherently don’t trust things that “live” on a cloud. Where is this cloud? Does it even exist?

That means I’m also the kind of guy to use cheap, flimsy, wireless earbuds that tangle, break and get sucked into various pieces of furniture. And because I have small children, I usually only use one earbud at a time so I can be mentally available for the thousands of kid requests that arise every hour.

Well now I’ve got these noise-cancelling headphones AND a good reason to use them. I need to study! I need to get more work done efficiently so I can study MORE! Translation: I am morally justified in my decision to ignore the kids, at least sometimes.

I LOVE these headphones. It’s unbelievable how much background noise they eliminate, and while I keep them on a low level so I can still hear some things, they eliminate the chatter and inane cross-talk happening between a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old arguing about who gets to wear the “good” red sunglasses.

My headphones help me focus, however, they don’t really allow me to escape the most common parenting interactions. I still need to answer their (frequent) requests, and I still need to properly engage when the 3-year-old wants to tell me about the dog picture he just drew. If I don’t acknowledge the details (The big eyes! The long ears!), he Won’t. Stop. Talking.

This is probably for the better, as I’m still a full-time stay-at-home parent. I guess. Sigh.

But the kids are learning how to interact with me more often with non-verbal cues. They wave when they need my attention. They can gesture their requests (the 3-year-old just waves his empty water cup in front of me). I’m still their servant, of course, but at least I don’t have to listen to every single word.

I’ll be finished with my online course by mid-June, but maybe I’ll find something else to keep me extra occupied. Or maybe I can deliberately bomb the test in June so that, oops, I need to take the test again in August. I’ll blame them for my failure and tell them I need to study MORE! Get me my headphones!

• • • 

Tyler Wilson is a freelance writer and stay-at-home dad to four kids, ages 3-9. He is tired. He can be reached at

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