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Remind me why I don't want to do this.


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My neighbor just showed up at my door asking if I can watch her child most of the day tomorrow. She caught me totally off guard and I said I probably could but I'd let her know if dh had something planned for tomorrow. Said child is not well behaved and I know this because I've taken him a couple of times before in more desperate situations. They don't talk to anyone in the neighborhood except us for reasons I won't go into and I would not consider her a friend. I told her my child his age won't be home most of the day because of an extracurricular activity and she said, "Oh, I'll have him bring something to do and he can go along." Halfway through the conversation, she told me that she was called into work. She used to have a well paying office job, so I was a bit confused, but apparently she lost the job after some inappropriate actions and now works retail. She kind of vaguely mentioned being willing to pay, but was very noncommittal. I'm not sure what her husband is doing, but he has a very flexible job. My dh joked that he probably doesn't want to watch him either.  I'm going to have to go over there and let her know and I don't know what to say. I don't mind helping out a friend with an occasional work/sitter issue and a well behaved child, but I know I'm going to regret saying yes. Please help me find a graceful way to say no.

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I've thought about it and it just won't work for me to watch him tomorrow. Have a nice evening.


If it's not someone you consider a friend and the child is not one you care to spend time around due to his behavior, there really is no loss if she gets angry and quits speaking to you.


If you need to feel "better" about saying no, think of your DC - it's not fair to have their activity interrupted/ruined by a non-well-behaved child. Because his bringing something along does not guarantee that he'll concentrate on that. Say no for your child's sake!

Edited by fraidycat
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"I'm sorry, I checked my calendar and talked with dh and we have other plans for tomorrow." still leaves the door open for future inquiries.  It's time to slam this door shut and bolt it, otherwise you will become free daycare.




I would say something like, "My life is so full that I can't take on any more commitments. Good luck in finding a sitter."


Otherwise, she'll be asking you all the time. 

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I have a policy that I only will watch other people's kids for true emergency (ER visit) or occasional medical reasons, and I'm very upfront and vocal about this policy. Her needing a sitter for work tomorrow isn't an emergency in my book. There are lots of people I'm sure she could pay to watch her kid, unless she's burned bridges at daycare or with whomever. If she's not offering to pay or barter or something, she's using you anyway.

Edited by ifIonlyhadabrain
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Just let her know


"Sorry, I can watch Jr tomorrw. It sounds like you are in a jam. I thought about it, but I am not really a good person to ask for babysitting. I already have commitments with my family, and don't want to have more on my plate.  I think that the large commercial day cares often offer drop in care, so maybe try there?.  Good Luck! "


If she pushes back....just say "sorry, I already have commitments tomorrow."



Let her know ASAP though, so she knows to keep looking else where. 


I used to have little kids and work. The neighbors watched my kids all the time.  I almost always paid but sometimes we traded care.  Just be kind and honest.  If you don't want to be asked, then let her know.  I was never offended when people were honest with me. 


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I'd probably do it that one time, but I would not do it again.  (just because I had been unclear)


"Oh sorry, that doesn't work for me."

"No, I don't want to be tied down like that.  Have you considered the mall hourly place?"  (around here that pretty decent drop in care--YMMV)

"No, I really don't like to babysit."

"You know, I think you need a different solution for your work situation."

"Oh, I'm sorry, I can't do this kind of thing."  (or 'don't like to')

"No, I'm really looking forward to some time alone."

"No, I'm really looking forward to some one on one time with my son."


You kind of have to judge how strongly you need to word this in order to avoid future requests.

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