E-mail Etiquette

opinion 1
I have a part time nanny job, have had it for almost a year now. The family left for vacation yesterday, therefore I am currently on vacation as well. Today I was offered a full time job (not child care related), which begins next week, and I want to take it. Is it extremely wrong to quit over email ASAP? This would give the family exactly two weeks to find someone. I hate that they are on vacation, and it's the holidays, but I don't have much choice. Despite it being a decent job, with a lot of respect, I didn't really click with the children (three of them), and while I think they have no problem with me, I am also not going to be remembered as a favorite nanny. Is an email acceptable in this case? I feel terrible, but I am also not looking to be a career nanny, and want to take this new job.


BKmommy06 said...

My suggestion would be to call them at the very least. Yeah, its gonna suck, but its going to suck on their end as well. Are they aware that you were never looking to be a career nanny? If not then your quitting is going to come completely out of left field for them and will leave the family in a tough spot. I don't think e-mail is an acceptable form of quitting regardless if you didn't click with the children.

StrawberryShortKakes said...

I agree with the PP that email is not a good idea. I am one of those people that hates confrontation but even I would not just email. I had to quit a nanny job a few months ago and I was scared to death to tell the parents. I was losing sleep over it! I think you should just muster up the courage and call them. At least you don't have to speak with them in person. Also a phone call is better because you will talk to them and be done with it, you won't be waiting around for a reply email. Also, don't tell the parents that you didn't click with the children. Tell them you can't pass up this opportunity. Yes they will be mad but maybe they will be at least a little happy for you.

Good luck at your new job!

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

I think if this family treated you well and you really loved your job, you would not even consider leaving. It just doesn't sound like a good fit to me so it is better if you take the other job, I agree.

I am not a confrontational fact confrontation scares the hell out of me, so I would take the chicken sh#@ route and e-mail the family...(which I know is a bad idea!) Theoretically, the family deserves a phone call at least, yet if they are out of the country and you want them to know ASAP, you can e-mail them.

Two weeks notice is enough for them to find someone to care for their kids when they come back. I know there are tons of unemployed Nannies out there seeking positions, so they should have no problem.

Good luck with your new job OP!!~

Anne said...

Why not email and phone call?

A phone call is best, but it's always good to have something in writing.

Make sure you make contact with them, don't just leave a message or email get a response.

Good luck on your new career!

Jaqueline said...

I can't add any new advice.

I will say it bothers me that so many people with no longterm interest in being a nanny advertise as a nanny or take nanny jobs only to flake out and leave.

Gives nannies a bad name and makes it harder for career nannies to find a job.

It's been my experience that these oportunistic nannies also take low wages, so folks think it's ok to pay a nanny $150 a week for fulltime care.

Maybe next time take a job with a temp service.

StrawberryShortKakes said...

Jaqueline, I don't see a problem with a non-career nanny taking a nanny job. In fact, I did it. I knew I didn't want to be a nanny forever but I was in between undergrad and graduate school and needed a job so I took a nanny job. Shortly after, I got a job offer outside of nannying and I took it because it would help me in my career. I don't see a problem with that at all. I would have taken a job in my field over being a nanny in the first place but I just couldn't find one at the time so I took the nanny job. I know you said you don't appreciate a nanny who doesn't plan to be longterm, I did plan on staying for a year. Sometimes other opportunities come up! I do agree that it is annoying when a nanny takes a job and has no plan to stay. Yes, that isn't good.

MissMannah said...

I think it says something about our society when someone would even consider quitting over email. Yes, OP, that would be extremely bad form. If you did that, I would not be surprised to see an angry post here from your MB saying "beware of this nanny because she abandoned our family while we were on vacation!" At the very least, you should call them and explain how this job is an excellent opportunity. I would even go one better and offer to look for replacement nannies before they get home from their vacation. Or email them a couple of nanny resumes so they can have a head's up on finding someone. That way, the parents will know that you did take your job seriously and you weren't just marking time, waiting for something better to come along. Unless, of course, that is what you were doing.

FutureLANanny said...

