“Hi there, neighbor!”
If you watch an episode of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, it is the kindness Mr. Rogers shows to all neighbors that tenders even the hardest of hearts. His generous demeanor connects even the shiest of neighbors together, building a sense of community we all wish to have on our streets. If only each one of us encountered the kindness of Mr. Rogers in our neighborhoods, military moves may feel a little more familial.
Military spouses are no strangers to the challenges of navigating new neighborhoods, new neighbors, and new opportunities for friendship. If you find yourself in a rut for creative reaching out, here are fresh ideas I use when introducing myself to a neighbor. It takes real courage to vulnerably pursue new relationships in your community; I hope these three ideas open the door to meeting your neighbors!
Write a Welcome Note
Who would not love to receive an old fashioned, handwritten letter? I know I would! This cost effective, simplistic yet thoughtful gesture offers a great way to introduce your family to your next door neighbors. A short and sweet note can include your name, your family composition, any pets you may have, and your hopes for getting to know each other. I prefer this method to posting on social media neighborhood pages to protect my family’s personal information. Drop your note in your neighbor’s mailbox and you might just receive a letter back yourself!
Lend a Helping Hand with Humor
I intentionally offer a kind gesture to help a neighbor that I know the neighbor will notice. I personally like to use trash day as my opportunity, where I take up my immediate neighbors empty trash containers from the street. I stick a note on the container with a fun joke, “being my neighbor won’t be stinky, I promise”, and sign it with my name. It is a great icebreaker and always eases the nerves of a new introduction.
Open the Door
This method is for the military spouse that is comfortable in vulnerably opening the door to welcome in a new neighbor. When I offer to open my door, the first meet up is typically outside, in our backyard, and only when my spouse is able to join. It is important to remember to be safe when inviting new neighbors into your home, you never want your kindness and desire to know others to make you vulnerable. Therefore, I always recommend an outdoor meet up when a spouse or familiar face is present. Once you are familiar and comfortable with your neighbor, consider inviting him or her over for coffee or tea. It is a great way to have a one on one conversation, introduce your significant others, and to allow any children to meet each other as well.
What techniques or tried and true ways do you use when introducing yourself to a new neighbor?