Last week, a friend asked me to babysit her 12-year-old daughter for two weeks while she goes on vacation. This task involves waking up early to take her to school, driving her to soccer practice after school, and even attending a couple of soccer matches on the weekend. Oh, and she wants me to stay at her house rather than my own so her daughter will be more comfortable.
I'm already strapped for time with my busy work schedule, and honestly, I don't even like kids. I'd also prefer not to abandon my own bed for two weeks. But I said "yes" because I didn't want to let her down.
I know it's too late to correct this problem, but in the future, how can I say no without hurting someone's feelings?
-- Just Saying Yes
Dear Just Saying Yes,
Wow, your life is really going to suck for the next two weeks. I hope you're getting paid for that huge favor.
Although that damage has already been done, in the future, just remember that your time is precious. Instead of thinking so much of pleasing others, try putting yourself first. It may seem selfish, but when it comes down to it, you're really the only person in the world you can depend on.
When someone asks for a favor, be firm with your decision to say no. And if you don't have a decent excuse as to why you can't help, don't offer an explanation. You don't owe anybody one.
When someone asks "Will you please watch my brat for two weeks while I go sip margaritas on the deck of a cruise ship and get fanned by hot tan men with bodies like Michael Phelps?" simply say, "I'm sorry, but I can't help you." Your friend may get a little mad, but not offering an excuse makes it clear you're firm in your decision, and if she's really your friend, she'll get over it. Don't fret so much about hurting other people's feelings. Worry about how crappy YOU will feel when shes gone and you're stuck with her kid.
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