Parting Ways with a Nanny

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I just don't feel comfortable with this nanny

June 2009


We really like our nanny who has been working with us for about 9 months on a part-time schedule -- 3 days a week. We now feel our child is ready for more interaction and we were just offered a spot in a daycare. We would love to have our nanny babysit occasionally in the future, and we would be happy to serve as a reference for her ---she has been loving and kind. But how do we let her go? How much notice should we give? Do we have to offer severance pay. Once we give her notice, do we have to be concerned that she will still be caring for our child? and is in our house while we are not there? Is there anything else we should be worried about? Also, do you have any advice on transitioning our child to daycare? He is 12 months old now. Thanks so much! emma

If you have a good relationship with this nanny as you say, and you want to keep using her as a babysitter in the future, definitely give her a decent amount of notice. In the current market, it's taking everybody longer to find new jobs, nannies included.

We are sending our daughter to preschool in the fall, so after three years, we are saying goodbye to our nanny. But we gave her something like SIX months of notice and are trying to do what we can to help her find another position (like many, I will be posting a recommendation singing her praises on the childcare BPN list!)

It's perfectly OK to send your kid to daycare or preschool; nannies expect it will happen at some point. Good luck!

I would give her a month's notice if you can. It can take a while for her to find a new job. I don't think you owe her any severance unless you made that agreement from the onset. If your nanny has been good to your child since she started caring for him, I wouldn't worry about her acting out.

We personally did a month-long transition to daycare when it was time for our 2-year-old. We started doing half-days, 3 days/week, then moved to full days 3 days/week, then full-time. We were able to work out the hours with our nanny, so it worked well for a transition. Laura M

Firing or letting go of the nanny should be handled cautiously to avoid ramifications. On the day you decide to fire the nanny, make sure you have the nanny's paycheck ready, explain to her with proof why you are letting her go. Make sure you get your house keys, garage cards and whatever else belonging to the household. Depending on the circumstance, you may or may not choose to change alarm codes, garage codes, house locks.

Soon after, explain to your children the situation and why you chose to let the nanny go. If you will rehire another nanny, let her know about the nanny your fired and the reason you fired her for, so that the same mistake is not repeated twice. If however, the reason of letting go of the nanny is not based on the nanny's fault, but on an alternative child care route like daycare (which can be much cheaper) then it is fair to alert the nanny the other options you are looking into, and give her ample time notice so that she can find another job. It is understandable to make a financial wise decision if you feel the expense of carrying on with the nanny is too expensive, but be honest with your nanny. Some families tend to do look for daycares on the hush without the nanny's knowledge, after the child has been accepted to the daycare, that's when the family wants to fire the nanny. That is not the best way to deal with it especially if you are looking into having the same nanny babysit for you occasionally. Be upfront and have an open communication with your nanny, it will make your relationship between you and your nanny worth the while. If you have to let your nanny go due to unavoidable circumstances, the employer needs to give a one month notice to the nanny if her services will no longer be needed and or a one month severance pay. Also let the nanny know that you are willing to give yourself as a reference for her and opting to help the nanny advertise on her behalf is a nice way of letting the nanny know her services were much appreciated. lynne

Well of course you have to give her 4 weeks paid notice, regardless if you use her services during that time.

Your worry should be in direct proportion to how much you're planning to screw her over. If you are giving her the best opportunity to find new employment, with a respectable notice period, all should be well.

Either way, no professional nanny will harm the child, nor do something to your home; at worst, she will resent you, be snippy and worried about her own survival.

Oh, and if you are going to leave her in the lurch, don't bet on babysitting for any longer than she has to, in order to make ends meet.


I just don't feel comfortable with this nanny

March 2002


After only 4 weeks, I just don't feel comfortable leaving my child with the babysitter I hired and I think I need to find another babysitter. I can't put my finger on the problem, we just aren't clicking. My husband and child haven't really connected with her either. How much notice do I need to give her, and what should I say?

It's hard to do, but sometimes it's the only way. From my own experience with this, it's much better to give some pay in lieu of notice. Giving notice of an end date and then expecting an employee to continue working is more in line with layoff than with dismissal. When I've had to do this, I've explained that her childcare style is not a good match for my family and my child and that it would be better for her to find a position that is a good match, because then she, and the child, and the family will be happy working together. I then offer to be a reference (if I'm comfortable doing so) and give her whatever severance pay I feel is fair. It helps to have someone else waiting in the wings, but there was at least one time when I had to take a few vacation days to get my childcare reestablished (it was an emergency dismissal). Good luck! Tamra

In this case, your comfort and your child's feelings are more important than 2 weeks notice for your sitter. In this situation, I would just call her up and tell her that you no longer need her to sit for you and leave it at that. She may not understand why, but it will be a clean break and much relief for you. It is not worth it for you, your child, or your sitter to have that last two weeks of awkwardness.


you can give her zero or as much extra cash as you may, but never let her babysit for you after you fire her. and fire her asap if your child is unhappy with her. Soheila

When my daughter was about two years old, I decided to fire the babysitter that we had had for about seven months. Gradually I became to be aware that she was taking my daughter along when she ran errands. Since I had explicitly told her when I hired her that my daughter should either be at home or at one of two parks, I was very unhappy to find out that she was taking her to the bank, the mall, to pay her PG bill, etc. The babysitter saw nothing wrong with what she was doing, but to me these were not particularly fun or enriching experiences for my daughter.

