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Thread: Childcare swap - would you be honest?

  1. #1

    Default Childcare swap - would you be honest?

    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.)
    -- mom to DD1 1/98 and DD2 10/09


  2. #2
    3andMe's Avatar
    3andMe is offline Every day is a gift. It's just... does it have to be a pair of socks? Hopelessly Devoted
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    Is the specific incident that had you both fuming something that you could refer to as a good example? Do you think she would be able to see how obviously one-sided it was, and how it was just the last straw on the camel's back?

    I, too, would hesitate to burn bridges, especially if you run into each other frequently and are in the same social circles. I would be very tempted to point out what she did as an example, but my husband would stop me and say,

    What are you hoping to accomplish by this? What are your goals in telling her the (carefully-worded) version of the truth?
    What are the long-term implications of telling it the way it is?
    If your actual and ultimate goal is to just remove Noe from her care, what would be the cost of giving her the softer version?

    I'm frequently impulsive in my actions and words, and my dh is very deliberate, and he has become the little voice in my head that stops me from doing things without thinking them through sometimes.

    So I'm not telling you one thing or another-- it could really depend on what happened, how it happened, the personality of your friend, and a whole lot of other variables, but my dh always reminds me to think of the goals at the end.


  3. #3

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    That is a really tough one! I can understand why you would want to stop the swap. I am thinking, though, since she is a neighbor, she might be someone who could watch your child in an emergency. IDK if you have anyone near you, but I wish I had neighbors who I trusted like that. However, that would also depend on what she did that had you fuming if you'd trust her to watch your child ever. If you would, then I would be vague or tell her that you are busier than you thought.

  4. #4

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    I am one who tends to run from confrontation so I would probably blame it on changing schedules/busier than we thought/etc and end it that way. I also would want to avoid burning the bridge because you will cross paths regularly. Down the road there could be emergency situations where you do need each other - and even if it isn't ideal you wouldn't want that door totally closed if she is a neighbor who might be able to help you out in a pinch.

    Sorry you have to deal with this - I can totally understand why you would want a situation like this to work out and to have a reliable neighbor to take turns with!


    Anne (37) DH (37) Olivia (4) Harrison (1)

  5. #5

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    In that situation, I would not be honest. I would make up a harmless excuse about scheduling or something. I would think she may get the idea anyway. But I don't think any good will come from being even gently honest, at least in terms of her feelings. And I don't think honesty for the sake of honesty is necessary here. I would keep things cordial and surface from now on, without getting too close. I'm sorry, that's a very awkward situation!

  6. #6
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    I tend to agree with the others, total honesty is not necessary and may do more harm than good.

    Good luck.
    Rachel, Wife to Andy (12/2003), Mommy to Tanner (12/2009), Hoping for a brother or sister for Tanner in 2013

  7. #7

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    Thanks, all. I'm definitely leaning the same way. I think I'll try my best to get out of it gracefully and maintain a good relationship. I might have an idea of how to do it.
    I really appreciate your thoughtful responses!
    -- mom to DD1 1/98 and DD2 10/09


  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3andMe View Post
    Is the specific incident that had you both fuming something that you could refer to as a good example? Do you think she would be able to see how obviously one-sided it was, and how it was just the last straw on the camel's back?

    I, too, would hesitate to burn bridges, especially if you run into each other frequently and are in the same social circles. I would be very tempted to point out what she did as an example, but my husband would stop me and say,

    What are you hoping to accomplish by this? What are your goals in telling her the (carefully-worded) version of the truth?
    What are the long-term implications of telling it the way it is?
    If your actual and ultimate goal is to just remove Noe from her care, what would be the cost of giving her the softer version?

    I'm frequently impulsive in my actions and words, and my dh is very deliberate, and he has become the little voice in my head that stops me from doing things without thinking them through sometimes.

    So I'm not telling you one thing or another-- it could really depend on what happened, how it happened, the personality of your friend, and a whole lot of other variables, but my dh always reminds me to think of the goals at the end.
    Such good points, L, and they really made me think. There is a part of me (and of dh -- poor guy keeps imagining scenarios in his head where he gets to speak his mind to her) that wants her to know where she's crossed the line or been hurtful. But I do think, given my long-term goal of a harmonious neighborhood situation, that it's better to extricate myself as graciously as possible and try to maintain good feelings.

    The thing that happened this weekend would be a very good example of the issues we have, but I don't think she would "get it." In fact, after it happened, she and I talked a little bit and I gently brought it up. She appeared dumbfounded. I think the way she is is so ingrained, and she's so inwardly focused, that she probably won't ever really get it. If I thought it was something we could just talk about and change, I'd definitely do it.
    -- mom to DD1 1/98 and DD2 10/09


  9. #9

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    I would probably try not to burn any bridges, but if she continues to push for more info, only then would I gently explain more.
    AKA Lisa724

  10. #10

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    I probably wouldn't be open about the reasons either. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

  11. #11

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    I agree with the pp.'s...You have to do what is right/healthy for you and your children. It sounds pretty awful, I'm so sorry you've been taken advantage of! Not fair. I would just make the break without having to explain yourself. If she presses, I would try to give her a diplomatic answer that is non-accusatory...Make it about you, not her. Maybe something like: "Well, I appreciate how we've helped each other out for so long, but I'm just not going to be able to going forward..." ??? Good luck! KUP!
    Me (34), DH (36), DS1, DS2 & 1 Angel (1/17/2012)



  12. #12

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    I am coming late but I would not tell her all the reasons. She might figure out some of it on her own. I would give her general excuses as you mentioned.
    KEVIN (6) & MATTHEW (4)

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