General Etiquette > Family and Children

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

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Or, at the most, say that you can't babysit unless it is a true emergency i.e. (hospitals are involved).  If your friend has any social sense, he will realize that means, "I can't do it and don't ask."

If your friend is clueless, then say, "I really can't handle 3 under 3 alone.  Sorry."

It's an unfortunate situation, but for the reality check, it's not your situation. It is totally okay that you don't want to be responsible for these kids, even for a few hours. Even if they were older and perfect angels, it would be totally okay. *I* don't want to be responsible for anyone's children, though I personally would make an exception for a true emergency, and it would really have to be an emergency for anyone to call *me*!

So, I think you have to decide what your boundaries are (with your DH, too). Can you tell friend you're okay watching the kids in an emergency? What about as a last minute backup? For literally just two hours once a week? I'm not saying you have to agree to any of these, I think you can have a zero policy if you want, you just have to decide what you're comfortable with. Then next time Friend asks, maybe you'll be able to tell him, "While I'm not comfortable watching the kids on a regular basis, I am happy to be a last minute backup if you need me," or whatever is applicable.

A zero policy is a little trickier, I grant you. If you suspect Friend is looking at you for help in this regularly, you might be proactive and say, "So, what are you going to do about getting people to watch the kids?" just as a matter of friendly interest. You could recommend babysitters or daycare providers to him, for example. And if he says, "I was hoping you would watch them," you could say, "No, I'm sorry, I can't do that." I think I really would stick with "that won't be possible," even though it sometimes seems more natural with friends to explain things. I think your reasons are perfectly valid, but it's not the sort of thing a newly-single parent is going to find helpful, you know? So I would try to avoid explaining why, even as you stick to your boundaries.

POD others who have said that this is an unfortunate situation, but it isn't your situation. Just be honest. "Friend, I would have a hard time with 3 children under the age of three. It won't be possible, except for an extreme emergency. But I heard that Ms. Loveskids on the next block might have a couple of openings, why don't you check with her?"

Also, alot of times the public elementary schools will have a list of available caregivers, he would just have to ask the secretary.

shhh its me:
  I would be unavailable/that wont be possible.  IMHO sometimes we are overly truthful.( I mean we in general on this not you OP)Asking once even asking twice a year does not require a turn down with more information then that.

 I think if you get asked more then 3 times(in quick succession) you can say "I'm not much of the babysitting type" I'm assuming you don't babysit at all. 

I think you only you can decide if you're declining to babysit is crossing into " I'm not being a supportive friend" territory.   

Please just be honest about your situation.  Telling him that you're busy is going to lead to frustration and bad feelings all the way around. Just tell him that you're not a kid person and three little ones are more than you can handle.  That way he will stop asking and you can stop making up excuses to do something you don't want to do.


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