No Kids on the Block

Our neighbors are moving. From the moment I witnessed their for-sale stake hit the ground, I devised a plan.

  • Part 1 :: Ask hubby to mow the yard.
  • Part 2 :: Remind hubby to mow the yard.
  • Part 3 :: Hire someone to mow the yard.
  • Part 4 :: And the most important part…throw the kids in that freshly mowed yard.

Yes, we have been in our front yard, sun, rain, or cold, for the last two weeks because we know what we want in that house – a family with kids. Our daily driveway spectacular has included everything from scooter races, chalk cityscapes, hula-hoop contests, to tree climbing.

“Mommy, I’m scared to be in the tree. I see ants!”

“Stay up there a little longer. It’s something kids do.”

This nod to childhood nostalgia has all been in the hopes that by chance a family with young kids with a stay-at-home mom should happen to mosey down our street and see that for-sale sign.

Since choosing to stay home, I have always been the lone SAHM on the block. Sure, my neighbors can rest knowing I watch their homes like a hawk while they are away at work. Or maybe it actually makes them uneasy. Either way, I yearn for a partner. And more than that, I yearn for my kids to have playmates nearby.

After living in our house a couple of weeks, we realized our street was barren, so one day, I set out to see if any other children existed in our neighborhood. That’s when I saw her. She was in the distance, so I had to squint, but within the shadows I also saw what was un-mistakenly the figure of a boy holding her hand. As they drew nearer, I judged the boy to be about my son’s age. They went to the monkey bars, but my kids were on the swings.

“How about we go over to the monkey bars?” I whispered to my kids. “But I want to – ”

With the squeeze of their hands and my mommy stank-eye, they knew better than to argue. Friendship blossomed on the monkey bars that day, and my friend and I now laugh about how I stalked her.

Yet although she and her family live in my neighborhood, they don’t live on my street. At three and five years old, my kids aren’t old enough to ride their bikes alone across the neighborhood. But across the street would be a different story. I could stand on the porch and wave to my neighbor while the kids walk over to her house.

My mom had that. My grandmother had that. When I began staying home, my grandmother shared stories of going to neighbors’ houses to play bridge and drink coffee while the kids played outside. I want bicycles and balls strewn across the front lawns. My childhood street bustled with kids running back and forth between houses. We played hide and seek. We burned ants with magnifying glasses. We knew the ice-cream man by name. The neighborhood kids loved throwing sticks between my bicycle wheels and the spokey-dokes. I want my kids to have that… Well, maybe not the sticks in the spokey-dokes part. But that’s what childhood is supposed to be about. And whatever happened to the ice-cream man? It would be a waste of his time to creep down our street.

When my husband and I bought our first house, we knew not many kids lived in the neighborhood. It was an investment, but once we had kids, we set our sights on the ‘burbs, thinking bicycle races and barbecues would be the norm.

And yet…there’s no kids on the block.

New families moving to new communities

Perhaps, we didn’t venture far enough into suburbia. Moving from a 40-year-old neighborhood, our 15-year-old one seemed new at the time. But maybe it wasn’t new enough. A few of our current neighbors bought their homes brand new when their kids were young. So 15 years later, they now are empty-nesters or have kids in junior high or high school. For us to have bought in a new development these days, however, would have tacked on an additional 20 minutes to my husband’s already hour commute from Katy to the Galleria area. As Houston continues to expand in all directions, new developments are farther and farther away from the city center.

Scheduled activities

Yet, if all young families live in new developments, why is our elementary school overcrowded? Clearly those kids must live somewhere in the vicinity. It has occurred to me that the kids in our neighborhood might have better things to do in the afternoon than work their fingers to the bone with sidewalk chalk and climb ant-infested trees. Our community has no shortage of child enrichment activities. At nearly every stoplight, I sit behind SUVs and minivans full of soccer players, cheerleaders, honor roll students, and Jedi knights. Their schedules are likely busier than ours, so possibly that’s why they don’t have an afternoon to spare?

