Wanted: Words of Wisdom

Hi there I was hoping you could give me some words of wisdom. I'm a huge fan of your blog! I've been a nanny for 3 years and before that I was an infant teacher at a day care for 4 years. I have very recently left my first family and started with my new family. I love my new family and I feel really lucky b/c they are so nice and my new baby is so sweet and they give me TONS of freeedom! But I'm finding the transition to be a roller coaster of emotion! With my previous family (we'll call them "the Smiths) I worked with a set of infant twins from ages 3 months to 2.5 years and occasionally, their 2 year older brother. The position ended when the twins went into Daycare, which was the agreement from the start.

One of the twins ("Sally"), we learned when she was 13 months, has autism. Very soon I was learning how to work with autistic kids and putting a lot of myself into working with her and helping overcome her delays. I am still seeing Sally once a week and while I am amazed and inspired by her progress and I love seeing her brothers, too, I feel emotionally drained and I'm usually crying on the way home. I just miss them so much and I still find myself researching autism and reminding myself that's not my concern anymore. I have been thinking I need to make a cleaner break from them but it's not as easy as it seems. They need a lot of help with Sally and since I know her so well they really want me to stay in her life. I want to be a part of their lives and that was always my plan but I worry that they are relying on me too heavily. AND even though sometimes I miss the Smiths so much, other times I wish they would just back off so I can move on. I can switch between these feelings several times in the course of a day. I know the Smiths need a lot of help with Sally --though, don't get me wrong, they are not relying on me completely, they've been setting up all the proper therapy and aid for her and her grandma is moving to town to help out, too--and I also want to be there for them. But I wonder if that is the best thing for me? FYI it hasn't even been a month since this big change has happened.

My question is: is this a normal reaction? Am I too attached? Any advice on how to cut the cord without feeling like I'm abandoning them in their time of need? Or would it be better for me to stay involved and as time passes, these feelings will abate? I'm sure eventually I will feel better but I would like to know if other nannies have felt this way when they switch to a new family. Is it different when it's your first family? I always say this is the worst part of the job but everything else is so rewarding it makes up for it. Of course, maybe I'm just being silly? Thanks so much for any wisdom you could give me!


Bethany said...

But to your questions, your feelings are not wrong nor are you too attached.

Moving on is the toughest part of the job.
This is all part of the nanny cycle, and with time the sadness fades, but I can say I think about all my previous charges from time to time and hope they are doing well.

I think you need to give yourself permission to take a break.

You are not abandoning this family you are taking care of your emotional health which in turn allows you to be more helpful to Sally and the Smiths and your new nanny family.

If you want to continue helping the Smiths I suggest you set aside certain days and hours you are available to them and stick to it.

It's not mean to do that.

workingmom said...

This is a very well-written post, and I agree with Bethany's advice, except to say that I think you should meet with the parents and suggest/work out a firm time-line for transitioning 'Sally' to another caregiver specializing in Autism who has more time, energy, and experience to handle her needs at this stage of her life.

I agree with Bethany that you need to give yourself permission to take a break from this family, because you are exhausted and you need to reserve your energy and attention for your new family.

Good luck, OP.

no moniker said...

RE-post for Anonymous...
Are you still getting paid to work with Sally or are you volunteering? If you are volunteering, kind as that is, it can blur boundaries in this case, I think.