I recently had a neighbor experience that left me super frustrated. My husband and I came home one day to an index card in our mailbox that basically read, “I have not slept a full night in weeks due to your animals.” That was it. No signature. So we went out on our date, but all I could think about was that stupid little note.
Here’s what I know…we have one dog and four chickens. We don’t have a rooster but our dog can sound an awful lot like a rooster when he barks. Our chickens aren’t that loud, with the exception of when they lay an egg or get lost from each other in the yard. Our dog is inside the house from 7 pm until 8 the next morning. Our chickens sleep as soon as it gets dark and they are silent all night. Obviously, you can see why a note about our animals keeping someone awake seemed fairly odd and out of place.
Just yesterday, my husband bumped into the one neighbor that I thought may have left the note. He informed us that his college aged son left the note. You see, he stays up until 2 am partying and is grumpy that our animals are making noise at 9 in the morning. This is where I declare that he has what we call a “personal problem.”
And with that nonsense, I thought I would write about how to be a good neighbor.
1. Get to know your neighbors. (I’ll give a disclaimer that my husband and I are both total extroverts.) Let’s face it, most people don’t bring over the obligatory jell-o dish when a new neighbor moves into the neighborhood anymore. So, when we move into a new neighborhood, we take it upon ourselves to say hello to our new neighbors or to bring them baked goods or something homemade. We know our neighbors names, and try to get to know a little about them. When we were an hour away and a crazy person kept knocking on the door frightening our babysitter and children, we were able to call our neighbor to watch our home for us until we arrived. When our neighbor had an overflowing pear tree, I offered my assistance to pick it for her 🙂 It’s just nice to know who they are.
2. Keep your dogs from barking during normal sleep hours. If you do have dogs, make sure they aren’t barking at all hours of the night. Bring them inside if they’re particularly wound up about something, and put them out in the morning at a reasonable time. Everybody hates a neighbor who let’s their dog bark incessantly at 11:00 PM.
3. Be helpful. Offer to help a neighbor bring in their new couch, hold the ladder while they clean out the gutters, mow the lawn between your two houses, watch their house while they’re out of town, share your extra garden goodies, pick up their wind blown trashcan, or return a ball thrown over the fence into your yard. Go the extra mile to ensure that a positive relationship is built and maintained.
4. Keep your music volume reasonable. The house down the street doesn’t need to hear your wicked cool music. Exceptions can be made for the sweet old guy down the street who blares his oldies while cleaning his RV every week during the summer months.
5. Pick up your dog poop while on neighborhood walks. Don’t leave your dog’s poop on someones lawn. It’s rude. Bring a bag with you if you’re walking your dog, and be sure to pick up any bombs your dog may decide to drop while on the walk.
6. Speak with your neighbors face to face if you have an issue. One of the things that really bothered me about the note in the mailbox is that it did not say who, or from what house, it came from. This meant that there was no way I could go and talk to this person right away. In the past, when we had a pit bull bust through a fence board snapping his jaws and growling at my children who were playing there, we walked (okay, marched) over to the neighbor and talked to him right away. When it happened again, we talked to them again, but also took steps to fix it (which may or may not have included putting up temporary support boards with nails that stuck through on the other side). The fence finally got fixed, and it hasn’t been an issue since. The point is, face to face talking is how us adult people should deal with our issues with one another.
Taking just a few steps to be a good neighbor will go a long way in enjoying your time at home. Of course, there’s always that one crazy neighbor (whom I’d love to hear about in the comments), but don’t let it be you.