Community has always been something I craved. Something I desired. Living life alongside others just seemed right, comfortable, rewarding. Even in my childhood, the value of neighbors held a strong place in my heart.
Over the past twelve years, I have only lived in 2 houses. Eleven of those years were spent on one quiet cul-de-sac with 19 homes. I started out home ownership as a single girl with roommates, traded in roommates (and a cat) for my husband, and eventually welcomed home 4 baby boys.
Our sweet little street started out with just a handful of kids, those kids got bigger, and new babies were welcomed, and our once quiet street quickly became a bustle of activity. Come 4pm, after naps and snacks and the blazing heat had subsided, you could find all us mommy's awaiting our husbands arrival as our kiddos rode their bikes and scooters up and down the street. It was quite picturesque.
We were fortunate enough to call these neighbors friends, and were frequently welcomed into each others homes for play dates, dinners, holiday get togethers, front yard vacation bible schools, and even a bible study for the mommy's. It was a safe, comfortable, predicable little neighborhood that we had grown to love.
And then, we decided to move for my husband to pursue a new career.
We decided to say goodbye to the "cookie cutter" neighborhood. We decided to buy a fixer upper on 2 acres. We decided to buy it without me ever seeing it in person. We decided to completely start over.
One thing I have learned from leaving the "comfortable" and stepping into the unknown, is that God has bigger plans for you than you have for yourself.
We bought our house SOLELY for the property. We could envision our boys growing up with endless adventure, and that's what we desired. We were excited for the "elbow room" this property would give us, but since this wasn't a "neighborhood" we were moving into, we weren't sure what to expect from the people surrounding us. But, God knew, and He had set it all up...just for us (it seemed).
He knew we would be lonely. He knew we wouldn't have any family. He knew we craved community. He knew that the people already established on this street would be a gift to us, and allow our little family to feel at home, much sooner than we were expecting to.
We've now been on either end of the spectrum...we've welcomed new neighbors and we've been the new neighbors, and connecting with the people around us, actually living alongside them, not just physically, but emotionally, and if you're lucky, spiritually, your home will be much more full because of it.
Here are some ideas for connecting with your neighbors that we have implemented, and has brought fullness to my heart over the years.
(This post contains affiliate links. )
1. Play Date...with a Purpose
Host a big group play date, and turn it into a purposeful get together. Have everyone bring some maternity clothes you could donate to a local women's shelter, or freezer meals you could drop off to a family going through a hard time.
Or maybe choose a topic where everyone can learn from one another: Spring cleaning, where everyone brings their favorite cleaning products and tips to share, or shopping on a budget where everyone can share their tips on how their family saves money. The options are endless. Just get creative!
2. Mommy's Night In
This is a perfect way to connect with other mommies when you aren't all distracted by your little ones. Choose a date and time that works for everyone's schedule, and a theme that will pique everyone's interest. It can be something as simple as a hot chocolate and dessert bar in the winter, sipping something cool in the summer, pumpkin decorating in the Fall, or a cookie exchange around Christmas.
3. Cook Out/Pot Luck
If your grill has wheels, bring it out to your front yard! When hotdogs and burger patties are bogo at your local grocery store, host an impromptu neighborhood cook out. Spread the word and ask people to bring some sides and folding chairs. The kids can congregate on picnic blankets and run through the yard while the adults get a chance to mingle.
This is also great for big games OR before the kids go trick-or-treating. We had friends down in the cut-de-sac who started the tradition of a Halloween get together before the kids went trick-or-treating. It was so special, that when neighbors moved, they always came back to our street on Halloween!
4. Join in Yard Work
Saturdays can be sacred, especially for young families who are always on the go during the week, but what a lesson it would be for our kids to learn to drop what they are doing to help others.
When we first moved into our home here in North Carolina, we were severely lacking all the equipment we needed to maintain our 2 acres. Coming from a little cookie cutter neighborhood, a little push mower was all we had. On one of our first Saturday's here, my husband set out to start mowing the front acre...with the push mower. He joked that he'd see us in a few hours (well, it probably wasn't a joke at all).
Within minutes, our neighbor, who we had only met once before, showed up on his riding lawn mower and helped my husband get the job done in half the time!
5. Welcome the Newbies with more than a Treat
After living on the same street for 11 years, it became easy for me to welcome the new families on the street with some bread or cookies of some kind. But it wasn't until we moved, and we found a welcome note on our door from our neighbors "across the field" that I truly felt the effects of what a neighbor truly represents.
What they did, that I never had, was left their cell phone numbers. After we got settled that afternoon, I texted the number, and within 5 minutes, our new neighbors were at our door, welcoming us and inviting us over for pizza the next night.
Those phone numbers became a gift and comfort to us, especially being in a new town, with no family near by. It meant they were allowing us access into their lives, immediate communication with no contingencies. That's a true neighbor!
But of course....a good treat is a great place to start!!!
This recipe for No Bake Healthy Granola Bites was shared with me after my twins were born. My neighbor brought them over, along with dinner, and within an hour, I devoured them all. I blamed it on being ravanous due to nursing my little ones around the clock, but honestly, they were just THAT delicious! I might have left one or two for my husband...after all, he deserved a treat too :)
Recently, our new neighbors brought some treats over on this plate. It's a Traveling Neighborhood Plate, and we were instructed to enjoy our treats, and then pass it on to another neighbor. I chose to make the same No Bake Granola Bites our old neighbors had shared with us. I'm sharing it with...wait for it...a new TWIN MOMMA across the street from us, who just gave birth to her boys...and I KNOW she's hungry!!
This is a great treat for the little ones to help out with too...if you don't mind them sneaking a few ingredients. I truly hope your family and neighbors enjoy these as much as we do!
Welcome to Dwelling Well Mom! I'm so glad you are here! I'm Christi, wife, mom of boys, Christ follower, picture taker, DIYer, chocolate eater, and coffee drinker. Born and raised a Florida girl, now braving the mountains of Boone, NC, I'm on a journey to find peace in the midst of my mundane. Join me!