One of the best parts of my job is how attached I become to each child and every family. I have watched kids grow from infants to middle schoolers, listened to how hundreds of days at school went, wiped away tears after a tumble, experienced birthdays, holidays, successes at school spelling bees..The time I spend with each child is a moment I will never forget. Part of the reason for writing this blog is to document some of my most memorable experiences as a babysitter and nanny. But there comes a time when it is time for me to leave a family, whether by choice or because I am no longer needed. It is these times that become the not so fun days for me. Here are a couple scenarios that I have been through and how I dealt with leaving the family.
Aged-out: As with a hermit and his shell, or a family needing a bigger house..a child will eventually grow out of needing a nanny. As they become teenagers and young adults, they will no longer need the constant care that they once relied on you for. Jake was one of the first children I ever watched. He was three years old when I first started watching him. That was nearly 10 years ago. Now he is going into middle school and can stay home by himself. (Nothing like making you feel old). When his mother and I discussed that I would no longer be needed, I could feel my heart sink to my stomach. No more craft time, no more bed time stories…no more trips to the park or finger painting in the bath tub. I could feel all of these emotions whirling in my head. But I stopped. This wasn’t about me. It was part of the job and I had to deal with it. As I left for the last time as their babysitter, Jake stood in the window trying to hide a tear that had fallen. Now, this story seems a little melodramatic like I never saw the kid again. Luckily he is my neighbor and his older sister and I still hang out occasionally so I see him grow in passing now. Seeing Jake reminds me that the bonds that are established don’t break, they just take a little more effort to keep in place.
Moving on: There may be times where you love the kids you work with but can’t stand the parents or work environment. Maybe you don’t feel safe in the home or suspect there is abuse in the family. Maybe you got a better job offer or are moving for education reasons. In any case GET OUT. There are plenty of nanny jobs around and no job is worth abuse, fearing for your safety, or passing up an opportunity to help your future. I was once with a family who had lots of internal problems and thought that by staying with them I could magically fix all the problems….I was horribly wrong and it wasn’t until I got a piece of advice that I realized, sometimes the best way to fix a problem is by stepping back and letting it work itself out. Leaving the kids was devastating but it was in the best interest for everyone. When saying your goodbyes to the kids, give them a little note saying how much you enjoyed being their nanny, what your favorite memory was and the best thing about the child. The kids I nanny for want to have a special dinner/party on my last day coming up in May. I will bring a little cake, their favorite food and we can watch a movie in our jammies (their favorite friday night activities with me). End your job on a positive note. And smile, don’t get emotional in front of the children, it will make the goodbye that much harder for everyone.
Getting Fired: Luckily I have never had this happen to me, but there are cases where parent’s decide you need to leave. In this case, say good bye to the children and leave it at that. You don’t want the kids to think that their parent’s are mean or bad in any way (even if you have a few choice words about them). Regardless of your feelings, this is a job. If you ever need a reference or work in the future, you don’t want to burn a bridge with any of your parents.
In a future post I will explain how to write a letter of resignation for a nanny job. I found it to be a little more difficult than the average letter because of the attachment and relationships with the families.