Moms want to lend a helping hand to other moms because they are acutely aware of how tough motherhood is. This could be helping out getting kids to school. It could be grabbing an item or two while at the grocery store because another mom just has too much going on to make it. Babysitting on occasion for free because childcare costs are astronomical may even be offered. It may quickly can go from being an act of kindness to being expected consistently.
And when this happens, it puts a strain on friendships and puts those who initially offered in a tough spot expressing a desire to not babysit. Making mothers wonder how they are supposed to handle the situation when another mom thinks they are their babysitter.
When mothers make the decision to babysit another mom’s child, there is generally a discussion as to how many days and hours per week babysitting will occur and if there is any payment for said childcare. If children are older and just need to be watched for an hour or so after school and the children are great friends, it may not be an issue. If the initial ask for babysitting is coming from someone who is more of an acquaintance who is in a bind that suddenly is expecting their child to be watched with frequency, it is a different situation entirely.
In that instance, if there is no money involved, then it is appropriate to sit down and hammer out the logistics of the childcare. And if there is not a mutual ground that can be reached, then babysitting should not happen at all.
Here is what to do when another mom think you are her babysitter.
Set Boundaries You Are Comfortable With
According to BetterUp, boundaries are letting people know what is acceptable and what is not. It lets people “protect personal space, physical and mental health, and safety and security.” It is about putting oneself first and not allowing others to dictate how they treat you in the process.
When moms say “yes” to babysitting one time, they are putting it out there that they are a potential go-to for future babysitting asks. If “yes” is said the next time moms are asked, a tone has been set that moms are available at the drop of a hat to watch someone else kids. And if “yes” is said consistently, a routine is put into place that no matter how much moms do not want to babysit, they will.
Before things get to this point, clear boundaries need to be set. A set of ground rules so that everyone involved knows what the expectations are going into babysitting.
If it is meant to be a one-time offer, then it needs to be made clear that an exception is being made to watching another mom’s children. Then, if the request comes around again in short order, “no” should be said so that boundaries are maintained.
This keeps those who may want to help every now and again from being put in a position to babysit when they do not want to and moms who need the babysitting clear on the fact that other childcare needs to be found.
Suggest Childcare Options That Are Financially Feasible
Many moms turn to other moms for babysitting because it is just simply too expensive to pay childcare fees. But, there are alternatives to traditional childcare that moms may not have thought of. And ones that are financially feasible to boot.
According to Mother Untitled, some alternatives to taking kids to childcare centers that are not excessively expensive include:
- 4/10 schedule switch off: Moms on opposite Fridays off take over childcare duties for those who are working
- Gym daycare: Work can be done in the lobby or café area versus using the time to work out
- Alternating babysitting: Several moms get together and each takes all the kids one day per week with the goal being that all or most of the work days are covered via this babysitting method
- Nanny share: Two to three families get together and hire a nanny to watch all the kids in one location
For those moms who want nothing to do with babysitting at all, there are more alternatives to keep this from happening.
According to Huff Post, those alternatives include:
- Using in-home daycare, which is typically less expensive than childcare centers
- Renting out spare bedroom to college student in exchange for childcare
There are ways to find childcare out there that are free or far less expensive than a childcare center. And as long as moms do their homework to ensure where they are sending their kids is safe, fantastic places that care for children can be found.
Just Say “No”
If it comes down to it and boundaries are still being overstepped, it is time to just be direct. And that means telling the mom who sees another mom as a babysitter, “no.”
According to SafeSitter, there are several ways that babysitting can be declined. Those ways include:
- It is too many kids to watch at one time
- Kids are being picked up too late for me to babysit
- No, there just is not any availability in the schedule to babysit
Saying “no” to another mom does not have to be rude or uncomfortable. But, if these statements and others that are similar in nature do not seem to deter the mom looking for an unpaid babysitter, then she simply needs to be told, “no.” The more she is told that simple statement, the less often she will ask.
Until the assumption that she has free babysitting is no longer a thought. At which point the relationship can go back to begin friendly, or, unfortunately, it may take some time to repair if that is what is desired.