Evening Transitioning

Hello all, I recently discovered ISYN, and I'm loving it, thank God for iPhone, I've been reading nonstop since last week when I stumbled upon this site. I'm a nanny for a fantastic family, MB is a SAHM, and DB is in the medical field. Two awesome charges SW is 4 and LT is 2. Been with them for almost two years now.

Anyways, I'm writing to see if anyone has some suggestions for the issue we've been having with SW. He's a wonderful, caring, and smart little dude, and though sometimes he has trouble listening, he is generally a well behaved and great little charge. Lately though, for the last three months at least, my leaving in the evenings has become a big hassle. I spend anywhere from 8 to 12 hours a day five or six days a week with them, and sometimes MB is home, but works in her office, generally, I am the main caretaker during the day, until DB gets home, or until MB finishes her days work.

So, lately, whenever I leave the house in the evening SW throws a big fit, clinging to my legs, crying and reaching for me, screaming and sometimes even following me out to my car and refusing to go inside, or to let us close the door. MB and DB are great about it, they know that SW just loves his nanny, and that theres a strong bond between the babies and myself after almost two years, so the problem isn't that the parents are jealous or resentful. I just need suggestions on a more peaceful way to transition SW back into his parents care in the evenings, as its getting tiresome for all parties to console him every evening.

I know that once I leave, he generally gets over his fit in ten or fifteen minutes. I've tried reminding him about what fun things we'll do in the mornings when I return, or leaving him with a small treat (a mint, or small candy), or having a fun activity for him and DB/MB to work on, even just ignoring him and leaving in the middle of the tantrum (which killed me, I don't want him to associate me with feeling upset). Does anyone have experience with this or suggestions on a good way to ease into our evenings? I need to figure it out quick, as now LT is beginning to do the same things when she sees how big brother is acting. Thanks in advance, and Happy 4th to everyone!


CaliNanny said...

Try to give him some warning, a countdown to when you leave. I have to go in ten minutes, but tomorrow I will be back, five minutes, two minutes. Have him stand at the door with mom and dad and wave. Be sure to give him his goodbye after the other child so he is the last to talk with you.

This is what I did with my charge. He was doing the same thing and it turned out he just needed to be sure that you said goodbye to him and didn't just disappear for the night. I know it isn't exactly the same, but hopefully it can help you.

Bethany said...

Give a warning as to when you going.

Give a goodbye a quick hug or kiss if wanted and go.

Byebyeharry said...

I'm getting the same thing from my almost two year old. Now, when it's about an hour before I leave, I play our wind down music (pandora's calm meditation station, we play it before nap time, too), and I tell him what is going to happen in order until I leave.

Harry, we are going to play. Then we will have clean up, then dinner. After dinner, Daddy will come home and I will say, "bye bye Harry!" then I will go home and you will play with daddy.

After each thing, I recap what is left. By the time Daddy gets home, he knows exactly what will happen next. So now when his dad walks in, he says, "bye bye Harry! Go home?"

It's made things much easier. Of course, a 4 year old may find some of that patronizing, but you can adjust it a bit for an older child. Talk less about tomorrow and remember to keep the actual goodbye short and sweet. It is exactly like when a parent takes too long to leave and makes the goodbye too big a deal, it just makes it worse.

Good luck!

erica said...

Doing a countdown is a great idea. Start one hour before you leave. Then when it's time to go, give a nice hug and say you'll see them tomorrow. The worst thing you can do is draw it out, which I'm sure is what's happening, right? You (and the parents) probably feel bad he's so upset and are spending way too much time coddling him at the door.

Nannyemmyjoy said...

The countdown Is a great idea. Another thing that has worked for me is the kids get to "push me (or mommy/daddy) out when we leave. We stand at the door, say goodbye and they get to give a little push and we pretend to "fall" out the door. They think it's great and we don't have any issues. Make a game out of it-have him help you find your keys, get your shoes on, etc.

Fiona said...

Warnings and countdowns are great, but if you start too early you can still end up with a meltdown.

Just before it's time to go, you can tell SW after this story nanny must go, but mommy & daddy will be here to play.

Be excited for mom & dad when they return.

