Mooching Child Care From Friends Suddenly Not Acceptable


mooching child careYet another modern parenting dilemma has reared its irritated head in the NYT's "Motherlode" column: Mooching childcare from friends. In the 1970s, dropping off your kids at your friend's house so you could attend a key party was de rigueur. But today, it's considered bad form. Yes, even the key party.

Using your friends for free child care in a pinch -- or on a regular basis -- has gone out of style for three reasons. 1) It's rare to find another mother that's not just as busy as you are; 2) The rise of the professional babysitter for all classes -- not just the wealthy; and 3) Hyper-aware parenting, and a clashing of philosophies.

I never thought I'd feel longing for the roles of women in the 1970s, but suddenly I do.

Next Sunday I'm going to be mooching child care all day long from two sets of friends. Mostly because paying $18 an hour for twelve hours of care is cost prohibitive, but additionally because hanging out with a babysitter versus friends for twelve hours would be a big grind on my kid. I'm not sure how I go about paying that major favor back in the era of reciprocal play dates. I also can't imagine these families sitting around calculating how they're going to get repaid by my family.

I don't keep score about who had a play date last, and for what duration. But that might make me the moocher. Because judging by comments, you can't expect any any help with your kids when you need it. Otherwise, you're "entitled." Rather than just in need of a favor.

Of course there's a difference between the occasional pick up from school and the constant assumption that you're free and can take care of another person's child on regular basis. But when we go from describing these arrangements as mooching child care, rather than, so-and-so is coming over after school -- something has shifted. The village has been destroyed and we're all on our own and expected to pull our own weight lest we be classified as "moochers."

It's kind of sad. Not as sad as being saddled with extra children when you really just want to hang out online reading blogs, but sad nonetheless.

Do you "mooch" child care?


Image via Alejendro Hernandez/Flickr

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momto... momtolittleg

Damn right I do and will continue to do so.  I also mooch from family members.  It takes a village and all that.  I say as long as the child care favors are being returned, the arragement should be acceptable.

teal.... teal.blaze

I have a neighbor that I "mooch" off of. But she is in her 50s, her kids are grown, and she adores my son. The sitters in my area are really expensive unless I want a daycare (which I loathe, and they would keep me home when my baby is sick). Linda is free, and loves watching my son. I do however, throw her the occasional $50 or a gift card for dinner. She also only watches my son 4 days a week for between 1 & 2.5 hours.

SuzyB... SuzyBarno

I don't mooch, I trade. Me and my neighbor are both stay at home moms and we trade off for things like appts or just a simple run for some fresh air. It's nice to help out another mommy and to get some help in return. Plus, just because you had sex and had a child doesn't mean you dont deserve to get your hair highlighted in peace. We had kids, we didn't die!

nonmember avatar bonnie

i chose to have a child, chose to be a stay at home mom, and choose to take care of my own kid. we make a lot a sacrifices by not being a dual income family so it really annoys me when other moms think i have nothing better to do than help them out. i have one friend who's child i cannot stand. she asked me to watch her children 3x last week. one of those days was for 10 hrs. i really like this woman but her asking for child care is putting a major strain on our friendship. it isn't cute or convenient for me to change my schedule around, and my child's, so i can raise other peoples kids. i do not ask other to watch my child. she is my responsibility. i have no problem to help out every once in awhile but loathe people who think that mooching my time and energy is acceptable.

nonmember avatar Brooke

The only person I get free care from is my mother and that's only a couple times a month. I do have a close friend that is always willing to take them in a pinch, but I would never use her for a night out since she has kids of her own and is equally as busy. I think you should be considerate and understanding- the trading idea and the mom who gives gifts to show appreciation all sound like great ideas!

nonmember avatar hs

A true friend will gladly help care for your child when needed and not expect anything in return. I'll usually compensate them somehow, like buy them dinner, but only because I want to show I appreciate them, not because they expect it. The only time I'd feel the need to pay someone is if they watched my child full time while I worked.

the4m... the4mutts

"Mooching" child care has ALWAYS been in bad form. Its inconsiderate and negligent.

BUT having a mutualy beneficial arrangement with family or friends is not mooching. Its having a relationship with people that extends beyond casual conversation about the weather.

I trade child care with friends, and also get paid to watch kids that I don't have watch my kids. And when I need to actually impose on someone, and they rearrange their schedule for me, I pay them.

There's a difference in bing rude and entitled, and having an agreement with someone you know.

nonmember avatar Cee

Parents do this all the time with the excuse that true friends and family would do this freely because of your connection. BS!! You are mooching and you are trying to excuse yourself this way.

While your friends and family love you and your kids, you are having them babysit which is a JOB that people get paid for. Not only need to eat, need to be entertained and must abide by YOUR rules of care, for the most part. Parents NEED to pay these people!

This kind of behavior reminds me of people who go out to eat with their friends or fam and usually have them pay because real friends and family don't care about things things.


bethg... bethgoedeken

my friends and i watch each others kids all the time. i don't consider it mooching, i consider it doing a favor for a friend. but there can always be that one mom that just expects you to watch her kids....

Gabby... Gabbysmom715

I guess you could say I mooch but only because I don't pay. But on the other hand I do watch her kids and give her stuff at times but w don't expect anything in return form eachother

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