Last summer, our family moved across country for my husband's job. At the very height of summer (read, really stinkin' HOT!), we found ourselves feeling like fish out of water what with a new state, new town and no friends! If you've even made a big move with kids, you know that it it not easy. And that's an understatement. It ain't much fun, living in this:
Enter my neighbor, Denise.
Denise and her daughter came over one afternoon with a plate of brownies for us. What a sweet gesture! But that was only the beginning of her showing me what it means to really welcome someone to the neighborhood. Let me share with you some tips I've learned from Denise, neighbor and welcome-er extraordinaire!
1. Give your new neighbor your name and phone number.
Along with the brownies, Denise gave us a little card with her and her husband's names, as well the names and ages of her children. She also wrote down her phone number. I must tell you that I did indeed refer to that card in the weeks to come!
2. Invite your neighbor to do the things you do.
After we'd been here about two weeks, Denise said to me, "I'm going to volunteer at the middle school tomorrow. You should come, too, so that you can meet some people." She knew I would have a child in the middle school, and wanted to help me get my feet on the ground with contacts. It was bold of her to do this, but it was so helpful!
3. Introduce, introduce and introduce some more!
I swear that most of the people I now know in our new town, I met through Denise! She has brought people to my door just so I could meet more people! But not just any people; she has been exceptionally thoughtful about introducing me to the ones I might really want or need to know, such as the local exterminator, a teacher at my kids' new school, or the owner of local business.
4. Fill her in on the things that everybody already seems to know.
What I mean is, tell her how things work in your town or city. Does she need to show up at the school to register her kids on a certain date? Where is the best place to buy the athletic clothes required at school? Is one grocery story better than another? Which day is trash day? Where is the local recycling center? Many times, Denise answered my questions before I could ask them! It stinks to feel like everyone knows how things work, and you are out of the loop. Keep your new neighbor in the loop!
5. The first year in a new place can be hard. Keep checking on your new neighbor.
Even though things definitely get easier as the months go by, I think the first year in a new place can be hard. Each new season brings a whole round of "firsts": first Christmas, first birthdays, first vacations in a new place. While your new neighbor may be happy in her new home, she may also have times of homesickness or missing her old friends. Keep inviting, keep introducing, keep asking how it's going, even after your neighbor and her family seem to "have it down". I promise you, she'll appreciate it!