Hiring a professional nanny who provides outstanding care for your children is a wonderful thing! Once you have this nanny in your life you will want to be sure to keep her in the long run. Often when a nanny quits unexpectedly parents find themselves asking why? Let’s take a look at the top ten reasons why a professional nanny will choose to leave, and how you as employers can avoid this from happening.
1. Micro-managing: Whether you are a stay at home, work from home, or work away from home parent who checks in with nanny cams, texts, or phone calls, micro-managing can become an issue if you are the type of parent that hovers. If you have hired a professional nanny you can rest assured that she has experience and knows what she is doing. If you have discussed routines, schedules, and household rules, there is absolutely no reason why you should be controlling every aspect of the day. In many cases an experienced nanny has more experience with infants and young children then a new parent does. If you are texting her constantly while she is out, you are taking time and attention away from the children that she is responsible for. Perhaps you are checking in with cameras and you ask the nanny to go pick up the baby the moment he or she wakes from their nap, this can become a problem. Your nanny may know that your baby wakes up after 40 minutes often and then goes back to sleep, or perhaps your baby has had a full nap and is just waking and needs a few minutes. Your nanny is aware of these things and may give the baby a few moments which is perfectly acceptable. To jump in and express that she needs to pick up the child right away can be very frustrating to a nanny and make her feel like she is not being trusted and treated as the professional that she is. If any major concerns truly come up, address these in a professional sit down, but refrain from monitoring every aspect of the day. This will make your nanny very quickly become uncomfortable and ready to move on to where she is trusted and valued.
2. Major differences in upbringing and discipline: Your nanny is an extension to your family and is very valuable. Chances are she has been doing this for quite some time and has experience on what works and what doesn’t. As parents, you should view your nanny as an extension to yourselves. She is there helping to raise and love your children when you are working. Ideally the parents and nanny should work as a team. This creates a safe, happy, comfortable, and dependable environment for the children. If your nanny comes to work in the morning and you tell her that your child has lost a specific privilege for that day due to poor behavior, you expect that your nanny will support you on this and follow through. It is for the same reason that if your nanny takes a privilege away or puts the child in time out, you should support and back her. This can become a major issue with work from home parents. If you are constantly stepping in or override your nanny’s authority, she can very quickly become unhappy. This causes the children to have a lack of respect for their nanny as her word does not carry weight anymore. If she has told little Jake that he is in time out for 5 minutes and you come in and say it is ok he can be free now, you have broken the authority role that she has. Your child is less likely to follow her rules and expectations. If you are the type of parent that swoops in and gives your child candy to stop them from crying after your nanny has set boundaries you are surely headed in the direction of a nanny who is ready to leave. The simple fact is parents and nannies need to be on a team and support each other. An extreme example in this case is out of control behavior. When hitting, kicking, or biting is tolerated and you are not willing to work together with your nanny to put a stop to it, you can rest assured your nanny will move on. Her well-being and physical safety is important!
3. Breaking contract agreements: So, you found an awesome nanny and took the time to put your agreements in a contract…. great! It is now your job to uphold your end of this agreement. If your nanny has agreed to work a certain number of hours each week and suddenly you are adding more without discussing any changes with her, she is going to become frustrated. Perhaps you have a set schedule and you are constantly texting or calling her to come in early or stay late (we all understand this happens on occasion but this should not be the norm) she may be ready to move on. Your nanny has a life outside of work and has the right to plan it. If she is constantly making adjustments for you, she will not be happy in the long run. Perhaps your nanny has a schedule that varies within certain days and hours and she expects to have her schedule on a certain day. Having to ask repeatedly for a schedule, or get it way past the agreed upon date can make your nanny unhappy as planning her own life becomes difficult. Contracts are made for a reason, stick to them! If there are changes coming as your children get older plan ahead to discuss to see if this arrangement still works for your nanny. Do not assume that your nanny is available anytime without agreeing upon it.
4. Cabin Fever: We have all experienced this! Perhaps at some point in your life you have been stuck at home recovering from a surgery or dealing with the flu. You know how the walls begin to cave in on you and you itch to get out! This is a normal human feeling. We can all deal for short periods of time, but nobody likes being stuck in 24 hours a day. If you are isolating your nanny by not letting her have driving privileges to take the children out, she will over time become unhappy. All humans need to be in contact with the outside world. It is unhealthy to expect your nanny to be in all day, or only be allowed to walk around the neighborhood. You should be allowing her to go to story times, science centers, museums, parks, play dates with other nannies and moms and children. This not only keeps your nanny happy and healthy; it keeps your children happy and healthy! Not allowing these things is a sure way to lose a wonderful nanny.
