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How to Nicely Tell Someone You're Not Babysitting

author image Kay Ireland
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.
How to Nicely Tell Someone You're Not Babysitting
Sometimes a short and sweet answer is the easiest. Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/ Images

Whether you're a stay-at-home-mom or you're single, being asked to babysit can throw a wrench into your plans sometimes. While it's good to help out a friend, it's not good if you end up locked into a long-term babysitting commitment. If you truly can't -- or don't want to -- babysit for someone you know, be honest. Skip the excuses and just say "no."

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Step 1

Give yourself some time and avoid answering right away, suggests the Whole Living website. You might be pressured to say yes right away, especially if you're close to the person asking. Instead say, "Let me check my schedule and I'll let you know by tonight." This gives you some time to decide whether it's something you want to do and stops you from giving a knee-jerk answer.

Step 2

Tell the truth if you can't babysit. Don't make up a fake event or obligation to squirm out of it. Honesty works, especially if you're saying "no" to a close family member or friend. Finding out that you lied might do more damage than nicely saying "no" to being a babysitter.

Step 3

Keep your answer short. Avoid the long explanations and simply say that you can't, according to an article at

Step 4

Indicate that while you can't babysit, you still want to cultivate your relationship. It's called saying "no" to the request, but not to the person, according to the Harvard Business Review. It's a practice used in business, but it works equally well when faced with a personal request. Give the person another option such as "I can't babysit this Friday, but why don't we have lunch on Monday?" That way, the other person knows that not babysitting her kid isn't a personal rejection.

Step 5

Offer another solution for your friend or family member to try. Say, "I won't be able to babysit, but I have the number of a great sitter that I've used before. Want her number?" That might help your friend extricate herself from a babysitting bind.

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