General Etiquette > Family and Children

Babysitting: be honest, or be "unavailable"? - Update p3

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BG: My husband's best friend is divorced and has three young children. Recently, he was unexpectedly given full custody of the children until further notice. It now looks like Friend will probably be awarded permanent full custody.

Friend works full time, and the oldest child is in school. The other two are younger, and Friend's mom has been watching them while friend works. The two kids are close in age to my son, and when we all have time we get the kids together to play. Even when there are three adults to match the three kids, it's so chaotic.

Last week Friend contacted me to ask if I would watch his younger two for a few hours, and offered to pay me. I told him I was busy. But I believe he'll probably ask again.

The thing is, I'm not a kid person, and I have a hard time relating to/dealing with other people's kids. I love these kids, and I wish I could help my friend, but there is no way in heck that I can be responsible for three children under the age of three and still keep my sanity.

First, I guess, I need a reality check. Is it unreasonable of me to not want to watch the kids? Should I suck it up and do it in the name of helping a friend?

Second, if I don't watch the kids, would it be better to be honest and say I just can't handle it, or continue telling Friend that I'm unavailable?

Three kids under the age of three.....just be honest so there will be no confusion in the future. There are not many people that could handle that.

Back before I had kids my then DH and friend were doing some side work for extra money. Friend asked if I could watch his 2 year old as his wife worked nights. So after an hour commute, an 8.5 hour workday and another hour commute I watched his 2 year old for another 3+ hours each evening. I lasted a week.  And no I did not get paid.

If you don't babysit, just say that "I'm sorry, I don't babysit."

If you lie and say you're unavailable, they're going to keep asking thinking that you were only unavailable just then and not for any future opportunity. 

I be honest and simply say that you aren't equipped to babysit but that you are fine with play dates since both of you are there..  That way the friend doesn't think you don't like the kids.

I would be completely honest with him because you're right, the requests will probably continue.

I've never been around children, really, and my lack of experience makes me uncomfortable with them, so when friends ask if I can watch their kids, that's what I say - I'm sorry, I wish I could help but I'm not comfortable being in charge of kids on my own. I often throw in that I've literally never watched kids on my own before and would be the worst choice they could make, with a little smile. It usually works.

With Friend now having full custody, he'll have to go through the process of finding qualified sitters for the times he wants to do things on his own. It's just a fact of his new life, and he won't always be able to ask a friend to do it. The sooner he finds a reliable, qualified sitter that clicks with his family, the better.


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