Monday

Why the Hostile Send-Off?

Received Monday, January 17, 2011
Opinion 4 I am writing because I am saddened by so many nannies writing in that they are feeling anxiety about giving their notice to the families they work for. So many cases of families turning hostile when their nanny moves on to better things. It happens too often and it speaks very loudly of the way these mothers feel towards their nannies: they don't really see their nannies lives as important as their own. It is horrible. I have seen it from both sides of the coin. I have been a nanny, and I have been a childcare provider, a home daycare provider, and now I am a mom who works outside the home and employs a part time nanny. I am far from perfect, but one thing about me is that I respect my childcare provider. I think if more moms were to try providing childcare, they would see things differently. Unfortunately, most of the mothers who employ nannies would never "lower" themselves to take care of other people's children. As nice as these parents seem when their nanny is doing what they are supposed to be doing, they change when their nanny leaves.

I cared for a child in my home for almost three years. When I gave them a month's notice, they reacted very badly. I needed to give notice because I was having severe financial problems and I had no choice: I needed to find a higher paying job, and you can't do that when you are caring for a little one for 50 hours a week in your home. They were not understanding. Their solution was for me to take on more children. I explained to them that I was not happy doing home childcare. They did not care. How does that make sense? Would you want your childcare provider to continue providing care if they were unhappy? I know I would not.

I guess what I am trying to say is: please explain to me this attitude, this entitled attitude these families have regarding their nannies. Why do they treat them like slaves? Why not wish them well and send them off with a smile and a good luck? Why are people such complete jerks? I just don't get it.

19 comments:

aaagh! said...

total selfishness, I've had the sweetest goodbyes with the nice families, the ones where the goodbyes were awkward to awful came as no surprise. its not just inconvenience, its the type of family.

Allison said...

I think that some parents feel that they are being inconvenienced when their childcare provider gives notice. While this may be true, it is important for them to remember that their nanny or daycare provider is still a human being with a life outside of their home and their family. Nannies are not indentured servants, and it is awful to see them go from being considered part of the family, to being lashed out against because of an employment decision. I think it is definitely helpful to negotiate expectations at the beginning of employment in order to try and avoid ugly situations later on.

ATL Nanny said...

In the 10+ years I've been working as a professional nanny, I've never had ONE job end amicably when I give notice. If the job ends on their terms (child goes to school, move, etc) then all is well and we stay in contact. If it ends on my terms...no matter how nicely I word my notice, no many how many MONTHS of notice give, they still freak out. I had one family "fire" me on the spot and tell me to leave and not come back. I had one who treated me so badly (screaming at me in front of the children, getting up in my face and physically intimidating me) that I couldn't serve out the rest of notice for fear of my own safety. And yet another spread bald-faced lies about me to neighbors and mutual friends until threatened with a lawsuit. Every single one of these families was my biggest fan prior to my giving notice and told me on a regular basis that I was considered a member of the family.

Burned by SIL said...

I was a day care provider for over ten years. I took care of my brother's infant (my godchild) 40 hours a week for free so my sister-in-law could sit on her rump and watch soap operas. During this time, I decided to cut back to part-time, working only three days a week. The families whose children I cared for accommodated my new schedule. My sister-in-law was so angry that she told me that not only would I never see my nephew again but I was no longer his godmother. She said if I truly cared for him, I would put him before my own needs. The real issue was she could no longer sit on her butt while someone else cared for her infant for free.

Nanny Rachel said...

I commented recently on the proper notice etiquette post. I was concerned that I was being selfish for leaving two PT positions (each 10 hrs/wk) to take a FT position with great pay and benefits. I gave the first family notice-3 weeks- and MB was PISSED. She couldn't beleive I was breaking our agreement, and told me that there was no way she was going to be able to find someone to replace me. I felt terrible. I went home really upset, and with the way that it went with that family, I was really afraid of giving notice to the second family.
When I gave my notice that afternoon to the second family, the MB was so sweet. She told me that she really wasn't suprised; that they knew that it was only a matter of time before someone realized how wonderful I was and snatched me up. She thanked me for taking such wonderful care of her children. She told me that they were really happy for me, and that they would really miss me, but that they would love to have me do date night sitting to stay in touch. When I went in for my next shift with them, DB and MB were both so nice. They told me again that they were really happy for me. They didn't treat me any differently.
These two families were night and day different with their reactions. It means a lot to me that the second family was so understanding.

