The hardest part of any nannying position for most people is the day you have to give notice to the family. Whether it’s due to finding a new position, making major life changes, or misalignment in expectations and goals for the future, nannies are often filled with anxiety and stress around how the family will react, how to give notice professionally and respectfully, and what your relationship with the employing family will look like moving forward.
Here are a few easy-to-remember tips that will hopefully simplify this process for you while preserving your hard-earned reputation, professional references, and bonds you have formed with the family long after your time working in their household ends.
Step One: The Written Notice
The first step is to write a formal letter of resignation. Your letter should be extremely professional, with a few mentions of the specific aspects of the job that you have truly enjoyed, along with the respectfully stated fact that it is now time for you to move on. Thank the family for the opportunity to work with their youngsters, and provide a date for your desired final day of work. The length of your notice should reflect previous conversations and any contractual agreements reached between you and the parents (normally, a 2 to 4-week notice is included in an employment agreement.) In this letter, it is not necessary or beneficial to include any family-specific reasons as to why you have decided to end the position – keep things positive and professional.
Step Two: The Big Meeting
Once you’ve finished writing your resignation letter, don’t send it off just yet, or leave it on the kitchen counter on your way out the door – this is a sure-fire way to end the position poorly and to leave the family feeling upset, abandoned, or taken advantage of and will overshadow all of the amazing work and dedication you’ve poured into their household. Set up a time to meet the parents in person to communicate your decision to move on from your current role. Try to hold the meeting at a time when everyone can be fully present and do your best to be accommodating in discussing the transition. This can be a nerve-wracking process, so consider having notes prepared to make sure that you express everything you intend to in the meeting. We strongly recommend having your formal letter in hand so that as you sit down with the parents and discuss your decision, you can leave the letter with them to peruse later. While the family will most likely be curious and hurt about your decision to move on and will have questions about why you made the decision, this conversation is normally not the appropriate time to address any behavioral or communication concerns (these conversations, as well as any conversations clarifying your employment terms or agreement, have hopefully already taken place by the time you have decided to put in notice.)
If your working relationship with the parents has been a struggle or is currently in a state of disrepair, they may actually be resistant to setting up an in-person meeting – or, in some cases, a lack of communication from the parents is a big part of the reason for wanting to end the working relationship. If your employers are unwilling or unable to set aside 15-30 minutes to sit down with you after multiple opportunities, we advise that you offer your notice to them via email along with the formal letter you’ve written, with an addendum, you’d be happy to speak more about it with them in person when it’s convenient. Keep in mind that this family may not provide the best reference for you in future endeavors, but your professionalism and respectfulness will be noticed by potential hiring parties, so keep your chin up and do your best to leave the position on the best possible terms.
Step Three: Loose Ends
Once you’ve let the family know you intend to leave the position, they may react in any number of ways. While you cannot be responsible for other adults’ emotional reactions, there are a few things you can do to ensure the conversation ends as smoothly as possible and that your transition out of the role happens smoothly. Take time to update any instructions or emergency contact lists that may have become out-of-date during your employment, or leave notes about children’s favorite activities, toys and routines for a future caregiver. Ensure you leave any keys, technology, car seats, or anything else that belongs to the employing family at their house on the last shift. In some cases, it is wise to ensure you have access to these pieces of their property when having the conversation surrounding notice to prepare for the family requesting you not to return to work the following day.
Ask the family for permission to stay in touch with their family however feels appropriate, whether it is sending birthday cards to their kids or a holiday card, potentially planning a play date in a few months, or staying in touch via text message or phone for older kids. It’s important to respect the family’s boundaries and privacy levels in these scenarios – however, many families do recognize the impact a nanny has had on their children’s lives and are encouraged to know that relationship will be continuing on. We also advise letting the parents decide how and when the children are informed about your last day – some families will want to explain the situation to the children themselves, while others will want to have a group conversation.
We hope this step-by-step guide helps to calm some of your nerves when walking into your next difficult conversation. Feel free to reach out to us at any time with additional questions!
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