Thursday, November 3, 2011

How to Say No to Babysitting!

My son called me just a few minutes ago to ask if we could take care of our grandsons tomorrow morning.  They are having the carpets cleaned throughout the house!  Yikes! I think he really needed us.  But we are getting ready to leave for Arizona on Monday and are having the whole family here for dinner tomorrow night.  Hard as it was I had to say no.

My son did not think a thing of it.  A short explanation and how I felt told him that I was not doing this because I was selfish.  I just couldn't.  How have we come to this place?  I know some children and their parents have real problems in this area.  This is the strategy we have used:

  • Everyone understands that we are not the full time baby sitter.  While it would be a big financial help for my children to assume this responsibility, we have discussed how important it is for them to carry this burden.  In cases that involve friends I don't mince words.  No just means can't make me do that no matter how much I love you! Smile!
  • When we do take care of the grand babies, I discuss what we have done when the parents come to pick them up.  While I don't complain, I do let them know that my age will not let me do this for an extended period of time.
  • We have a relationship with their babysitter and have visited her home. I have no explanation for why this helps but it does.
  • I have always been honest with them.  If we have plans,I simply tell them.
  • If it is a true "emergency",  we change our plans and pick up the slack.  They know that in such cases, they can count on us.  I have even come home from Arizona in an emergence.  
Brycen, 1 yr. 10 month
Very hard to turn down!
In the end I think we have always been clear about what we can and cannot do.  I am sure it came up in the conversation even before the last two grandchildren were born.  We all understand where the boundaries are.    My husband and I stay very active and busy.  We are strong family and we support one another but give each other a lot of space.  It has always worked for us.

In an article written for the author (Wilmoth Foreman) talked about a grandmother of 8 and her attitude toward being asked to babysit:
Without a blink, she reels off her grandkids' ages — 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 3, 1. For Annie, watching the kids has never felt obligatory. Instead, she sees it as a chance for the grandkids to get to know their grandparents as people. "The little ones are my only hope for sitting these days. I jump at keeping them every chance I get," she says wistfully. "It's hard to say you don't want to be part of something that won't last very long." Annie hastens to add, though, that her grandkids' parents have never overstepped their bounds or "put her on the spot."

Read more:

I think she said it better than anyone could.  My children, like hers have not "overstepped their bounds or 'put us on the spot'".   Wish us luck.  So far we a doing just fine.



  1. I just got home from keeping my granddaughter so this is a timely post for me. I keep her once every 2weeks and treasure that day. Rarely does my daughter ask me to keep her outside of that. She understands that I have a life also.

  2. Now that my grandchildren are 14, 11 and 8, I am so thankful I took as much time with them as I could when they were little. I have a very special bond with each one that happened early and continues into now. My favorite valentine from them is taped to my bathroom mirror: Grandma, you ROCK!! As I become less important in their lives (and even embarrassing -- how can this be??), I have no regrets. They KNOW me, and I KNOW them. They will always remember me as I remember my grandmothers. What could be more important than that? Norah

  3. I would give just about anything to spend every day with my grandson. I only have one legacy- and he is it for now. In the end- my condo neighbors will forget I existed- but I would love for "Nana" stories to be shared with the next generation. The epitome of selfishness - I know- but my one true desire.

  4. I love your blog--and my six grandchildren, now all teens and above. Time spent together gives us stories to share and great memories, even if I did have to say "no" on occasion. Say "yes" as often as you can!


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