Neighborhood kids

Moving can be stressful. Finding the ideal house, lot or neighborhood can be frustrating — if not downright impossible. Most families have a list of must-have items for their houses. I know we did.

One thing that shouldn’t be overlooked is neighbors.

We recently moved from our old house, which we loved but was in a neighborhood that had no little kids close to us. It resulted in a lot more inside time for our daughter. As she would’ve gotten older, I’m certain she would’ve ended up watching more TV, or we would have over-scheduled her in extracurricular activities to keep her busy.

So when we decided it was time to move, we chose to move close to an elementary school — and boy did we hit the neighborhood jackpot. Twelve kids in my daughter’s class live within a three-street radius of our house.

Today our kids are living the life of the kids of the ’70s (albeit with more supervision). They run to each other’s houses, play outside non-stop, in all kinds of weather and figure out how to keep themselves busy — without killing each other — for hours on end. Many of these kids operate more like siblings than friends. Because Marin only has one actual sibling, this allows her to figure out how to grow and share with more than one other kid on a daily basis.

Plus, I can count on one hand the number of times my daughter has asked to watch television over the last six months. She would much rather play with our neighbors. What they are learning is invaluable.

And it's good for us parents, too.

The neighbors closest to us have become our extended family. We pick up each other’s kids from school, cook dinner for each other when people have a busy day, watch each other’s kids at the drop of a hat and voluntarily spend most of our vacations together.

Having other adults who love and make my kids feel safe if they need something is huge. My kids don’t have any aunts or uncles in Omaha, so these neighbors and friends have adopted into this role for our kids. As kids get older, they don’t always want to talk to their parents about things, so the more adults in their life who they are comfortable around and who we trust, the better.

They say it takes a village to raise your kids — and if you find that village, you’ll know exactly what that statement means.

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Jaime Wyant is a 33-year-old Omaha native, wife to Bret and mother to Marin and Liam. She writes monthly for Momaha.com. Read more from Jaime here.

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