Stay-at-home parents and others who work from home usually have some flexibility when it comes to scheduling and childcare. But sometimes, they end up taking care of other people’s children, too, according to this Wall Street Journal column written by Jeffrey Zaslow, “Yes, I’m Home. No, I Can’t Pick Up Your Child.”
“To those who leave their neighborhoods to work, stay-at-homers look like easy marks for all kinds of requests: car pooling, errand-running, church-volunteering, school-committee-leading, and being the go-to neighbor for every UPS delivery,” Zaslow wrote.
There’s a perception out there that moms and dads who work from home don’t have nearly as much as to do as people who go to an office every day, he pointed out. That’s why other parents might ask them to pick up their kids from school or babysit for a few hours. Some of these moms and dads are listed as emergency contacts even without being asked.
According to Zaslow, some of these stay-at-home parents are beginning to feel resentful. They want to be nice and help out their friends who work 9-to-5, but they’re also sick of people taking advantage of them, especially when it comes to childcare.
"You're expected to pull the weight of all the people who can't," Diane Fitzpatrick, a freelance writer who works from home, told the Wall Street Journal. “It’s as if I have to explain what I do all day.”
Unfortunately, these arrangements can take a toll on friendships. Sometimes it’s hard to say “no” when a neighbor or friend asks you to walk the dog or to look after their child for an hour or two after school. At the same time, some people just don’t realize that they might be imposing on someone else’s time.
This fall, a neighbor who is working on a graduate degree and has a child attending my son’s
school graciously agreed to look after my son for about an hour before and after school. At first, I thought I could reciprocate by
offering to take care of his kids in the evenings or on weekends. But when it
came down to it, I realized that my son would be spending more hours at his
house compared to the amount of time his children would be in my care. I didn’t
want him to feel as thought I was taking advantage of him so I offered to pay
him for looking after my son. We both felt awkward about it at first, but in
the end, we agreed that it was a fair way to deal with the situation. I also didn't want to put our friendship at risk.
Have you ever asked a neighbor or friend who works from home to take care of your children? If you work at home, do you sometimes find yourself looking after other people’s kids? What types of arrangements do you make to ensure you’re not being taken advantage of or imposing on someone else?