Too much minding

The support network we used to have in suburban neighbourhoods – with kids being cared for by various people in the street – is something many of us no longer have these days. But when it does happen, it’s important not to take it for granted…

Dear Wendyl,oy neighbour is a lovely girl, a young solo mum with a gorgeous little two-year-old boy. I often mind him for her when she has to run up to the shops or has an appointment and I enjoy helping her out. My problem is that lately it’s become more than just a quick mind. She now sometimes drops him off for a whole morning – and last week she left him with me all day. She rang several times and said she was delayed but when she turned up, I smelled alcohol on her breath, which is fine, but it meant she was out having a good time at my expense. I don’t mind helping out but now I feel like she’s taking me for granted and I do have other things I could be doing at 65. How do I get her to see that I’m not a free babysitter?Shona,Taranaki


Dear Shona, What a lovely neighbour you are, and an old-fashioned one at that. It must be nice to have someone like you next door for her to rely on. But you are right – she is taking things too far. You need to get really busy, really fast. Mr at least pretend to be. Ask her over for a coffee and say that you’ve recently signed up for a correspondence course on animal husbandry or floristry and it’s going to take up a lot of hours.

Explain that this means you’ll be a little tied up for the next few months but you’d still be happy to have the little one on oondays for a few hours – or whenever you feel you are able to help out. After a few months, she’ll be out of the habit of relying on you and you can hopefully return to your previous arrangement. Mr you can learn a language on the net or sign up for another course!

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