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AIBU to never babysit?

(64 Posts)
GetTheStartyParted Sat 06-Apr-19 16:44:20

My DSis has 3 children, the older 2 have significant care needs and the youngest is a baby. All 3 still in nappies.
I have 2 children, both older than hers.

I never asked her to babysit and she never has.

I have looked after her older 2 numerous times, including when the others were born, long weekends so she could go away, hair and nail appointments and so on. Maybe once every 6 weeks or so, not all the time.

I have only had the baby once.

I reduced how often I looked after the children when she started expecting it rather than appreciating it and to be honest, I find the older 2 difficult to care for too now that they are bigger.

She and her husband don't work, the older 2 are in school full time and baby goes to nursery once or twice a week but my sister has started to complain that they never get any time off and needs a break. Her sister in law and my mum babysit and she also has a carer that they can pay to babysit.

My husband works full time and I work part time and study part time and our children do a few extracurricular activities so we don't have much free time.

Is it selfish of me to maintain that I don't want to babysit? Should I explain why? There is so much tension between us that I worry we will fall out soon.

M4J4 Sat 06-Apr-19 16:47:15

YANBU. Never explain. Just say you can't help.

Cornettoninja Sat 06-Apr-19 16:49:34

At the risk of sounding uncharitable I don’t think yanbu at all, they sound like they have a decent amount of support to me.

Just keep to the line you have a very full timetable yourself at the moment

Aquamarine1029 Sat 06-Apr-19 16:51:12

You are definitely not being unreasonable. Say NO every time she asks. Her children, her responsibility. You have enough on your plate.

bridgetreilly Sat 06-Apr-19 16:51:16

You don't have to explain. You could start asking her to babysit your children occasionally. That might make the point.

StarTheGirl Sat 06-Apr-19 16:51:19

No, yanbu.

I’m sure three young dcs, two with additional needs IS very hard work, but it sounds like they do get some respite. A lot more than many people do. That’s not to minimise how difficult parenting might be for them, but it’s frankly not up to you to babysit when you obviously are very busy too.

If you were maybe older but still very fit and well, retired with no children at home* I might say it would be nice to help in some other way, even if you don’t feel up to babysitting all three of them. But as it is, I don’t actually think you should be taking on any more.

Maybe someone will be along soon who can be more helpful re where she can go for some extra help if she needs it.

If she ‘falls out with you’ over this, I think that would be a bit ott. They are her children after all.

*Even then, you wouldn’t be obliged to do it.

Drum2018 Sat 06-Apr-19 16:52:22

You are not being one bit selfish. You have helped her out plenty by the sounds of it. Her children are not your responsibility. She chose to have them and she shouldn't ever expect that other people will willingly babysit. I wouldn't go back to babysitting them as she will assume you are happy to do it. How does she never have time off if she and her Dh don't work and kids go to school and nursery? She's taking the piss. Ignore her petty whinging and carry on minding your own kids.

greenlynx Sat 06-Apr-19 16:58:02

How old are your children? I wouldn’t ask her to babysit them she might agree as they are older and easier to cope with . They might even help her playing with their cousins. Does anyone babysit for you, like your mum? Or she mostly busy with your sister’s kids?
I don’t see how DSis can expect you to babysit. It doesn’t look like you have lots of free time ( if any) .

GetTheStartyParted Sat 06-Apr-19 17:04:23

Thank you. My DH says IANBU but the guilt trips are hard to take!

I could help and it's hard to say no but being realistic, the older 2 will need lifelong care so there won't even be an end to it.

My children don't need babysitting or that would be a good tactic.

Her life is definitely harder than mine but she also has more help than I ever did and more days/nights out than I did when my children were that young.

I need to stay strong or I'll get sucked back in. Thank you for telling me what I need to hear.

GetTheStartyParted Sat 06-Apr-19 17:08:24

Sorry cross posted, my children are 10 and 16. I also have older step children that live with us so rarely need anyone to look after the youngest.

While they were young, we either didn't go out, went out separately or went out with the children.

We rarely asked any of our family to help.

