Author Topic: How to tell someone you just don't want to babysit for them?  (Read 17428 times)

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amylouky

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How to tell someone you just don't want to babysit for them?
« on: February 28, 2013, 10:24:22 AM »
BG: We have a neighbor who has become somewhat of a friend. We don't socialize all that much but we talk when we're outside, and have had cookouts together a few times. Neighbor has a live-in friend (girlfriend? I can never tell) who has two children, who are 1 and 7 years old.

Neighbor will occasionally ask us to babysit (which, it's weird that the childrens' MOM doesn't ask, but that's another story..) We have watched them a couple of times for a few hours, and do not want to do it again. For one thing, they burned us with pickup time once. We had told them that we had to be somewhere at 6, they said no problem as Mom got off work at 4. She ended up agreeing to stay late at work, no call, nothing, and didn't come get them until 5:40. They also dropped them off once when the baby was teething, in bad pain, and had a fever.

Also, and I hate to say this, but the older child drives me nuts. She can be sweet but she's completely undisciplined. She doesn't listen at all, and I'm pretty sure she has ADHD which is not treated. When she's around, our DSs follow her lead and it's just chaos all around.

So.. my current dilemma. Neighbor called yesterday and asked if we could keep the kids OVERNIGHT for TWO different nights in the next month. I chickened out and told him I'd have to check with DH, because I was totally on the spot. I really don't want to, but I don't want to get on bad terms with neighbor either. It's hard to just tell him that we have plans, because they can see our house and see when we're home. I suppose we could make plans to be gone those days but that just seems silly. Also, it wouldn't prevent them from asking again.

I thought about telling them that four kids is too much to handle, but he knows we've had sleepovers with/babysat other kids in our family around the same ages. I really need to find a way to say "YOUR kids are too much to handle" but there's just not a polite way to say that. I know that "No" is a complete sentence, but it just seems rude.

I don't mind helping out in an emergency, but I'm just not interested in becoming part of their babysitter rotation. It's also awkward because he'll try to give us 5 or 10 dollars on the times that we have watched them, which is odd. We can't really do reciprocal babysitting either because I don't want them watching the boys (for many reasons, which I won't go in to here).

Any ideas?


hjaye

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Re: How to tell someone you just don't want to babysit for them?
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2013, 10:34:34 AM »
I think what you have to realize is that you don't owe them an explanation. 

Neighbor:  Can you keep the kids overnight two times next month?

You:  I'm sorry, that won't be possible.

Neighbor: Why not?

You:  I'm sorry it won't be possible.

Neighbor:  I don't understand?

You:  I'm sorry, it won't be possible.  So how's the new garden coming?

Zilla

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Re: How to tell someone you just don't want to babysit for them?
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2013, 10:35:26 AM »
I would just tell him that you can't as you aren't comfortable doing overnights.  And that is a very valid thing, I wouldn't do overnights for those ages for just because.  It would have to be a medical emergency etc.


And you can also suggest the name of a babysitter locally if you have one or know one and offer it to them every time they ask.  "I can't but I know a great sitter, want her name?"  If they said they can't afford one, then simply say, "I am sorry but I can't." then bean dip or end the conversation.

Eden

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Re: How to tell someone you just don't want to babysit for them?
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2013, 10:37:34 AM »
I'd just say, "Sorry, that's not going to work for us." And tell them no every time they ask. Eventually they'll probably stop asking.

Zilla

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Re: How to tell someone you just don't want to babysit for them?
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2013, 10:38:33 AM »
I think what you have to realize is that you don't owe them an explanation. 

Neighbor:  Can you keep the kids overnight two times next month?

You:  I'm sorry, that won't be possible.

Neighbor: Why not?

You:  I'm sorry it won't be possible.

Neighbor:  I don't understand?

You:  I'm sorry, it won't be possible.  So how's the new garden coming?


This would be kind of strange conversation to have if the neighbor doesn't understand.  I wouldn't repeat myself like a robot.  I would say, "I just can't, but I know a great sitter OR I just can't.  And then bean dip.

NyaChan

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Re: How to tell someone you just don't want to babysit for them?
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2013, 10:41:18 AM »
"We aren't comfortable keeping the kids overnight and won't be able to do it.  In fact, I'm so busy these days that I won't be able to babysit during the day either - I wanted to be sure to give you a heads up since I know I'd been available to you in the past.  I hope you find someone else who is a good fit for your family."

lowspark

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Re: How to tell someone you just don't want to babysit for them?
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2013, 10:57:00 AM »
I don't mind helping out in an emergency, but I'm just not interested in becoming part of their babysitter rotation.

I would tell them a version of that sentence. Something like:
"I'm sorry, but short of an emergency, I am really not able to babysit your kids on a regular basis."

However, regardless of how polite or gentle you are, at this point, you are essentially putting your foot down and saying "no more". And it will more than likely cause some kind of bad feelings. You're just going to have to live with that I think.

siamesecat2965

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Re: How to tell someone you just don't want to babysit for them?
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2013, 11:08:46 AM »
This is a perfect example of not JADEing. All you need to say is you can't do it, politely. Don't make excuses, don't say you aren't comfortable with overnights, or anything more than you aren't able to do it, sorry.  Any more leaves the door open for them to wear you down and get you to cave. it sounds like they can kind of sense you might find it hard to say no, and they take full advantage. Don't let them. And I speak from experience, the more you put your foot down, and decline to do something, the easier it gets.

It doens't matter that you don't have any "set" plans. your plans could be to stay home with the kids for movie night. Or go out to a movie, but you don't have to give them any reason at all why you can't or don't want to babysit their kids. and you shouldn't have to make plans to go away to avoid them.

