“Never look too far to find a family. Your neighbor is your closest family.”
This quote brings forward the importance of a healthy and family-like neighborhood. And this stands true, especially when parents are cautious about bringing up their kids in a healthy society and friendly neighborhood.
There is a lot of research being conducted in US about how growing children can benefit from neighborhood and communities. How parents can give and take constructive help while using neighborhood as an effective network.
We know that by the time kids reach an age bracket of 3 to 5, they start to learn, grasp and absorb from their immediate surroundings. In this growth and developmental phase, apart from the parents and close family, neighborhood plays an important role too. Parents need to be more and more aware of, and familiar with families living in a closed neighborhood, especially the families with kids.
I am going to share a few ways in which parents can seek neighborhood help and contribute effectively too, while developing a healthy community.
Pick Up and Drop Off Turns:
If the kids of two or more families in the neighborhood go to the same school or schools in the same vicinity; two or more sets of parents can always take turns to volunteer for group pick-up and drop-off. This will not only help to create a healthy bonding amongst the kids, but will also help them to develop faith and trust in the neighborhood community. Workload of parents is undoubtedly reduced, while they can concentrate on other household chores or official tasks.
Birthday Party Arrangements:
Say it’s your child’s birthday and you are arranging for a backyard party. Why not ask another mom or a bunch of moms from neighborhood to help you with making and sending invites, baking the cake, making the decorations or making interesting party favors for the kids. How beautiful it would be to spend time together while doing these party arrangements. Your kids will feel extra special and cared for when they know that they have friendly people from neighborhood to celebrate important days with people they can rely upon.
Excursions, Picnics and Extracurricular:
A neighborhood community is the next immediate community that a child can learn from, after parents and teachers. If you wish to inculcate a care and share habit in your child, neighborhood sharing is your best bet. The most appropriate way to do this would be to plan and organize family picnics, baking sessions, drawing sessions or fishing excursions to nearby lake. Kids would enjoy, and so would you. For some reasons if one or more sets of parents cannot be present for any of these owing to other family or professional engagements, it is always a good idea to let other parents, who are present, take charge of all the kids. Absent parents can payback the favor in some other form, some other day.
Babysitting the Kids:
Working parents can always seek help from non-working parents living in the same neighborhood. Leaving a kid in the familiar neighborhood with known people is far better than leaving them with unknown professional baby-sitters or day-care homes. Kids feel safer they are properly looked after. You can always offer monetary compensation if you may deem fit or offer return favors to the babysitting parents. You can babysit for them in their absence, when the need be and when you are available.
Growing kids grow better and thrive in the context of close and dependable relationships. These relationships must provide love and nurturance, security, responsive interaction, and encouragement for exploration. A child’s first experience with this kind of relationship is at home with a loving family, and immediate next is a safe and nurturing neighborhood.
Before bonding with your neighbors for all of the above, make sure you have made a thorough behavioral and social security check on the parents. Let your kids grow in a congenial and sharable neighborhood.
If you have any queries, questions or issues related to your growing baby, you can always get in touch with me. I would be happy to help at any time.
Kamal Raj Singh
Freelance Early Childcare Consultant