Leaving a nanny job can be difficult. The timing and logistics can sometimes be complex. Heightened emotions and anxiety are often felt by employer, employee and children. Yet, many caregivers are able to transition out of job very successfully.
It is ideal for all parties involved, that the ending of the work relationship be as positive as possible. This will be best for the children, the parents and the nanny. Unfortunately an unhappy last week or two on the job can result in a less than glowing reference for the nanny, when in fact all had been well until the end.
What can nannies to do to help make the transition as seamless as possible?
- Once you’ve decided to leave, take some time to write a time table of things that you will do between now and your last day of work (and possibly beyond).
- One of the most important things you can do is give as much advance notice as possible to your employer. This can be tricky, but the more notice you give the more your employer will view you as a team player and responsible employee. Sometimes it isn’t possible to give a lot of notice. But, in my experience, giving the family enough time to process that you are leaving, and to find a great replacement, usually takes longer than 2 weeks.
- When giving notice, it is best for you to be as honest as you can be about the reasons for leaving. For example, if the job included too much housework, you can say something like, “Although I enjoyed working with your family, and I really love your children, now that the children are older, much of my day is spent cleaning. I really want to work with children, so I think it is best if I find a new job with younger children, where my day is spent playing and interacting with them.” By being honest, the family may learn how their job may need to be restructured to attract the type of employee they are looking for.
Cindy, a nanny that we have worked with for many years, creates a binder that she leaves for the next nanny. It lists each child’s like and dislikes. She also records a basic daily schedule and directions to each child’s activities.
Try to be extra patient and sensitive to the needs of the family during your last few weeks. They may not express how they are feeling, but know that all family members are probably struggling with the thought that their nanny, often the glue that keeps the family functioning will, is departing. The parents may seem angry or may not be as communicative as usual, and the children may act out, but it’s probably because they are sad and maybe a little scared.
Finally, it is nice to leave the family with a personal gift from you. An example is a note card and a photo of you doing something fun with the children. Or maybe a children’s book with a handwritten message from you on the inside cover.
If you are a nanny, please feel free to comment on what has worked best for you when leaving a job.