When our family moved into our current home, family life was a bit chaotic, to say the least. We were a young family with a 1.5-year-old and two dogs. Neither my husband nor I had a consistent upbringing in a house, and there was a lot we had to learn the hard way. And, unfortunately, our next door neighbors seemed determined to teach us those lessons with lots of complaining.
It felt like everything we did was wrong. Our yard wasn’t manicured enough. Our dogs barked too much and one accidentally got hold of one of their plastic ducks. Every day, my husband seemed to face a new lecture about our failures as homeowners.
But then, when my husband was away on a work trip and I locked myself out of the house, with my baby inside the house, those complaining neighbors showed up with a ladder in tow. And suddenly, the importance of neighbors was crystal clear.
Just think about that insurance theme song — “Like a good neighbor….” As corny as it might be, there is a lot of truth to it. Good neighbors give us a small taste of the “it takes a village” mindset. And conversely, bad neighbors can make life pretty hellish. So when you when you have a good one, it’s important to give them a little shoutout now and then.
The “Let’s Exchange Childcare/Pet Care” Neighbor
Finding trusted childcare is hard — especially when you’re in a crunch. The neighbors who are willing to provide childcare and do date night care swaps are absolute godsends. It’s incredibly comforting to know you only have to walk your kid across the street and then you can head out.
Special mention to the neighbors who have no problem taking care of Fido either when you need to head out of town. You can’t put a price on having someone who will deal with the shedding and pick up dog poop.
The “Self- Elected Neighborhood Watch” Neighbor
At first glance, these neighbors can be pretty annoying. You always catch them peeping out the windows, they know all of the neighborhood gossip, and they are the ones who set those (sometimes unreasonably high) expectations that you’ll be as awesome as the individual who lived there before you.
But if you look deeper, these individuals are the ones who keep us all safe. If something out of the ordinary occurs, they have the background knowledge and the awareness to question it. And if it doesn’t pass their litmus test, they will be the one to call for help. So even though they’re annoying some (nay, most) of the time, they are more helpful that you might think.
The “Hey, I Know You Just Went Through [Insert Life Event] So I Cooked For You” Neighbor
Because sometimes the best way to say “I care about you” (or maybe just “you don’t suck”) is with food. The neighbors who bring over meals after funerals, breakups, celebrations, and new babies are literally life-sustaining. Most big life transitions, good or bad, make small everyday tasks, like cooking a challenge. Someone going out of the way to bring you food, even if you don’t find it that tasty, is a labor of love your neighbor will never forget. With all the ups and downs of life, it’s awesome to know someone is thinking of you.
The “Let’s Party” Neighbor
Every neighborhood has that one house that’s always throwing an event, party, or kickback. They typically say not to worry about bringing a thing. But we all know they’d be grateful if you brought a case of beer. They know they are giving the community something fun to do. What they don’t realize is they are actively boosting connection and promoting community in the area. That’s an amazing thing, and it requires acknowledgement.
“The Waves And Smiles But Leaves You Alone” Neighbor
It takes all types to make the neighborhood work. Even quiet neighbors have a role in the local ecosystem. Unlike other types of neighbors, the ones who wave, smile, and leave you alone don’t come with the pressure for long-term conversations. You don’t have to feel anxiety when they pass by on a tough day because you know they don’t expect you to engage much. Of course, most of them would be perfectly fine talking if a conversation was necessary, and you could totally reach out to them if you needed help. But they are not social enough to go out of their way and start up a convo. Thank you, introvert neighbor. You bring balance to the neighborhood.
Whether you’re new to an area or have been in your community a long time and have seen many others come and go, you likely know the importance of good neighbors. Good neighbors can feel a lot like friends, and great neighbors are family. Be sure to thank those neighbors around you and let them know they are appreciated.