You be ready to leave within 5 minutes of their return. Have your bags ready, and your log book up to the minute. Keep your exchanges with them brief. Give LT & LW a kiss & hug and I'll see you in the morning and go. If he has a fit let him. Don't encourage the meltdowns by lingering.

Lyn said...

I make sure I have all of my stuff ready to go about 10 minutes before MB/DB get home and then instead of a countdown to when I am leaving we do a countdown to when mommy gets home. I find it helps to make sure the kid focuses on the begining of his evening as opposed to the end of his day. Same thing in the morning when I show up and my charges want more time with their parents. Anyways, we sit by the big window in the dining room and point out cars that could be mommy's, talk about what they're probably going to have for dinner, what I'm going to have for dinner, and then when mb shows up we cheer and sometimes my charge will run and hide for a minute rather than hug her mom but it's just her way of dealing with the transition without tears. MB will sneak up on her and tickle/cuddle her. It's cute. My charges and I also play a game everday as I am leaving. They sit beside the window and when I pull out of the drive way I will honk my horn a random number of times and wave/make a silly face and then the next morning they have to tell me how many times they heard me beep.
To summerize, talk up mb/db, give a 10ish minute warning, and focus on the evening rather than on the tomorrows. That's what I've found works for my kids anyway. :)

MissMannah said...

I have a concern. You said you spend anywhere from 8-12 hours a day with your charges, so does that mean that you never know when you'll be getting off work? If that's the case, a countdown won't really work because you won't know what time to prepare him for. Or to prepare yourself for, for that matter. If you do get off at the same time everyday, a 15-minute countdown should do it. I've done it before too and it helps because kids are concrete thinkers. Also, if you've already introduced time concepts and reading clocks, it can help if you said something like "When the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the 5, it is time for nanny to go home." Just another way to make going-home time more concrete in his mind. If he is still having trouble letting go of you, try picking out a special book every evening that you and he will read together first thing in the morning. Let him choose the book and it will give him something to look forward to the next day.

OhhPlease said...

I agree with Lyn. I make the parents arrival the focus of the countdown rather than me leaving.

Phoenix said...

what we used to do was not say 'goodbeye'

for example: have MB or DB distract him with something while you are close by. Then while he's distracted slip out and drive away.

He will eventually notice you're gone but it wont be so dramatic. He will eventually catch on to what you are doing so you will need to always switch up your method of escape.

MissMannah said...

Phoenix, that won't work with a 4 year old. It will only piss him off that she didn't say bye to him.

Phoenix said...

yeah it will. Its worked for all ages. 2 to 4. My mom had to do that with me when she would take me to stay somewhere.

He will notice she's gone. But she won't have him clinging to her and screaming after her and following her out to the car.

He's 4. He will get over it.

Nannybear said...

OP here, Mannah, you're correct in assuming I don't know when my day is going to end. It is generally in the ballpark of 630, but everyday is different. I'm going to try the ideas on here and see if I can make any headway. I've tried Phoenix's method a few times, and while somedays I can sneak away, most days he realizes and chases me out the door for a hug and a kiss, and is sad that I "forgot" to tell him bye. I do tell him throughout the day, when he asks "Are you going to stay with us a lot?" or "Are you going to stay instead of Mommy and Daddy?" (I've stayed while MB and DB travel) that I have to go home when Daddy is here, but that I will always come back to take care of him again, and that Mommy and Daddy need special time with their babies, etc... But, then evening rolls around and it's waterworks. I do try to just get going quickly, because I do agree it's like when parents linger at the door and make my job harder, but sometimes MB wants to discuss the day, or tasks for the following day, and skedaddling isn't an option. Thanks for all the great advice, hopefully one of these, or a combination of these suggestions will be just what I needed.

jessie said...

Agree with Erica. When I used to work at a daycare, some parents would have to deal with the same thing when they dropped off their kids - those who handled it briefly and w a positive focus did well, and the kids usually figured out after a few weeks (or days!) that this attention getting tool didn't work. Those who "feel sorry" for the kids being so upset actually PROLONG the kids' stress by giving attention to the "goodbye fits". Love the countdown idea, too. When you leave just smile, hug, and "I love you, I'll see you in the morning!" and walk out without a second look. It may take a couple weeks, so DON'T GIVE UP! :)

seeareuh said...

