Alexa, a concerned parent wrote, “I am a mom seeking a way to fire my nanny of 2 1/2 years and housekeeper for a total of 5 years... I am just not happy with her performance anymore and she is starting to dictate her hours to me, answering back and sometimes just slacking off, [she’s] very unorganized and messy. I have come to my wits’ end. Although I love her and my children adore her and she is the kindest and most giving woman I have ever known, I just think she is getting too old (this is awful to say) and I don't know what else to do.”Alexa, I feel your pain! The decision to fire your babysitter, nanny, or care provider is never an easy one especially if they’re someone you’ve known for a long time. These caregivers become like family members and our children become so attached to them—both of our former nannies (Amanda and Natalie) are still great friends of ours.
In spite of any bonds that form, a parent/nanny relationship is first and foremost a working one. While the caregiver is working for your family as a babysitter or a nanny, they’re your employee and they have to do their job well.It’s easy to know when your nanny’s doing a good job—the kids love her, her to-do list is done by the end of the day, she makes your life more organized, she’s punctual, respectful, and treats her job like a job.
Sometimes, it’s harder to spot when things aren’t working. It never happens right away. Instead, small issues grow into bigger ones, and things sort of slide downhill until you find yourself in a situation that’s a big problem.I always tell other parents that part of our jobs includes clearly communicating expectations to our babysitters, nannies, and care providers. Regular check-ins (at least once a month with a full-time nanny) are important to make sure everything’s going smoothly. You can spot any small issues and stop them before they turn into bigger ones.
In Alexa’s case, it sounds like she has some big problems to fix. It would be so hard for her and her children to lose a nanny who’s been there that long. However, if her nanny is being disrespectful and not acting professionally, that’s a problem.
My advice for Alexa is to sit down with her nanny—go ahead take her out for coffee or for lunch so she feels comfortable—and talk about the problems you’re having. Ask her if she’s happy in her job and find out if anything’s bothering her. Then, give her examples of the negative things she’s doing and let her know that these issues have to stop. Be clear about what you’re looking for in her behavior—she may not even know that you’re upset with her.
Since she’s been with your family for so long, I’d give her another chance to correct things. You can even set up a “probation period” of a few weeks to see if things can change. But if she isn’t able to be more respectful and show up on time, you’ll have to let her go.
If you have other questions, I’ve written before about firing your nanny—so definitely check out that post, too. If you do decide to make a change, there’s a great article on helping kids transition to a new caregiver.
Best of luck—I know these decisions aren’t easy.Parents, have you ever had to fire a care provider before? What was that situation like? How did you handle it?