GetTheStartyParted Sat 06-Apr-19 17:18:30

My Dad helped us when our work schedules clashed before we had our ypungest, a few hours a week.
He has helped my sister but infrequently.

My mum helped my sister more in the first year of her being a mum than she has for the duration of mine. I don't mind that though, they are my children and with the medical problems the baby had, I was glad she had the support.

I can not stand how it makes me feel but also, babysitting won't make me feel better as it will bring a whole new set of problems and it won't be enough no matter how often I do it.

She's asked me to have them for a sleep over.

FrancisCrawford Sat 06-Apr-19 17:37:07

You are definitely not unreasonable

You and your DH both work - she and her DP do not.
You have your own DC to look after
They have already got two free babysitters.

Surely she can schedule her nail appointments for when the older two are in school and her DP can look after the baby?

MissConductUS Sat 06-Apr-19 17:38:57

She's asked me to have them for a sleep over.

Next she'll be asking if you can take them on a nice holiday somewhere so she can "get a break".

Neither she nor her DH can work, at all?

FrancisCrawford Sat 06-Apr-19 17:39:00

As for the sleepover - no way!

I bet your house is really busy on weekday mornings. Getting kids off to school and you and DH out to work. The weekend is your chance to take things easy.

Settlersofcatan Sat 06-Apr-19 17:42:07


I would be inclined to ignore the hinting and go for empathy "I know, we feel the same way - between work and looking after our kids, we have so little time! Isn't it hard?"

Margot33 Sat 06-Apr-19 17:46:32

Just say no. If she ever asks why just say, "you don't babysit for me and I still love you!"

SolitudeSometimesIs Sat 06-Apr-19 17:55:32

I have an Autistic child and an NT child. My lovely sister took them once for a day and night and said she could not cope, I have her kids for sleepovers and days out regularly.

Part of being a parent to an ASD child is knowing that there are few people who will mind my children. It’s tough but your sister needs to suck it up, she’s their parent, not you.

GetTheStartyParted Sat 06-Apr-19 17:56:00

I work early morning shifts a few days a week and study in the afternoons. I also work one of the weekend days.

My husband leaves home around 7.30am so our children tend to get themselves sorted in the mornings, 3 evenings are taken up with sports as are Saturday and Sunday morning.

We now have one night a week where we go for a meal or to the cinema and pay a babysitter if the older children aren't here but never ask my parents or sister.

Our time is busy but well organised and works well for us. I honestly don't know when I would fit in a sleep over though.

My other sisters children sometimes sleep over but they are the same age as my youngest and don't need looking after really, they just all play together and eat me out of house and home grin She has my child round about the same amount and it's more for the cousins to play together not for childcare. I usually fall asleep before the children do as I'm so tired.

Both she and her husband are carers for the children but I think one of them could work at least part time hours. DSis disagrees though. Last time I mentioned it, she said sometimes they both get woken in the night so need to rest the next day and that she couldn't cope with them in the school holidays alone. They do have a lot of hospital appointments for the children but I think one person could take them.

Brienneoftarthiloveyou Sat 06-Apr-19 17:56:24

Agree with the others - just say no, that doesn't work for you. Don't be guilted into anything. If she had no help, then it would be a different story (potentially) but she does have help / support & they are not your responsibility.

GetTheStartyParted Sat 06-Apr-19 18:07:52

@SolitudeSometimesIs how lovely that you understand. I've tried and had them for 4 nights before the little one was born. It was hard work and their needs become more difficult to meet as they get bigger and older. I do understand that this is her reality though, that's why I initially tried to help so much.

Both children have autism, are non verbal, have other significant needs, dietary requirements, in nappies and so on. Both can walk but need wheelchairs for any kind of distance. They need specialist equipment in their home, which I obviously don't have here. Add a small baby to the mix and try to imagine how well our home would work in that scenario. I don't think we would be able to keep them safe, unless I roped in my husband and may be another family member.

Their wheelchairs and pushchair wouldn't fit into my car, their is no suitable bedroom, I don't have stairgates and things.

