A Case For Front Yard Living

A Case For Front Yard Living | thisgratefulmama.com

I know most people spend summer on their deck in the back yard, but I want to share about something different.

Front yard living.

At the end of 2013, we moved into a new construction home. When the brutal subzero winter ended, people emerged and we finally met our neighbors.

One of the greatest benefits about living in a new construction neighborhood is everyone is new – especially the first year. There are no cliques – no long-term established friendships.

Everyone seems friendlier and more eager to meet their neighbors.

Since new houses come with dirt yards and gravel driveways, significant time is spent walking the neighborhood and in the front yard. Few homes have decks right away.

Then driveways go in and sod that can’t be walked on.

The driveway is the yard. Initially, front yard living was necessity.

We spent the first three summers in the front. This is our fourth summer and this summer we built a deck.

This spring, when the deck materials were delivered, a neighbor commented in passing – now we’ll never see you guys anymore. Her comment has stuck with me.

With the excitement of having a new deck – we have been spending a lot of time in the back yard. Backyard living has some great benefits –  convenience, privacy, more space, and in our case, a view. But more time in back means less in the front. 

I love our deck, but there is a great case to be made for front-yard living and it has to do with relationships.

A Case For Front Yard Living | thisgratefulmama.com

Simply put, front yard living creates opportunities to build relationships with neighbors. 

A Case For Front Yard Living

Meet Neighbors – As people pass by, on the way to the mail box or on a walk, simply being in the front yard creates an opportunity to greet and meet neighbors in a natural way. Even the most reserved or shy people are usually open to a friendly wave and smile followed by an introduction. Some may move on quickly, but others will surprise you and stay to chat. Many of these chance introductions have turned into hours of conversations and cherished friendships. 

Kids – This neighborhood is crawling with kids. They walk, bike and scooter by on a regular basis. Regular friendly waves and hellos or meeting them briefly when they walk by with their parents let them know we’re safe adults if they need something. We’ve helped with minor scrapes, calling parents, and bike chains.  Front yard living has also helped us build relationships with kids who play with our kids on a regular basis. It is amazing how long a child will stand and talk to us while all the other kids are playing – they tell us stories, about their weekend or school day, and what activities they’re involved in. Relationships with neighborhood kids are important to us – these kids are precious family friends.

Fun – In back, kids are usually in the yard and adults are up on the deck. Separate. (Don’t get me wrong – separate can be lovely). In the front, we’re in close-proximity. Our kids are more likely to invite us to join their fun, or join us if we’re all in the yard. More spontaneous water fights, and games of catch, 4-square, and soccer happen in the front yard with our kids and whoever else joins in. A water table, bubbles, and sidewalk chalk are magnets for other kids and their imaginations.

Regular connections – Being in the front means we see neighbors coming, going and passing by. These brief interactions allow for regular, natural connections. We have the chance to enter into real-life with our neighbors. We learn what is on their minds and what is going on in their lives – the good, bad, sad, stressful, joyful and real happenings of daily life. I am always grateful to learn these things from a face-to-face conversation than on Facebook, Instagram, or text. 

Lend a hand – Being out front means we get to see when others need help – unloading or loading something heavy, watching a small child so they can run into the house for something quick, changing a tire, lending a tool or holding a ladder, or providing a missing ingredient. These chances to help are invaluable gifts – relationships are often forged in these types of experiences. We are blessed to be able to step in and help when we can.

We ARE enjoying our deck and the benefits of back yard living. But, front yard living still holds significant value.

Front yard living has allowed us to join our neighbors in real-life. We have been blessed as so many have stepped into the messiness of life with us through the conversations of front-yard living.

We plan to continue making time to be out front, experiencing and building community in our neighborhood.

The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31 (ESV)

To love your neighbor as yourself, you have to first get to know them.

A Case For Front Yard Living | thisgratefulmama.com

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10 Practical Helps For A Mom With A Newborn and Older Children

10 Practical Helps For A Mom With A Newborn And Older Children | thisgratefulmama.com

In the past 2 months since our third child was born, we have gratefully received help from family, neighbors and friends. Help from others has been key to helping our family adjust and survive.