5. Lack of Appreciation: We all like to be appreciated at your jobs and your nanny is no exception to this. When her birthday comes along, remember this special date and celebrate her. National Nanny Recognition Week is a great time to show your nanny some appreciation! Do something during this week to honor her and make her feel special. A gift card and a small note of appreciation can go a long way! Did you forget to give your nanny a Christmas Bonus? She will definitely feel unappreciated and forgotten as her fellow nannies feel celebrated. Nannies talk to one another and you surely don’t want to be the employers of the nanny that did not receive a holiday bonus. You enjoy these bonuses at your job most likely, why should your nanny be any different? She works hard all year and this is a sure way to make her feel appreciated! Do not forget your nanny at the holidays! Perhaps your nanny goes the extra mile and does things to help out during the week that are not her responsibility. A simple “I noticed you unloaded the dishwasher, thank you so much!” can go a very long way. Nannies work hard and want to feel valued like anyone else.
6. To go along with the last point many nannies quit when they feel talked down to or as “less than” their employers. No matter what your job title we are all humans that work hard and place value in the work that we do. Do not belittle your nanny in any way. Talking to her in negative manner, referring to her as “just a nanny” (yes, this happens!) or other such negative talk is a sure way to send your nanny packing! Would you like an employer that talks down to you, belittles you, or treats your work as if it is nothing? The answer to that of course is no, so why would you treat your nanny this way? Child care is hard work and treating the person who cares for your children in your absence as below you is unacceptable.
7. Having to Beg for their paycheck: Yes, you read this correctly and it happens! If you are following the law and contracts and paying your nanny legally as you should be, it is your responsibility to see to it that her pay goes through on payday. For many payroll companies this means having to manually approve it once a week on specified day. I am sure that you don’t forget your own pay day, so why would you forget the pay day of the person who cares for your children? If you have a hectic week set yourself a reminder in your weekly calendar, make a note, whatever you need to do, but do not forget to pay your nanny on time! She has bills and responsibilities, and the right to receive her paycheck as agreed upon in exchange for her work. When we hear about nannies having to call, text, and ask and ask for their paycheck, sometimes so far as having to borrow money in the meantime, it is shocking! Pay your nanny on time for her services or you may find that your nanny has moved on to a family that does.
8. Failure to give proper annual raises, or current pay rates: In most lines of work an employee can expect to receive a pay raise each year. This is due to loyalty, performance, and the rising cost of living. You may have a nanny that you love, who also really loves you, but the bottom line is she is a professional providing a service. If you are not willing to meet the current industry standards per her experience and provide her with annual raises, you may find that your nanny simply must move on to a better situation.
9.Change in Responsibilities: Some families get comfortable with their nannies and begin to add tasks to their job without further discussion, and without extra compensation. This can make a nanny feel overwhelmed and frustrated, or simply not be enjoying her work any longer. A nanny is there to provide care for your children and to perform agreed upon childcare related tasks. If she is doing the children’s laundry, and preparing the children’s meals that is not a free pass to expect her to do your laundry and meal prep as well. Nannies clean up after themselves and the children in their care, yet many have said that they have come in to a sink full of dinner dishes from the night before, and parents breakfast dishes, being expected to wash them. This type of behavior that snowballs into other tasks is unacceptable and unreasonable. Your nanny is not there to be cleaning and tending to the entire family and their messes. She is there to love and care for your children, and clean up after them and herself throughout the day. If it wasn’t agreed upon when hired, and is not in your contract, do not expect your nanny to do it, simply put this is taking advantage of her and is extremely unacceptable. A sure-fire way to send your nanny looking for greener grasses.
10. Family Drama: We get it, Life isn’t always smooth and easy. Maybe you are dealing with some things in your personal lives, perhaps you are going through a divorce and have shared this with your nanny while you work out the children’s situation. Maybe you have simply hit a rough patch and are arguing a lot. Your nanny is not there to judge you, but she also does not wish to be involved. If you need to sit down with her to discuss a change in the children’s routines, schedules, or something of that nature that affects their daily lives, by all means have a sit down with your nanny to work out the details. Do not ask her to take sides, do not dive into deep personal details, and please try to avoid arguing in front of her. A nanny works in your home which is very personal, but it is still her professional work space and she needs to feel comfortable, safe, and secure. If your nanny is walking into screaming arguments, constant upset and drama, she may decide she needs to move along. This can create a toxic work environment that is unfair to expect her to continue in. Handle the situation as adults, respect her for the professional that she is, and keep the personal stuff private. If there is any kind of abuse involved (whether that is physical or verbal) please understand that a nanny cannot work in this environment, and is also called to question if she needs to get authorities involved. This is not a situation that a nanny wants to work in, nor should she be.
Now that we have covered some major reasons why your nanny may leave, understand that these are things that you can prevent by being proactive! Treat your nanny as the professional that she is and always keep the lines of communication open as things change. Communication is so important! Keep in mind that in addition to these preventable scenarios, your nanny may truly love working for you and have to leave for other reason. Perhaps she needs more hours that can no longer be provided, or she is moving, getting married, changing careers, or some other life altering event. If she has expressed this to you and is parting ways by not fault of yours or hers, wish her well, and do your best to keep in touch. Nannies fall in love with and form bonds with your children. This relationship is special! Valuing it and keeping it is a healthy thing for your family. Take care or your nannies and treat them the same way you would want to be treated!
By: Anne-Marie Ferraro