Scheduled playtime

The element of staying home that probably surprised me the most was the concept of scheduled playtime and “play dates.” Instead of dropping by another family’s front doorstep and ringing the bell, I am expected to schedule an afternoon to play, sometimes weeks in advance. Why is this? My kids are bored. Your kids are bored. Let’s just send them off together. Perhaps the reason your kids aren’t roaming the streets with my kids is because you’ve already scheduled time with somebody else.

But surely in this city of more than two million people, there is one family who has one mom who just wants to collapse in a lawn chair next to me in my front yard while our children peg each other with a dodge ball like children should do. If that person is you, please message me.

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17 Responses to No Kids on the Block

  1. Amanda March 19, 2016 at 7:44 am #

    This is EXACTLY my experience down to the 15 yr old neighborhood in Katy bc we didn’t want the commute to be any longer. Most of our neighborhood are internationals who just don’t share the same ideas of community as I do. We so have some sweet neighbors, but just like you said, kids are way older. Our neighborhood does have a playgroup but I iust didn’t jive with them much. Seemed kinda cickish.
    I’ve kinda gotten used to the solitary lifestyle, sadly. Were making it, but friends on our street would be way fun. Maybe someday!

    • Marianne
      Marianne March 24, 2016 at 10:44 am #

      I wonder if we are in the same neighorhood, seriously. My daughter goes to elementary school next year, so I hope to meet more people when she does. Are your kids in school yet? Some have told me that’s the secret to meeting people in the neighborhood.

  2. Ginger March 19, 2016 at 10:45 am #

    Well hey, I’m a sahm with a 5 year old and and a 3 year old, and I’m currently house hunting 🙂 Send me an email!

  3. Emily March 19, 2016 at 12:43 pm #

    I couldn’t agree more! Our neighborhood is full of kids, but our street itself is either original owners (aka grandparents) or families with kids much older than my toddler. We’ll be doing the same as y’all when we see for sale signs up…hoping for young families. I had the childhood you wrote about, and my parents say in the driveway or front yard enjoying some adult convo while the kids roamed and road down the street. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Michelle March 19, 2016 at 9:33 pm #

    This is my favorite post ever on this blog! I’m all about getting the kids outside, playing and having a traditional childhood like we had!

    There’s an open house across the street from me, Marianne, and your kids can play with mine!

    • Marianne
      Marianne March 24, 2016 at 10:51 am #

      Maybe I should have written this post before we moved, and I could have moved next to some wonderful ladies like all of you 🙂

  5. Courtney C. March 20, 2016 at 9:50 am #

    Hello! I think you’re my long lost best friend! Haha! Seriously, everything you described is something my husband and I discuss often. We are searching for our place to put down roots and raise our kids. I also had a childhood like yours and want the same for my two girls (3,5). Where are all the kids??? How can I search for neighborhoods with young families and people like us? I’ve started saying that maybe I’m looking for a unicorn…

  6. Lisa March 21, 2016 at 2:40 pm #

    ::waves hand:: Hi! I would love for my kids to play with yours out in the front yard. Except we live in the ‘burbs in California. Ha. 🙂 I just wanted to write and say that I love this piece. I struggle with this issue a lot. We live in an upper middle class neighborhood and there are ZERO kids out playing. It’s beyond frustrating and not what I envisioned when we moved in here. Interesting to here that it happens other places too, not just in busy-go-getter Silicon Valley. We’ve lived here 5 years so I know the dynamic really isn’t going to change. The kids are highly scheduled and that is that. We are not kid-schedulers except for maybe Cub Scouts and a season of soccer here and there so we’re an anomaly.

