Leaving a nanny job is a very emotional experience. It doesn’t matter if the job ends on the best of terms or the worst of terms, leaving the children you love and care for is a heart breaking experience. If you’re lucky, you’ll have the opportunity to stay in touch with your former family and continue your relationship with the parents and the kids. Here are some helpful tips that can make the transition easier for everyone involved.
Leave on the best possible terms.
The end of a job is a stressful time for the parents, the kids and the nanny. Emotions are running high and it’s easy to let that hurt create problems in the relationship. Recognize that everyone is going through a grieving period and work to let go of the little things that come up. Enjoy the time you have with the family and try to leave on a positive note. This will help you and the family transition out of this period and develop a new type of relationship.
Give children time to process that you’re leaving.
How far in advance you tell a child about your departure will depend on the age and temperament of the child. However, you want to tell him far enough in advance that he has time to process his feelings about you leaving. For some kids, that might be just a few days. For other kids, that might be a few weeks. If the parents are interviewing for a new nanny and the child is old enough to understand what that means, make sure you tell him before he begins meeting possible replacements. Otherwise he might feel like he’s being disloyal to you if he’s friendly or welcoming to the nanny candidate.
The loss of a nanny is going to be hard for your charge. You’ve been one of his primary caregivers, and losing you is a big change. It’s natural for a child to act out, often against the nanny, as he works through his feelings. Understand that this misbehavior isn’t a personal attack or reflection on you. It’s simply part of the grieving process. Allow your charge the time and space he needs to work through his feelings, acknowledge that this is a difficult time for everyone, and assure him that although you won’t be his nanny anymore, you’ll still be part of his life. Helping your charge deal with this change is the best parting gift you can give him.
Create a memory book.
Leave your charge with a scrapbook that includes pictures, stories, and memorabilia of the time you’ve spent together. This book will be something he treasures and will be something tangible he can turn to when he’s missing you. If you’ve cared for more than one child, make a book for each child. Having this gift to leave will make the parting easier for both you and your charge.
Decide on how you will keep in touch before you leave.
Even with young children, today’s technology makes it easy to stay in touch. You have the option of video conferencing, email, Facebook, phone calls and even old fashioned snail mail. With younger children, you’ll need the help of the parents to connect with the child. With older children, you can connect directly with them. Let kids know that you’re there for them even though you’re not in your old role as their nanny. Show them that even though the relationship may be different the most important thing, how much you love them, won’t ever change.
Plan your first visit before you leave.
If you can, make a date with your charge to spend time together and get it on the family calendar before your last day. This lets the child know you’re serious about staying in touch and gives him something to look forward to. If there’s a new nanny coming onto the scene, it’s important to give her and your charge enough time to make a connection and get into their own routine, so consider that when picking a date.
Offer free or reduced cost babysitting to the parents.
One of the best ways to stay connected to your former charges is to become their current babysitter. This gives the parents a break and is an easy way for them to make room in the busy family schedule for you to spend real time with the kids. As the babysitter rather than the nanny, you can focus on just having fun and enjoying your night.
Leaving your nanny family is a tough thing to do. But just because you’re no longer their nanny doesn’t mean you can’t be part of their life. The relationship will change, but with a little effort you can keep your former family in your life for years to come.