GetTheStartyParted Sat 06-Apr-19 18:14:52

Ahhh, i have just realised, I have a week off work booked for next week.

I've earmarked it to finish writing my assignment so that I can only work and not study over Easter while the children are off but I bet that's when she thinks I should have them!

Or maybe during the Easter holiday as DH has 2 days off angry

I think that must be why she's talking about it so much again. I will really have to just be firm and vague.

Chocolateisfab Sat 06-Apr-19 18:19:30

Unfortunately her responsibility. Ime the more you rely on others the less effort you think you can get away with doing yourself. She must know she can manage or why have a baby alongside her dc with additional needs? Not your duty op. She is very lucky she has as much help as it is. Most people don't.

GetTheStartyParted Sat 06-Apr-19 18:36:14

The baby wasn't planned but is very much wanted.

DH and I chose to only have 2 (together) as we knew life would be busy enough. If I wanted to look after more children I would have had them.

We had lunch together recently and she make a comment about us being a high income family whereas they have a low income. Coupled with the fact we have an easier life, it feels like resentment is building up on her part but none of these things are things that I can change.

I still feel guilty for it all though sad

GetTheStartyParted Sat 06-Apr-19 18:37:19

I do need to add, she is mostly a lovely sister. She has been very supportive through some tough times and she is a good friend to have.

Chocolateisfab Sat 06-Apr-19 18:39:11

Are they getting all benefit entitlements for the dc?

Friedspamfritters Sat 06-Apr-19 18:44:44

If she's a nice person in general I'd probably be inclined to think she's probably just exhausted and needs a break. I would decide how much help I was prepared to give (one evening every two months). Then just stick to that and not budge. I imagine they can't have a lot of money to pay for babysitters if neither of them work.

GetTheStartyParted Sat 06-Apr-19 18:49:37

Yes, they don't ever seem short of money.
They get what I think is a significant amount of money. They get more a week than I get each month (DH is the big earner). They get higher rate care so have a car, housing benefit, children's taxi to and from school, equpiment provided, nappies supplied and so on.

She does recognise that she's lucky to get the amount she does but it doesn't afford her the lifestyle that we have.

Bagpuss5 Sat 06-Apr-19 18:50:41

You can't stop her feeling resentful. I imagine that I would feel resentful of people who don't have sen DCs if I had two but that's life.
And adult siblings aren't likely to have matching incomes.
I don't know what the answer is if this is how she feels. We have gifted money to siblings in the past as we are better off but that doesn't influence their envy.
I would say that you find it too much so will no longer babysit, she seems to have a lot of support- DH care etc , though it will affect your relationship.

GetTheStartyParted Sat 06-Apr-19 18:53:39

She has always been the more demanding one of the family so I don't know where that ends and the actual need for help begins to be honest!

This is also where I find it hard to sympathise, if they need money to pay a babysitter to give them a break more often then they should cut back on some other areas IMO. We did when we didn't have much spare cash.

I don't want to babysit at all anymore to be honest but it makes me feel horrible.

GetTheStartyParted Sat 06-Apr-19 19:00:29

Thanks, I do think our relationship will become difficult for a while.

Gifting her cash isn't an option (and not one i think she would take) I have several siblings and DH has even more than I do. And we are not that well off. Just more comfortable than other family members.

I might offer to have the baby one afternoon a month, while the others are at school. This would hopefully be manageable and give her and her DH some free time. Plus the baby is a sweetie smile

Happynow001 Sat 06-Apr-19 21:35:04

OP your love for your sister is clear in your post, as is your understandable wariness. Be careful, as it seems your DSis is gearing up to ask you to take her children to suit her needs.

Your life sounds busy enough without the huge challenges she and her DH appear to be trying send your way. It is not her fault she has two SEN children but she and her DH have the help, space and resources (support and benefits) to look after them - which you do not. They need to use these resources wisely.

If you do decide to look after their baby occasionally make sure you set your parameters so that your DSis and BIL are clear how much you are able to do. Don't let this be the opportunity to guilt you to do more than you are able or wish to do. Be strong OP.

