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Discussion Starter #1
<p>I am stuck in a situation with a friend and could use some thoughts.... I am not sure this is the right forum for this, although it does feel like a personal growth (giving vs. setting boundaries) issue for me.</p>
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<p>The friend has 3 kids. The oldest is gone 8 hours a day, leaving a baby and a toddler. In the past I have gone to help with the toddler when she asked. (You know, when she really had to go somewhere, I would never say no.) Both the toddler boy and the baby are just your normal, easy going kids, so no special needs or anything. However, lately there have been more and more requests for help and I am not sure what is going on. </p>
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<p><strong>I am interested in how often you would ask a friend to watch your child, when you know that you could not (and she would not ask you to or need you to) do anything in return.</strong> This friend is someone I used to get together with socially about once a month. So this is not a "like sisters, always together" sort of thing.</p>
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<p>I used to go and help, happily, but lately I have started to wonder why this person seems to think that it is impossible for a mom to take care of 2 or 3 kids by herself. I think women throughout the world take care of two (or more) children, without very frequent help. (Reading threads here, that certainly seems to be the case. They may struggle but they manage.) Sure, it would be nice to have a village, or whatever, to help raise your kids. It would also be easier to always leave your toddler with someone else when you need to have appointments, etc. It is just not realistic for most people and I do feel strongly that your kids are your kids and you need to bring them with, barring unusual circumstances. Her husband helps a lot, and is basically not allowed to leave home after work, unless there is someone else in the home helping the mom. When she asks for help, it is when she needs to do something specific, often time outside the home. There is never a "let's hang out together." It is always "Would you be able to come and help?" I need to add that she is a very sweet person and always very thankful. Yet, I am getting a bit confused... </p>
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<p>I guess part of why I am thinking of this now is that I feel like my dd is old enough to have more and more activities outside the home. She is an only child, so we need to find socialization outside the home. Thus, we are not home very often, and I am starting to need to say no more than yes to this friend. I would go there right away if there was an emergency. However, the fact that it is (of course!) easier to go to places without the toddler leaves me feeling frustrated, as I am no longer willing to move or cancel my child's activities in order to go help.</p>
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<p>For what it is worth, my dh thinks this friend might benefit from putting her toddler son in part-time daycare, as she has such frequent needs to leave him with others and seems to have decided she cannot take care of everything by herself. (Dh is not at all pro-daycare or whatever. He is just equally puzzled at the frequent requests to come and help.)</p>
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<p>I would appreciate any and all thoughts!</p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>LessTraveledBy</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1296823/reasonable-amount-to-be-expected-to-help-someone-else-with-her-kids#post_16246626"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p><strong>I am interested in how often you would ask a friend to watch your child, when you know that you could not (and she would not ask you to or need you to) do anything in return. </strong></p>
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very seldom, to the point that I was too far the other direction and didn't ask for help often enough when my kids were young (we never had family near, one of my kids has special needs, etc). I really could have used some help and looking back, there were people who would have helped me, but I couldn't bring myself to ask. For me, just going to get my teeth cleaned was huge deal. I should have let my friends know.</p>
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<p>I think that you *could* just ask her straight up what is going on. There might be something happening that you would totally understand that she just hasn't said. Or may be it could open up a dialogue about options for her -- such as preschool for her older child.</p>
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<p>I think that whatever is going on for her, it's OK for you to set some boundaries. Even if the woman is sick, you can still say *no.*  It's one thing for friends to trade off and help each other out, it's quite another for one person to use another as an unpaid baby sitter.</p>
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<p>There's no need to judge her ability to care for her kids -- that isn't helpful to you or her, but it fine for you to talk to her and to get clear on what works for you in this situation.</p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Linda on the move</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1296823/reasonable-amount-to-be-expected-to-help-someone-else-with-her-kids#post_16247027"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>There's no need to judge her ability to care for her kids -- that isn't helpful to you or her, but it fine for you to talk to her and to get clear on what works for you in this situation.</p>
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Thank you for the response. I think she absolutely can take care of her kids. The whole issue is that she truly seems to think she cannot, that it is not possible for one mom to look after more than one child at a time. Or so it comes across. I don't understand it.</p>
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<p>I would talk to her about it. It's possible there's something going on and she needs your help but hasn't felt comfortable telling you why. It's also possible she's just taking advantage of your kindness. You won't know for sure which it is unless you ask.</p>
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<p>You sound like a very generous mama for spending so much time looking after her children! She's lucky to have you for a friend. <img alt="hug.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/hug.gif"></p>
 

