We all like to help out when we can. Sometimes our friends or family need a night out, kids-free, and we are more than happy to step in. We know how tough parenting is and that everyone needs a break now and again. Watching our own kids is super easy, so babysitting isn’t that bad either.
You agree to watch a friends kids a few times while they go out, and it is all dandy. But then they start asking you more and more, and soon the kids are at your place almost every weekend. Time for you and your family becomes rare and you soon feel like you have taken on another job.
Helping out is a nice way to be there for friends, but don’t get suckered in to being their personal babysitter. They might see you as an easy option and ask you each and every time, knowing you will say yes. While your intentions were good to start with, it can become quite overwhelming and you land up in a position where you feel like you can’t actually say no anymore.
It is time to break the habit and stand up for yourself. You are the only that can break the cycle, and the sooner you do it the better. It is best to start saying no before it gets to that awkward stage. If you see a pattern forming, put your foot down. By setting boundaries early, you will be laying the path going forward. This will save you dealing with last minute babysitting and constant requests from your friend. Putting an end to it early is the best way to ensure you keep your time to yourself, and your friendship stays healthy.
If it is too far gone already and you’re in deep, there are other ways to remedy the situation. Don’t completely cut off your friend, she might really need the help, but only offer your time when you have it free. You should decide when it suits you to babysit and not the other way around. You are doing her a favour, so don’t let her dictate the rules to you. You are still able to help out your friend, without feeling like a slave.
One of the hardest things to learn to do is to say no. Such a small, simple word, but it can be so difficult to say sometimes! We would rather inconvenience ourselves and agree to whatever we are asked to do, instead of just saying no. It is a skill that you need to practice, and it is a skill that will come in handy in many situations. Don’t overdo it, but being able to say no when you mean it will help you stop any unwanted situations happening.
Another way to avoid this happening is to just stand your ground. If no doesn’t work and they keep asking, just stick to your guns and decline. You don’t need to give excuses and you don’t not need to reason your way out of it. It is your time at hand and you get to decide whether or not you are free to help. It is 100% your decision to make.
Avoid any manipulation from your friend. Manipulation isn’t always clear from the start but you will know soon enough if you look at things from a different angle. If they overplay emotions and try make you feel sorry for them in order to get you to babysit, don’t fall for it. They might even try a different angle that makes you feel guilty for saying no. Whatever it is, don’t fall prey to any manipulation. Once again stop it before it gets worse.
Being sucked into the role of personal babysitter for a friend can happen quickly. You just need to recognize it as it happens and put a stop to it then and there. There is no reason you can’t help out every now and again, but don’t be the default choice, especially when you don’t feel up to it. Learn to say no, and stand your ground. Make sure that your friend is also open to babysit your kids when there is a need. It is only fair for both of you to help each other out.