What do you think of when you hear the word neighbors? I would imagine it would depend on what generation you grew up in, where you live in the world, and your lifestyle and family dynamics. It’s something I’ve been pondering recently as I noticed that our neighborhood doesn’t have much of a community feel to it.
I was talking with my grandma the other day. You gotta love grandma stories. I find my ear bending closer to her when she talks about some of the things that used to be more normal and in her day; things like “neighboring” as she calls it…when my grandmother was my age she and my grandfather had 6 kids and one car (this is not the part I get excited about). We were talking about the pros and cons of being a stay at home mom. She stayed at home, and my grandpa sometimes had to work 2 jobs to keep it that way. My grandpa took their only car to work. So during the days, my grandma was at home with no transportation. If they needed to go to the store, she’d pull the kids in a wagon. But it was worth it to them for her to stay home and be there for the kids.
She shared with me that the only way she got through it was “neighboring.” She said that her next door neighbor had 5 kids, and they would spend a lot of time together. They had playdates, shared housekeeping ideas with one another, and she really enjoyed her company.
My grandparents also met up with neighbors in the evenings to play cards together after the kids went to bed. They knew what community was. It was a way of life………….what is so different now?
It’s almost too easy now to drive into our own personal garages, shut the garage door before we even get out of the car, and head inside. We then have several virtual communities calling our name- facebook, blogs, skype, twitter, etc. It seems like what we all need todo is get back to good old face to face relationships.
So how can we get back to the simpler times where community within our neighborhood is the norm? My husband and I have been working on figuring out answers to that question.
Here are some ideas we’ve come up with so far…
-BBQ in FRONT of your house, NOT the back. It’s a small adjustment to make, and it makes a huge difference- creating many more opportunities to hang out with neighbors.
-Be intentional to say hi when your neighbors are out.
-Let the kids ride bikes and play in the front, while you’re watching them of course.
-Make some treats with the kids and share them with neighbors. We’ve found this to be a wonderful way to break the ice, so to speak.
-Invite them over for a weekly game night. How fun would that be!
-Use food tidings to set up a meal schedule for them (when they have a baby, are sick, etc), and invite other neighbors to bring meals. Or, just bring a meal that can be easily frozen to a neighbor that you know is going through something difficult.
-Set aside technology free times. When you go out in your front yard to let your kids play, don’t bring your phone. Then the temptation isn’t there to be somewhere else rather than right where you are.
-Block party- need I say more?
There are many, many ways to create community within your neighborhood. Enjoy the process and watch as you become great friends with your neighbors, helping each other out, and loving the street you live on!