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<p>I have never asked anyone else for help but part of that is because I don't trust anyone with my kids. I have no family near us and could use an occasional break. I would never ask anyone who I didn't regularly hang out with for help and if someone asked me to help out with their kids but never reciprocated a friendship, I think I would feel totally taken advantage of.</p>
<p>If I had a friend who I actually had a friendship with, I would ask maybe twice a year for help.</p>
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<p>There is a difference between helping and rescuing. And I agree that you need to set some boundaries so you don't feel taken advantage of.</p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>LessTraveledBy</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1296823/reasonable-amount-to-be-expected-to-help-someone-else-with-her-kids#post_16247147"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Linda on the move</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1296823/reasonable-amount-to-be-expected-to-help-someone-else-with-her-kids#post_16247027"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>There's no need to judge her ability to care for her kids -- that isn't helpful to you or her, but it fine for you to talk to her and to get clear on what works for you in this situation.</p>
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Thank you for the response. I think she absolutely can take care of her kids. The whole issue is that she truly seems to think she cannot, that it is not possible for one mom to look after more than one child at a time. Or so it comes across. I don't understand it.</p>
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<br><br><p>who is watching your child while you watch hers? do you bring her along? so, you are watching two at once??</p>
<p>it sounds to me like she's using you. sorry if that's harsh.</p>
<p>i have a SIL who has twins. they are six months older than my son. first of all, she gets a TON of help from my brother, her husband. he is very hands-on. then, she has her mother come into town for every holiday and help take care of the kids. then, she has my mother come over to stay whenever possible to help. AND she has a full time nanny taking care of them 5 days a week. and still complains that the children want "to be held so often," and it's hard to make dinner.</p>
<p>(meanwhile of course i and my other SIL, each of us with our two children, struggle to do it all, alone, with hands-off husbands, no help from MILs or mothers, no nannies, no breaks whatsoever.)</p>
<p>some people, like your friend and my one SIL are just prima donnas (sp?). of course they act sweet and nice about it when they are asking for help. if they were nasty about it, they wouldn't get any help. <br>
frankly, i can't believe she doesn't tell you where she's going or what she's doing when she asks for help. </p>
<p>what constitutes an "emergency" anyway. just so i know what it would take for me to get my mom or someone else over to my house to watch my kids for me for once!</p>
 

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<p>The prima donna thing seems like one options, but depression seems like another. Since she has one in school, a preschooler, and a baby, I'm wondering if the baby was planned, or has been more difficult than her others. I wonder if she was expecting to be at an easier point right now in her life than she really is.</p>
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<p>In general, women can take care of several kids and get other things done at the same time. But any particular woman might not be coping with the actually children she has.</p>
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<p>Even if she is depressed, it's OK for you to set boundaries. Setting some boundaries could help her get the real help she needs.</p>
 

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<p>So have you asked her yourself why the increase, and what she's doing when you go to help her?  Or is she home the whole time you're there, and if so, what is she doing while you're there? </p>
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<p>I understand you're trying to get a gauge for what others think is "acceptable" or "normal", but the main thing is that you don't have an extremely close relationship with her and it sounds like you've got some questions before you decide what your limit is - what's keeping you from talking to her about all this? </p>
 

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<p>Asking you more than once a week to watch her kids without some sort of reciprocity is wrong. From the book of philomom.</p>
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<p>She could buy you guys a nice lunch. Offer to take your kids some night.</p>
<p>Bake for you. Do alterations or help you with gardening. All of us are good at something.</p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>philomom</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1296823/reasonable-amount-to-be-expected-to-help-someone-else-with-her-kids#post_16252375"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border-bottom:0px solid;border-left:0px solid;border-top:0px solid;border-right:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>Asking you <span style="text-decoration:underline;"><strong>more than</strong></span> once a week to watch her kids without some sort of reciprocity is wrong. From the book of philomom.</p>
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That is VERY generous.  I sure wish I could get free babysitting once a week!</p>
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<p>In my book, she gets two free babysitting sessions over a lifetime.  If she doesn't reciprocate after the first time, maybe it was truly an emergency, and I would give her the second chance. </p>
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<p>After that .... ever hear the saying ...</p>
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<p> "$#it on me once, your fault. $#it on me twice, my fault. "</p>
 

