DEAR HARRIETTE: My next-door neighbor had a baby about a year ago. She is a sweet baby, and I am happy for the family. What I don’t like is how the mother will knock on my door with the baby on her hip and ask me to watch the baby while she runs off to do whatever. She is often gone for hours, and she never plans these outings. She basically dumps the baby on me. I get that she doesn’t have family here, but I do not like the way that she uses me with no regard for my schedule. How can I get her to be more organized and respectful of my time? -- Not Your Baby Sitter
DEAR NOT YOUR BABY SITTER: You may need to stop answering the door for a while. When you have time, ring her bell and sit down for a heart-to-heart. Tell her how much you love her baby and want to support her young family, but you do not appreciate the haphazard way in which she asks for your help. Make it clear to her that you are happy to be supportive when you can, but you need fair warning. Make it clear that you can no longer be the one who has to drop everything to watch the baby because her mom hasn’t figured out her plan in advance. Be firm. That’s the only way she will realize that you mean business.