I rain into a similar problem, the countdown definitely should help. I also would limit goodbyes to one time & have the parents not allow SW outside. He can wave goodbye from the doorway.

IrishCoffee said...

Nannybear......sneaking out is a HORRIBLE idea. It creates so much stress, anxiety & distrust in a child. That is awful advice. What you need to do is prepare the child for your departure, by having a goodbye routine. Something quick, yet predictable. Like having them "help" you put your shoes on or waving at the window to you. The keys are consistantcy & swiftness. This will help the child to grow confident in your departure. (Please do not sneak out, that's awful and counter productive)

Village said...

Stop staying. The faster you leave, the sooner it will be over.

First, decide where in the house you are going to say goodbye. It should be away from the door, preferably in another room. A parent is with him. Leave to get your things. Come back in ready to go, and let him crawl in your arms for a big hug and goodbye. Then nod to his parent, and leave the room. It's now the parent's responsibility. He must not be allowed to leave the chosen area until he is calm. Under no circumstance must he be allowed to follow the nanny. I don't want to think about driveway accidents.

This may sound harsh, but children like repetition. At some point, meeting in that special place at the end of the day will become important. The ritual of goodbye will replace the tears with time.

leftcoastmama said...

I had a situation like this with my middle child.

What worked for us : after nanny had filled my husband and I in on the day we all walked her to the door. One kiss. One quick cuddle. Hae a good night and see you tomorrow or Monday.

Worked like a charm.

chinese food said...

I had a similar situation and here is what worked for us.

I had, set aside, a cheap little novelty basket from the dollar store. Each day when it was time for me to leave, I would put a sticker in it and hide it somewhere in the house.

It was DC's job to find it so she could get the sticker. Believe me, as soon as she knew that basket was hidden somewhere, the sooner I left the better -- she couldn't wait to start looking for it.

It worked because the rule was that she couldn't start looking for it until I was out the door.

Flip1 said...

The sticker idea is genius!!! Wish I thought of something like that for my last position.

Bad Idea! said...

OMG Phoenix that is the WORST idea ever! You should never ever sneak out on a kid. If you leave without him noticing, you will get to a point where he freaks out every time you leave the room. I have seen so many parents do this, and the kids become completely paranoid that you will disappear every time you are out of sight.

jbe5e said...

Judging by all of her stories about how her family handled things, Id say that she is from a more than average disfunctional family. She has the most terrible parenting advice that I've ever read online.

Katie said...

Happy 4th!

You seem like a sweet person, but why is it so bad that he feels upset when you leave?

Feeling upset is a normal and healthy emotion.

Why do we feel we must cuddle, give treats, candies, prizes, and stickers to kids to shiled them from normal healthy emotions?

Whe it's time for you to go it's time for you to go.

What he knows now is that pitching a fit gets you to stay 15 to 20 minutes longer and treats.

When the parents arrive be excited!

Grab you stuff as quickly as you can. If possible have things ready to go.

Try not to have long conversations with the parents about the day. You should be able to exchange needed info in under 10 minutes. When this is done tell LT & SW goodnight. If you want to give a kiss & hug that's fine. It's important you do this at the door. Do not allow them to cling to you.

If they have a melt down let them. Do not stick around, you are only reinforcing the unwanted tantrums by doing so.

If you can I would try and save long chichats with MB to a phone call later in the evening or keep a communications book.

If there are questions you can call each other.

Connect the Dots said...

She has the most terrible parenting advice that I've ever read online.

Well you're talking about someone who has never parented and revels in being nasty to other parents and nannies.

Not hard to connect the dots on this one.

chinese food said...

Why do we feel we must cuddle, give treats, candies, prizes, and stickers to kids to shiled them from normal healthy emotions?

I am the sticker-in-a-hidden-basket poster. I do not routinely shield my charge from normal emotions, but I think it is OK to distract her from otherwise unnecessary distress and give her parents a more pleasant transition.

If her dog died, I would help her ride the tide of grief.

But if a bee stung her, I would put numbing medicine on.

fairy dust said...

