If we learned anything from 2020, it’s that working from home is entirely different from working in an office, and for those who had to, working alongside children is essentially three or four jobs in one.
But even now, some refuse to appreciate the added responsibility, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Though Redditor lastsheltersurvivor understood her sister was pregnant and could use extra help while attending her OBGYN appoints, she did not want to watch her sister’s kids while working from home.
But when her sister questioned her reliableness for future visits with the children, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she was being too close-minded about her work arrangements.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for refusing to babysit while working from home (WFH)?”
The OP had special plans in place to assist her pregnant sister.
“My (30 Female) sister (32 Female) is heavily pregnant, due in one to two weeks with her third child (Male), and as such is attending regular doctor’s appointments one to two times a week.”
“I’m part of her birth plan and will be taking 1-2 vacation days and watching her kids while she and her husband are in the hospital when she’s giving birth.”
“She chose me because she knows our parents, her husband’s parents, and our older brother won’t respect her wishes about quarantine and safety, and she also asked me to quarantine ahead of time because I can work from home (WFH). I spoke with my boss and he agreed. All is okay so far.”
But to the OP’s surprise, his sister hoped she’d start babysitting earlier.
“Last week, with my boss’ permission, I started WFH prior to Thanksgiving. I didn’t take any vacation because I only get three weeks total for the year and needed to save for when she’s in the hospital.”
“She had an appointment last Tuesday at her OBGYN and needed someone to watch her older two kids.”
“Her husband makes good money as a Truck engine mechanic and is working OT (overtime) currently to get money for the baby and account for lost income while my sister is on FMLA / Maternity leave. (He’s in the shop away from customers and is doing 6-feet-apart/masking at her request) so he couldn’t.”
“And she didn’t want my parents, his parents, or our older brother/sister-in-law watching them because they aren’t quarantining.”
But the OP felt the need to decline.
“So she asked me to watch them, thinking that I could just set them up while working, and I told her no.”
“I understand she is under a large amount of hormones and stress right now, so her reaction was understandable that she panicked, said she was worried about my reliability when she has the baby, etc.”
“Being aware of her current mental stress, I kindly explained that there is a difference between WFH and vacation, and that my boss often does impromptu zoom calls.”
“I kindly explained that if it were just the three-year-old, I could probably set them up with a tablet or something, but the one-year-old would have no idea that I’m working and would need constant watching and attention as my house isn’t babyproof as I’m child-free.”
“She eventually accepted it and decided to have our aunt, who is retired, watch them, as both she and her husband never leave the house.”
“She’s still mad at me, though, and thinks I should have just watched the kids for a few hours while WFH.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some sympathized and were concerned about the sister taking advantage.
“NTA, that’s what you get for giving an inch, I guess.” – RatioNo1114
“If you gave in and said yes to this, she undoubtedly would continue to come to you and expect you to babysit while working from home. Best to nip it in the bud now!” – cats4life100
“It is actually good that you set this boundary now. If you had done it this time, then she would have expected you to do it whenever you worked from home and she needed a break or whatever. Inevitably you would have had to take a vacation on short notice to babysit.”
“The other way you could have handled it would be to explain you are giving her X days of YOUR vacation toward her pregnancy, and ask if she wants you to deduct a half-day from the remaining total.” – 1962Michael
“I only have so much sympathy for her. She decided to have two kids after the onset of the pandemic, and she has some pretty rigid requirements for doing her a favor by watching her kids.”
“It’s not really anyone’s responsibility but her husband’s to reorganize their life to meet her needs and standards.”
“She instead should be appreciative of the days you are willing to put your own life on hold and watch her kids. Her ‘wants’ don’t supersede others’ jobs and personal lives.” – worshipperofdogs
“You’re NTA for sure, you can’t watch two toddlers while working from home, but I think other comments are a bit harsh about your sister. It’s really scary to have small children or be pregnant right now with the RSV/flu/pandemic virus triple crisis. I’m about as far along as your sister, and I feel more than halfway out of my mind all the time right now.”
“Definitely hold your boundaries, but I think it’s very kind that you’re giving her some grace. It sounds like you two have a generally good relationship and she’s clearly under a lot of stress.” – fight-like-a-girl
“NTA. She wouldn’t ask you to take her kids with you into the office and set them up in an empty meeting room unsupervised.”
“A one-year-old needs supervision and care on-demand. You can’t do that on an hour-long conference call with a webcam.” – Andrew5329
Others pointed out that some people seemed to refuse to understand what “WFH” means.
“I worked what they now call hybrid for years. I dated a guy who worked rotating shifts, he would think if I was working from home on a day he had of, I could just hang around all day, stay in bed, go out for coffee, etc. He didn’t understand that I had 8 hours of work to complete.”
“I have noticed the large number of people who seem to think working from home means playing all day.”
“Now my job is permanently remote and I do have some flexibility, but I still need to get all my work done and attend all the meetings. No cousin, I can’t drive across town midday to pick something up for you. No niece, I can’t babysit your toddler all next week.”
“NTA.” – Rude-Dog2559
“If you are babysitting babies and toddlers, you will not be able to focus on work. Many jobs have requirements for babysitting and childcare while WFH for a reason. You are not as productive.” – mishka1776
“So many people see ‘working from home’ as not really working, you can slack off as much as you want, watch TV, etc. There are some WFH jobs that are more flexible but many/most involved meetings, phone and video calls, deadlines, etc. That means the job is the same as being in the office.”
“And so much work can involve getting deep into concentrating on something, and any small random interruption can totally ruin your chain of thought. So many people just do not get this. Good that you have set boundaries from the start.” – TheZZ9
“Work from home is still working, and speaking from experience, it is incredibly difficult to manage a toddler while trying to work let alone an infant. Not to mention the fact you said your boss does impromptu zoom calls from time to time. You trying to watch them while working is just a bad idea all around.”
“Just tell her that company policy also prevents you from being home with children under 10 without additional adult supervision (a real policy that many of the WFH jobs I managed had).” – BenReillyDB
“NTA. Working from home is still working, and you have the kind of job where your boss will give you the time off you need for a vacation to take care of things when she has the baby, as well as let you go work from home assuming that you’re going to be doing just as good from there as you are from your office.”
“I would also not risk this by deciding to do something like babysitting while I’m on the clock.” – TheHighKingKeo
While the subReddit appreciated the OP helping her sister out as much as she could, including sacrificing some of her vacation time to take care of her niece and nephew while her second nephew was born, they also agreed the OP needed to set some limits with her sister.
Working from home is often a useful arrangement, but it still means working, though in a different environment. It’s unacceptable in many companies for children to be a part of an employee’s workday, let alone an added participant in an impromptu Zoom call.