If it helps, practice saying what you will say to them with your DH, and write it down, and call them back. And then get to the point, and get off the phone :)

Don't even tell them you'll do it in an emergency; because to many people, as shown in this thread, emergencies mean different things.  http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=124997.0

bloo

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Re: How to tell someone you just don't want to babysit for them?
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2013, 11:11:37 AM »
I don't mind helping out in an emergency, but I'm just not interested in becoming part of their babysitter rotation.

I would tell them a version of that sentence. Something like:
"I'm sorry, but short of an emergency, I am really not able to babysit your kids on a regular basis."
However, regardless of how polite or gentle you are, at this point, you are essentially putting your foot down and saying "no more". And it will more than likely cause some kind of bad feelings. You're just going to have to live with that I think.

I've actually said the bolded to two different friends. And I like them and their kids. They didn't get mad. One was a little frustrated but them getting mad would mean I wouldn't watch their kids when they're in a bind! Plus, we were friends...and friends should not feel entitled to your services, especially after you've said 'no' to their request.

They can deal with it or die mad. I really doubt they'll be mad. They'll just have to figure something out. The sooner they know you aren't going to watch them, the better.

I know you didn't ask about this, but it's really weird watching kids for a woman that you don't really know well and doesn't talk to you herself to make plans and then, therefore, doesn't feel inclined to call if she gets held up. You have my sympathies. I wouldn't babysit under the same circumstances.

MrsJWine

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Re: How to tell someone you just don't want to babysit for them?
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2013, 11:16:11 AM »
I kind of had this situation going with our neighbors for a while. It almost seemed like, since I'm a SAHM, I must love all children and have no problem watching theirs whenever.  The four kids all have ADHD. They're actually very well-behaved and sweet, but so INTENSE. I cannot handle it, on top of my two small ones. So I just started saying, "I'm so sorry; I can't," at random. I wanted to get the point across that they can't and shouldn't rely on me even as an emergency babysitter because I'm not always going to be available.

They may see that you are home, but that doesn't mean they know what's going on inside. Maybe your kid had a doctor's appointment scheduled and needs to recover from a procedure. Maybe it's the day/weekend before a big test. Maybe it's a preplanned family movie night. There are all kinds of reasons that you might be home but unavailable.

ETA: Also, I don't ever say I can babysit them in an emergency because then anything could be turned into an emergency, if they ask me at the last minute.


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Utah

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Re: How to tell someone you just don't want to babysit for them?
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2013, 11:16:35 AM »
You're just going to have to be honest.  Just tell your neighbor that you're sorry, but you are not going to be able to help them out.  You are not really interested in being their regular babysitter.  If there's an extreme emergency, you hope he knows he can count on you, but unless it's an emergency, they're going to have to find someone else. 

This has happened to me several times, since I don't have a job outside my home.  I have found that there's only ONE explanation people are willing to accept when I tell them I can't/won't babysit.  And that's the "Because I don't want to" reason.  Simply put, you can't babysit because you don't want to be a babysitter.  Anyone who would argue with you about it isn't worth worrying about their friendship over, IMO.

MindsEye

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Re: How to tell someone you just don't want to babysit for them?
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2013, 11:16:49 AM »
Do you really think that your neighbor will hate you forever if you tell him that you don't want to babysit these kids (who aren't even his kids) anymore?

If you feel the need to give some kind of explanation, or to say something to "let him down easy", then say it is because you don't like the way that these kids and your kids interact.  Which, from the sounds of your OP, is 100% the truth.

EmmaJ.

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Re: How to tell someone you just don't want to babysit for them?
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2013, 11:35:44 AM »
I don't understand why you don't want to tell your neighbor the truth.  You don't have to be rude about it, but certainly tell him that not only is it chaotic with the two extra children, but that your plans were ruined with her delay in picking up her children.

Both of those reasons are valid and no pussyfooting around is needed.  It also gives the mother a true answer, so (if she really wants to) she can take steps to avoid alienating the next babysitter.

mj

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Re: How to tell someone you just don't want to babysit for them?
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2013, 11:42:17 AM »
You're just going to have to be honest.  Just tell your neighbor that you're sorry, but you are not going to be able to help them out.  You are not really interested in being their regular babysitter.  If there's an extreme emergency, you hope he knows he can count on you, but unless it's an emergency, they're going to have to find someone else. 

This has happened to me several times, since I don't have a job outside my home.  I have found that there's only ONE explanation people are willing to accept when I tell them I can't/won't babysit.  And that's the "Because I don't want to" reason.  Simply put, you can't babysit because you don't want to be a babysitter.  Anyone who would argue with you about it isn't worth worrying about their friendship over, IMO.

This is the same experience I've had.  I used the "no, sorry I just can't" to a lady for close to 2 years who could end up asking me a handful of times in one month.  I even tried emailing her a link to sitting services & she still didn't get the hint.  (to be fair, she was also doing the "spray & pray" email where she would request a babysitter from several different people all at once)  I'm pretty sure I'll have to actually say that I'm not interested in ever watching her kids. 

seriously?

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Re: How to tell someone you just don't want to babysit for them?
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2013, 11:47:15 AM »
I think what you have to realize is that you don't owe them an explanation. 

Neighbor:  Can you keep the kids overnight two times next month?

You:  I'm sorry, that won't be possible.

Neighbor: Why not?

You:  I'm sorry it won't be possible.

Neighbor:  I don't understand?

You:  I'm sorry, it won't be possible.  So how's the new garden coming?

I disagree with this (I've seen this referred to several times using the same phrase)I find it very odd and off putting.  There is nothing wrong with not wanting to babysit, but I really believe it can be said in a much "nicer" way.  If someone acted that way with me, it would definately have a negative impact on the relationship