How to Quit a Nanny Job and Still Get a Positive Reference

quitjobQuitting a nanny job is never easy. It’s a hard transition for everyone involved, and often is seen as a personal betrayal to the parents you work for. When parents feel this way, that betrayal can be like a dark cloud hovering over the wonderful services you’ve provided in the past. It can not only damage the relationship, but also hurt the reference they provide to prospective employers. Luckily, there are some things you can do to make this time easier and less stressful for your employers. Taking these measures will show them that even though you’re leaving, you still care about their family and want to help them in any way possible. That commitment can ease the transition and help you get the positive reference you’ve earned.

Give a clear reason for leaving. Sometimes the reason you’re quitting your job is very simple. Maybe you’re moving to a different area, which makes your current commute too long. Or perhaps your charge is entering school and you want to care for an infant again. Other times, however, the reason isn’t so cut and dry. There may be several issues that factor into your decision to leave. Maybe Mom is consistently late, Dad keeps asking you to do things outside your job description, and despite multiple conversations the parents don’t support your discipline approach. Whatever your reason is, it’s important that you clearly and calmly explain it to your employers. Your family deserves to know why you’re leaving and having a solid reason can help them move through the transition period easier.

Give an appropriate notice period. If you have a nanny contract, the length of your notice period should be detailed there. If you don’t have a contract with your family, it’s standard to give 2 to 6 weeks’ notice. Because it can take up to 8 weeks to find a new nanny, your family will appreciate receiving as much notice as you can give. Giving them time to find a replacement caregiver and helping the kids get used to the idea of a new person shows your commitment to being a professional even during difficult times.

Understand this is an emotional time for the family. Even if leaving is the best decision for you and the family, this is a tough time of transition. Your employers may be angry, sad, frustrated, or defensive, even if they understand why you’re leaving. Working together may be uncomfortable, but staying until the end of your notice period will reflect well on you and may become a highlight of your reference letter.

Offer to help the family find a replacement. When you quit, your family will be facing two big hurdles: dealing with your departure and finding a replacement. For many families, it’s an overwhelming time. By offering to help with finding your replacement, you can relieve some of the pressure they’re under to find a new nanny. Creating a job description, going through resumes and finding matching candidates, or sitting in on the interview are all ways you can help. You offer parents a unique perspective into what type of caregiver would fit best with their family and that input can be invaluable.

Work with the parents to help the kids transition to a new caregiver. Leaving a nanny position is hard on everyone, especially the kids. It’s helpful for you and the parents to work together to help the kids understand why you’re leaving, how your relationship will change and what will happen next. The support you offer during this time will be a big factor in how well the children are able to move on and welcome a new nanny.

Train the new nanny. Helping the new person get acclimated to the job will help her, your employers and your charge. It will give you a chance to detail your charge’s daily schedule, show her where things are located in the house and introduce her to the school, grocery store, playground and other frequent stops in the neighborhood. This is the perfect time for her to learn all the tricks of the trade you’ve discovered during your time with the family. It also helps ease the transition since she won’t be starting from ground zero on her first day.

Prepare a nanny book. One of the final things you can do for your family is to create a nanny book for the next caregiver. This book puts together all the details needed to be efficient on a day to day basis. It could include your charge’s daily schedule, sample menus, phone numbers of playmates, a list of often used repairmen and anything else you think would be helpful to the new nanny.

How Nannies Can Teach Anxious Children Coping Methods

anxiouschildIt may seem common for a child to ask hundreds of questions hour after hour. After all, children are notoriously curious by nature. However, when worry sets in and your child is so anxious that he or she questions every move, decision or plan for the day, it can be a sign that the child is coping with anxiety.

“Although anxiety runs in families, there’s a lot that we can do as parents and nannies to make things better or worse,” says Christine Korol, Calgary-based psychologist and author of

If the children in your care exhibit signs of stress and struggle with uncertainty that is affecting their daily functions and physical health, it’s time to incorporate some strategies to help them cope with anxiety.

Recognizing Anxiety Disorders

It is common for everyone, including children, to experience stress and anxiety from time to time. Indications of anxiety disorders, however, can be seen when anxiety takes over someone’s thoughts and consistently affect his behavior.

The experts at KidsHealth Nemours, a nonprofit organization devoted to children’s health, defines anxiety disorders as the following:

  • Generalized anxiety: With this common anxiety disorder, children worry excessively about many things, such as school, the health or safety of family members, or the future in general. They may always think of the worst that could happen. Along with the worry and dread, kids may have physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomachaches, muscle tension, or tiredness. Their worries might cause them to miss school or avoid social activities. With generalized anxiety, worries can feel like a burden, making life feel overwhelming or out of control.
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD): For a person with OCD, anxiety takes the form of obsessions (excessively preoccupying thoughts) and compulsions (repetitive actions to try to relieve anxiety).
  • Phobias: These are intense fears of specific things or situations that are not inherently dangerous, such as heights, dogs, or flying in an airplane. Phobias usually cause people to avoid the things they fear.
  • Social phobia (social anxiety): This anxiety is triggered by social situations or speaking in front of others. A less common form called selective mutism causes some kids and teens to be too fearful to talk at all in certain situations.
  • Panic attacks: These episodes of anxiety can occur for no apparent reason. During a panic attack, a child typically has sudden and intense physical symptoms that can include a pounding heart, shortness of breath, dizziness, numbness, or tingling feelings. Agoraphobia is an intense fear of panic attacks that causes a person to avoid going anywhere a panic attack could possibly occur.
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): This type of anxiety disorder results from a traumatic past experience. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, fear, and avoidance of the traumatic event that caused the anxiety.