We had no contract, but I felt in spite of everything that I should give her a two-week notice. But then I didn't feel very good about having her around my daughter once I gave her notice, so I gave her two weeks of salary and asked her not to come back. I know that if I had given her the notice, but still had her coming to care for my daughter for those two weeks, I would have worried. So though I had to pay for child care twice during those two week, it was worth the peace of mind.

Since the woman who wrote in has only had the babysitter for one month, I think she should consider that the babysitter is barely out of a reasonable probationary period and might therefore considering only giving her no notice or only a one-week notice.

Oh dear. . . please don't ever leave your child in the care of someone all three of your a family are unanimously turned off to. Your child senses intuitively that something isn't right as displayed by her reactions to the sitter from the beginning. She may be picking up feelings from you or your mate or there might be enough negative energy coming from the sitter her self.

Unfortunately you can't talk to a person who is a misfit for your family. The chemistry for whatever reason simply isn't there.

It doesn't matter what the reasons for the turn off are, let the woman go at once. Unfortunately you can't talk to a person who is a misfit for your family. The chemistry for whatever reason simply isn't there. Give her pay in lieu of notice, take time off from work to attend to your precious child, do whatever you can to arrange alternative care.

Please think about the criteria you use in making your next hire and how you assess that criteria. Our children are too precious not to listen to our instincts, which are our most reliable gauge in reacting to an individual.

Best of Luck

>One friend told me she'd be worried >the babysitter might take out any angry feelings on my daughter.

That's *exactly* what happened to my neighbor, whose nanny had a suspicious accident (non serious, thankfully) with the toddler's stroller during her last two weeks, after she'd already been told they were going to start using a day care soon.

I realize I don't know your babysitter, and maybe it's unfair to assume the worst, but on the other hand, how much risk do you want to take with a potentially resentful babysitter? If you want to be super-fair with her, give her two weeks pay when you show her the door. That oughta go a long way toward making her feel better.


I had hired a babysitter through Bananas referral system for my 3 month old daughter. I took all the classical advice on developing a list of interview questions, checking all references, interviewing multiple candidates, and having her start 2 weeks before I went back to work. The following Saturday after that first week she was alone with my daughter, my husband and I noticed things missing like toilet paper, shampoo levels were much lower, dishwashing soap was almost empty, etc. I knew she had been out of work for awhile and nothing of value was missing, just basic sundry type supplies. I felt bad for her but obviously completely uncomfortable with the idea of having her care for our daughter anymore.

We spent the remainder of the weekend figuring out exactly how to fire her, could we do it over the phone, in person or be really removed and leave her a note (just kidding on the last one). When she came Monday morning to work my husband and I greeted her at the door and had her come in. I told her that the babysitting arrangement was not going to work out for us. I did not give her a reason. I didn't feel I had the evidence to really confront her with our issues and didn't want to put myself in the uncomfortable position of trying to rationalize something that I was fairly sure of but didn't have positive proof of. I think this was a good approach. Her response was disappointment. She asked if there was an issue with Caitlin and I assured her the baby was fine. It just wasn't the right arrangement for us. She reacted in such a way that I really felt she knew why we were firing her. It's hard to do the actual firing, my heart was pounding and my hands were shaking. You just have to know what you're going to say in advance and do it.

I didn't pay any severance but I felt guilty about not doing so. My husband was insistent that since she was stealing from us we didn't owe her anything. It was more important to me at the time to be in solidarity with my husband on the decision so I went along with that. It was definitely more important to be in agreement with him on the details of the whole thing. That oneness really helped us get through the aftermath of finding a replacement. She didn't demand or even ask about severance pay. Again, I felt she knew why we were firing her.

Given our situation I would not have had her stay with our daughter at all even though it was a huge hassle. My mother-in-law had to come out for a few days to babysit, my husband and I took turns working from home when we could and then we had to do a mad scramble to find replacement candidates and interview and transition all over again. All of that was extremely stressful but we felt really good about our quick action and never looked back. There is something very primal in taking action in defense of your child that seems to provide the energy you'll need to get through the stress of the whole thing from doing the actual firing to getting a replacement. It sounds like you need to trust your instincts that this is not the right person to care for your child and that you wouldn't trust them to work an additional 2 weeks after firing them. Those instincts are always on target for what will be the right solution for you.

Good luck.

I was reading the experiences of others relating to this issue and thought I'd share mine--one with a twist: the babysitter fired me/my child. The experience was drawn out and extremely stressful.

The caregiver took care of my first child for 1 1/2 years and six months after he left, took on my second child when she was 4 mos. Given the length of time we knew each other it was a blow the way she let us go. (To this day it still bothers me and I try to figure out what went awry.) Not to go into great details, the main things I wish to convey from the other side are:

1) Make a clean break, especially in situations like these. If the sitter wanted out--for whatever reasons--she should have just said so. I was never given a reason and was told I'll call you... (which she never did).

2) Make a quick break; don't drag it out or stay once the decision's been made. I was strung along for a month; in that time I could have already found another sitter. Fortunately, I did find another caregiver within a couple of weeks of starting the homecare search. The new woman was a find! She is genuinely more interested in caring for the children than the $ and lives less than 5 minutes from my home. My husband even quipped, Where was she two years ago?

I hope this helps, coming from one who got axed.

I have never done this either, but we have had to fire students working at my job before. We usually give them 2 weeks advance pay but do not have them work for us anymore. The risk of sabotage is too great as well as bad feelings. We have an explanatory meeting when they arrive, give them the pay, and ask them to leave. It feels horrible to do but the goal is accomplished. I also wouldn't want to leave a potentially mad person with my child. I would probably opt for spending the extra money and having them gone.