A few weeks ago, we lost our nanny. One Monday night she blindsided us with the decision to move on. It was a huge loss for our family but we were understanding. Miss D. decided she needed to be closer to her friends and family. She wanted a life outside of our little world, and we definitely understood where she was coming from. She was expecting big life changes in just a few short weeks, and being 60 miles away from her support system was too hard to navigate. We were so happy she stayed with us long enough for us to find a new nanny and a clear path of moving on. That was such a life-saving measure. And we shouldn’t have been surprised, Miss D. had always been nothing short of amazing.
I spent 3 long weeks fearful about how the kids would react. Lulu loved Miss D. like a second mom. Linc trusted her in ways he didn’t trust anyone other than Matt and me. Lulu would get mad at me and say I want Miss D… it would break my heart. How would she react to losing out on her daily interactions? She was losing someone who had been in her life as long as she could remember. It was heartbreaking just thinking about it. Luckily for me, anything I could imagine was much worse than what actually occurred. Both Linc and Lulu took it like champs. It’s really true that kids are resilient. They took it much better than me, and probably way better than Miss D.
We did find some techniques that helped us out with the transition.
- Keep their schedule consistent. As much consistency as possible is key. When Miss A. started, the library classes continued, lunch and naps stayed consistent, and afternoons with a mix of art, stories, and outdoor play stayed the same. This helped the kids a lot. They understood that while the person with them changed, they didn’t miss out on any of their favorite activities.
- Rip the band-aid off. Miss D. left on Friday and Miss A. started on Monday. The kids had met Miss A., and liked her, but had only limited interaction with her. That first Monday started like any other day. Miss A. knew the schedule and was able to run with it.
- Talk about it. I didn’t hide that Miss D. would be moving out from Linc and Lulu. We didn’t talk about it negatively but tried to let them know that Miss D. would leave on Friday and she wouldn’t be coming back for a while. I’m not sure they understood it completely, but it made me feel better, to be honest, and open and not try and hide it from them.
- Keep communication available. I was worried at first to let the kids FaceTime with Miss D., but it hasn’t been a problem. They are happy to talk to her (as happy as they are to talk to anyone) and enjoy seeing her, even if from afar. It hasn’t brought back negative feelings or make them treat Miss A. any different.
- Go with the flow. The schedule is key but being flexible is just as important. Sometimes classes get canceled. Rain keeps you from the park, the museum is too busy, or the kids are just too cranky to go out in public. Having back up plans for your plans and activities around the house to keep the kids engaged are a huge lifesaver. It’s so important to me, to limit the kids’ TV time, and these back up activities help make that happen.
And it was equally hard on Matt and me. We were excited to not have a third adult living in our home, but we also loved having Miss D. around. She was sweet and a huge lifesaver so many times when we needed her. We trusted her with everything, and probably relied on her too much. Then came the idea and logistics of finding a replacement. We lived in a much smaller town and where nannies are a little of a foreign concept. People have babysitters and at home daycares, but very few people have a nanny. Or a least, not the people we interacted with. We didn’t want family. Which is of course really hard on our family. We wanted someone who worked for us and therefore had to abide by our rules. Grandmas are for spoiling, and spoiling is not for every day. Our kids need structure, activities, learning time, and discipline. Matt and I are also really private, we didn’t want someone who would share our lives with people without our permission. We love to share the good times, and we want to be able to share those times first, and we also like to keep some things private, not everything is for the world and having someone so tied into our lives means a high level of trust has to be present. So it helped us to have some ground rules when looking for, hiring and employing the new nanny.
- Be very clear about expectations about the job specs and benefits. We were upfront before anyone even had the chance to talk to me on the phone – these are the expectations, and they weren’t to be negotiated. Our nanny is required to take our kids places, explore, play, learn, stay off their phone, stay away from the TV, and in return, we will offer you a compensation package. If you weren’t ok with vacuuming after meals, doing kids laundry, and keeping the house clean, then we weren’t the right family for you.
- Have a working interview. It was important to see how the nanny reacted with my kids. Anyone can say they are good with kids, or they love babies. But do they really? What happens when things get messy, tantrums get thrown, and the schedule goes out the window? Seeing how someone can react under pressure is really the best way to see if they are the right fit for the kids.
- Ask everything. When it comes to your kids, everything is important. There’s no question that’s too silly, awkward, or off limits. If your daughter has to have 3 songs, 2 stories, and 1 specific dance before bed, then the nanny you hire has to be able to comply. If CPR, First Aid, and up to date vaccinations are important to you, then ask away. I’m always reluctant to ask questions of someone – I feel like I’m intrusive, but I’d rather ask and know, then be disappointed or unsure after the fact.
- Be open. Be open to what’s important to you, but also be open to change. We had to come to the fast realization, that Miss D., was, in fact, a unicorn. It could be because she was with us so long or because she lived with us, or in fact, because she was that special, but to us, she was practically perfect in every way and we had to be open that the next person might not be quite up to her standards. Luckily by being open to what we wanted, and interviewing even after we thought we found the second best one, we were open to new possibilities, and that’s how we found Miss A.
- Be assertive. Now that over a month has gone by, and the newness has worn off, it’s time to be assertive. Be assertive that my kids and their needs come first. Lulu needs to continue to work on her sharing skills soft skills. She needs books read her to and to be challenged. Linc needs to work on talking. He needs to be pushed to either say more or use sign language. And at the end of the day, I need happy, rested kids and a clean house. The toys have to be put away, the kids’ beds have to be made, their rooms clean, and their laundry manageable. Most of this isn’t a problem on most days, but I need to make sure I’m assertive in being clear on what all is included in the role – to ensure negative feelings and resentment don’t take over.
Any tips and tricks you can offer when changing child care situations? Have you ever lost a nanny? How did the kids take it? Would love to hear all about them!