Whether you have just hired a nanny for the first time or your current nanny is leaving and a new one will be starting, the transition can be challenging for everyone. Before the age of three, most kids won't have too much trouble adjusting to losing a nanny, kids this age may let the relationship taper off naturally. After three, the transition gets trickier. Children could experience behavioural changes for up to six months after a caregiver’s departure. If they are calm, they may start having tantrums. If they are toilet-trained, they may regress. To handle it, parents need to offer emotional support and help their children to understand their feelings.
We have a few helpful tips that will help ease the transition for everyone involved:
If your children are old enough, talk to them about the transition. It works best if the nanny’s departure is known for weeks or months, and the children have time to ask questions and understand why she is leaving. The key to a successful transition is making sure your children understand what is going on. You should talk to them and let them know that someone new is going to be taking care of them. This is also why a period of overlap is so helpful. Your children will feel better about spending time with their new caregiver when someone familiar is in the home as well. It's important to talk to your children about their feelings, and let them know that it's okay to miss their nanny, but that it's also okay to have fun with a new nanny.
Sometimes families have falling outs with their nanny and the goodbye is not so pleasant. With younger kids, you don't want to tell them more than they can handle. You can be vague and say that the nanny had to move on, making sure that your children know it had nothing to do with them. Kids who are five and older can handle more of the truth. Explain that the nanny behaved in a way that made you uncomfortable. Older kids understand that. Most importantly, make sure your child knows he didn't do anything wrong.
If possible, we suggest having your new nanny shadow you or your current caregiver before starting full time. Have her start a few weeks before you go back to work or before your current nanny leaves. This gives you the chance to see how your nanny interacts with your children. Is she able to calm your crying baby? Is she engaged and interactive with your child? Is she helpful with household duties when your child is napping? This transition time is not only important for you, but for your children too, so they have the time needed to ease into having a new caregiver.
Maintaining a relationship with a former nanny isn't a must, most kids are resilient enough to handle losing a nanny. But if you and your kids really love her, it's wonderful to continue the relationship, and transition it from a working relationship to more of a family one. Let them know that even though the nanny may not be in their lives (in the same daily way), they can still be a part of each other's lives. Explain that they'll still be able to see the nanny, although not as frequently, or that they can keep in touch through letters or e-mail.
In these first few weeks, spend some time with your new nanny to get to know her better. The relationship between you and your nanny is unlike any other working relationship. Because she is going to be in your home bonding with and caring for your children, you want to know who she is as a person, not just your employee. How was she raised? What are her hobbies and interests? What are her childrearing/discipline philosophies? Get what you need to know from her in order for you to feel 100% about leaving your child with her.
Communication is a key in a parent-nanny relationship. You have to set your expectations ahead of time and be very clear with your nanny about what those are. Giving her as much information as possible is only going to make her more successful in her job. You want your nanny to be consistent with what you are doing in regards to child rearing, discipline, how you manage your household, etc. Your nanny is not a mind reader, so it’s important to communicate to her how you want things to be done, otherwise she will not know. It’s a good idea to have a parent-nanny agreement drafted when your nanny starts and make sure that both parties have a signed copy. This agreement should clearly layout all of your expectations including duties, working hours, pay, benefits, and causes for termination.
Think about how you want to be kept in the loop about what the nanny and your children are doing during the day. Do you like texts/photos or would you rather her keep a daily journal? This will give you a better sense on how the nanny fills children’s day. On top of this, debrief with her verbally at the end of the day as well. This keeps the lines of communication open and gives your nanny the assurance that she can come to you with any issues, concerns or questions.
Any transition can be difficult, but if you give yourself enough time and make communication with your nanny a priority, you will set you and your nanny up for success!
- Miss Governess Team