She has the most important job in your house when you’re away.
But, you’ve decided, for what could be a myriad of reasons, it’s time to let your sitter or nanny go.
Maybe you’re cutting back on your work hours. Perhaps your family is moving to a different city or your youngest child is starting kindergarten. Or maybe your sitter just isn’t doing her job.
Whatever the reason, it’s never easy to say goodbye to the person who regularly cares for your kids when you’re away. So here are a few tips to help you make this process as easy – and amicable – as possible.
• Determine your timeline. Decide when you want to break the news and also terminate the employment. If your youngest is going to kindergarten or you are moving away, it may be obvious to your sitter that she won’t be needed after the change occurs. In this case, it’s a good idea to have a conversation with her as soon as possible to let her know when her final day of work will be (for her planning purposes as well as yours). If you are letting your sitter go for poor job performance, however, the sooner you cut ties, the better.
• Figure out your plan. Figure out how much longer you will need your sitter’s help and work backwards from there. If you need your sitter’s help right up until moving day or the first day of kindergarten, you might be able to give her a solid date. If that date is a couple of months away, be prepared to pay her as usual until the last day. And, depending on the situation, it might be a good idea to be ready to offer a couple of weeks of “severance” that will be paid after her last day, just to give her more incentive to stay with your family through the transition. If you’re planning to dismiss her immediately due to poor job performance, be prepared to present her with her last paycheck and collect any household items she has, such as keys or credit cards.
• Break the news to your sitter. Since no one likes to be the bearer of bad news, this is the especially difficult part for many people. To make it as painless as possible, plan to keep the conversation short and succinct. Your sitter might get emotional or defensive, so be prepared for that. If she is leaving on good terms, offer to write her a letter of recommendation or share her resume with your network. The more you can prepare ahead of time for this conversation, the easier it will probably be. Because this is a potentially difficult conversation, it’s usually a good idea to have it when the children are not around.
• Tell your kids. In most cases, your kids will have a close relationship with your sitter or nanny, so it might be tough news for them to take. If your sitter is leaving on amicable terms, you might want to tell your kids with your sitter, so you can both reinforce the idea that it isn’t your kids’ fault that she is leaving. You may even want to plan a farewell meal or simple party to help provide closure for both your kids and your sitter. If your sitter is being terminated for poor job performance, however, you should let your kids know after the sitter has left, and give them a simple, matter-of-fact reason for why she was let go (ie. “She doesn’t pick you up at school on time,” or “She forgot to make sure you were wearing your seatbelt, and that’s not OK”).
Life is full of chapters. The chapter when your kids are cared for by a long-term sitter or nanny was never supposed to last forever. But goodbyes, especially if they’re on good terms, are never easy. The better you plan and prepare, however, the easier the process will be. And the easier it will be for everyone to move on.
Annette Shukry is a mother of two children and owner of the Omaha metro and Lincoln locations of SeekingSitters, a full-service nanny and babysitting referral service.
For more information, call 402-990-7795 or email Annette.Shukry@SeekingSitters.com