You guys, we have been so blessed!

I’d like to share 10 of my favorite ways people have helped our family. Every new mama and her family deserves to be blessed as we have been!

10 Practical HELPS For A Mom With A Newborn AND Older Children

10 Practical Ways To Help A Mom With A Newborn and Other Children

  1. Bring Food – Bringing a meal is a great way to bless the whole family. Not a great cook? It doesn’t have to be fancy, and it doesn’t have to be dinner. You could bring muffins or donuts for breakfast, sandwiches and soup for lunch, fresh fruit and veggies for healthy snacks, or dinner. ALL will be appreciated and helpful. Remember to ask if the family has any food allergies before you shop.
  2. Do Chores – Ask if you help around the house. Don’t take ‘No’ for an answer! A new mom’s brain is focused on her baby and family, not housework! If nothing comes to mind, find something to do before you leave – empty the dishwasher, wash dishes, sweep or mop the floor, clean a bathroom, take out the trash, water the flowers, fold laundry, or mow the lawn.
  3. Bless Older Children – Obviously baby requires a lot of mom’s attention that used to be spent on other children. This is an adjustment for older kids, and can leave any mama feeling guilty. One of the best ways to bless mom is to bless her children – play with them, take them on a walk, to the park, or out to lunch. The kids will soak up the love and attention. Another way to help is to lend a helping hand at dinner or bedtime (or both!). Babies are often fussy in the evenings and when mom is often in the most demand from other children.
  4. Help Run Errands – A baby car seat in the shopping cart really hinders what can fit in the cart. If mom can’t fit it all, she’ll have to do multiple trips per week, or struggle to pull a cart while she pushes the stroller. Offer to go to the store with her and push an extra cart. Then, help unload and put away groceries while she feeds the baby. Or, ask if you can run an errand for them.
  5. Babysit for Doctor Visits – Taking older, healthy children to the pediatrician’s germ infested office for a healthy baby visit is almost guaranteed to produce a sick child within the week. Offer to watch older children for an hour while mom and baby go alone to the doctor.
  6. Pray – Prayer for the new mom and family is a gift with eternal value. Pray for a peaceful baby and household, for mom to heal quickly and fully after delivery, for baby to eat well, and for the whole family to adjust quickly. Oh, and for sleep. Lots of sleep. The family may never know you are praying if you don’t tell them, so bless them even more by letting them know you are faithfully lifting them up.
  7. Listen – Instead of jumping in with advice, just listen. Advice may be appropriate, but often, a new mom just wants to be heard – to know that someone else knows what they are going through. Don’t assume you know what they mean by things like ‘the baby never sleeps’ or ‘cries all day’. Ask questions to really understand so you can respond appropriately. Sometimes a new mom does needs advice, but some times they just need a hug or other practical helps.
  8. Encourage – After listening, share what you see they are doing well. If you know they are struggling, send a text message or email. Call them often, whether they call you back or not. Tell them you are proud of them, cheering them on, and praying for them. My favorite words of encouragement have come recently via text.  Family and family have told me they were praying for me, and have shared scripture to encourage me. Words are powerful!
  9. Extend Extra GraceWhen they don’t call, text or email back, be ok with it. They are tired, busy and you aren’t being singled out. If they are like me, they are investing in their older children or husband when they have a free moment. Rest assured, normal communication will resume once they get their feet underneath them again. Oh, and some sleep. Zombies can’t carry on coherent phone conversations. Be gracious, and don’t give up on them.
  10. Car Pool – If your children are in the same activities, offer to give them a ride to and from so the parents can have a little break. OR, offer to go with the family and help load the kids in the car. Cheering for the kids will give them a boost and mom will appreciate the company and help with logistics.

 

Now…go find a new mama to bless. She will be oh, so grateful.

What is your go-to way to help a new mom?