Advice re: babysitting requests... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 06-20-2013, 03:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello all :) I'm a single mommy to a great 5yr old little girl, I'm also a full-time student & work out of my home part-time.

I've been dealing with a "friend situation" for the past year +, and am at my wits end as to how to deal with it... My friend, we'll call her "D" entered into single parenthood 1 1/2 years ago after the passing of her husband. She has three children, and while she doesn't "have" to work, she does 3-4 days a month to remain current in her profession. (she's a paramedic) When she works, her shifts are 12-24hrs... Rather than procure traditional child care (like myself) she relies on her friends. I get "hit up" at least 2x a month, she usually expects those watching her kids to come to her house... As she lives over an hour away, this is a pain in the butt...  if not, she'll bring them to you, but, this means that the kids stay 24-36 hours with you... and they are not well behaved children. They haven't received counseling, etc. following their fathers passing, and each has emotional and behavioral problems, to the point of defiance, abundant lying, & destructive behavior.


I understand that she needs help... I truly get that, I'm a single parent as well... but I also go to school, and work... while I'm often home, I'm really busy! In addition, finances are tight, (we don't receive child support, I maintain our bottom-line with financial aid and my part-time income) it costs me approximately $30 to drive up and watch her kids (+ food, as they eat... "junk") if they come down, I'm feeding 3 additional children 3-5 meals + snacks...  I say "no" 50% of the time as I generally have a legitimate reason... I've chosen to take the summer off, and be a "mommy", catch up on life... and enjoy myself a bit. She's taken this as a wide open invitation to watch her kids... now I'm being hit up so that she can go skiing without her kids...  (I don't remember the last time I did something without my daughter... and whenever it was, I certainly hired a sitter.) 4 days in July, several in August... Beyond all of that... I really don't want to be tied down watching other peoples children... I want to be able to take my daughter to the coast on a whim, hang out with friends, go camping... take a trip wherever, whenever...  Argh... So, I said no to the dates in July & that I'd let her know about August... she fired back with 4 different days for July! I feel like the "bad guy" turning her down... but, I would never ask this of my friends.



(& thanks so much for any advice!)

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#2 of 8 Old 06-20-2013, 04:02 PM
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I'd be honest: "I need to focus on my relationship with my child and we'll be traveling this summer. I'm sorry but 24 hours at a time with three extra children is overwhelming and I find it very taxing." or something like that. You can add that you'd like to hang out altogether (if you do actually want to) and propose an outing for all of you. Another thought you can add is that in an emergency you'd be happy to help if you could but that work means she has time to find childcare. I know you want to help her but the longer this goes on, the bigger a wedge it will drive between you. I get the sense that you feel taken advantage of and resent these big, inconvenient favours - especially if she never reciprocates. I would lay it out for her: you want to help her and care about her a great deal but she is asking too much of you. You are a student-working-single mother and need time for your child and yourself in order to have a happy and fulfilled life. I'm sorry, but you are not obligated to be at her beck and call. I'm sure if she got very ill or hurt then you would help as much as possible, but work isn't an emergency; it's just life.
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#3 of 8 Old 06-20-2013, 05:22 PM
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Be direct and firm and don't apologize - no, I can't.  Have to go, on our way out the door.  Bye! 


She's asking something unreasonable.  If she decides to get mad because you won't take all her kids several days a month, that's on her.  I'm guessing at one point she knew she was pushing her limits but suspected no one would call her on it and now she's just gotten used to it.

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#4 of 8 Old 06-20-2013, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by NiteNicole View Post

Be direct and firm and don't apologize - no, I can't.  Have to go, on our way out the door.  Bye! 


She's asking something unreasonable.  If she decides to get mad because you won't take all her kids several days a month, that's on her.  I'm guessing at one point she knew she was pushing her limits but suspected no one would call her on it and now she's just gotten used to it.


This. Her kids are NOT your responsibility. It sounds like she is taking advantage of people. It is tragic her husband died and that warrants lots kindness and empathy and help for sure. But it has been well over a year. She needs to seek out and HIRE a childcare provider and not constantly hit people up, especially for 24 hours! I was shocked when I read 24 hours! Just say no, I can't and move on, she is not entitled to an explanation or apology. If she gets mad, so be it.

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#5 of 8 Old 06-21-2013, 05:57 AM
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A one time thing in an unexpected situation is one thing. As a routine back-up plan for childcare? No. Period. End. Stop. 


My neighbor will occasionally ask me to watch her kids, get one or all three on the bus, etc - but not as a regular thing. I'm kind of the emergency back-up. And I have no problem with it. But I will not be someone's regular back-up unless I CHOOSE to be. 


I agree - it is tragic that she/her kids are in this situation. But, it is not your fault. We all have to play the cards we're dealt. And that does not include taking advantage of people. 

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#6 of 8 Old 06-22-2013, 07:23 AM
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You need to be blunt with her. Tell her that you can not care for her children and suggest she look into (paid) babysitters. 

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#7 of 8 Old 06-22-2013, 07:51 AM
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With some people, you have to be firm and explicit with what you will and won't do. Don't worry about whether you have a "legitimate excuse." Not wanting to do it is legitimate. Just say no, you won't be watching her kids anymore, and don't feel guilty or explain yourself. The more confident you are about it, the less she'll question it.

I'm afraid you're being taken advantage of. I understand how it started, and anyone would help out a friend who became widowed. But it's time for her to find a permanent solution. Just tell her that it isn't working anymore, but you can help her write up an ad and check references if she wants to hire someone.
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#8 of 8 Old 06-22-2013, 09:49 AM
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Wow, she's asking way too much. In the immediate wake of losing her husband, people were probably happy to help, but (not to sound callous) it's been a year and a half and she needs to adjust to her situation. That means making legitimate childcare arrangements, not seeing which of her friends she can hit up this month. I can understand how maybe people were so giving at first, and she became accustomed to it and hasn't recalibrated, so I don't think she's a horrible person or anything, but she needs a gentle nudge toward independence in this area.

If I were you, I would offer as little explanation as possible. Many people see explanations as something to be argued or debated, as she did with you when you told her the July dates wouldn't work -- she came back with new dates! So just say, "I'm sorry, this arrangement just doesn't work for me anymore" and repeat over and over no matter what she says. Eventually she'll get that you're not going to explain, justify, debate, etc. -- you're just NOT going to watch her kids, end of story.

She may be upset, but you know what? She's upsetting you with her requests! She's allowed to make whatever requests she wants, as long as she accepts either answer (yes or no) graciously. If she chooses to react otherwise, that's not on you, it's on her.

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