Transitioning to a New Nanny or Babysitter
Your only child is starting school. You no longer need a full-time nanny: a part-time nanny or babysitter is what you will need going forward (at least until next summer). How do you prepare your child for the transition?
- Have a clear plan for who your new part-time nanny/babysitter will be and what will happen each summer. Will your part-time nanny/babysitter work full-time hours during the summer? Will your former (full-time) nanny return to your employment each summer, thus you will have two seasonal employees (one full-time in summer and one part-time during the school year)? Will you hire college students on summer break each year to be temporary, full-time nannies? Will you recruit your family members to supplement your part-time nanny’s/babysitter’s hours during the summer?
- Communicate the plan to your child. If your child is older than early elementary, he/she would benefit from receiving the information as soon as you have access to the information. If your child is early elementary, he/she should receive the information about two weeks in advance of the first child-observed steps of the transition to the new nanny/babysitter (i.e., the job interviews). However, if greater than two weeks in advance, he/she asks questions about what will happen, you should promptly respond to your child’s questions.
- If you have uncertainties, do not communicate those uncertainties to your child. For example, you do not want to say, “I have no idea who will attend to you this summer.” Instead, you can say, “We will begin interviewing for your new nanny/babysitter next week. We have four amazing candidates to consider. You will help us choose the best person for you. OK?”
- Respond to any questions and concerns that your child may have. Expect your child to experience grief at the loss of the current nanny. You can minimize your child’s sense of loss by encouraging an ongoing connection between your child and the outgoing nanny. For example, you can get the nanny’s new address and telephone number so that your child and the nanny can call and write each other after the nanny’s last day of employment with you. You can arrange for the nanny to continue working for you as a part-time, sporadic babysitter, thus your child will get to see the nanny-turned-babysitter every time you and your spouse have a date night. You can frame a photograph of your child with the outgoing nanny and display the photograph prominently in the child’s room as a visible reminder of the continuing love between nanny and child.
- Expect that your child may act out as one nanny departs and as the next nanny/babysitter begins. Be patient. Talk with your child about what he/she is thinking and feeling throughout this process.
- Have your child meet your prospective nannies/babysitters during their interviews. Watch how your child and the candidates relate. After each interview, ask your child how he/she liked each candidate.
- Choose the best candidate for the job . . . ensure that this candidate has established a solid rapport with your child.
- On the new nanny/babysitter’s first days of employment, pop in at home and spend some time there unexpectedly. Take that opportunity to observe how things are going between your child and the new nanny/babysitter.
- Provide feedback to your child and your new nanny/babysitter. (For example, tell your new nanny/babysitter, “I saw that you put Chris down for a nap without his bear. He really likes to have his bear when he naps. You can find his bear in location.” Another example: tell your child, “Jane (the new nanny) is not the same as Kitty (the prior nanny). Jane doesn’t know what you’re used to, just like Kitty didn’t when she started. Have some patience and tell Jane what you want.”
By following these steps, you will be facilitating a smooth transition between caregivers, making the change as easy as possible for your child.