I think a phone call and an email are a good way to go as opposed to one or the other. I know sometimes I prefer to email/text only because it gives me the time to word things exactly the want to word them, instead of getting caught up in the moment over the phone and sounding like a moron lol. Plus you want to word it delicately so they know its not personal. I had to do something similar a while ago, except I WAS super attached to the child and family which made it that much harder. Its not easy, but hopefully they will be happy for you and will be able to find someone within 2 weeks. Its a lousy situation, bad timing being the holidays and their vacation but you didn't intend for that. Good luck!

Darcy said...

I think it is a good idea to give notice via e-mail because then you can prove that you gave two week notice in case the family says you just up and quit. That way you have some proof.

Nanny S said...

I think the most appropriate thing to do would be to call and explain that this opportunity came up and you want to seize it, however you do understand what terrible timing it is with them on vacation and then put in a good faith effort to help them find another nanny.

Maybe I am just an asshole, but as you said, you didn't click with the children and even though they treated you with respect it doesn't sound like you will be remembered as the "favorite" therefore, I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't really care about this opportunity for your career. Also take into account of whether or not you would like to use them as a reference.

Take the job. Call and act very sad and offer to help. Based on their reaction, you can tell how much help you should put in. Then, I would write a follow up email summarizing your conversation and thanking them for their understanding, plus anything about finding a new nanny, links, etc.

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

So, OP, are you saying they will have 2 weeks starting right now, while they are on vacation, to find a new nanny to start when they arrive home? I'm going to go with that assumption, because you also say you will be starting this new job "next week", which I am going to guess means Monday 12/26 or Monday 1/2/12. (Yeah me, a guess and an assumption in one paragraph!)

If I am correct, how do you think they can find a nanny while they are on vacation?

I get that you want to move on with your chosen career, and I think it's at least a little bit of a blessing that you are not FT, since hopefully this family will be able to find some sort of emergency coverage after you split.

You MUST call them. You must explain, with all the sincerity you can manage, that you are extremely sorry to be doing this to them, and that you completely grasp how hard you are making their lives, but that you have this amazing, once in a lifetime chance (even if it's not that great of a job), and you have to take it.

Then you offer to post ads for them, work your nanny network for them, do whatever you can, up to and including pre-screening candidates and setting interview appointments up for the family to keep when they return from their vacation.

In other words, you voluntarily take on the mammoth task of finding them a new nanny so they can try to relax and enjoy their holidays. And you do not expect much more from them that a thanks and a cool to neutral reference letter.

Brenda Starr said...

I don't personally think anyone wants to be a "career nanny." Who would? Being a nanny is just something people do while they are either young and in college..or just between jobs, etc.

A career nanny has no future.

BKmommy06 said...


You are clearly misguided. Assuming no one wants to be a career anything truly devalues the importance of the service they provide (the very much needed service at that). I know two career nannies personally. They are happier than most people I know because they get to do what they love for a living. Also, because this is their CAREER, they bring a wealth of knowledge to the table (and make more money than I do and I'm a career science teacher).

I hope that if you ever do need a nanny, that you don't end up with a career nanny so that you can truly appreciate the difference.

MissMannah said...

Brenda, it is people like you who are ruining it for the rest of us. That's why we can't get the wages and benefits we deserve, because of those of you who don't consider nannying as a worthy career. Who are you to judge what is good enough to be considered a career?

ELam said...

I agree with what Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said. This is a rough situation, leaving a family while they are away on vacation...ouch, even if you don't intend to, you are totally ruining their vacation. It's a bit of a cop out, if you ask me, to have your 2 weeks notice fall during their 2 weeks of vacation time.

However, you can't help the timing of this all, and you need to look out for yourself. Do NOT do this over e-mail, be professional and be an adult about this. Phone call first, get a response, then either type up an e-mail or a resignation letter to hand them when they come back so that it's all in writing.

I just had to leave my nanny job (I had every intention of staying with them long-term, but got a job offer that is literally quadruple what I was being paid) and it sucks that it had to be around the holidays and all, but, sometimes you have to do what's right for you. Just be honest with them and help them in their new nanny search.

chopperclaus said...