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It sounds like she is really taking advantage of your kindness. I would set some serious boundaries with her. You have your own child, your own home to take care of.<br><br>
I am often the SAHM in the neighborhood that everyone calls when they need something. I don't mind helping sometimes, but many people don't reciprocate in any way. I've stopped answering my phone at around 3:00 (when most of the calls were coming in), and the phone stopped ringing.<br><br>
I will help in an emergency, of course, but that's just about it for now. They burnt me out.<br><br>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>philomom</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1296823/reasonable-amount-to-be-expected-to-help-someone-else-with-her-kids#post_16252375"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p> From the book of philomom.</p>
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<p>I think a book written by you would be awesome!</p>
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
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<div>That is VERY generous.  I sure wish I could get free babysitting once a week!</div>
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<p>I agree! I feel bad if I have to ask <em>Mum</em> to babysit (my one, easy child) more than once every two weeks, max. And it's not even "hard", in that my two little sisters help take care of her while she's over there. If a casual acquaintance asked me to babysit her kids <em>once</em> I'd be flummoxed - other people's children make me very nervous, and I'd MUCH rather help out by cooking a meal or something - but once a week? Yipes. I think I'd move town. :p</p>
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<p>Honestly, I'm kind of intrigued by what might be going on with this lady. Does she have other friends? Might she have PPD or something? Why can't she take the baby out with her on errands? (I mean, I agree that it's much nicer <em>not</em> to, on occasion, but it wouldn't cross my mind to get a babysitter so I could go shopping! At a pinch, couldn't the husband watch the baby while she went out during late-night shopping?) I can imagine a first-time mother being very nervous about her ability to care for a child solo, but she's done this before... it sounds like something funny might be going on. It's definitely true that what's easy for one mother is overwhelming for another, so I wouldn't judge her too harshly.</p>
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<p>But on the other hand, you have a perfect right to put your DD's needs ahead of hers! Why not a frank chat, next time she asks - "I'm sorry, but I'm a lot busier these days taking DD to classes and so on"? If you wanted to be uber-nice, you could maybe take her toddler along to the activity with your DD (assuming they're similar ages?); but I wouldn't feel obliged to do that.</p>
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<p>Hey, at least she's grateful. There's a certain person in our acquaintance who's roped various friends into all sorts of activities - spending several days cleaning their old and new house when they moved, babysitting, gardening, cooking and so on - and never says thank you. She's offended a fair few people because of it. Mind you, that makes it easier to say no... :p</p>
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<p>Maybe I am missing something here because if the kids get along.. I found it was easier to have friends over than to go visiting sometimes. And I have watched kids once a week for a girlfriend or two that needed physical therapy every week for six weeks or one that had a class her dh couldn't cover for her. None of us could afford babysitters. Both women "paid me back" in different ways.. it was a win/win.</p>
 

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<p>At a guess I would say depression. Before H left I didn't think I could adequately care for two kids either. I would get really overwhelmed. Maybe you could offer to go over and keep her company and just be a friendly ear.</p>
 

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<p>I'm having a hard time reading the situation.  Can you give an example of what a typical week or month might be like?  Mostly because I'm just curious.  <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/smile.gif">  I'm wondering if it's possible she really wants to hang out with you, but doesn't feel like that's an acceptable excuse to call, so she uses needing help with her children as the excuse.  I mean when she's asking you to do things with her and her children outside the home, maybe she thinks that would be more fun.  Although maybe I was reading that wrong.  Is she only asking you to babysit?  I don't know, though, if she always has to have someone in the house to help her, it seems like she just has this expectation that this is normal and not a burden to other people.  </p>
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<p>I have a sister who is a year younger than I am, and had her 6 kids between the age of 17 and 27.  I moved back to live with my parents after college, and for awhile I worked at the same place as my sister and her husband, and I was constantly babysitting, or working the shifts that they couldn't work. I really had no life to myself at that point, and even if I tried to take a hard line, my sister would beg, cajole, get angry, then come and drop the kids off at my parent's house anyway.  I don't think she ever went more than a few days without needing me or my other sister to babysit, and we were angry and resentful about it.  When the older kids were 8 and 9, she started leaving them alone with all the younger ones if she had to, so sometimes I'd go over there because I was worried about them.  So I guess just thinking about anyone asking me to babysit their children fills me with dread, although in reality, the few times I've had to do it since I've had my own kids, I've found it fun.  But if someone was calling me as often as this woman is calling you, I'd probably stop answering the phone.  </p>
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<p>I only remember ever asking a friend to babysit once and that's when I went into labor with my second.  My sister was going to the hospital with me that's why I didn't ask her. </p>
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<p>I have a friend now who asks me to help her out about 1-3 times a YEAR.  She really needs the help too.  Her daughter has classic autism and she can not take her to appointments.  I'm more than happy to help with no compensation but if she asked more than a few more times a year than she does now it would start to be too much. </p>
 

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<p>This can be tricky. Yyour situation sounds like it is all one-sided, which would make me feel like I was being used.  I know other posters have mentioned that.  But what about this scenario, does she think that maybe you really WANT to do it, like you enjoy getting to socialize your daughter with her kids?  Maybe you could make yourself a little less available unless it is urgent....for example, I was recently asked by a friend if I wanted to babysit and I knew she was really just going out to dinner....I said, "If you REALLY need me and it's urgent, you know I'll be there....otherwise please save me for one of those times...things are pretty busy here"  She got the message.</p>
 

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<p>If she's asking you to come to her house to sit frequently, that would annoy me! If she wanted to drop off the kiddo at my place and I was home, I'd be much more lenient. Having to go there is terribly incovenient for you and you are truly babysitting for free at that point. Having kiddo come to your place for a few hours is more like a playdate.</p>
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<p>I used to watch friends/neighbors kids once a week or more at my house. If I was home, it usually didn't matter if they came by. But, they also reciprocated in taking my kids if I needed it (not often...mine are older and I can leave them for quick errands). Or they did other things for me, and it always felt equal.</p>
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<p>But, I do know moms like some of you speak of who think that it's impossible to get anything done with more than a kid or two home. I used to do home daycare with 6 under 6 and I'd get cooking, cleaning, and even sewing at naptime done. But, I know myself. I have very small need for 'me' alone time and a high tolerance for kid "noise".</p>
 
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