Preparing for Nanny Transitions

No matter how long you have been a nanny, how many children you have cared for, how much education or experience you have or what your level of expertise is, in our profession, there is one undeniable truth that none of us can avoid. Nanny jobs end. Children grow up, parents’ needs change, and no matter how efficient you are, there comes a time when a family has to face the harsh reality that they simply don’t need your help anymore. When this happens, it is usually painful for both parties. It can cause a lot of hurt feelings, especially if you don’t prepare for it. Even though it feels personal and it often feels like rejection, it is simply a natural process of life.

You need to have ongoing communication with the family about transitions. The first conversation should start in the job interview when you ask the question “How long do you anticipate needing a nanny?” You can also ask, “How do you see the nanny’s role in your family, long-term, after the job ends?” Most parents are so focused on the here and now that they don’t think about that aspect of the job. This is why it is our job as professionals to start this conversation early on in the relationship and have a continuing dialogue during employment. If you don’t start that dialogue early it will eventually grow to become the “elephant in the room” that no one can bear to discuss.

You also need to educate the children and help them to understand that you are there to do a job and your job is help them to be responsible and independent. You should never promise a child you will stay forever. It is a promise that you can’t keep.

Whether you are a live-in or live-out nanny you should always have a backup plan. Sometimes when jobs start to go bad, things go downhill fast. Live-in nannies need a short-term place to stay for a few days and a long-term place to stay for a few weeks. All nannies need to save money out of each paycheck to get you through to the next job.

There are things you need to do every year to prepare for the inevitable. Ideally you need to ask your employers for a written review or letter of reference each year and at the end of each year, ask them to update it. If you do this, you won’t end up at the end of a job begging for a letter of reference. You also need to update your resume and update your references’ contact information. This will make finding a new job so much less stressful at a time when you will already be stressed and upset.

The one thing that you need to understand is that no matter how much you plan for it, how much you prepare for it to happen, it will always be hard. It doesn’t get easier no matter how many times you go through it but preparing for it, will make the transition easier. Just remember, it’s ok to be sad. It’s ok to cry and it’s ok to grieve the children, especially if you won’t see them anymore. Remember that you are the adult and no matter what happens with your employer, take the high road.  You have the opportunity to teach the children in your care one final, extremely important, life lesson. You have the opportunity to teach them that life is always changing and goodbyes are a natural cycle of life.

Nanny Transitions has been supporting and coaching nannies on how to leave a job with their head and heart intact since 1995.

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