It can be challenging to leave your newborn in the care of someone else, even to take a quick two-minute shower, let alone going out for a meal with your partner. And while family members are the best option, do they always know what they’re doing?
One mum revealed on Reddit that when family members offer to babysit, she sets a secret little test to see if they’re up for the job. While it seemed like a good idea, and one that others wouldn’t think twice about, it caused a huge reaction that she wasn’t expecting.
The babysitter test
“My husband and I recently had a baby girl, and everyone in both our families keeps asking to babysit,” said the mum. “I decided on a simple “test” to see who’s ready, where I ask family to watch her for a bit while I go do something in another room, like fold laundry or take a quick shower.”
The mum found that this really helped to sort the good from the bad, like the time, she discovered that her grandma had turned her hearing aid off so she wouldn’t be bothered by the baby crying. “But other times it goes fine,” she says. “And we’ve got a trusted new sitter.”
Unfortunately, the time her brother-in-law and sister-in-law came for a visit and offered to babysit, things didn’t go so well. The mum tried the test, but the pair quickly failed.
“They didn’t even have the baby for 2 minutes before coming to fetch me for help,” said the mum. “I figured that meant they failed for now and just aren’t ready to babysit a newborn yet, but we can try again when baby is older.”
What the mum didn’t realise was this made them angry and hurt their feelings: “My BIL ended up heading home early, alone, saying he needed to work. Like a month later my SIL asked my husband why we didn’t let them babysit. He told her about the test, and she got mad. SIL then said that we actually failed THEIR test, and that they had counted how many questions we asked them about themselves during the visit, and the answer was zero, so that was why BIL left.”
The mum was completely thrown by their reactions and couldn’t remember asking the couple about their lives or not. “We’re exhausted, so it’s totally possible I didn’t,” she wrote. “But even so…maybe cut the tired new parents some slack?”
In some ways the mum is right. Parenting is all-consuming and when you have a newborn it’s hard to think about much else.
As one user commented: “You have a NEWBORN and these narcissists are berating you for not being attentive to THEM? Laughable.”
A divided response
The post received a wide range of reactions, with nearly 300 comments, many of which were supportive of her test.
“Your tests are completely normal in my eyes, if they have no experience looking after a newborn/baby then they obviously cannot be left alone while you leave the house – That’s how mistakes happen,” said one reader. “And the grandmother turning the hearing-aide off? She needs a good slap.”
Meanwhile, many others felt that the mum was too harsh.
“I know I would feel pretty odd coming to your house after being told I had unwittingly been given “the test” and failed,” commented one. “Babysitting would be off the table, for sure. Hopefully your relatives are less bitchy than I and it blows over.”
At the end of the day, it’s tough being a new mum, trying to navigate a world that is so new and often quite stressful. You do what you feel is best even if it’s not always the best decision according to the rest of the world.
However, maybe the mum could have helped her in-laws with a few tips on childcare. They were obviously keen to help and learn. Perhaps she should have cut the couple some slack as well.
As one reader commented, “You get to leave your kid with whomever you want and if you want to set tests fine, but don’t be surprised when people are offended that you are rejecting their offer of help …”