This blog post should be entitled "dear mother who hasn't organised childcare for the summer holidays, it's not my job to pick up your mess" but that's too long.
Before I launch into my rant, I will point out that I LOVE being the village for other mums. I will willingly help out those in need, I will happily offer to give a tired mum some time out by taking her kids for a few hours, I will babysit for friends so they can go on date nights, I will cover someone in an emergency, I love cuddling babies, and entertaining toddlers and kids, and I really do want to support my fellow mums when they need it. So if you are a friend of mine reading this and are now worried that I didn't mean what I said when I offered to have your kids for a few hours so you could just take some time out, I REALLY did mean it and I am looking forward to helping you out. I kind of figure it's actually easier to add more kids to the chaos my own two cause, so I generally don't mind looking after other people's kids.
However, and there is a big but and exception to this.
If you assume that because I am not working during the summer holidays and send me a mail asking me to have your kids, for most of the day, for several days a week, unpaid, providing, I assume meals and entertainment, because for some reason the summer holidays and the need for childcare seems to have only just dawned on you, I probably will say no, and you will get a sharp reply back when you persist.
I realise the summer holidays are long. Childcare is insanely expensive. I get that. I have worked holidays and had to pay for childcare. It sucks. As it is, I work two days a week and my kids come with me to work, because it's cheaper and easier to do that, than pay for childcare. I do have childcare but it's paid for out of a very tight budget and I skimp on other things to cover that.
What I don't get is that we all know the summer holidays are coming and that working parents do have to sort something out. If this was the first time, and you had made a plan and it had fallen through, I would be sympathetic and probably offer to help. However, this is not the first or the second time you have sent a mail out, outsourcing your children looking for free childcare, over a holiday period and at no point have you offered to reciprocate. I would gladly have your kids if I thought that I was going to get something out of it, myself, because these summer holidays are long and keeping my own kids amused, my house from being entirely trashed and our food supplies unravaged within reason, is hard enough to manage with my own two kids, most of the time!
You seem to think that because I work with children and families, but only work term time, that my holiday time should be taken up with the free care of your kids. You have implied in your mail that "well, you are at home with your own kids, mine aren't that much work" should mean I will immediately offer to be childcare for yours. When I mentioned payment or some sort of "you have mine and I will have yours" type arrangement you came back astonished that I didn't want to do this all for free. Safe to say, my reply was short and to the point. Want me to have your kids, all day for several days a week, feed and entertain them? I ain't doing it for free. Sorry, not sorry. Oddly, I haven't heard back.
This is all true. It's not the first time it has happened. I feel rocks about saying no.
I want to help other mums, I understand that being a working parent is tough, but it's not really going to wash when someone is frankly taking the p*** and thinks that because a parent is home for the summer, they are free childcare for your kids…
I know other people who have been asked to things for free, professional cake makers expected to make wedding cakes for no cost, photographers asked for their services at mates rates, I could go on and on. It's rude to expect someone to basically cover your back for free when you haven't got yourself organised. It's unfair to expect things for free, when you are, frankly taking someone for granted.
I will end this to add that if I thought the children in this situation were going to be at risk of being left alone at home, with no childcare, or this person was in dire financial straights and really needed help, I would step in and help. I am not heartless or mean. However this is not the case. This person can and does pay for childcare, they are just chancing their luck.
I love being the village, but sometimes I am going to shut my door and say no….