When I think about strengthening relationships, I usually think about family or friend relationships. After a neighborhood BBQ last week, I started thinking about how important it was to have a relationship with my neighbors. How many of you actually know your neighbors? Having a relationship with our neighbors has always been important to me. I like knowing who lives by me. I feel like when we are close with our neighbors, we can look out for each other. It gives me a sense of security. I have had many neighbors that have supported me over the years. When I had a baby, they were there to bring me a meal or help with my other children. I even had a neighbor come and help me a few months ago when my basement flooded. I didn’t even have to call her. She saw me bailing water from from a window well on her morning jog and immediately brought over her shop vac and went to work. Now that is not only a good neighbor, but a caring friend.
How to Strengthen Relationships with Your Neighbors
Here are some ways that we can develop or strengthen our relationship with our neighbors:
Set up a neighborhood watch program.
I lived in a neighborhood that had a neighborhood watch program. We had calling trees in place in case there was important information that needed to be sent out to neighborhood members quickly. One time someone’s car had been burglarized during the night. The next day, the neighborhood watch phone tree was in full force warning neighbors to remove valuables from their cars and make sure they were locked at night. We also painted fences and kept our neighborhood looking nice. When you know your neighbors, you can rally together and make sure that your neighborhood looks the way you want it to.
Host a block or street party.
Every year, our neighborhood has a BBQ or ice cream social at the end of the summer. This is a fun way to get outdoors and meet any of the new neighbors or strengthen relationships with the ones we already know. One side of the street will bring main dishes, while the other side brings desserts. The block captains for the neighborhood watch program are usually in charge and arrange a few activities for the younger kids. This always keeps the little kiddos busy while the parents are socializing.
Offer to watch your neighbor’s pets or pick up their mail while they are away.
We have a very close relationship with our neighbors across the street. Whenever either of us goes out of town, we take turns watching each other’s dogs. This not only saves us a ton of money, but we also know our dogs are in good hands. We also make sure that if our neighbor is away, that their mail is picked up, garbage cans are brought up, and that their newspapers don’t pile up. We keep a close eye on each other’s property in case anything unusual is happening.
Take a treat or dinner to a neighbor that needs a pick me up.
We love to take treats to our neighbors. We decide as a family who might need a little pick me up and then we deliver a treat to them. We also like to take dinner to a neighbor if they are having a baby, down with an illness, or having a hard time. I usually double whatever I am making for dinner and then take it to our neighbor in a container they can easily throw away when they are done. I have had neighbors do this for me, and know first-hand how much it has meant. I like to think it is a way for my family to pay forward the kindness we have received in the past.
Smile and say hello.
Smiling can be a simple way of making contact with our neighbors. We love to go for walks up and down our street and always make a concerted effort to be friendly to our neighbors. Have you ever had a neighbor that never makes eye contact with you? We have all had one of those, so try not to be one yourself. Step out of your comfort zone and wave to your neighbor. This simple act goes a long way.
Offer to help elderly neighbors with yard work or snow removal.
We have had many neighbors that have not been able to take care of their yard. I have three boys, so in the past when we knew someone might need a little extra help, we offer to pitch in at no cost. I think this teaches my boys how to look out for others and how to serve someone else. One year it snowed six inches in less than a few hours. I remember looking out the window and seeing my boys not only shoveling my walks, but our elderly neighbor’s as well. They knew it would be difficult for them to get out if they needed to, so they took it upon themselves to reach out and help them.
Strengthening our relationships with our neighbors is a great way to not only make friends, but build a strong community. Can you imagine what your neighborhood would be like if everyone looked out for each other all the time. No one would ever want to move.