Sunday, July 6, 2008

Reader Question

An anonymous reader says,

I hate babysitting and have been asked several times lately. I feel so guilty saying no, for the second time, to one particular friend. But I HAAAATE babysitting. Hate it. She suckered me into it one day, tacked on another, and is trying to weasel one more out of me. How do you say no to someone who isn't getting the hint?

Dear Unhappy Baby-sitter (my hubby came up with this line),

This can be hard, and especially sticky if it's a close friend. I've been there! If you find yourself unable to bring it up in person face-to-face, perhaps a tactful card or e-mail would be an easier way for you to express to her that you don't enjoy babysitting and don't want to do it again for her, at all, unless it's a true emergency. Something I've done is make a rule for myself that I WILL NOT commit on the spot, but instead will tell her I will think about it/pray about it and talk it over with my hubby. I used to be the jovial, people-pleasing type that responded with "Oh sure, that should work out!" only to realize that A.) I usually had something else on my schedule that conflicted with it and B.) I dislike every minute of it!

By talking it over with my husband, I leave the final decision in his hands. He knows I don't like to do childcare for others and he knows my limits and thankfully can be the leader aka the "bad guy" when I go to my friend and say that King Jo said I can't do it or he doesn't think it's a good idea for me at this stage in my life. Since I've been implementing this things have been so much better in this area. I used to think that I SHOULD take these babysitting offers because of the extra money and because the friend asking would think I was lazy if I didn't since I don't have an outside job like she does and only one or two kids! Now, I don't care what others think about me; if I don't like it; I don't like it!

I doubt I will have many people asking me to babysit this fall when I have a new baby and 3 total kids of my own in a small place, but if they do, I've decided that being honest RIGHT AWAY is best for both me and the poor mom desperately looking for childcare. Instead of saying, "maybe" or "we'll see" or "I'll think about it" and dreading having to call them back my new answer that I know my hubby approves of heartily is, "I don't do any babysitting for hire" or "I have enough on my plate that I'm not interested in doing childcare right now" or a flat-out, "Sorry, I can't!" Make this a pattern and spread the word to your working mom friends in a nice, casual way even before they ask so they know where you stand and don't ever even have to ask!

If your friend is really close and you would like to help her predicament; ask around and collect the phone numbers of ladies who do babysit. I ended up doing this for one of my best friends and she got matched up with the perfect lady who loves my friend's kids and loves watching them so now she doesn't have to ask me anymore!

If your friend doesn't take a hint at all and keeps bringing her kid by or begging, you may have to put some really tough love into action and let her know firmly in person that enough is enough and you won't be there in the morning if she tries to come by and leave her child!

It's important for you to deal with your guilt, as I had to do, and realize that saying no to babysitting jobs does not mean you are lazy or selfish. You are under NO OBLIGATION to raise another person's child! Sometimes babysitting other kids can hamper the attention you give to your own family and that's not right. I know some women who love to babysit and do childcare and they are really, really good at it and my working mom friends are ever so grateful. But I don't have to apologize for NOT being gifted in that area and for seeking out other ways of spending my time as a homemaker. After all, the choices my husband and I have made have enabled me to stay home by God's grace. The families I have babysat for make much more money than we do and if they chose to live as we live, they could stay home with their kids too. So, if they think I'm "lazy" or "spoiled" for being home or for only having to care for my one or two or three kids each day, than they have no idea how much work it takes to be a good homemaker, teacher of your children, and home economist, stretching a one-income budget! We have chosen this lifestyle and have had to sacrifice for it, so I no longer feel guilty saying no to those who might try to change this lifestyle through asking me to take on more work, more frustration, and more responsibility than I feel capable to handle. I realize some moms have to work or choose to work and therefore it's their responsibility to find safe childcare with someone who ENJOYS doing it!

Of course I'm all for babysitting friend's kids in the event of a true need or a once-in-a-while thing. The babysitting co-op was fun and was a great way to get some nice time with my hubby for free in exchange! I definitely need my other mom friends too when it comes to having a Dr. or Dentist appointment and needing them to watch my kids for an hour and then I will of course return the favor! This is a totally different thing than watching kids on a regular basis for pay.

I'd better sign off on this post. My hubby, who was giving me a nice shoulder massage while I typed this, is making non-stop cracks about me being "Dear Abby!"

1 comment:

Becky@FamilyandFinances said...

VERY well-written answer - and excellent advice. Maybe you should consider a Dear Abby stint! ;)

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