I’d like to pose a question.

December 18, 2007

Okay, I met this mom recently at Fa’s school. She’s someone who is very smart and very together…Most of the time. I like her. I have even let Fa go there for a playdate after school…by herself. In her car. (A first!) I don’t trust anyone.

And the kid has come here once after school on her own. The two kids like each other.

Turns out, this woman’s mom is ill and her husband works. She had to go be with her mom in another country…and she has left her daughter (Fa’s age) with me after school last Friday and again this Monday from about 12pm to 3pm.

Now, she has asked if I can do it again the rest of the week because she won’t be home for at least another week. I told her and her husband I could do Today and Friday. However, Thursday and Friday the kids are off from school so that means I would have her daughter ALL DAY on Friday.

If I wanted two kids, I’d have them.

And I refuse to do all week. I just know my limits, you know?

I really don’t know these people all that well. We just met. And my initial vibe was that I liked her.

Here’s my question:
Am I being taken advantage of?

When is enough enough?

Am I being too negative?




  1. I think she probably really needs your help, but if it really is too much maybe you could offer up the phone number to your favorite babysitter.

  2. First of all – you are doing the right thing being honest – you have a lot on your plate right now and taking on someone else’s child for this long would be a handling for a lot of us – especially someone you don’t know all that well.

    Having said that – I can see this lady’s perspective, too. I’ve been there. I had to leave Miss E all day and overnight with a lady I met at ‘Mommy and Me’, when I delivered Baby J – I had nobody else to ask – all our other friends worked.

    I like the previous commenter’s suggestion – is there someone trustworthy you can recommend to her? What about her husband’s family – are any of them nearby?

  3. Hmmm~ I’m jumping on Annie’s comment boat because she pretty much said exactly what I was thinking.
    She really may have nobody else to turn to but you, so maybe you could help her with suggestions. It’s a hard situation for both of you, it would seem.

  4. Oh man (SORRY, Oh Lady), that’s a tricky one.

    First of all, you that you refuse to do it all week, very good move to make that clear from the start on and there is nothing wrong with that. Got to agree with the limits 😉

    It might be that she is taking advantage of you but without doing it on purpose (If you know what I mean); you been so kind, kids liking each other a lot and at the same time she is in a bad position, so she asks the first one that makes sense to her (a person she trusts)… you.

    I would do as Sarah and Annie suggests, check if there are other people (her family!) who could help out. Don’t know if you got ‘day care’ for kids that age where you are living, but the times where we couldn’t take care of our kids because of work we let them stay with a woman close to here who takes care of several kids all day (And we trust her).

    I don’t think you are being negative at all and I find it good that you do have these thoughts.

    Good luck with sorting it out.

  5. You are doing the right thing, be honest and up front. Maybe Friday the other parent can take the day off of work and spend it with his kid? I’m just saying.

  6. i’m glad that you are only taking her two days…you know your limits, and it’s not worth pushing them for someone you hardly know!

    i don’t think she’s taking advantage of you…maybe she doesn’t know anyone else who can help her….??? i don’t know. but you shouldn’t feel guilty for only taking her two days…especially if one of them is a full day!

    doesn’t she have any family members or other (better) friends that could help her?

    and no…i don’t think you are being negative…i think you are being protective of yourself, and that’s just fine! 🙂

  7. I agree that you’re doing the right thing by being honest. But it must be a tough situation for that mom to be in. I don’t suspect she’s taking advantage, rather she’s just in a tough spot.
    But I’m with you, I couldn’t watch someone else’s kid for a WHOLE WEEK. Hell, I can hardly take care of my own self…

  8. I think it’s great that you’re being honest, but also that she just probably really needs a friend right now and happens to trust you.

  9. It’s good that you know when enough is enough. I wish I could say no more often. I don’t think you’re being taken advantage of…yet. If she asked such a big favor on another occasion…then, yes.

