Dear Annie: We have wonderful young neighbors we like very much. However, they continue to ask us to baby-sit their young children. We have raised our kids and enjoy our empty nest. We do not enjoy baby-sitting, although we are willing to do so for our own grandchildren on rare occasion.
You would think they would get the hint since we have politely refused them more than 20 times. How do we graciously decline without hurting their feelings? – The Older Neighbors
Dear Older: You graciously decline by saying, “Sorry, we can’t manage that.” And say it as many times as necessary. Either your neighbors are extraordinarily dense, or they are hoping to wear you down. Simply continue to say no, politely and respectfully.
Dear Annie: After reading so many letters about the family problems that ensue when splitting up belongings after a death, I thought I’d tell you what my siblings did.
The nine of us met at our parents’ house. We picked the largest room in the house, put up nine pieces of paper on the walls and numbered them 1 through 9. We then went through each room of my parents’ home looking for items we wished to keep. We brought these things into the large room and placed them under each sheet of paper so that there were nine piles. If one pile looked skimpy, we would add to it on our next trip. Appliances and furniture too large to move were numbered where they stood.
We then wrote the numbers 1 through 9 on pieces of paper and put them into a hat. Each person pulled a number that corresponded to a pile, and the things in that pile belonged to them. No one “rigged” a pile, because no one knew which number they would pick from the hat.
When we were finished, if anyone wanted to swap, that was up to them. This system worked perfectly. It also helped that we are a close and loving family. – Did it Right