I am actually surprised at how many people think quitting via email is unprofessional. Haven't any of you worked in a professional setting before? Resignations are always in writing! And now that email is the normal method of communication in most workplaces, then email would be an acceptable way of quitting IMO. I was let go via email and didn't bat an eye at it, and if that family hadn't let me go, I'd have quit via email!

I think email gives you the opportunity to digest the information before having to respond.

Introverted people tend to prefer email, extroverted people tend to prefer phone calls. OP do whatever makes you feel most comfortable since it's your message to deliver. I'd probably do both. I'd email and then call a while later.

chopperclaus said...

PS I forgot to point out that if the tables were reversed and the family lost their job, they would have no issue letting you go ASAP regardless of whether you are on vacation etc. Don't feel bad, just do your best to be respectful and kind and let the chips fall where they may.

♫Amy Darling ♥ said...

I think being a nanny is one of the greatest jobs I have ever had (so far!), yet I have to agree with Brenda that it is not the type of job that one wants to have forever and ever. There is no room for advancement, no retirement and minimal benefits. I am working as a nanny while attending college in hopes of being something else.

Chopper, I agree that quitting via e-mail is the way to go. It is always best to have something in writing so the family can never accuse you of violating the contract by not giving proper and due notice.

ELam said...

@chopperclaus -- Resignation in writing is always required and professional, but an e-mail should really only be used in special circumstances. It is kind of a cowardly, passive-aggressive way out of a job. I would be pretty unimpressed if a family let me go via e-mail.

Are you interviewed and hired via e-mail for a job? No. Quitting or resigning should not be different. Be an adult and call. If you send an e-mail, then you have to play the dreaded waiting game of waiting for a probably not-so-friendly e-mail back to you. Making things all the more awkward. Either that or they will likely call you for further explanation.

Being a nanny is a very personal job, which makes e-mail even more inappropriate. E-mail may be common in office type settings as far as communication goes, but in the nanny profession? Not so much. If at all.

StrawberryShortKakes said...

I agree with ELam. Emailing is good for business stuff in an office so that you have things in writing but when quitting a job an email is not appropriate. Of course you could call first and then send a more thoughtful email with all the things you didn't/couldn't say on the phone but a phone call is the better way to go. Emailing does give you more time to string the words together in the best way possible but I think it is just a cop-out when it comes to quitting a job. Besides, if you send an email, who knows when they will check their email. If they aren't the type of people who are attached to their phones/computers, they could get the email days later and you will be waiting around for a reply all that time.

MissMannah said...

Strawberry, thank you for pointing out that not everybody is attached at the hip to their computer. In this day and age, a lot of people tend to forget that. I don't have a smartphone so I don't immediately get my emails and some people actually get offended if I don't email them back right away. Oh my gosh, I was actually doing living my life! Not sitting around, waiting for you to email me. Especially while on vacation, some people don't even have access to their email while on vacation. I'm assuming this person's bosses do, because she wouldn't have brought it up otherwise, but you can't assume they're going to be checking it every single day.

Chopper, I think even in the corporate world where email is more the norm, it would still be in extremely poor taste to quit over email. In nanny world, the boss-nanny relationship is paramount, which is why quitting over email (IMO) is just a no-go. OP would get a very bad reference out of these people. She already is most likely going to just get a lukewarm reference.

talesfromthe(nanny)hood said...

So, OP, what did you do? Did you take the easy way out and quit via email? If so, just how pissed off at you were your (ex)employers? Did they tell you whether they planned to be a reference for you or not?

Or did you make the best out of a bad situation and call them? I hope that despite advice to the contrary you did the adult and business-like thing and spoke with them on the phone. If so, how did that go? Are you helping them line up candidates to replace you?

Anonymous said...
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Gwyn said...

Go ahead and send the email. It's a job. They should be prepared for an employee to quit. It might not be convenient for them, but that's their problem.

Good luck in your endeavors!