'AITA for refusing to babysit my sister's kids?' UPDATED (2024)

"AITA for not watching my sister's kids?"

Here's the original post:

Hey all, I'm (F25) just going to jump right into it. I moved states about a year and a half ago to try a new career path that my older sister (F33) recommended to me. I tried it for about a month and realized it wasn't for me and eventually took an office job. I was nervous but came to love my job.

I can work from home 2 days out of the week, one of those days being a half day if I put extra time into other days unless it's the end of the month, as it's a critical time for my department. Which I've shared with my family. My sister texted me requesting I call her while I was just starting my day at work. I texted back asking her what was up and she told me:

"I'm in a bind. Husband's mom just caught COVID and can't come out here as planned. Husband and I both have Chief stuff going on all week, but Thursday afternoon we are in a big jam for childcare. I know you don't typically work on Friday. Is there anyway you could come down and watch the kids on Thursday?

They are at school until 3:40pm. Husband would be home by 9pm. You could always use my desktop to work if you need/want. I will pay for your gas you guys can order out or go to a restaurant on me. Just think about it and let me know if it's feasible."

I worked for a few hours, then replied with: "I'm really sorry to hear that. It must be incredibly stressful for both of you. I wish I could help out, especially during this time, but with my work schedule this week, it's just not possible for me to be there physically. This week and the next are very important and busy at my work, so I'm not able to work from home.

Usually I would work Wednesdays and Fridays from home using a PC my work gave to me that is programmed to connect to my work PC, but my department isn't allowed to WFH during end of month, because of it being a crucial time. I hope things get better soon. Sending my best wishes for Husband's moms speedy recovery"

She didn't reply to me and I haven't heard from her or my younger sister at all since the texts, which were a few days ago. For context, the drive to my sister's house is roughly 3 hours if I'm speeding the whole way and I usually end up stopping for gas once.

I haven't seen my sister in a long time due to me always being the one to drive to her, she only offers to meet me half way sometimes if I'm watching her kids for a weekend.

I wouldn't have been able to help her out without taking PTO (which I'm saving for winter, as where I live winters get really rough and I've been snowed in once.) as I can't take my work PC with me to another state and work from there/connect to my PC. It's just not how it works.

I was prepared to explain to my sister, as I was expecting some kind of backlash, but with her complete silence response, I'm feeling kind of guilty and wondering, AITA for not trying to come down there to help her?

TL;DR: I said I couldn't watch my sister's kids this week due to it being a busy time at work and I haven't heard from her since. I'm wondering AITA, because it's been a few months now since I've seen her and it's the first time since then that she's asked me to watch them.

Edit: thanks everyone for your thoughts, kind words and advice. I am really glad I posted. I encourage anyone who struggles with boundaries to check out some of the comments section as it made me feel a lot better about saying no, and I learned a few things about saying no.

What do you think? This is what top commenters had to say:

MissNikitaDevan said:

Off course you’re NTA, if your sister wants to have a hissy fit and give you the silent treatment thats on her, dont waste another second thinking about this. It's not reasonable to ask someone who lives 3 hours away to babysit to begin with , especially when she cant even be bothered to drive the distance herself Your schedule etc isnt less important just cuz she has children

sitnquiet said:

Heh she wants you to drive a six hour round trip for five hours of babysitting. That's rich. You considered it, weighed the options, and gracefully declined. Not your problem. NTA

baobab77 said:

NTA and make a self respect pledge to yourself that you'll never drive half or all the way when doing her a favor again. It's completely ridiculous that you're gassing up and putting miles on your car, when giving her a childfree weekend.

Also, you don't need to explain things to people. People may expect an explanation on why you can't acquiesce to what they want from you, but they're not entitled to it. If she ever asks again, just tell her you're unable to help her out. Period. She deserves no backstory on your job and circ*mstances. Building boundaries even in small doses, makes it easier for the bigger situations.

Dazzling_Note6245 said:

There’s nothing wrong with being assertive when you need to and telling her no. Your sister made her and her husbands jobs more important than yours. That simply isn’t the case. They are responsible for their kids and they’re lucky if you ever watch them.

They aren’t entitled to you doing it whenever they want. Her silence sounds like she’s punishing you. Don’t put up with that. Tell her no until she stops that nonsense

Verdict: Definitely NTA.

She later shared this update on the situation:

I wanted to update everyone, things had been going okay/somewhat normal between us, if anything we were all busy. Until yesterday. On Wednesday she asked me to babysit again for this weekend in our sister group chat and I said no, because I'm busy and starting a new job that is weekends only actually.

She tried to get me to tell her what the job was, and I said I wanted to keep it to myself for the time being since it's new. No response.

She bonds openly with our younger sister, encouraging her to visit and saying she'd cook for them, play games and paint. Which of course made me feel really bad, as this is never offered to me. I'm just contacted when my sister needs help or if she's doing something for a holiday and happens to invite me.

Fast forward to today. For context: She sent an article about OCD, which looking back now was somewhat thoughtful of her as I used to talk a lot about OCD and express feeling upset it's often used out of context.

However, the topic has become kind of triggering for me these days so I avoid it. I responded bluntly "thanks for the thought but I'm trying to not think about OCD lately" this spawned a conversation about my sister disliking her perspective of my attempt at boundaries.

She said: I want to make it clear, the way you have been talking to me and the way you talk about your life feels like you are pushing me out and setting random boundaries without any type of conversation or explanation. It makes me feel like you are trying recreate yourself and part of that is to push people away that you think don’t “get” you or your beliefs.

Perhaps I’m wrong. I hope I am. But the vague, short responses make me feel like you’d rather not have me close and you intend to push me away. I said: I want you to know that I care about our relationship, and I value your feelings. I'm sorry if my communication has made you feel pushed away. It wasn't my intention. It's great that there's an accurate article about OCD.

I didn't think enough before I sent the message, and I'll work on putting more thought into my messages with you. It does make me happy mental health is becoming more accepted and more knowledge is out there for people to see. I probably won't read it right now, though, as thinking about (ex friend name) can be triggering for me, and I tend to associate OCD with her, unfortunately.

I feel you perceive me differently than I am, making it hard for me to be myself around you. I tend to overthink and try to please you, even if it doesn't seem that way. I want to improve this and am working on it.

I've learned that explanations aren't always necessary for setting boundaries, and saying no is valid on its own. Though I'm not setting boundaries now, I may in the future when I understand my needs better.

Currently, I'm focusing on self-improvement, work, and helping (my dog) with her allergies. I'm also trying to be more private as I've realized excessive venting affects my relationships and stresses me. I value our connection, but I am really busy at the moment. End message

There hasn't been any response to this and it's been a few hours. I'm feeling a bit off since this is the first time I've really said something like this directly to her and I hate that she did this in our group chat with our younger sister.

Sources: Reddit

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'AITA for refusing to babysit my sister's kids?' UPDATED (2024)

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