Where I am stumbling the most is the later in the evening request ( 9:00 - 9:30 ) when my kids are in bed, DH is heading shortly if he's not there already since he gets up for work very early and I am finally just sitting down after a long day ( I am sure most moms of younger children know what I'm talking about ). That's when I feel trapped like a rat since it isn't really cutting into family time when everyone else is sleeping ( or about to ) and she tells me I can just sleep on her couch so "I can get my rest too". I just feel like I'm at a loss for being able to say no - my mind just goes blank and I say my default yes.
You can still say "No". It's OK. It really is. Her request is out of line (well, actually her repeated requests are out of line) and a refusal to a rude request is NOT rude.
I mean you keep talking as though this is something that shouldn't bother you or that you don't have the right to say no or "You aren't doing anything anyway". That's not the point. The point is that
a) You don't have to.
b) You don't want to.
You obviously don't want to or you wouldn't be posting here. So come up with some excuses. Start baking in the evening. Go out for a walk. Turn off the phone. Answer with a "I can't tonight, sorry."
Personally, I love my couch time and going to someone else's house to do this on a regular basis would.not.happen. (without some serious reciprocity in money/baked goods/overnight babysitting while I go on a trip)
And I don't think I'm a jerk. I just think that my life is important and I get to choose to help people only when I want to.
POD to pretty much everyone but this being the last one and an excellent point.
I've posted before that I agreed to be a regular babysitter for a friend when my kids were 3 yo & 6 mths. Why?
Because since I was a SAHM, I thought I couldn't say 'no'. I had no excuses and the real reason (I didn't want to) didn't occur to me to say.
Until I mentioned it to DH, who then kinda exploded because he said I had no right to make unilateral decisions that affected our family. We had our own company at the time and I was already running to the bathroom, locking the door and running the taps to field calls from clients w/o them hearing kids yelling or laughing. DH had odd hours as he handled the sales, estimates, repairs and overseeing bigger jobs so he had downtime and didn't want someone else's kids underfoot when he'd be working from home or trying to rest.
Someone else would be perfectly fine with that, but DH and I regard our home as our personal space and get edgy when people try to encroach on it. I wish I was different but for now I'm only comfortable for people to be in my home when I invite them and for a set period of time.
DH informed me that being young, inexperienced parents with no support system ourselves, we were not going to take on the part-time raising of someone else's kid. He said, 'Tell her whatever you want, blame me and say 'my mean DH said NO!' just tell her it's not going to happen'. I was so relieved.
I picked up the phone and called her and explained that I had spoken too soon in agreeing to be her babysitter and that after some thought I would not be up to that task. Unlike me, she had a lot of family in the area and used her mom and dad for daycare much to their chagrin.
But that phone call was a turning point for me. I told someone 'no' and the universe didn't split, a hole did not open in the floor and suck me through it. She was disappointed but she dealt with it.
I then was drunk with the 'no' power after that. I started saying 'no' to anybody and anything because I found out I could. It was a heady and exhilarating time! I calmed down, not long afterward and generally say yes when I want to.
A couple of years later, the kids were 5 and 3 and another
friend wanted me to babysit her toddler. At this point I'd decided to homeschool my 5 year old and with no thought whatsoever I said 'no' because I totally knew that homeschooling a 5 yo with an active 3 yo underfoot while running a house and doing the books and phones for our business was the max I could handle. Raising someone else's child for 20-45 hours a week (depending on her DH's schedule) was beyond me. She tried to convince me that I could handle it and I just laughed and said 'no' again, but told her she was free to call for an emergency if whoever she found for daycare got sick or whatever.
While this next one is not entirely related, I lived close to the local Pre-K-12 up in the mountains. Even though both my kids were babies
(and therefore, not
in school) you would not believe the moms that thought I had nothing better to do than pick their kids up at school and chauffeur them home or keep them at my house til their parents could get them ("Bloo, could you pick them up? The bus doesn't drop off at your house cuz you're so close and I don't want them crossing the street." Really, your 13-17 yos can't cross the street
I did it once for one parent. When it showed signs of turning into a regular thing and others started asking, I quit answering my phone.