I've been doing a once-to-twice per week childcare swap with a neighbor for a year and a half. Our kids are nearly the same age (her son is 3 months younger) and are quite attached to each other. The other mom is a friend, and we have generally gotten along well, but there have been some ongoing issues for me with the situation. She's chronically taken advantage of me to give more hours than I get (you may remember that last year we were swapping childcare for music lessons, which wasn't working out so well -- this year we switched to swapping kid care across the board, which is better but somehow I still end up doing a lot more hours for her than I get in return). She is quite audacious in what she is willing to ask of me, with little respect for my time or what I'm doing. She's done a couple of thoughtlessly hurtful things to me in our social group, too, which I got over. But one of the biggest issues right now is that she is a first-time mom who thinks the world revolves around her boy. When our children were young toddlers, I actually shied away from allowing her to babysit dd because of a few times in our shared playgroup where she was very quick to discipline my child right in front of my face (often even interrupting my own discipline to do it) for very minor offenses, while making all the excuses under the sun for her own kid (when he pushed another child off a chair, she said "Oh, it looks like he wanted more space on that chair.").
As our children have gotten older, I thought maybe she was getting over that -- as we do when we have spent more time as parents -- and I finally allowed her to start watching dd for me in exchange for me watching her son. But recently I've noticed that she's still blaming dd for every little thing, and this weekend dh and I witnessed her doing it in a way that had us both fuming afterward.
I've decided that I have to stop the childcare swap with her. It's probably long overdue after everything that has happened, but I really liked having a friend/neighbor so close by with a same-age child, and the idea of being able to share childcare and create a little community was so important to me that I put up with a lot and overlooked a lot. But I think I've finally had enough, and my dh has absolutely had enough -- he sent me an email this morning saying he feels very strongly that we should break ties with her, that the way she's treated both dd and me are unacceptable to him.
So I have to send her an email, or call her, telling her that I've decided not to continue our arrangement (and I should do it soon, as I generally watch him on a couple of upcoming weekdays). The question is, should I be honest with her about why? I feel like, since we are neighbors and will certainly see each other regularly at the park, on the street and eventually at school, discretion would be a good thing. I don't want to burn all bridges or make everything awkward. I feel sad at the thought that dd won't be able to play with her little friend as often, even though he's not always an ideal playmate. I feel like maybe I should just say that it's not working out, that I am busier than I thought or make up some other innocuous reason (she may press for details, since I'm sure she'll feel this is out of the blue). If I do tell her the truth, or a gentle version of it, I'm afraid that I may say too much or let my anger/upset show and that it will create bad feelings between us in the future.
Is it better to be honest, or not? How would you handle it?
(ps. She does have a daycare that she uses for childcare part time, so it's not like I'm leaving her high and dry by quitting the swap -- although I know money is sometimes tight for them, one reason why I've let this go on for so long already.)