And, BTW, YANBU. 🌹

Cherrysoup Sat 06-Apr-19 21:53:04

Be firm or you’ll be sucked back in. Just keep telling her you have work to do. Your house must be full with your own dc plus steps.

GetTheStartyParted Sat 06-Apr-19 22:15:54

Thank you. After discussing it further with DH, he is worried for the same reason so I've decided to just offer the odd day when I'm able to, rather than commit to to an arrangement. He thinks she will make me feel as though I've let her down if I say once a month but then can't one month for some reason.

Sleep overs won't really be possible as the children can't share a room and we only have one spare bedroom, not sure how she was expecting it to happen really.

Hopefully she will appreciate the times I do help and we will all be happy smile

Settlersofcatan Sun 07-Apr-19 13:17:37

Be prepared for her not being particularly appreciative though she should be!

TowelNumber42 Sun 07-Apr-19 14:01:01

I wonder whether you need to tackle the resentment head on. You both have difficult lives in different ways. Bringing that up out in the open in a nonjudgemental way might help you both. She might just need a big vent about how shit her life is right now, with you as a sympathetic listener rather than as a fixer.

GetTheStartyParted Sun 07-Apr-19 14:03:27

Yeah, I'm not expecting her undying gratitude, just a thank you will do but we will see grin

GetTheStartyParted Sun 07-Apr-19 14:09:53

@TowelNumber42 I did wonder if she was just venting and she does always thank me for listening and offer her advice when needed.

I would have thought this was all the latest talk was about until I received this message on Friday...

Thanks, everyone always seems busy in hols & weekends when its hardest, lucky I've got (my husband) here really.
You're always welcome to have any of them anytime and spend a few hours or a day with them or brave a sleepover like you do with the others, understand if it's too hard work but it would be really appreciated x

...Which on the surface is friendly but doesn't address that I already have helped out and that she had 10 years before having her own children and didn't once help me with mine.

I'm always here to listen and help with whatever I can, happily give her a hand when they all join us on days out or visit each other.

wineandroses1 Sun 07-Apr-19 14:30:57

I wouldn’t reply to that message Op. She’s clearly trying to guilt trip you.

StarTheGirl Sun 07-Apr-19 14:33:51

What “others” is she talking about op?

She is trying to guilt trip you here and I also don’t think you should reply to that part of the message. Maybe letting her know you’re always free to talk etc, if she wants a sympathetic ear at least shows you appreciate how hard it must be and that you’re there for her emotionally, but if she wants any more help with childcare she needs to go elsewhere.

Chocolateisfab Sun 07-Apr-19 14:34:37

Honestly? Pretend you have never read the message.

Bookworm4 Sun 07-Apr-19 14:44:12

The 'others' being your able bodied nieces/nephews who are in no way comparable to her 2 who have very complex needs. If I was you I'd offer to take the baby, unfortunately the baby will possibly not get a lot of quality time as he/she grows up as their parents care for the older two. She sounds as if they have plenty support, both her and her husband plus a carer, when the carer is there is when she should take time for herself. Her comment of at least I have my husband is sly, yes she does and plenty women in her situation have nobody to help. Neither of them will work as they'll be better off on the benefits.

GetTheStartyParted Sun 07-Apr-19 14:45:40

The others are my other sisters children. They are older than her children (10 and 12) and don't need looking after as such, just a supervising adult in the house.

I looked after them recently for my sister, she's a single parent and it's the first time I had them for her to go out in years. They spend time here as our children go to the same school and spend time together.

They also have sleepovers here for the same reason and vice versa, they are friends as well as cousins.

I've resisting answering the message, biting my tongue. I believe my other sister received a similar message, despite the fact that she is a single parent that works full time.

StarTheGirl Sun 07-Apr-19 14:49:14

Ah I reckon she’s a bit envious / jealous then. It might not JUST be about childcare iyswim. Maybe a bit of rivalry with the other sister. Very difficult.

I’d make sure she knows you are there for her in other ways, but do not back down on the childcare.

