Dear Dana: The SmartSitting Advice Column: Our nanny left and my kids don’t want a new babysitter!August 15, 2018
We have had the same nanny since our children were born, and she has really become a part of our family over the last eight years. My son is now going into third grade and my daughter is going into first. Over the summer, our nanny moved away to start her own family, and we will be starting with a new after-school babysitter for our kids this year.
I am feeling very anxious about this transition. We are already missing our former nanny, and our children are very attached to her and are staying in touch with her a lot. They keep saying they don’t want a new babysitter, but my wife and I both work full time so we will need to hire someone new.
I’m about to start interviewing potential after-school babysitters, and I’m not sure what to expect or how my children will react. I’m worried my kids won’t like any new sitter, and that it will be difficult for them to adjust to such a big change in their lives. Is it possible to make this a smooth transition for them? How can I encourage my kids to be open to a new babysitter? How can I make this as easy for everyone as possible?
Dear Dubious Dad,
I’m so glad you wrote to us during this major transition for your family! We have helped many families through changes in their child care situations, and it’s always an emotional time. The good news is that there are lots of ways to help your children adjust to a brand new babysitter, and you can start before you even hire someone!
You mentioned that you are about to begin interviewing new babysitters, and I think it would be a great idea to involve your kids in this process as much as possible. Sit down as a family and make a list of everything you’re looking for in a new nanny, from schedule to experience to interests and hobbies. You can remind your kids that their former nanny will always be a special part of their lives, but that this is a fun chance to get to know someone brand new who will be special in their own ways.
Once you’ve narrowed down a short list of candidates to interview in person, show your kids their profiles and have them tell you their first thoughts about each babysitter. Although it’s best to conduct the initial interview without the children present, you can have your kids play in another room while you speak to the candidates, and then invite them to come meet each babysitter when you’ve finished talking with them. In addition to helping your kids feel like part of the process, this is a great way for you to see how your candidates interact with them.
If your family feels a connection with a few great candidates, the next step will be to set up some paid trials to get to know each babysitter better and see how they integrate into your family’s routines. These trials are very helpful in zeroing in on your top candidate, and they’ll give your kids a chance to “test the waters” with a few different people before jumping right in with a new babysitter they don’t know.
Once you’ve hired your new babysitter, make sure you give them a warm welcome, especially if your kids are feeling hesitant. Let them know from the beginning of the process that they’d be replacing your longtime sitter, and that it may take time for your children to adjust. You will be their main source of support and information, so it’s important to check in with them often about how it’s going. For their first day, it might help to plan a fun activity they can do with the kids so they have a chance to bond before the school year starts. This is a great way to start off the relationship with a fun memory, and it can also help take your kids’ minds off any sadness or anxiety they feel about having someone new.
It will take time and patience, but soon enough your kids will get used to their new babysitter, and with any luck they’ll grow to love them just as much as their previous nanny.
Good luck, and let us know how it goes!
Dear Dana is SmartSitting’s advice column for parents, nannies, and babysitters in NYC. Dana joined SmartSitting in 2012 as a full-time nanny. She worked with the same Brooklyn family for over three years, and she still adores them and sees them all the time. Since then, Dana has worked with countless other families with children of all ages. For the past year and a half, she has also worked in the SmartSitting office in a variety of roles. She speaks with families, interviews babysitters, writes for our social media accounts, and continues to babysit to this day. Dear Dana is a collaboration of her experience with the perspectives of our other client directors, who are also previous caregivers and current parents. To submit a childcare-related question to Dear Dana, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We can’t wait to hear from you!