Breaking Up is Hard to Do - How to Tactfully Part Ways with Your Childcare Provider
Breaking up. It's not fun. Sometimes it's because you're so over that person. Sometimes it's because it's just not the right fit. Sometimes that position no longer needs to be filled. Whichever way you slice it, it sucks having to let someone go and in the childcare business, it's even harder, even more personal because children are involved. However, there's absolutely a right and a wrong way to let a nanny or a babysitter go.
Awhile ago, I was working for a family, once a week, on a week by week basis. We had agreed at the beginning of our time together that I would work one specific day a week however, if something came up where I was unable to, that would be ok as well. I never took advantage of this and rarely called off for nearly two years. One week though, I was incredibly sick and had to call off on the day, which I really hate doing but having someone puking and taking care of your child is not really a great option. I provided the mom with the name of a person who might be able to fill in last minute but in reality, I knew she would be fine because she rarely left me alone with her kids and her mother would come over and help out even when I was there. The next day I had to call off for the following week due to an apartment emergency. Namely, we were moving and due to a last minute renovation, we had to push our move to the day I was usually scheduled to work. I provided her with 6 days notice, two agencies where she could find a reliable backup, and a personal reference. I felt like I was professional and I mean, come on - LIFE HAPPENS. If I had chosen to work instead of move, I would have been out of more money than I was scheduled to make that day of work. Here's the kicker though - SHE NEVER RESPONDED. And when I say never, I mean it's been over 6 months since this happened and I still have never heard from her. I worked 12 hour shifts for her for almost 2 years and she just straight up ghosted me. Completely and utterly not OK.
Maybe in her mind she felt she was justified because I had called off two weeks in a row (for the first time ever in almost 2 years). Or maybe she felt justified because I usually only worked one day a week for her. However, I can't justify this person's actions. I would hold that day for her and sometimes have to text HER to ask what time she needed me, literally the night before. Sometimes, she would say she didn't need me, literally the night before causing me to be out a whole day of work. It left me wondering if she was doing this out of spite or if I had done something legitimately wrong and calling off (which was well within my right to do) had been the "last straw" or maybe she had found someone who could permanently work that day. I have no idea but whichever way you shake it - it was a dick move.
You might be shocked at this but my story is not unique. I hear tons of stories where a family just won't respond or call that childcare provider ever again. It happens a lot with babysitters but I've known it to happen to nannies that only work a couple days a week. Just because your childcare provider doesn't come 8 hours a day, 7 days a week does not give you the right to up and drop them without letting them know why. I can never use that family as a reference because I have no idea why they dropped me. If it's because they've simply outgrown me - I could have still used them as a reference where as if they thought I wasn't doing an adequate job with their children, I obviously wouldn't. I'm put in a hard spot because I'm forced to assume the worst.
So how DO you do it? How do you tactfully let someone go? Be honest! Their availability not jiving with yours? Let them know in order to give them the opportunity to clear their schedule for you. They might be down to work more/less hours! Are their childrearing skills not up to snuff? Be honest but kind about it so they can improve with their next family. "I'm looking for someone with more experience with newborns." Allow them to either get that training or agree that they're not really the best fit. "I was hoping this position would involve more arts and crafts with the children." might prompt that to break out the crayons and glue. If they've done something completely unprofessional, absolutely let them know why they won't be asked back to work so they don't make the same mistake with their next family.
I had one family who had a nanny that they really liked but she was younger and the mom didn't feel comfy with her driving the kids around. However, with the kids going to more after school activities and just simply getting older and needing to get out the house, the family really needed someone who could provide that service. The nanny was perfect in every single way besides that one so the mom chose to tell her that they simply weren't going to be needing a nanny anymore because of their kids schedules. While this wasn't completely honest and they did replace her with someone they felt comfortable driving their kids around, it was professional, tactful, and allowed that nanny to still use them as a reference. In that case, there was nothing that the nanny could have done to make the mom feel comfortable with her driving the kids and therefore the mom chose to give her the best exit possible.
Remember that when you chose to hire a childcare provider, you become a boss. Letting employees go is part of your job now. If you don't like it, sooowwwweeeee! Not being tactful about the situation is like you showing up at your job to find your boss has locked the doors and won't answer the phone. It's ridiculous! Mostly though, it's unfair. Being a nanny is my career and I don't take it lightly. For a parent to treat me the way the mom did in my story up top is just completely wrong. I was never given a chance to right any wrongs, never given a chance to have my own personal life, and worst of all, never given a chance to say goodbye to the kids I put a lot of effort and love into caring for.
Have you ever had to let go of a childcare provider? Worse - have you ever just been ghosted by a family?!