OAZ said...

I wish I had an answer! Currently, I am going through this very same thing, except I my work situation is very abusive. Right now, I am trying to find a new job and escape!

ATL Nanny, how did you possibly handle all of the chaos and stress from your quitting?! Can you give some pointers on what to do if you need to get out?

Alex said...

I agree!! It makes NO sense! It is almost as if (and yes, not everyone is like this. I actually just parted ways with a terrific family because I need to sub to be able to find a teaching job) but it is almost as if they are just mad because they are being inconvenienced. They totally forget how often their nannies have been inconvenienced, or had plans change etc. but it is that they will have to find a new nanny. It is like they forget that in the job world (which is what a nanny job is, a job!), people give notice and take different jobs. Just because you are a nanny it is not different.

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

I think I know why OP. It is actually a back-handed compliment when a family gets angry if you give notice. It is because they have a GREAT Nanny and know it and do not want to lose her. Kinda like when you have a GREAT boyfriend and then he dumps you. You get pissed at first, right? Then you want to get even!! LOL. I mean seriously..if you were such a crappy nanny and were so replaceable, the why the heck would they even care? They know how hard it will be to replace you, such a loving and competent nanny.
Also, I totally think if a Nanny needs to move on, she should give a notice but if for even ONE day or ONE moment she suspects the work environment is going to be hostile, she should leave immediately since this is what typically happens when a nanny gives notice. Perhaps if a nanny volunteers to assist in finding a new nanny, the family will be more forgiving??!

OP of this post said...

JMTC:

I am the OP and while I appreciate what you are saying, that still doesn't make me feel any better! lol :)

As far as offering to help find the family a new nanny, I actually did, in my situation, offer to help them search. They were still hostile to me. :(

Cutenanny;) said...

Some employers just only think about themselves. Sad but true. They always say that oh you're part of the family but usually they don't give a damn. Im a nanny and I think I'm doing my job to take care of their kids and the house too. They could tell because their kids loves me so much. The reaction of your kids could answer your questions if your nanny takes good care of your kid or not. I'm just sadden about some employer who thinks that theyvown your life because you're their nanny and if you want to move on some just don't like it. That's selfishness!! You know why? Because if you leave them they have to train a new one, the momboss will takes care of her children if she can't find one, she can't go to gym, salon, lunch with friends etc.and I had an employer who went on a one week vacation and didn't tell me that they're not going to pay me! That's not fair at all they should have told me in advance so I could find a part time while they're gone, and after their vacation was almost over they keep on calling me to work as room as they get home. WTH! It's like I don't need you now so bye bye but oh, wait I need you now come back..LOL and I work full time with them..

ATL Nanny said...

OAZ -- I'm sorry your situation is so bad. I think you are doing the right thing by looking for a new job. I hope you find something soon!
Here is my I-learned-the-hard-way advice for other nannies: (1) When starting a new job GET IT IN WRITING. Do not ever start a position until hours, benefits, salary and duties are made clear in a written work agreement. The work agreement needs to include information on termination including severance. (2) Remember that nannying is a JOB and that your number one priority should be yourself. Yes, it is wonderful to have a friendly relationship with the family but they are NOT your family. You will hear wonderful stories of families that loved their nannies so much they kept them on for twenty years and bought them a house and put them through school and on and on and on. These are the exception, not the rule. Most parents treat their nanny about as well as they treat their hairdresser, which is to say they are generally polite but do not consider them an important member of the family. Most parents WILL let their nanny go if it is beneficial to them. Do NOT stay at a job where you are mistreated, taken advantage of, or seriously underpaid for the sake of the family or the children. (3) Have a back up plan. This means you should be paid legally so you can collect unemployment insurance (and because it's the right thing to do, but that is not the point here) and put money in savings every month while living within your means. Parents can and will fire you with no notice. This also means get regular letters of reference from your family WHILE you are employed. Tell them you are updating your portfolio for a class or you need the reference for a volunteer position. You will be glad to have them when the woman who once told you she "couldn't do it without you" refuses to be a reference. Also consider getting similar references from other professionals who observe you doing your job such as preschool teachers and Gymboree instructors. (4) When it's time to go, do NOT stress over their feelings. Be professional, give two weeks notice and move on. IF you have an excellent relationship with the family, you might consider giving more notice, but only give as much notice as you can afford to spend not working. If you give them two months notice and they freak out and fire you on the spot, you are screwed unless you can afford to be unemployed for two months. Once, when I was a live-in nanny, I gave three months notice and was given 48-hours to vacate the premises.

