Do you know your neighbors?
When my husband and I decided to move out of our first home we discussed whether we wanted to live in the country where our nearest neighbor might be a mile away or live in a neighborhood where our kids could see their neighbors every day.
We settled on a neighborhood because we envisioned backyard barbeques, late night fires, huge trick or treat festivities, and lots of kids playing outside. Our houses are near our neighbors but our backyard is private–so it’s a best of both worlds for us.
But moving to a new neighborhood is very different as an adult than it is as a kid. As a kid, being a neighbor came naturally. Perhaps it was all the Mister Rogers that I watched as a kid. Learning that a smile and “hello!” can go a long way. Reaching out to the people nearby. Sharing. Helping. Caring. Just getting outside was the first step, and as a kid that was easy.
As an adult, I find being a good neighbor is a little more difficult. As I scoot to my mailbox each day I often wonder, “Where ARE my neighbors?” Everyone is busy working, or catching up on laundry, paying bills, or running errands. We are all so busy. So harried. So stressed. Sure, I find time for a few shared stories and laughs at the bus stop…but beyond that…well, as a good neighbor, I might be a failure.
Maybe I’m being a little hard on myself, because I know I’m not alone. But how about a little wake-up call? Maybe you are joining me in this group of half-hearted neighbors: We are all failing miserably together.
Couldn’t we all take a cue from the ultimate good neighbor?
Mister Rogers took it slow. He made time to put on his good neighbor clothes–took time to tie his shoes. Made eye contact. Said Hello! Talked about his feelings. Empathized. Cared. Shared. Leant a hand. And always had time for Make Believe.
Janene talked before about how grateful she is that her kids have Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood to watch and learn from. And I wholeheartedly agree. I love Daniel’s style and so does my three year old. Very soon Daniel will be celebrating Be My Neighbor Day in his neighborhood. And we can join him!
First, visit BeMyNeighbor.org to learn more about the movement. And then make plans to celebrate the day! On March 22nd local readers can visit one of four locations that will be celebrating Be My Neighbor Day (always the first Saturday after Mister Rogers birthday).
Register at one of four locations: Baierl Family YMCA (Sewickley), Western Area YMCA (Coraopolis), Penn Hills YMCA, or Thelma Lovett YMCA (Centre Avenue). There is no cost to attend.
Daniel Tiger will be making his first Pittsburgh appearances there! It’s going to be fun for the whole family with games, crafts, a meet and greet with Daniel and more! Don’t forget to bring a new or gently used sweater for the Sweater Drive (sweaters will be distributed to those in need throughout the region).
If you can’t attend Be My Neighbor Day at one of the Local YMCAs there are still many ways that you can make the day special and I intend to choose a few from this list inspired by Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood’s “Neighbor Day” episode, and work on my own Good Neighbor Behavior:
Volunteer!: Check out your local food bank, library or neighborhood park for opportunities for your family to contribute, whether it is going through your house with your preschooler and donating extra canned goods or old books or helping plant brand-new trees!
Play outside and meet new people!: Bring your young children for a fun visit at the neighborhood playground, so they can make new friends and interact with old friends, too!
Ask to help!: When your family sees someone who might need a hand, offer it! Work together with an elderly neighbor who needs extra assistance in their yard or even have your preschooler help take care of a friend’s pet while they’re away on an end-of-summer trip. You can also just talk with your child about times when you helped someone in need.
Smile and say, hello!: Sometimes the littlest things makes the biggest difference! When you are walking through your own neighborhood with your kids, greet passing neighbors with a friendly smile and a “hello” – you might just brighten someone’s day!
Make Coupons for Giving: Help your child create homemade paper coupons for kind and helpful acts, like “a hug,” “help with household chores” or “reading a book to a younger sibling.”