I received this question from a reader:

How do you politely tell someone that you don't mind being their friend, but you don't want to babysit for them anymore?

Funny you should bring this up, Anonymous Reader.

I have this friend who volunteered to watch her friend's 3 kids every morning (for free) and then take them to school. She thought it would just be for a few hours a day, but it turned into a huge ordeal. The kids were dropped off at 6 a.m. and she was hauling them around, along with her own very small children, until the last kid went to kindergarten at 11 a.m. When I talked to her about this, you could tell she was irritated and this was a big hardship on her family, but since she couldn't say no, she was continuing to do this day after day. I couldn't believe it. Is it really that hard to just be honest?

Here are my solutions to your problem -


Tell her one of these phrases over the phone -

"I'm sorry, I can't do it anymore. It is too hard on my family."
"I'm not available to babysit your kids."
"I'm not available, but I know someone else you might be able to call."
"I've decided that I just need to take it easy and not watch kids other than my own for awhile."

You get the idea? Honesty. It's amazing.


Start a babysitting co-op with your friend and lots of other women. She can use the other women for babysitting and then you won't feel so bad for abandoning her. I love our babysitting co-op. It is one of the greatest things about living here in this itsy bitsy town. I use it to clean my house, take naps, shop, work on my church calling and occasionally go to the doctor. I don't feel like I am exploiting my friends and vice versa. The kids love playing with each other. I love it.


Move out of town.


  1. Love your post today. I was in a similar situation. I started watching a friend's kid and dropping him at pre-K twice a week 'just for a couple weeks'. I told her I didn't want to do it all the time because I was pregnant with my 3rd. She never found anyone else to do it and I ended up doing it the entire school year. Not too bad b/c she watched my kid sometimes, too. This school year I had her 2 kids 3 days a week (not for long hours but I still had to schedule my days around them & I have 3 kids of my own). This year I am no longer working so I don't need her to watch mine so now it's annoying to have to watch hers all the time. I got out of it by having major surgery in Nov & being on bed rest for 6 weeks. This forced her to find an alternative sitter. I think she realized she was imposing but when your so comfortable in a situation it's hard to find an alternative. Now we just get together for occasional play dates and it's nice to be friends again and not just her babysitter.

  2. I think this has happened to all of us at least once or twice. I've had the reverse happen recently. All the women in my ward were going out to dinner before a fireside and I couldn't go because Zach wouldn't be home in time to watch the boys. A woman in my ward kept insisting that her husband watch my kids so I could go but I did not want him to. I politely declined.

    I think honesty is the best policy. I agreed to watch another friend's 3 kids so she could go to the dr. last week. The day before her appt. we were going to get the kids together at the library when she called to tell me that one of them was sick. The next day she still wanted me to babysit the kids. I hated doing it, but I had to tell her I couldn't because I don't want to expose my own children to her kid's sickness. It sucks, but so do lots of other things about being a grown up.

  3. I'm no mommy, but I'm pretty sure I would stick with option number three. I'm so pathetic.

  4. Funny you should post this as I just handled this same situation in my own life. My cousin left her second husband (not the Father of her kids) because it was a bad situation. Because our kids go to the same school and she works full time, she asked if I could keep them after school for a few hours for a month until she got settled in a new situation. It was a crisis so I agreed.

    A few days later, she moved BACK in with the hub but didn't tell me about it. The crisis was over but it "made their marriage run so much smoother if he didn't have to take care of the kids after school". Are you kidding me? If the success of your marriage relies on the absence of your children then you're doing the wrong thing. I wasn't going to continue to enable her to do the wrong thing by her kids.

    The way I 'got out of it' was to just directly say "Since you don't need me anymore..." I didn't ASK if she needed me. I didn't give her a chance to hedge on time frames etc. Just terminated it.

    In the case of the commenter, she just needs to give and end date. "I won't be able to watch your kids anymore after next Friday". Remember that you stay home and make that financial sacrifice to benefit your own kids- not to clean up after the responsibilities of others.

    DO NOT give reasons because you don't owe her an explanation. If you give an explanation, the reciever will likely just find a 'solution' to your problem so you'll have to continue to watch the kids. She had a problem and you took it off her plate. She's not going to want the problem back and will try to find a way to keep it in your court.

    Be kind. Be direct. Be firm. It will only 'hurt' for a moment and then you'll feel so much relief that it will be worth it. If the 'friend' quits being your friend over it- well, you'll know for sure you were just being used.

  5. My favorite option: ask her to watch your kids every afternoon.

  6. Love this post! I think Moving sounds like fun...but honesty is the best policy.

  7. I think using Slydial to tell her you can't watch her kids is the obvious solution here...

  8. A friend is going through this...I just sent her your post ;) I vote for honesty..as hard as it may be, it seems like the best path!



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