One of the best parts of living in our neighborhood is fostering relationships with our neighbors. I always dreamed of having neighbors that I could borrow a cup of sugar from on a whim or stop by for a cup of coffee. But what I have found is that is not so common-place in today’s world. Instead we often wonder, “Who are my neighbors?” With our multi-activities, busy family life, we tend not to stop to create a relationship with those that live close to us.
Who Are My Neighbors?
When we first moved to our street, there was very little social interactions. Kids didn’t play together, people hardly waved to one another – this was NOT the street I was going to raise my kids on! We immediately became purposeful in thinking about how to make friends and creating opportunities to ensure we had relationships with our neighbors.
I started with a Back to School Ice Cream Social the weekend before school started. We had just moved in and had not met anyone. So with my kids, we made invitations and knocked on every door of every house on our street inviting them to our driveway for an ice cream social. I asked them to bring nothing – just their kids. We had a fantastic turn out with families with kids of all ages and older couples (our adopted-grandparents) all hanging out for hours on our lawn. Turns out most families wanted to get together, they just never took the time to do it. We exchanged phone numbers and email information. We got the scoop on the best restaurants and who to use for babysitting in the area. And we started some amazing friendships for both our children and ourselves that are still strong 4 years later.
And we continue to get together. We have impromptu Happy Hours after school on Fridays. We helped form a Bunco group in the neighborhood. We Trick or Treat together and have an annual Fall/Halloween weenie roast. And we all have borrowed from each other – eggs, vanilla, lawn mower, you name it! Most importantly, we are there for one another – we have celebrated birthdays, helped in sorrowful times, and called each other “friend”.
How to Make Friends
So how can you foster this on your street? If you are a new neighbor or have lived there for 5 years, here are 3 easy steps:
1. Meet your neighbors with an event for your whole street. It may sound big, but I promise you it’s not. Plan something easy – Pizza Night, Ice Cream Social, Hot Dog Bar. Hold it on your driveway or on your front lawn so there is little set up (you don’t have to even clean the inside of your house!). Invite EVERYONE on the street. Make it fun with a flyer and knock on doors with your kiddos. Talk to your neighbors and personally invite them.
At the event, have a sign up sheet to collect emails, phone numbers, and pertinent information. I even had a column on our sheet asking what they would be interested in doing on the street (Book Club, Bible Study, Bunco, Progressive Dinners, Men’s Poker Night, etc.). I was overwhelmed at the interest to do things together on our street.
2. Create a Communication Tool for the street. It’s hard to keep up with everyone’s contact info, so we created a Face Book group for our street. It’s an easy way to communicate to everyone when we are going to have the kids play in the cul-de-sac, when someone is holding a garage sale, or when a snake has been seen (I live in Texas y’all….this is helpful to know!). Yahoo Groups is another great online tool to use as well.
3. Do things as a Street Regularly. What are you interested in doing with your neighbors?? You can’t just sit around and hope to be invited to them. Start up a Bunco group. Encourage your hubby to hold a Chili Cookoff in the Fall. Plan to go Christmas Caroling together. Create running or workout groups. Put together a Neighborhood Game night. Plan a Bus Stop Last Day of School Celebration. Welcome new neighbors with home baked goodies together. It’s fun events like these that create lasting memories of an amazing neighborhood to live & grow up in.
My neighbors have become some of our closest friends. We love being surrounded by people that keep a watchful eye on each others’ children, cheer our kids on in sports activities, and are there for one another though both joys and sadness. So get out there – get to know your neighbors!
Take these easy steps to learn how to make friends and you will no longer wonder, “Who are my neighbors?”. Here are some kids activities to help your little one make new friends in the neighborhood: