Wednesday

Letting Go, Saying Good-Bye and Keeping in Touch...

Received Wednesday, February 9, 2011
opinion 1 I may get blasted for this because I know how many times I've read about how important it is to be professional, that we, as nannies, are not family, etc. let me preface this by saying that I am being very professional at the business end, being considerate and committed to very clear communication as I plan to leave my current position. I have given notice verbally and followed it up in writing. I have also given my employers excellent lead time to find my replacement. I told them before the holidays that I would be leaving and moving back to my home state mid-March. Following the holidays (in January) we sat down on a Saturday afternoon for a meeting to check in and be clear with one another. Lot's of tears, but a good meeting. So all of this is going smoothly. Since that meeting the parents have been interviewing and trying out new nannies on the weekend. They told me that they had a conversation finally, and realized that they just needed to lower their expectations because they weren't going to find another me. So, there is no animosity on the adult level at all.

My extreme difficulty lies in leaving the children. I met them when they were 3 weeks old, and began working for the family when they were almost 2 months. I care for a boy and a girl (twins) who are now 17 months. I am with them 12 hours per day, Monday through Thursday. I provide their total daily care (from getting them up in the morning until they have had dinner, are bathed and ready for their parents to put them down for the night.) I love them like my own grandchildren, and these feelings are reciprocated in their every gesture, smile, hug, laugh. We have great days together! I wouldn't even be thinking of leaving except that my mother is very old and needing my care back in California.

So, my question is for those of you who have been in my position. I literally get sick to my stomach and cry when I'm at home at night and on the weekends and I think about leaving the babies. I know that they are going to wonder what happened to me, and that they are at an age too young for reason. I feel as if I am abandoning them. I have even considered not going, but that is not an option for my own family. So... does anyone have any suggestions as to how this can be done in the easiest way for the children? And also are there any suggestions about how you have kept in touch in a healthy way with past families? Because I will be all the way across the country this seems challenging. Thanks in advance for any suggestions you may have.

15 comments:

Nanny who loves what she does said...

You know- this is always the hardest part of this career. You need those babies- in your life- as they need you. One ting thats works great- with young children- is a video "pal" Talk into a video- and send the babies video messages. Parents can send you videos, too. Also scrapbooks are great, too. I am sure you (and parents) took lots of pics. Something everyone will enjoy for years to come. Also visiting when you can get time.

Any chance- you could bring your mother out to you. A home care setting/ even possibly going to work with you? No one else, in your family, could help? It is really hard to find a great family- to work with. Hope everything works out for you.

beentheredonethat said...

I'll probably get blasted for this reply, but these children are not even a year and a half old - I know it sounds harsh, but trust me, they WILL adjust, and quicker than you think. You sound like a very caring person, and that's the best sort of nanny any parent could hope for - but at the end of the day, it is just a job, and caring for your mom is far more important than a job. (I know, because I'm in the same situation myself right now) By all means, keep in touch with the family and exchange photos - but I've left families over the years, and experience has shown me that it's best to make a clean break.

Texas Nanny said...

The best way to keep in touch without being intrusive that I've found is to send cards. I'm sure you know the babies' birthday! Send them a card every year, and a Christmas/holiday card as well.

The birthday cards will let them and the parents know you still think of them. The Christmas card is where you can write about what you're doing now and include your current contact information. It opens the door for the parents to send you a card back, or give you a call even. You just want to give them an appropriate "Hey, I still think about you!" and leave things open for them to respond if they want to stay in touch.

TinyDancer said...

I think the key in situations like this is to follow the parent's lead. Tell them you want to keep in touch. Send an email or card shortly after you leave and then christmas and birthdays, you can also let them know when you'll be in town, but you need to make sure that your efforts are reciprocated or you may be coming a cross as overbearing. A lot of people say that at the end of the day it's just a job and though to a degree that's true, people also wear many hats, just because they are former employers by no means does that mean you can't be friends as long as its a two way street. I also do agree with beentheredonethat, the kids are really young they'll be fine and even though it may not feel like it right now you're attachment will fade as well so don't stress it. Do what you need to do for your family, stay in touch how you know how and life will continue on.

nycnanny said...

I don't know how to say this in a nice way so I am just going to say it--They are 17 months, they will not remember you. You are not abandoning them and they will definitely not feel that way. Leaving positions where you are attached to children and love them so much is always hard, I have been through it a few times. But ultimately, life goes on, the children are not scarred from it( especially since they are only babies and wont remember it!) and you will find more babies to take care of and love. The reality is you were only with them for a year. The chances of actually keeping in touch are slim to none. Maybe you will at first but they will find a new nanny and bond with her, etc and you will find a new position and the relationship will most likely just fade out. I know this is really hard for you but it will become easier. Try to stay tough!

Blythe said...

Are you going to still be living in the area? Maybe you could do some evening/weekend babysitting (if the parents are onboard). Of course, they will adjust and so will you-- but it would be a nice way to stay kind of involved!

duhhhh said...

Blythe,
She said she will be all the way across the country?!

Blythe said...

Ah, sorry. Missed the bit about moving across the country. You're right, that would complicate babysitting!

NannyKnowsBest said...

I have been a Nanny for 11 years now, and have been through this 2 times. My first position was a Nanny share with four children who were 4, 4, 6 weeks, and 7 weeks old. I had all the children 5 days a week, 10 hours a day for 4.5 years. When the younger two started full time school, it was time for me to go. Lots of tears.......the children are now 10, 10, 14, and 14. I have seen them once a week, every week since I left them. I have a fantastic relationship with both families.
The 3rd year into my second Nanny position, the family had to move across the country. I still miss them very much, but we email, talk on the phone, and visit in person once year.
It sounds like u have a great relationship with your current family, and hopefully they will want to stay in touch with you! The first 2 weeks are the hardest, but life goes on, and "your" babies will be okay ;-)

STLNanny said...

I've been a nanny for a family I love since April, 2007. My job will be ending this summer as the youngest will be going off to kindergarten. I'm already dreading the day and even get scared thinking about a new life for myself and not seeing the three kids everyday as I love them so very much. Thankfully I will be living in the same area so I hope to take them out for a fun day/evening once a month or so just to keep the bond going.

As for you, I reccomend making a teddybear for them at build-a-bear. You can even record a special message and put it inside the bear so that the children can give it a little hug and hear your voice!

It can't hurt to ask the parents to keep in touch via e-mails and cards that include pictures. I hope with you, like I hope in my own case, that overtime the sadness and missing them will ease up a bit.

Good luck!

Megan said...

I am preparing to leave a family after almost 3 years myself. Their two youngest were adopted; mom didn't take maternity leave so it was from the orphanage and into my care. Before that, I had to leave a family I had been with for 4 years (as a live in! 80 hr weeks including night duty when both girls were newborns). And prior to that, I had to leave a family after four summers together.
It will always happen, it will always be horrible, and both you and the children will always survive. As someone mentioned, these children will, developmentally, have no memory of you. I've been in that position-- it almost hurts more. You have to keep in touch from a distant or it makes it difficult and confusing. Send cards, make phone calls. But give enough space for the new nanny to also form a bond: you wouldn't want HER to dampen their love for you and you can't hamper her chances with them either.

It isn't easy and it never will be. Having that kind of love and concern for the children is what keeps most of us doing this (often) thankless job.

babinurse said...

Everyone says the babies will have no memory of you. I don't believe this. We all know that the first four years of life are the formative years, and you were their primary care-giver for more than a year of this time. A part of you will always be with them. Your loving and nurturing manner will be a part of what shapes these babies into decent adults. If they had been sitting in a crib with no loving adult to care for them, they would most likely be psychologically scarred and developmentally delayed. You will always be a part of them whether they have a visual memory of you or not. They were lucky to have you.

sharon said...

Virtually all of the commentators here are heroes with a built in character geared towards building the self esteem of others, particularly children. Great wisdom in these comments - amazing!

OP said...

Oh...thank you everyone from the bottom of my heart. Your words of encouragment have really helped. there will be a rough patch, for sure, and hearing these stories from others who have gone through it gives me more courage. I, too, feel that the babies will remember me on a soul level and I will write and email and do my best to see them at least once a year. The parents told me I will always be "their Busha" (Grandma in Polish...that's what they call me.)

And the thoughts about giving the new nanny a chance to bond is so important. I want them to fall in love with her too! Bottom line, I want them to be happy children...

Again, thanks so much! I'll keep you posted.

NannyS said...

Firstly I want to say that I will be in a similar situation soon. I'm in my 30's but this is my first full time nanny job. I've been with the family for almost 2 yrs. Even though I knew when I took the job it would only last 1-2 yrs, it's still hard knowing that I'll be leaving!! I get teary eyed sometimes just thinking about it. We've had lots of ups and downs (by we I mean the slightly unbalanced MB and I) but I still was hurt that the way I found out they were looking for cheaper childcare was by seeing au pair sites and day care sites on their computer history. Like I said I always knew this would be the case but I wish they had just come out and told me vs. me having to be all Nancy Drew about the whole thing. (Though when you type G for google and Great Au Pair auto fills, it doesn't take a lot of sleuthing to figure it out.)

Secondly, to all the PP's who said the kids are too little to remember the nanny...I'm not entirely convinced of that. I had a babysitter when I was very small...an in home daycare type thing, and I still remember her (and not fondly.) My parents divorced when I was about 2 and I still have some memories of my dad carrying me to bed before they split up. Will the kids remember her the way a 12 yr old would? No. But I believe there will be some fleeting dream like memories they'll have later on. They'll smell a soap or perfume in a store or something and they'll have a feeling of safety or love or warmth or something overcome them and maybe they'll remember why and maybe they won't, but I guarantee it will be a pleasant thing and that nanny will have a lasting impression on them.