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Top reasons nannies quit — and how you can make sure yours won’t

Nanny and kids turning away

But I thought finding the nanny was the hard part! 

Everyone who has gone through the often lengthy and sometimes stressful task of finding a great nanny or babysitter for their family does so with the hope that this is the one-and-done hire. You hope that the caregiver is on board, and now they will be with you forever. But then suddenly, the relationship is breaking down, and you feel like they have one foot out the door. 

Feel familiar?

In today’s post, we take a look at the top reasons nannies and babysitters quit — and what you can do to make sure yours won’t be one of them. 

Top reasons nannies quit and how to prevent it:

1. Communication

Any job requires solid communication, but the nanny-family relationship is unique in its intimacy and the level of communication that is needed for everyone to feel good. Does everyone in yours have the information they need? What is the plan for when communication breaks down, whether by miscommunication or a lack of it? 

Here, it s often best to be clear right from the start. Give your new hire as much information as they need from the get-go. Make sure to ask if there is any information they’re missing. Be clear how you prefer to communicate and resolve any issues. Should the sitter debrief at the end of the day with any questions that came up? Do you prefer setting aside time when you can be in the right mindset for conversations? And when issues come up, avoid passive aggressive indications of what you’d like changed or handled. Be as clear as possible, and your caregiver will know that they can be, too. 

2. Trust

None of us like the feeling that our boss thinks we can’t do our job right, and a nanny always knows when you don’t trust them. This lack of confidence may cause even the most experienced caregiver to second-guess their judgment calls. Perhaps it’s your first time leaving your children with someone else, or you fear you didn’t vet this caregiver enough, and now you cover the home in nanny cams and question your caregiver at every turn. The breakdown in trust is really detrimental to such a loving and sensitive relationship, and it is so important for you – and your caregiver – to feel that the trust between you is solid.

Here, too, it is important to start out ahead. Be thorough in the hiring process. This includes calling references and asking about any areas where you know you are particularly concerned — regarding this candidate particularly or for you in general. Setting up communication, as mentioned above, will help strengthen your relationship over time and make both you and the caregiver feel empowered about the job. It’s okay to discover new worries you didn’t know you had about leaving your children in someone else’s care, but the more transparent and communicative you can be, the more your nanny will feel that this is a position and a relationship you both work on together. 

3. Scope creep

Work long enough in any job and you’re familiar with the situation of an employer adding on an extra little task here and there. Each little thing may not look like a big deal, but they can often snowball. Suddenly your sitter is spending half their time as your housekeeper, assistant, or dog-sitter.

While sitters often are happy to pitch in as needed, and extra tasks outside of explicit childcare may be part of the initial agreement, unspoken changes in job responsibilities can make your caregiver feel used or like they are no longer working the job they are hired for. Talk through any needs you have in changes to responsibilities, and make sure to fill out a job outline at the beginning of a job that you can refer back to. If you find that you regularly need assistance that was not part of the original agreement, have a conversation with your nanny about it, and consider offering extra compensation for the expanded role.

4. Schedule issues

You need and deserve a reliable nanny, but of course the reality is that even super-nannies get sick or need to take a day off. If there is no back up and there is pressure for the nanny to never miss a day or take a vacation, they will burn out in the long run. The same goes for quickly changing schedules or a disregard for the end of shift. We always encourage sitters to be flexible and not rush out at the end of the day, but if they consistently stay half an hour after schedule, or are regularly asked last-minute to stay late, the lack of consistency tears at them. Nannies have date plans too!

Try to reduce surprise changes in schedules as much as possible, and when you do need flexibility, be clear with your caregiver that you are aware this is a request outside of the norm. Having a pool of back-up sitters or an agency that can send someone to fill in when your caregiver does need time off or sick leave will make them feel less guilty about minding their own health, while also making you less stressed about the worry of what to do when your regular sitter does need to call out. 

Other reasons nannies quit

There are of course other reasons nannies choose to quit their jobs. They may find their childcare philosophies at odds with yours, and you aren’t the best match for each other. Perhaps their compensation isn’t growing in line with increased responsibilities, such as when a new baby comes into the family. Sometimes it’s as simple as a better offer coming along. At the end of the day, even with the special relationship that it is to work in a family, it is a job. Caregivers must be just as mindful as you are to consider their career trajectories and growth. But take it from us and our many years of speaking with sitters and nannies: if the employment details are well set up and squared away, then that special bond they share with your family will always be a huge reason why they stay. 

This post is part of our ongoing series on what you can do to set up your family-nanny relationship for success and longevity, so look out for more on the topic down the line. If you have any stories of how you recognized a breakdown in your working relationship and how you were able to course correct, we’d love to hear it! Hop on our Facebook or Instagram and tell us all about it. For more from our team, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.

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