As a nanny, take special note of any symptoms and signs your child is exhibiting and report these to the parents to determine the best plan of action to help the child cope.

A Gentle Approach

A common misconception about helping kids cope with anxiety is that we must help them avoid their fears and the unknown. According to Korol, this practice can make the situation worse. “If we are overprotective or allow our kids to avoid what they are afraid of, anxiety will grow,” she says. “If we are gently encouraging and comment on what a great job they’re doing coping with their anxiety, it starts to get better.”

Gentle reassurance, encouragement and acknowledgement of the anxiety shows the child that as the nanny, you are there when he or she needs to talk and work through anxious feelings. Knowing that you are there for support can give a child the courage he or she needs to tackle those fears.

Seek Professional Help

Even though you may offer support and encouragement, a child who is struggling with extreme anxiety may need professional help. Discuss the options with the child’s parents and seek out a family therapist or psychologist who can work with the child to calm his fears and develop coping strategies, says Korol.

“If anxiety is interfering with a child’s functioning, get help,” she says. “Anxious kids can appear very oppositional and they need to have a plan with strategies and proper pacing of facing their fears to ensure their success.”

Disguised Learning: Fun Activities That Teach, Too

girlgroceryOn top of homework and lessons at school, the last thing your school-aged children want to do is embark on an educational activity at home. However, with some creativity and field trips that disguise the learning, you can provide an educational opportunity for your child without any hesitance, whining or griping.

“Learning never stops, yet many times the perception for a child is that learning only occurs in school,” says Kate E. O’Hara, assistant professor of instructional technology at the New York Institute of Technology’s School of Education. “Incorporating hands-on, engaging activities that teach and reinforce concepts they learned in school brings the learning to the highest level – real world application.”

From travel lessons to cooking excursions, keep your children entertained while educating them with activities that teach and encourage fun.

Tape Measure Mapping

Break out the chalk and a tape measure to help your children learn geometry, geography and a bit of physical education, suggests O’Hara. “Map out ‘around the world’ spots for playing basketball and have your child create a geometric shape for a shooting mark with a tape measure for making the shooting marks equal distances,” she says.

Take the lesson one step further by creating a hopscotch board incorporating measurements, fractions and division. “You can also make bike or skateboard lines incorporating measurement, fractions, division as well as elements of time,” suggests O’Hara.

Educational Outings

A family vacation or day trip can easily include valuable lessons for your children, says Lynn Daniel, veteran middle school teacher. “When taking a child on outings like family vacations, fishing or the amusement park, you can up the educational value by having the child document events with video or pictures and then write about the experiences in a journal,” she says. “Activities that keep learning fun for the adolescent learner and that immerse the learner in the fun learning process are perfect for learning outside of school.”

After your child has documented the outing, compile a photobook, scrapbook or DVD chronicling the journey to share with family and friends. In the process, he or she may even learn about technology when editing videos and uploading photos online.

Grocery Gurus

A weekly trip to the grocery store can be a learning lesson in disguise for your children. Beyond just a routine trip to pick up preparations for the weekly meals, your children can learn more about financial planning and have some fun with it at the same time. “If the activities are fun, they won’t even know they are academic lessons,” says Caroline Vroustouris, director at Varsity Tutors, an academic tutoring and test prep provider in St. Louis, Mo.

While pushing the cart and marking off items on your grocery list, encourage your children to count items, weigh items and exchange cash and coins with the grocery clerk, says Vroustouris. Grocery shopping also provides an opportunity to discuss healthy food items, prompting your children to investigate calorie and fat content on purchased items.

You can keep the lessons going once you get home with a family cooking lesson. Have little ones do measurements and conversions when mixing ingredients and prompt the older children to guess where the ingredients are grown. Use this opportunity to discuss food values and origins of your mealtime ingredients.

Online Gaming

There are a plethora of free games on the internet designed to help students review concepts in fun ways, says Jill Lauren, learning specialist and author of That’s Like Me! Succeeding with LD. Embark on an online gaming adventure with your children to find multiplication games online, grammar review games and reading or puzzle activities to keep them entertained and engaged in their education.

“As a learning specialist who works with children with memory issues, I’m always looking for ways to review hard-to-memorize information that will keep my students motivated,” says Lauren. “I usually just Google whatever skill I’m working on – apostrophes, for example – and I can find plenty of games that will provide multiple opportunities to practice using apostrophes correctly.”

Historical Voyages

Educate your children about world events while immersing them in a historical adventure. Load up the vehicle and take a family trip to a local museum or historical society. Most museums have programs and interactive tours that are designed especially for children. While browsing through museums, engage your children in discussions about artwork, fossils or artifacts.

Younger children can also learn from the historical items in galleries and museums. “Children may enjoy looking at all the colors and shapes in paintings,” suggests Barbara Allisen, educator and founder of 1 2 3 Kindergarten, an online resource for early childhood development. “Take along a little sketchpad and draw some interesting lines. Sculptures have lines and shapes that may capture kids’ attention.”

Primarily, find ways to pique your child’s interests with each activity you choose. “All too soon, your children will be older and will scorn having to do anything with parents or other adults,” says Allisen. “Having a routine for educational opportunities is key. Your routine is like a treasure map and the time you spend with your kids having fun is a treasure that will last a lifetime and beyond.”