Katie, excellent advice! I was going to mention the communications book, also. Time at the door between MB and nanny should be kept at a bare minimum. If either one has any questions (maybe MB notices something that needs addressing after nanny has left for the day, etc) then it can be taken care of in a quick evening phone call, or if it can wait, the next morning.

ericsmom said...


Maybe you can update the mother earlier on in the day. If you leave at six or seven p.m. can you update her at around 5p.m. Would she take ten minutes to come and speak with you?

Then when you are officially off from work. Make it short and sweet with the kids. Give them five minutes. I wouldn't drag it out for longer than that. It causes more anxiety on them. Plus, its taking time away from you. I think you are tired after a 10-12 hour day. Plus, now it is the parents turn to be parents and take over.

Ice Queen said...

Definitely keep it short and simple. You and I and most childcare professionals know that the actual leaving part should be short, simple and definitive.

Reassuring him you aren't leaving forever, and a hug or kiss are definitely good ways to provide a bit of extra affection.

PP's have mentioned a countdown- that's a good idea too, I use countdowns for when we have something important to do and GC is in an antsy mood. Not so much needed with PP since she's just 1. :P

UmassSlytherin said...

This is normal behavior for children. You need to make it short and sweet. Get the hell out of there and do not try to reason with the child. Tell the child firmly and calmly, with a smile, that it is your time to go home and you will see him next time.

MissMannah said...

Katie, that is a wonderful insight and thank you very much for posting it. I also do not agree with the sticker idea--it borders on bribery in my opinion. It should not be the nanny's job to ensure the child is ok with her leaving daily. He should be allowed to get upset and then after she leaves, the parents should simply acknowledge his feelings. There is nothing wrong with a child experiencing strong emotions. This is why I suggested the book idea. It isn't to distract the child from the nanny leaving at night, but it will give him something to look forward to when she returns.

yahtzee said...

I had, set aside, a cheap little novelty basket from the dollar store. Each day when it was time for me to leave, I would put a sticker in it and hide it somewhere in the house.

It was DC's job to find it so she could get the sticker. Believe me, as soon as she knew that basket was hidden somewhere, the sooner I left the better -- she couldn't wait to start looking for it.

It worked because the rule was that she couldn't start looking for it until I was out the door.

When I ran a home day care I used a technique similar to this, except it in the morning at drop-off time.

The children knew that I had a special box with certain toys that could ONLY be played with during their first hour there and could ONLY be opened once mom or dad dropped them off and left.

It worked like a charm; they couldn't wait for mom/dad to leave so they could have fun!

nycmom said...

My third child has a lot of trouble with his prior nanny or us leaving. He still, at 4.5yo, has trouble when we have a date night. Although I understand the logical reasons why "sneaking out" is not ideal, he does much better this way. He and I have discussed it when he is not upset and he agrees it is easier and he doesn't want to know when we are leaving. If he is aware we are leaving, then I fully agree with the idea of keeping it as short and sweet as possible. Never, ever drag out a goodbye for a child.

We have talked about the idea that we do not lie to him by denying we are going out, but that it is hard for him to see us actually leaving. He prefers to be in another room playing with a sitter or his siblings and not know exactly when we leave. Our nanny and other sitters have worked date nights. Everyone who has seen him go through our departure (and my observations during our prior nanny's departure when he had similar issues) agree that he does much better emotionally with less lingering "trauma" if he is distracted during a departure.

Not all kids deal with all situations the same way. My older two kids would never have preferred us or our nanny to slip away, but my youngest does. He is a fairly emotional child and, since infancy, has been more physically needy. He is also pretty self-aware and seems to know his own "weaknesses." He prefers distraction to confrontation at times and can verbalize this preference remarkably well.

chicken little said...

@ nycmom - well explained!! Every kid is different. I love how you discussed it with him. I am a lot like your boy - even when my mom and dad dropped me off at the college dorms when I was 18, I preferred a quick goodbye - they unloaded my stuff, gave me a hug, and took off! Anything longer than 2 minutes and I would have become an emotional basketcase. Some of us are just wired differently, and it's ok - we just learn how to avoid the extra trauma. :)