GetTheStartyParted Sun 07-Apr-19 14:49:34

I agree that the little one won't get much quality time with her parents. I do plan on offering her sleepovers, days out and things once she is older, for her benefit.

Sindragosan Sun 07-Apr-19 14:50:44

Bollocks to that! Welcome to have them? It sounds like you should be grateful to look after them.

If she was saying, I know they're hard work and you might not have time but we'd appreciate any help you're able to give that's a whole different story.

No special needs here, but 3 close together and it's hard work. I'm grateful for anyone who helps, but its a lot to ask of anyone and I don't pretend its some sort of special treat for their day!

FriarTuck Sun 07-Apr-19 14:51:11

You're always welcome to have any of them anytime..
She's making it sound as if she's doing you a favour, not the other way round! And then adding on the guilt trip like you do with the others
Bugger that. That would just put my hackles right up. I'd ignore it.

GetTheStartyParted Sun 07-Apr-19 14:54:15

Very possibly but other sister has also provided babysitting without receiving any in return.

When one child was in hospital for up to 6 weeks at a time, my mum, sister and I have shared care of the other so that she and her husband can concentrate on the child that needs them most. Choosing to have a baby on top of all this just made me see that she isn't taking responsibility and is making her own life more difficult whilst expecting us to pick up the pieces.

Drum2018 Sun 07-Apr-19 14:54:43

Ok after that message I wouldn't be inclined to offer babysitting them at all, including the baby. She is manipulative and trying to guilt you which is extremely unfair. She has support, has time to herself when kids are at school/nursery, has Dh there to stay with kids if she needs more time to herself so what more does she want? I'd also ignore that message as it will only draw you in further to her manipulation.

StarTheGirl Sun 07-Apr-19 14:56:31

Choosing to have a baby on top of all this just made me see that she isn't taking responsibility and is making her own life more difficult whilst expecting us to pick up the pieces.

It’s very common. I know a lot of people who do similar.

If you’ve had it with HER completely then ignore the message, but if you’re happy to provide support in other ways, (like a sympathetic ear if she needs a chat), then I’d broach it that way; sister, I’m always here for you if you need a talk or whatever. But under no circumstances should you back down on the childcare.

Settlersofcatan Sun 07-Apr-19 14:59:11

I don't think anything will be enough for her, she will keep guilt tripping and asking for more. You need to develop a thick skin and just do what you are happy with.

Squigglesworth Sun 07-Apr-19 15:02:19

That message is very guilt-trippy. "Like you do with the others"? hmm She has to understand that it's a completely different situation, having one set of cousins to sleep over vs. the other.

It sounds like she's getting plenty of help, already, but no amount is ever going to be enough, because it's never going to make life easy or "fair".

I definitely wouldn't sign myself up for a "standing appointment" of taking care of the children. Offering occasionally, as you mentioned before, does seem like the better route to avoid conflict and a sense of obligation.

StarTheGirl Sun 07-Apr-19 15:06:53

It’s very common. I know a lot of people who do similar.

Btw, that’s not to say I approve of it!!!! It’s surprisingly common though.

Yabbers Sun 07-Apr-19 15:07:26

I’d do it.

Having 2 children with significant additional needs is no walk in the park. Even though they are at school full time, there are still a whole load of things they need to deal with. I assume their care requirements don’t stop at bedtime either. There is a reason parents like them don’t have work outside the home.

Their car will be paid for by sacrificing benefits, it’s not free. And it is likely essential.

You judge her for her decisions. She’s in a really shitty situation. I’m sure she does come across as looking at you with all the advantages your life has. I’d be thanking my lucky stars I’m not in her situation and offering to do what I could to help.

TowelNumber42 Sun 07-Apr-19 15:13:24

I'd reply along the lines of "I know what you mean about school holidays being even busier than term time. We are run off our feet too! Still it would be great to see you all. You are right that a sleepover would be too hard. Having a day out with you and the kids would be lovely. We are available x,y,x days. Shall we meet at A and do B?"

