I have a 15 month old step grandson who is adorable. He and his parents (my stepson) live about an hour away so it's not too far to do some babysitting. We have watched him for weekends, and of course I'm the person who does most of the babysitting, although my husband does help.

Here's my dilemma right now.

My mom just passed away a few weeks ago. My mom was my best friend and I miss her more than I can even express. It's the most gut wrenching pain I've ever experienced, and I need time to work through this pain. I'm not emotionally ready to resume babysitting.

My stepson hinted that our 15 month grandson "wants to stay over". So my husband tells me his son and our grandson are coming down for a few hours today. That's fine for a visit it's only a few hours.

Of course, I have to babysit because my husband and his son are outside working on their car.

I said, "he's not staying over night, right?" and my husband got angry. I know they are going ask to stay over.

How can I make them understand I need some alone time without coming off like I'm rude or inconsiderate?

  • 27
    I'm sorry for your loss.
    – ave
    Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 11:29

4 Answers 4


What do I say without sounding like a jerk? How can I get them to understand I need some alone time?

The best thing to do is be open and honest with your son and husband. Let them know your recent loss is still affecting you, and that you're not ready to deal with babysitting. It should be as simple as that, and reasonable people will understand. Babysitting is fun, but it's also very taxing.

You could say something like "My mother's death is still affecting me, and I am still in emotional pain. I not ready to do any weekend baby sitting". And then leave it at that.

Remember, your grieving process is important and it differs in terms of time for everyone. Do not rush yourself through this process - it's okay for you to take all the time you need. Once you express this to your son and husband, I am sure they will understand.

  • 6
    It's my experience that people worry way too much about what others will think. You just lost your mother, for cryin' out loud. If someone can't understand that you need time, then who's the jerk? Hint: the answer doesn't rhyme with "foo". Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 8:24

Saying "no" doesn't automatically make you sound bad or selfish. If you are a people pleaser, or if you have been taught that it's not "nice" to refuse requests, it may well make you feel that you look like a bad person, but it's not a given.

If you haven't articulated your need for time alone and why, then do so right now. It should not be hard for any reasonable person to understand.

You might say,

I was more affected by my mother's death than I could ever have imagined. I am emotionally stretched very thin, and I need time alone to grieve. I would prefer not to babysit until I'm feeling better.

There's nothing in that statement that sounds "bad."

If you have articulated your need for some alone time, and this need isn't being respected, please read on.

Boundaries will make your life so much more habitable. Boundaries exist everywhere in the form of laws. You're not allowed to go into a stranger's house and leave with their TV. You're not allowed to leave the scene of an accident where someone has been injured. Laws are there for our protection, so that we can coexist safely and respectfully. There are consequences to breaking these legal boundaries. Personal boundaries function in much the same way.

People often say they set a boundary, but it didn’t help. There’s an art to setting boundaries. If it’s done in anger or by nagging, you won’t be heard. Boundaries are not meant to punish, but are for your well-being and protection. They’re more effective when you’re assertive, calm, firm, and courteous. If that doesn’t work, you may need to communicate consequences to encourage compliance. It’s essential, however, that you never threaten a consequence you’re not fully prepared to carry out.

Read about boundaries until you are sure you can not only set them but can explain why they are important. Your husband (and maybe your stepson) will push back. You need to remain calm and reiterate your boundary and why you're imposing one. Set a consequence and state it. Then walk the walk.

The conversation should take place with your husband and your stepson separately. when you're both in a good place mentally. It can go something like this (truncated for brevity's sake):

["Husband"] I love you, and I enjoy helping your son when I can. But right now, I am feeling emotionally drained, and can't babysit. I need you to know that I'm hurt when you don't respect my expressed need be by myself. I can't babysit right now, and won't. If you need to say yes to a request to babysit, do so, but please know that I will not come out of my room. If you get angry, I will leave the house.

Then walk the walk.

There will be push back, but if you're serious about being taken seriously, you need to assert yourself. You just have to believe you deserve certain privileges and be able to articulate them to people who are accustomed to treating you as if you don't.

Again, read more about boundaries. They will help you understand more about some causes of conflict in relationships and how to minimize what you can in healthy ways.

What Are Boundaries
Having a conversation to assert your boundaries

  • 5
    +1 because the advice on what to do if they don't understand is important. My mom lost her mother a year ago and didn't want to participate in my dad's family events for the following year. He constantly pushed her and assumed he was doing the right thing by causing arguments trying to force her to overcome her grief. Stick to what you feel and proceed with old habits only when you are ready to do so again.
    – Jess K.
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 17:48
  • 20
    The only change that I'd make: Instead of "I would prefer not to babysit" I'd recommend "I'm not ready to do any babysitting", especially when talking to a man (husband or step son). Don't give any hints that you might be able to do the babysitting.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 22:51
  • 1
    Congratulations @anongoodnurse: your this answer was nominated by Anne Daunted for the best answers quarterly awards contest October-December 2017 and won the (joint) second prize, hence I am very glad to award you this 300 point bounty. Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 16:19
  • 1
    @EnglishStudent - Wow, what a wonderful surprise! Thank you for the honor. Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 0:51
  • It's our pleasure and you are most welcome @anongoodnurse. Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 2:39

You're obviously not the only one around. If your husband wants to take the decision that baby stops over, he needs to take the responsibility to do the baby-sitting. The car will have to wait.

But that's not the issue. The issue is that you're expected to carry on as normal. How can you in such circumstances? Those who expect you to seem to have their own interests at heart. Maybe they think it'll take your mind off things, but they need to know it isn't going to work.

Speak honestly with them, individually, and explain that your mind is elsewhere, and you can't and/or won't be taking on such responsibility for some time yet. Be firm and matter-of-fact. You're the one potentially doing the favours, and favours should be given, not expected.

Time on your own, with your own thoughts is needed now, so state that you are going to have that above everything. It only happens once, so feel that it's your entitlement. If the others involved cannot see that, there's a bigger problem. They should respect your decision.

  • 2
    +1 for pointing out that the OP shouldn't be alone with the babysitting.
    – r41n
    Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 15:49

Speaking from the perspective of someone who has been in your situation in terms of losing a parent, and having been through the process of living in the aftermath of such an event, I would think that your husband and stepson are doing this for you.

With grief it is very easy to close the doors and not interact with the outside world. I know this too much to go in to here. I would think that they will have seen you suffer with your loss - which is significant - and have thought that it might be good for you to spend time with your grandson. It could be that you have a fantastic relationship with him, and that you light up and are happy when you're with him.

This of course is conjecture, as I don't know how you've reacted to your mothers death. I know, for a long time afterwards when my Dad died, I isolated myself and it didn't help. I didn't start to come to terms with his death until I had some normaility back in my life.

I would say you ask your husband and your stepson why they thought you would want to babysit your grandson so soon after your mothers death, especially as you're still in a grieving process. I'd think that their answer will be something along the lines of what I have pointed out. I wouldn't shut them down about it, I would babysit the child.

But it is your decision afterall, but I think there is nothing but care and concern behind the reason they want you to babysit your grandson. I'm sorry for your loss.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.