Can You Watch My Kids?
When someone asks you, "Can you watch my kids?" how equipped are you to do them that favor? If your first reaction to that question was "I'm not!" then you have just done the person an even bigger favor.
As a parent of two rather amazing kids, I'm all too familiar with handling chaos. On any given day, my 2-year-old could be crying his brains out because he just ripped one of his books, while my 6-year-old is singing "Let It Go" at the top of her lungs for 2 hours straight.
I openly admit that watching my own kids on a daily basis is a lot like trying to wrestle a bunch of wild hogs. Add another child into the mix and what do you get? Unabashed mayhem, that's what. So when someone asks me, "Can you watch my kid?" I have to seriously evaluate if I am capable of piling on even more responsibility, since I know full well what's in store.
That's why, even though my kids are super awesome, I'm very cautious about asking someone to watch them. This is not like house sitting or pet sitting. Nor is it a menial task like picking up the mail for a neighbor while they're out of town. It's a human life that needs constant attention. And I mean CONSTANT. You have to realize how important of a role you are being asked to play and if you choose to accept the challenge, you have to give 100% to the task. And I mean 100%, not 90%, not 99%. I say this because if you don't give everything you have while watching a child, you could be in for one hell of a ride.
Please, don't sit there and say, "Big deal! I can watch a kid. I used to babysit in high school." Oh, the naiveté. And I used to have a six-pack in high school and now the closest I get to that is when I buy one at the liquor store (sorry Get-Fit Guy).
So before you casually say, "Hey no problem," assess where you're at right now. Can you really give your 100%? Do you know how to - or are you comfortable with - changing diapers? Do you know the child's dietary issues? Are they really allowed to have sweets? Because trust me they'll pull the ol', "My mommy says I can have chocolate, I swear!" Then the next thing you know, you're peeling the kid off your ceiling like old spackle. Don't laugh, that happens.
The bottom line is that if you're asked to watch someone's kid and honestly say you're not comfortable with it, I applaud you. That is the proper and mature way to handle it. After all, if you are embarrassed to say "No" and my kid gets hurt because you were too busy texting or surfing the web...well, let's just say, I know how to use a steel chair and trust me they hurt.
In life, there are the kinds of favors everyone can do, like picking up a friend from the airport, lending a buck or two for coffee, or helping friends move. And then there are the types of tasks that only a select few are equipped for - watching someone's kid is one of those. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being honest, and saying "I'm sorry, I don't think I can."
So the next time someone utters the words, "Would you mind watching my child?" stick to your gut reaction. And if that reaction is "No way!" politely decline. Don't go into specifics of why you can't do it and don't drag it out. It's how you feel; it's not your fault. Trust me, you’re not the last person on their list to ask.
Babysitter and baby image courtesy of Shutterstoc>