A lot of people jump at the chance to let someone else watch their children. Parenting is tiring; I get that. It’s nice to have a break and reconnect with yourself and your significant other. And while I get offers from people often to watch my twin toddlers, I don’t take them up on it. I know some are undoubtedly offended when we never call them or say, “no thank you,” but there are so many things running through my mind that I don’t want to explain each time.
Here are the real reasons I don’t take you up on your offer to watch my children:
1. They will destroy your house.
Twins are a novelty. Everyone thinks it’s all fun and games, and they want to be part of the action. Twins are a lot of fun, but they’re also a lot of work and a lot of stress. Sometimes those who don’t have twin experience are easily overwhelmed when thrust into the situation, and I don’t want to do that to anyone. Plus, they will destroy your house. And they’ll do it in under five minutes. With double the trouble, they feed off each other and their behavior spirals out of control very easily. I don’t know if all twins or children are like this, but mine are quite destructive.
When you ask to watch my kids, I say no because you have no idea what you’re getting into.
2. My house is a complete disaster.
Not only will they destroy your house, but they’ve already destroyed mine. So, when you offer to come to our house to watch them, I have to say no. I don’t have the time or the energy to get my house beautiful before you come over. I know people say they don’t care how my house looks, but I do. My messy house is my secret shame, and I rarely allow people to see it. Even when we do hunker down and clean it, with me working from home while taking care of the girls and my husband working outside the house, the cleanliness doesn’t last long with two 2-year-olds running around.
When you ask to watch my kids, I say no because I feel vulnerable and exposed for you to see my house this way.
3. I have anxiety.
When it comes to my kids (but let’s be real, it’s not just related to my children), I’m a buzz of anxiety. Are they safe? Are they protected? Are they fed? Are they changed? Did they stop breathing and I didn’t even know? Will they figure out how to get out of the house? Will they get hit by a car? Will they break their necks because they see every piece of furniture as a mountain to be conquered?
It never ends. I’m constantly terrified that something will happen to them, that my dear, precious babies will be ripped away from me and I’ll become a shell of a human being. Keeping my girls in a controlled environment with me watching them helps me let go of some of that anxiety. The unknown scares me, and that includes having someone else watch them who may not be as attentive.
When you ask to watch my children, I say no because keeping control of their environment helps my anxiety.
4. Routine is my safe place.
With twins, routine is everything. We keep them on the same schedule, and we’re desperate for that not to change. It was such a difficult and sleep-deprived journey to get them on the schedule in the first place, and the chance for me to get out of the house without kids isn’t worth messing that up. Routine is my safe place.
When you ask to watch my children, I say no because I’m scared it will mess up their routine and then everything will be even harder the next day.
5. Important cues could be missed.
One of my children has this thing. Sometimes when she cries, she projectile vomits. For real. When I think of others watching my children, I know that they won’t be able to identify what type of cry means she’s going to blow within ten seconds. They won’t know how to calm her down or maybe they won’t be ready to catch the vomit in their hands while running to the sink while remaining calm so she stops vomiting. Once she starts, it’s hard to get her to stop.
When you ask to watch my children, I say no because you don’t know them as well as I do, and that could spell disaster.
6. I don’t know you well enough.
I get lots of offers from people I don’t know very well to watch my children. Again, a lot of it goes back to the idea that twins are a novelty. I know that some mean well and want to help when they see this frazzled, tired mama walking around or when they find out that I haven’t left the house in weeks or that my husband and I haven’t gone on a date since before the babies were born two years ago.
A few months ago, we were invited to an adult-only dinner with loved ones. The idea sounded nice, but many that we would trust to watch our kids were invited to the dinner. They arranged for a babysitter to have all the children that night, but I couldn’t do it. I don’t know her. Everyone talked about how great she was and how nice and responsible. That’s lovely, but I still don’t know her. For me, it wasn’t worth risking something bad happening because I let a stranger watch my children so I could go out. I’m sure she’s a nice person. I’m sure she’s a responsible babysitter, but, really? She’s still a stranger to me.
When you ask to watch my children, I say no because I’m cautious and I don’t know you very well.
7. I don’t want them getting sick AGAIN.
Other people’s homes are full of germs from their last sickness. Yes, I’m a germaphobe, but one reason is because sickness keeps getting spread. I’m taught and re-taught that germs are everywhere. In our life with twins and me working from home, we walk a tightrope of functionality and sanity. Getting sick because someone spread the germs without even mentioning they were sick can be infuriating. When the girls get sick, they pass it between them for what feels like ages before it comes to us.
I can’t tell you how many times our household has become infected with something after a playdate or a family event. All I ask is that at least let us know you’ve been sick so we can make that decision to come over or not. You may not be sick anymore, but those germs are on the remote, and my girls will instantly start playing with those, and probably in their mouths.
I get a lot of flack for this one. I understand that getting sick helps build immune systems. I understand that everyone gets sick. And it happens, but I don’t need my kids walking into a hotbed of germs when normal life gives them sickness enough.
When you ask to watch my children, I say no because I don’t need sickness coursing through my house and my family.
8. They are my responsibility.
They are my babies. They are my responsibility. I have been given the task to care for them, and I take that seriously. That doesn’t mean others who allow people to watch their children don’t take it seriously. I know that’s not true. But when I hear phrases like “you need to” or “you should” or “you have to,” I want to scream.
The truth is: I don’t need to go out once in a while. Sure, it’s nice, but it’s not a need. Taking care of my children is a need. Making sure they are safe and protected is what I have to do. Sure, my husband and I haven’t gone on a traditional date in years, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to connect when the kids are napping or in bed. We don’t have to go to the movies and out to dinner to strengthen our marriage. There are so many other ways to do that while still watching our children. I’m not saying you shouldn’t go out, and I’m not saying that we’ll never go out.
One day, we’ll get there. But for now, we’re happy staying with our children and being at home.
When you ask to watch my children, I say no because I want to be with them every second I can before they grow up and move on.
The offers to help with my children are always appreciated. It shows your love for us and your kind hearts. Thank you. One day, I might need to take you up on that. One day, there’ll be an emergency where I need to drop my kids off or someone needs to come to my house. But for now, it’s working for us. Know that when I say no, it’s not because we don’t love and appreciate you. It’s not because we don’t want you in their lives. We’re figuring this all out one day at a time, and we appreciate the latitude to be able to do so.
I may say no, but I’m also saying thank you.