Squigglesworth Sun 07-Apr-19 15:14:40

OP's life isn't a carefree jaunt, either, though. She has her own set of challenges.

Also, her sister had the opportunity (for ten years, apparently) to help out with OP's children and never offered. That might indicate that she's more of a taker than a giver. It doesn't mean OP doesn't love her sister-- and she has helped her and will probably continue to do so, in one way or another-- but it might mean that she's reached a point where she feels taken for granted and needs to re-evaluate how much more she is willing to sacrifice.

GetTheStartyParted Sun 07-Apr-19 15:49:34

Thanks, I do think she has it tough and I probably will continue to help because I love her and all of the children.

I know she has to pay towards the car but she drives a brand new car, with everything but the fuel paid for and then makes us feel bad that we can spend out on a new car for my husband or pay for our child to do something frivolous. Hers is very much needed, with the car seats, wheel chairs and pushchair. I don't judge her for claiming benefits and I'm glad that she gets everything she does.

I have to admit, I judge that she or her husband won't find any part time work but feel like they are entitled to the same as us or judge us for what we spend. My DH works long hours, rarely has time off and that's the reason I'm studying now. I felt I had no choice but to stay home with my children so was a SAHM or worked crappy jobs with stupid hours while they were young.

Life has become easier for us as they grew older and so we're making the most of it. Retraining for me and my DH is still progressing in his career. Life is easier but not quieter.

Yabbers Sun 07-Apr-19 16:51:27

I know she has to pay towards the car but she drives a brand new car, with everything but the fuel paid for and then makes us feel bad that we can spend out on a new car for my husband or pay for our child to do something frivolous

You are aware of what all the additional costs of living with a disability are? Our fuel costs alone are double what they would be were it not for DDs disability. We HAVE to drive her everywhere.

GetTheStartyParted Sun 07-Apr-19 16:57:30

@Yabbers The children get a taxi to and from school everyday. They attend a playgroup locally once a week and maybe have a day out once a fortnight. The hospital appointments are quite a cost as they have to go to a city hospital not the local one but they are less frequent at the moment, maybe once every 4 months. Local hospital once a month, a 10 minute drive.

I know they have money to pay out that I don't have to, they have restrictions that I don't have but none of these should make her comment on what my DH and I spend our money or time on.

Yabbers Sun 07-Apr-19 17:01:16

And neither should her choices give you reason to comment either.

You don’t want to support her, that’s fine. You don’t believe she needs it, that’s your opinion. But there’s no need for judgement.

Yabbers Sun 07-Apr-19 17:02:05

If there is one thing i’ve learned, it’s that parents who don’t have children with disabilities just don’t get it.

Thankfully, most choose not to judge.

GetTheStartyParted Sun 07-Apr-19 19:07:00

I don't openly judge her, I just can't help how certain actions make me feel.

She is very vocal in her judgement of me but I'm not confrontational.

I help and support when I can.

I know I can't fully appreciate how difficult her life is, I tell her as much but when she doesn't take on practical advice and choses to do things like get a puppy when the baby is a few weeks old, it's hard to keep going out of my way to help her.

GetTheStartyParted Sun 07-Apr-19 19:40:01

I visited my DSis this afternoon and there was no mention of anything including the message she sent. She was friendly and happy so perhaps she was just testing the water.

So relieved that we are ok.

StarTheGirl Sun 07-Apr-19 19:45:14

Ah that’s good op smile.

Maybe she was just having a low moment and thought she’d ask.

I think your plan to offer to help them occasionally on an ad hoc basis is a good one.

M4J4 Mon 08-Apr-19 16:24:50


I know she has to pay towards the car but she drives a brand new car, with everything but the fuel paid for and then makes us feel bad that we can spend out on a new car for my husband or pay for our child to do something frivolous

You are aware of what all the additional costs of living with a disability are? Our fuel costs alone are double what they would be were it not for DDs disability. We HAVE to drive her everywhere.

None of this is OP’s problem, Yabbers, OP doesn’t need to ‘get it’. It’s the sister openly judging OP for having a more comfortable life that’s the problem here.

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