    Good luck finding some neighbors that will let their kids out to play! I’m always on the hunt too. 🙂

  7. Stephanie March 22, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

    When we moved to our neighborhood 10 years ago, there were no young children. Only teenagers! We did the scheduled playdates for awhile, but then several years in to the parenting thing, we started getting new neighbors with kids. We now have 27 children on our street that we play with regularly. No scheduling required. We sit in the front yard and the crowd comes to join us 🙂 Hang in there, your neighborhood will turn over too. And as for being busy with after school activities, studies show that kids who are allowed free play actually thrive and are better balanced individuals than those who did ballet,soccer, gymnastics, karate…etc. every ‘free’ minute.

    • Kerry August 1, 2016 at 8:43 pm #

      We are moving into the area with 3 kiddos and looking for a neighborhood set up like yours! We have a 5yr, 2yr and 1 yr. Can you share what community you are in?

  8. Marianne
    Marianne March 24, 2016 at 10:47 am #

    I am so glad to know that I am not the only one, and I agree, it does feel like I’m looking for a unicorn! I do fine some hope in the last comment. Maybe our street will change. Unfortunately, the street in our old neighborhood changed right after we mobed out. We sold to a young family a’s did our two neighbors..so frustrating! Haha. But maybe there is hope yet! a)Any of you ladies is welcome to buy that house across the street 😉

    • Liz March 14, 2017 at 10:45 pm #

      Same struggle! ‘m. Sahm of a 3 yr old and 5 month old. We play in the drive way in the afternoons a d go to the playground in hopes of meeting others. It’s kind of sad Bc my 3 year old get so excited when the elementary kids get off the. Use and walk down the street he runs up asking “want to play with me?!” They are mostly international people on my street and they just look at him and keep walking! I’ve been trying to stalk down this mom I saw recently 😂 What neighborhood are you in? Send me an email!

  9. Summer March 24, 2016 at 11:58 pm #

    Haha this is so spot on its scary!! The neighbors house is on the market too, and I’ve been trying to figure out a way to blast the info on every motherhood anything possible. They were as sweet as can be but also as old as can be..and I yearn for those neighbor friends everyone always talks about!

  10. Lisa Littlefield Beckham July 31, 2016 at 12:31 pm #

    I’m having the same problem. Just moved to Missouri City from New Orleans and have a 2 year old son. I’m a stay at home mom and it seems very hard to meet others with kids. My neighborhood has a lot of older people that have way older kids. I even went to the library for story time and people just don’t mingle with each other to try to set play dates with each other’s kids. Perhaps I will need to put him in some sort of school daycare to be able to meet people.

  11. Renee Frazier July 31, 2016 at 1:58 pm #

    Oh my goodness. You hit the nail right on the head with this article. We just recently moved into an older neighborhood in katy/cinco ranch area from Kansas City and I feel the exact same way!! Our street is either internationals or families with high school/college aged kids. We too couldn’t buy anything further out due to my husbands commute to downtown. So my hope is that you are my neighbor and we just don’t know it yet!! I also have a 3 + 5 year old and one on the way. Let’s get those lawn chairs out + let our kids go to town with some good old fashioned dodge ball. Message me!! 😉 oh and happy Sunday!!!

  12. Momof2 August 1, 2016 at 12:20 am #

    YES I feel ya! I’m moving near your area and hope to find we picked a place where I will meet other SAHMs on our street or near by. When I first started staying home in the city I live in now I joined a group called MOMS club (www.momsclub.org) which is for SAHMS for any age kids. It was a huge lifesaver. I met many people but also learned of fun activities, local parks, inexpensive kids classes I would have never known about which also led to meeting people. It is very inexpensive to join and is there for the purposes of helping other moms meet. I also got on nextdoor.com and posted a question to see if anyone in the neighborhood wanted to start a group. We started a Facebook group but for the most part everyone worked during the day. Good luck to all of us looking for the same thing! Hope we all meet each other soon!

  13. Kerry August 1, 2016 at 8:39 pm #

    Well, we are new to Houston and we are currently house hunting. We have a 5yr, 2yr and 1yr. Would love to find a nice community (that isn’t the burbs) with some families with young kids. Oh and I would like to reserve a lawn chair! Message me!

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