A few weeks ago, someone in our neighborhood posted this question within the Nextdoor App:
“Is it odd that in 3.5 years we’ve only met 3 people on our street?”
Along with the question, the poster sent out a simple “yes or no” survey. The responses were split down the middle.
52% of people knew at least one other neighbor and 48% had never even communicated with anyone else on their block.
My husband humorously suggested that the original poster might have better luck if he shut down his computer and knocked on his neighbor’s door. I laughed, but he was right. Here we were wanting to know our neighbors but instead of getting outside to meet them, we were having an online gripe fest about it.
Have we become so private that we’ve forgotten what Fred Rodgers (and now Daniel Tiger) taught us about being neighborly? Is this one more thing that we can blame on our society’s increasing reliance on technology as the primary means of connecting with one another? What happened to the days when neighbors sat in lawn chairs and watched the children play? Are our families just too busy to meet our neighbors?
In the two homes that my husband and I have lived in, we have been extremely blessed with amazing neighbors. I have enjoyed and cherished these relationships so much that I wanted to share my experiences with you, in an effort to persuade you to go outside and meet your neighbors. What follows are five great reasons why we as moms need to know our neighbors and ways to get started today.
Got Milk? – When you run out of something essential, as a busy mom it is much easier to get it from a neighbor than to load up all the kids and drive to the store. Just the other day, our neighbors and I exchanged diapers, steaks, a wagon and a ladder – all in the same night. The next time you run out of something essential, consider asking your neighbor if they have some to spare. In return, offer to pick up extras for them on your next trip to the store.
Need a boost? – If you are in a bind, a neighbor is usually the closest person that you can call to quickly help you out. For instance, our neighbor once drove to DFW airport in the middle of rush hour traffic to bring us a suitcase that we left behind before heading out to a San Diego wedding. Now that is a great friend! Moms, add your neighbor’s number to your contact list. You just never know when you might need someone to quickly come to the rescue.
Is your brain bigger than your brawn? When you buy something large and you need help moving it inside, an extra pair of neighborly hands is always a blessing. I can’t begin to count the number of large items that my husband and my neighbor have moved into each others houses. On impulse I once bought a large piece of outdoor play equipment from a neighborhood yard sale. After paying for it, I realized that I had no way of transporting it home. My husband was at work at the time but he called our neighbor who promptly agreed to help us out. Don’t break your husband’s back by expecting him to move in your next piece of furniture all by himself. Ask a neighbor to assist and as always, return the favor.
Need a night out but low on cash? Why not babysit swap with a trusted, vetted, and background checked neighbor? This is exactly what my neighbor and I are planning to do. We agree to watch their kids (for free of course) while they go out, and they return the favor the following week. It’s a convenient and low cost way to get in that much needed date night with your spouse or some mommy time for yourself.
Missing your family? Living in a large metropolitan area such as Dallas makes it difficult for us to get together with extended family, as they are spread out all across the Metroplex. Having dependable neighbors is a must have. Our neighbors were the very first people to lay eyes on our brand new son when we welcomed him home. I will never forget the joy on their faces when they walked into our nursery and saw me holding him in my arms. If I had a first time mommy emergency, it was comforting to know that my neighbor (an experienced mom) was right next door. Although your neighbors are not your family, they can be just as close, so welcome your neighbor to share in those special moments with you.
Now that you know the benefits of getting to know your neighbors, how can you get started?
- Nextdoor App – https://nextdoor.com – This has been a great way to discover our neighborhood. We have gotten babysitters, lawn care recommendations and updates on city events though the Nextdoor app.
- National Night Out – https://natw.org – In Texas, every first Tuesday in October, neighbors across the country gather outside for a large neighborhood block party. This is a fun way to meet your neighbors. As an added bonus, local law enforcement is usually present, which promotes community and police partnership. I highly recommend participating in this event. If your neighborhood doesn’t participate, look into ways to get it started.
- National Neighborhood Watch – http://nnw.org Our community recently started a neighborhood watch group.With the busyness of today’s families, homes are often deserted during the day, which could attract criminal mischief. When neighbors are willing to get to know one another and observe and report suspicious activity to police, it could result in lower crime rates and safer communities for our families.
- Get the kids outside to play – Kids are naturally attracted to other kids and it doesn’t take them long to make friends. I often sit outside and watch my kids ride their bikes and trikes up and down the sidewalk. Kids of all ages stop by to join the fun. This results in me getting to know their parents and forming relationships with them.
- Just say “Hi” – The next time you go outside to get the mail or take out the garbage and you happen to see your neighbor doing the same thing, a friendly “hello” goes a long way. I understand that after a long day at work or with the kids, the last thing we want to do is be social. Your neighbor probably feels the same way, but having a quick casual conversation can pay off dividends for both of you later on.
Although it takes time and effort, investing in a friendship with your neighbors is a wise thing to do, especially for moms.