We may talk about the house where we grew up but if you think back, are more of your memories about the neighborhood where you lived, the friends you had and your favorite activities? When I think about the places I lived as a child, my recollections are more about my friends and the things we did together in our neighborhood.
- My best friend Geri – since we were 6, we've stayed connected through college, marriage, kids and many moves.
- Playing stick ball on the street for hours, sometimes with 50 or more kids.
- Playing hide-and-seek in a friend's (Geri) basement which had lots of small rooms with great places to hide.
- Making home-made ice cream in our backyard with lots of friends and neighbors to help turn the crank.
One of the challenges we have as parents is providing our children with opportunities for social interaction, learning new skills, physical activity to burn off energy and so much more. When you live in a neighborhood with lots of children, your kids get to participate in all sorts of activities that don't require you to organize or supervise.
When you're looking for a new home, expand your requirements to include the community and neighborhood where you want to raise your children and where you know you'll get support from the people around you!
Every Neighborhood Has Traditions
Traditions have always been important to me although I may not have understand the connection to my neighborhood. This July 4th was spent with my sister and her Wildwood neighborhood. Their Independence Day celebrations are incredible, having evolved since World War 2 (visit their neighborhood website, Wildwood Neighborhood News).
Everyone participated from the town fire truck, to kids riding their bicycles, a breakfast bake sale, three legged races and more. Probably most meaningful for me though, was a conversation I had with a young father who grew up there. He begrudgingly returned each year to appease his parents and since having children, now appreciates the importance of tradition like this (watch our July 4th video).
Find (or Create) Your Neighborhood Traditions
Many neighborhood traditions center around holidays and sometimes you'll have to pick the ones you have time for. Before Americans became a highly mobile society, our traditions centered around family. In many cases, our neighborhoods become extended families because we see our neighbors more often than family members who we might only see for major occasions like graduation and weddings.
Here are neighborhood traditions to spark your imagination. If you have a hobby or special activity that's a lot more fun with friends, start your own traditions. The beauty of neighborhood traditions is everyone takes a turn organizing one activity like my sister, Mickie Kuckinkas, organized Wildwood's July 4th extravaganza this year.
- Celebrating snowstorms in Portsmouth, NH meant walking downtown with the neighborhood women for a cup of hot chocolate.
- Neighborhoods with lots of kids can get together for pizza and movies on Valentine's Day, letting most of the couples have a few hours to themselves … and who says you can't do this once a month?
- Spring and summer are perfect for cleaning, organizing and an annual neighborhood yard sale will make it happen like it does in Bedford, NH (read Recycling Yard Sale Tips Save Money).
- Halloween is a popular activity for many neighborhoods, from parades to post trick-or-treat donuts and cider.
- Gingerbread houses at Christmas are one of my family traditions (Holiday Gingerbread House Traditions) and one year, we made a ship for our son in the Navy.
What are your favorite neighborhood traditions?