Cutenanny;) said...

ATL, you are so right! I always consider my feelings especially because I really love these kids but the only problem is their parents. LOL

ATL Nanny said...

OAZ -- I'm sorry your situation is so bad. I hope you find something new quickly!

I have tons of advice, but it all boils down to this: Nannying is a JOB. And jobs come to an end. Whether on their terms or yours, it's only a matter of time. Forget all the stories you hear about families who love their nannies so much they keep them on for twenty years and buy them a house and put them through college once the kids are grown. Those are BY FAR the exceptions, not the rule.

Good nannies by nature want to help others and are willing to sacrifice their own happiness for others. This is just not healthy in an employment situation. I have learned to view my profession no differently than a teaching profession. I am fond of the children I care for and I want the very best for each and every one of them. I am polite and friendly to the parents, but I refuse to mingle our social lives. I do not want to hear about their marital troubles and I do not share details about my personal life. If I need to take a sick day, I take it. If I want to quit and take a better job, I do it. I am not a member of the family or an indentured servant. I am a professional who has many other priorities in life. And I always make sure to have a backup plan. Parents can and will fire their nanny with no notice if it's beneficial to them. On the flip side, I will never again give more notice than I am guaranteed severance.

ATL Nanny said...

Sorry my comment posted twice -- it told me the first was too long to post, so I tried to condense it and post it again. Apparently both versions actually went through!

OAZ said...

ATL Nanny,

Thank you for the advise and support!

There seems to be so many that are dealing with workplace abuse, especially during this economy.

Fortunately, through bad experience, I learned all that you wrote. The only thing that I don't have right now is a back-up position. I am trying hard, but it won't come soon enough for me! It has gotten to the point that I don't trust either one of my employers, because they are so snakey and am fearful of walking in their door every day.

Your words are very valuable and have helped me and surely will help others as well. Thanks Again!

Village said...

To put it bluntly, some families actually think they are better than the nanny. When the nanny quits, she rejects them, which can't happen in their minds, because they are BETTER than the nanny.

Their framing is upended by the resignation, so they get furious, and fire the nanny, which restores their axis to its proper turn.

In the old days we called them snobs.

andrea antidormi said...

Ew. I totally went through this. I explained why I left (dog poop on floors wasn't my job to pick up, job description changed dramatically etc...) I got offended parents who acted passive aggresively. I gave them 2 weeks. then they found my profile on sittercity or something and she wrote me the nastiest email ever saying how she should have fired me a long time ago etc and that she was offended that she saw my profile was already back up. she basically fired off on me for no reason in an email because i gave a notice. she had no reason to criticize me either. luckily i now have a position where constructive crit. is always welcome. everything is straight foward and there is no passive aggressivness at all.

Nannycaroline said...

The last woman I worked for didn't give me the hours she promised and wasn't nice at all, so I gave notice. She made me give 5 weeks notice, but then found a new nanny in 2.5 weeks, so she blamed me for a leaky humidifier (it was fine when I left) and fired me (in an email) that day. If they are the ones changing the situation (going to daycare, grandma coming in etc) they are usually pretty nice and give me a good reference and tell their friends I am available. If I have to end it, they turn into awful monsters. It is sad, but true.

Maed said...

It's a power struggle. The MB relinquishes her role as carer, and then reconciles it within herself by degrading the task as an activity. And then all of a sudden, the lackey doing what she thinks is her dirty work, turns and says goodbye, and the MB is confronted by the reality of the caring job once again: it is hard, and it is too much for her to just pick up with her other commitments (and maybe she feels she can't do it well). She panicks and lashes out. So childish, and unprofessional. My current MB is a lawyer. Very tricky.