  10. as a working mom, i see both sides of this coin. and this is going to be a long comment. so go get a cup of coffee and get comfy.

    i know that when my kids were little, i glommed onto anyone who could help me out when i couldn’t do what i needed to do. in fact, i made cold calls from a school roster more than once to find rides, carpools, help.

    i also felt guilty if i couldn’t reciprocate, but frequently i couldn’t.

    this poor mom saw a little kindness and latched onto it. she has a pressing need and she doesn’t see past it right now. i have been there.

    on the other hand, as i look at it from the 20/20 hindsight of 26 years of parenting, she IS asking too much of you. you have handled it correctly by offering the times you that you can and feel comfortable with.

    i agree with the other commenters who suggested offering her alternatives and other sitters, etc. THAT would be what we call a mitzvah. a good deed.

    also, let her help you back. there is nothing worse than feeling like you are always the taker. ask her for a favor. if she’s anything like the rest of us, she’ll be thrilled to offer something in return for your kindness.

    email me if you want to talk more about this….


  11. Yup … what those guys up there said.
    I do not think the lady is evil, but you so totally rock for setting your limits. It is easier to make everyone’s burdens our burdens and not be able to focus on ourselves. You are doing the right thing and so nice to help out when another mom is in need!

  12. Yes, you’re being taken advantage of. Sorry, you’re getting gangted.

  13. Ooh, this is a hard one. I don’t think you are being taken advantage of just yet Yes, she asked for a lot of time, but she also had some sort of family emergency. However, you certainly should not take on another kid for that much time if you already know you don’t want to or won’t be able to handle it. I know it does probably feel like you’re being taken advantage of, but that’s probably not her intent. I’d only help what days I really felt like I could, if any.

  14. I think you’re just being real. Here’s how much I can handle. End of story.

  15. i think the best thing ANY one can do is be honest with what they can handle. That is what you are doing. I am not sure about being taken advantage of, b/c i also am not sure if someone was sick in my family I might just be looking for help where ever I could find it ? I guess that part I wouldn’t judge b/c I am not sure how I would be. But I know that I would only do what I felt I could handle, you are helping her out as much as you can. she has to find other routes if she needs more and that is NOT your problem.

  16. I say it’s ok to set your limits and stick to them. Good for you for knowing yourself and being honest. You aren’t being selfish at all–you are a dear friend for offering to take her period!
    Just my 2 cents.

  17. Stick to your guns. Sometimes people don’t mean to take advantage but it sounds like she is at least a little. Just my humble opinion….

  18. It is OK for you to say no. You don’t have to do everything.

    The positive part of me says she isn’t taking advantaage and needs help. But You have a crap load going on. It’s OK. You CANT do it all.

    Maybe her hubby has to call in sick. Do whatever you can do. That’s it.

  19. This is a really tough question. My first thought is that she and her husband have a lot of gall.

    Then I felt sorry for the little girl. She just needs someone to look out for her. Her parents don’t know you very well. Would you leave your kid with someone you don’t know?

    Well — enough said.

    I’m glad the little girls has you. They could have left her with a monster.

  20. Yes set the limits, and yes be honest. But maybe ask what she does the other time, if she has a sitter, if the problem is that she can’t afford her etc….Might make her offer you a bit of money. Either that or she will stop, cuz she will realized that she can’t take advantage of you.

    I might do it these two days…Christmas spirit and all, but I would tell her up front that there has to be some compensation or other arrangements if she wants to use you as a “sitter” more often.

    Play dates fine, and an emergency here and there, but not always.

  21. […] man, I have no idea. What say […]

  22. It sounds like she feels about you the same way you felt about her. She trusts you. I imagine she just doesn’t have anyone else. If it’s too much to ask… I agree with Sarah… offer up some babysitting options. Politely explain that you just don’t think you can do it all. And just think… you might need her in the future!

  23. Honestly, I think it’s easier to watch two children the same age than it is to watch one– because you don’t have to entertain the kids– they entertain each other. That being said– I just think it’s a little to early for your new found friend to be taking advantage of you. If you’re not comfortable with it, then don’t do it.

  24. Mmmm, that is tough. I hear you on wanting to help a friend out and she does sound desperate, but you do know your limits. I would stand by what works for you.

    By the way, this is coming from someone who is usually taken advantage of and who has ABSOLUTELY no outside help except from my equally frazzled, over-worked husband. Good luck.

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