After being in the nanny business for so many years, I have heard the words “My nanny quit” from our new clients countless times. There are a number of reasons why nannies choose to sever their relationship with their employers, but many boil down to some key areas. When you know what they are, they are actually pretty avoidable, and may help lengthen your nanny’s employment with your family:
- Lack of Communication: When we get calls from families or nannies saying “My family is X”, “My nanny did X” or “The child is Y”, the first thing we ask is “Did you talk to them about it?” Most often, the answer is no. Let’s face it, when you bring people together to raise children, you need to communicate regularly with each other. Give nannies a place to talk about how things are going, and create a forum for you to share your feelings as well. Besides a daily check-in on your way in and out, I recommend setting aside about an hour once/month to speak to your nanny without the children present. In this meeting, discuss things like successes, expectations, challenges, and techniques and/or goals. Always ask what more you could be doing for your employer as well. You should never be surprised when your nanny gives her notice, because you should have a pulse on her job satisfaction all along the way.
- Growing Job/ Growing Schedule: While we make it a point to have families outline the job responsibilities and schedules before the job starts, I know from experience with my own nanny that things can change. Children get older, your job changes, your kids’ activities change, or any other number of things can happen. What we have to avoid is to just think that our nanny will be happy to accommodate all of our changes. Sure, you are paying her to be your employee from x time to x time, but if a nanny adores your kids and loves taking them on outings, she may not love it if you decide to have her bring them to a Mother’s Day Out while she does the grocery shopping and cooking. If you’ve made decisions that are best for your family, you should ask your nanny how she feels these new changes will impact her. If not, some sort of compromise may need to take place, or unfortunately you may end up parting ways. In the same way, if your job is demanding that you stay later, this may not be a possibility for your nanny. She may have a significant commute, and it could increase her drive time an extra hour if she leaves 30 minutes later. These are simply a couple of examples, but for solutions, please refer back to Reason 1 – Communicate! Be understanding and reasonable, and be sure to put yourself in her shoes.
- Seclusion: Many stay-at-home moms often have this same issue. They feel isolated and miss talking to adults, crave outside interaction, and want the children to have social interaction. You should encourage your nanny to experience all of these things! If you have fears or hesitations about your nanny driving your child, encourage walks, local playgroups, nearby playgrounds, libraries, etc. Ideally, your nanny will have access to a vehicle to get out of the house and help your children experience the world, as that is one of the great benefits of having a nanny.
- Lack of Appreciation: We all want to be recognized at our jobs for our accomplishments. However, we often fail to celebrate our nannies for their success in caring for their charges. Take the time to appreciate your nanny on a regular basis. Schedule it in your calendar if you want to be sure to remember! Words, hand-written cards, and occasional treats (don’t forget them on National Nanny Recognition Week, their birthdays or over the holidays!) will go a long way! I’ve also found it fun to find little ways to surprise them…does your nanny love Skittles? Cashews? Trail Mix? Throw it into your grocery cart at your next shop and give it to her for no reason at all! She’ll know you care about her enough to notice the little things.
- Control freaks (aka micro-managers): First of all, I realize that all of us parents are the experts on what is best for our own child. We know how we want to raise them, how we would dress them, what we would feed them, etc. However, having a nanny means that we will have to give more of an outline of our parenting philosophy, hire a trustworthy person, and then step back and let our nannies handle the details. This doesn’t mean we won’t tweak things along the way (refer to #1 where I mention regular communication), but it does mean we won’t second-guess (or try to make) every decision our nanny makes. You’ve had those type bosses – it’s awful, isn’t it? Giving your nanny freedom and learning to accept minor differences (like how I have to bite my tongue when my husband gets the kids dressed!) will really help your nanny to respect you. Then, on the areas you do decide to address, she will be more open and flexible.
(Luckily, some of the common nanny/employer problems, such as pay, taxes and vacations/holidays are not as much of an issue when you work with Mom’s Best Friend. We really try to spell out those things with the Employment Agreement we provide to our clients.)
Give these suggestions a try and I bet you’ll see improvement in your nanny relationship right away!