With papers officially declaring your ownership of a long-awaited home, the next step may be to begin the arduous task of unpacking heavy boxes. Granted, organizing the kitchen items, toiletries and essential linens and clothing are important; but these efforts can wait; a more important task is needs tackling. It involves leaving the house.
Neighbors in various directions are vying to meet the new neighbor. For months, there has been a curiosity about who will become a vital part of the neighborhood; therefore, don’t spend hours sitting on the back porch, especially if your new home has a tall fence; instead, sit in a chair out front and start introducing yourself when you see a neighbor leaving the house or walking the dog. Remember, these people are an extra set of eyes when you are at work, on vacation, or potentially a reliable source in an emergency situation. Getting to know your neighbors, and building a relationship, provides a layer of community as you settle into your new home and neighborhood.
Helping Children Settle
Young children will need help in finding other children within the neighborhood. Early evenings are a perfect time to walk the dog or go for a bike ride together. Perhaps other children will be outdoors; evidence of their ages may be in the form of a swing set, bike, or toys.
Neighborhood parks are an opportune location to meet other parents and children. Under the premise of playing in a safe location, children can learn about their school and potential classmates that live close by. The park may offer soccer or baseball fields as a possibility for seasonal recreational sports. And, moms and dads, this is the chance you both need to meet and talk with other parents and learn about other extracurricular activities close to home.
Tip: In walking around the neighborhood, discuss parameters of how far your child can go beyond the house. The buddy system is ideal to ensure children are not alone and meandering without purpose or destination. Think of a clever way to spend time with parents before your child spends time at a neighbor’s house, such as taking a walk or meeting at the park.
It is important to find out how neighbors are maintaining safety, especially if a neighborhood watch sign is not present. It is reported that town watch programs have reduced crime by 26% compared to other locations that were not involved. Why not raise the bar? Neighbors can promise to be present outdoors by taking walks, working in the yard, sitting on the front porch, and allowing children to play, especially in groups. Other factors are maintaining the yard and its appearance and keeping the porch light on in the evenings. Installing motion sensor lights in the front and back yard can eliminate a potential intruder, hiding in relative safety without detention.
Tip: Installing a security system can help homeowners feel secure during the day and night. Also ask neighbors if they have a system and encourage them to get one, if not. Remember, there is strength in numbers. The greater the number who have systems, the more secure the community will be.
Homeowners can maintain a safe environment by diligently considering the home as a fortress. Actions and behaviors can alert or deter a potential intruder. It can be as simple as keeping the curtains closed, especially at night, or breaking down and concealing packaging of pricey possessions, such as a new flat screen television or computer. Other suggestions are:
- Motion-censored lights and accent lights around a distant flower garden can aid in visualization.
- Being aware of garage door opener key fobs, especially if left in an unlocked car.Make sure keys, and other items are not visible.
- Maintaining your privacy on social media. Revealing that your family is leaving for vacation, or a spouse is going to be gone for days can be an ideal opportunity for a break-in. Sharing news and pictures can wait until everyone has returned home.
- Large shrubs can be the perfect place to hide. An alternative is to plant miniature shrubs or a variety of bushy flowers such as delphiniums, hollyhocks, iris and a variety of lavender.
Improving neighborhood safety is a team effort. The discussion may be on the minds of your neighbors; yet, it can begin with you.