It’s okay to cancel babysitting last minute as a nanny or the baby’s family if your cause is reasonable. Just go ahead and do it, but you need to prepare the other party’s mind about it as soon as possible.
Suppose you rarely cancel babysitting but you now have to. Go ahead with it. At the end of the day, childcare is the family’s responsibility, not always the babysitter’s.
Things come up, and cancelations happen. You may get sick or are expecting grandma’s visit to temporarily take over the childcare. Whatever is your reason, you don’t necessarily have to say it—you are not obligated to anyone as childcare is majorly the parents’ responsibility.
How to cancel babysitting last minute
To call off that childcare appointment, do the following last minute:
You’re probably overthinking. Just say you need to cancel to give them ample time to find someone else or make a better decision.
There’s usually no emotional attachment when canceling babysitting at this point, so it should be fairly easy.
As a babysitter, the family does not need to know that the kids are difficult or that it’s not worth your time. You just want to provide a generic reason such as:
My schedule got busy.
Something suddenly came up.
Inform the person
Ideally, as the child’s family or babysitter, you should give the babysitter at least 2 days notice that you are canceling. However, life doesn’t always work out how you want it, and your babysitter understands. It’s just fine most of the time.
Make a phone call
When canceling babysitting last minute, give the person a call instead of a text. Sending a text is inherently casual. A call can be scary since you may end up not knowing exactly what to say, or you’re simply worried whether the person will try to get you to change your mind.
The importance of a phone call is that it gives the babysitter or baby’s family a chance to hear your sincerity, tone, and regretfulness. As such, they can accept your cancelation easily.
Begin your words with “I’m sorry”. When apologizing, you demonstrate your respect for the person’s time and energy. It shows that you understand the inconvenience your cancelation may cause them.
An apology is “an important ritual”, according to Psychology Today. It is your own way of showing respect and empathy for the person you’ve wronged and it also acknowledges your act.
Acknowledge your original commitment to babysit (if you’re a babysitter) and briefly explain how you came to the decision to cancel last minute.
You could say:
I committed to coming, but I managed my time poorly this time. Now, I have a work project I know I won’t finish if I come tonight.
You may want to tell the person why you canceled babysitting last minute, but not necessarily. Suppose you don’t want the babysitting to happen again as a babysitter. You could say:
I believe I need to reduce the amount of time I work because it got a bit much. I don’t think I can work for you going forward. Here are numbers to two babysitters I know available for the job.
Don’t say that you’re working too much and would prefer to focus on your full-time job. When you say you’re reducing the time or cutting back, it won’t matter if they find out that you babysit for someone else—they won’t think you lied to them.
If you have no real or reasonable excuse, provide a generic reason instead of lying. Telling a lie can damage your relationship with the person, compared to saying the truth.
If you feel the need to stretch the truth, just keep it general. Don’t fabricate a story—just say:
I apologize for this is last-minute, but unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to make it.
This statement is a little ambiguous, so it leaves room for interpretation, but still better than making up lies.
Offer to reschedule
After explaining yourself, see if you can find time to reschedule. This way, you don’t break the friendship. You merely send a message that you still value the relationship and would be willing to put in the time and energy to maintain it.
Do not make any social media post after canceling
It’s not advisable to post anything on social media that suggests you celebrate your decision to cancel babysitting last minute, especially if the person or people can see it.
Some people won’t take it lightly since you’ve backed out, but they will avoid confrontation. Just assume that your social media post will get them a bit disappointed.
Make a point to not cancel the next time
Don’t make it a habit to cancel last-minute babysitting—it reflects poorly on your professionalism, and can damage the relationship. Last-minute canceling of babysitting questions your reliability and level of commitment.
When you cancel babysitting last minute, you get into a kind of friendship debt with the person. You don’t want to get deeper into debt by frequently canceling future commitments.
The next time you bring up the cancelation, it helps to reassure the person that you haven’t forgotten it. It also shows that you’re not shying away from accountability and that it matters to you that you show up for them in the future.
Babysitting is like any job—you need to notify the person as soon as possible when something comes up. It is always helpful to line up alternative babysitting arrangements for them.
Also, look at the possibility that this could be the last babysitting gig you get from that person or family, depending on your cancelation reasons and how deep you left them in the lurch.