When we first moved to our neighborhood we were the only family with small children around. At first, we thought it might be strange, but we enjoyed the quietness of living around retired adults and a few families with older children. I never had to think about entertaining unannounced children coming to my house at nap time or making snacks for kids that I didn’t know their last names. I became comfortable with being the parent who had to drive to go see other small children or make plans for them to come to see us.
Fast forward six years and the street we live on has been filling up with elementary school-aged children, and for some reason, they have all decided my house is the one to come over to.
I’m not against playdates. I know my children need to hang out and play with others their own age, and I know it can be boring to just play with your sibling all the time.
But, I really need my neighborhood to know, I am not your babysitter.
For some reason, people still think that if you’re a stay-at-home or work-at-home mom you’re also free childcare. This is not the case. I think we all know, especially after working from home for most of the last year, that getting anything done at home, even with just your own kids is difficult.
There’s also the fact, that I really don’t want to watch anyone’s kids unexpectedly. If you are in a pinch and need a favor one time, of course, I’m willing to help, but just letting your kids show up at my door first thing in the morning before I’ve even finished my coffee and think I’ll be okay with it is crazy.
I know I’m not alone here. I’ve talked to other moms at home with the same problems, and listen, we love kids, and your kids are great, but just because we’re at home doesn’t mean we want to be the neighborhood childcare center.
So please, neighbors, next time you think it would be fun for your kids to come over to play with mine, make sure it’s okay with me first. Just because I don’t have a traditional job does not mean I’m the babysitter for hire, and you haven’t been paying me anyway.