I'm letting a household employee go, have I done anything wrong?
August 26, 2013 2:01 PM   Subscribe

I am letting my nanny go for a variety of reasons, and feel both bad and awkward about it, but still think it was the right choice for my own family, and would like to know if I handled this appropriately.

I hired a nanny last December to watch my daughter full-time. It was a decision made under duress in a sense - my wife was diagnosed with cancer and very ill and undergoing treatment at the time and was realistically expected to live for possibly 2-3 years. As things turned out, she died much more quickly than that, In early February. When I hired the nanny, my daughter was 15 months old and I did verbally tell the nanny I expected I'd need her for two to three years, but I wrote up and we mutually signed a contract that said either of us could terminate employment at any time, and if I did so, I would give 30 days notice, as the nanny would be living in my home and she'd need time to move.

Well, the nanny's always been a good caretaker to my daughter, so I have no major complaints. She's been sort of an average worker in some senses, wanting to change her hours to start later in the morning just because she wants to sleep in, or wanting more of a gas allowance to drive my daughter all over the place, to excess in my opinion (if I leave her to her own devices, she averages about 55 miles a day of driving). I don't mean to harp on her here, but there are a variety of minor things that I just don't want to deal with, which mostly add up to me not wanting to have to manage an employee, really.

If you combine these things with the fact that my daughter is two now and I think more ready to spend more time with other kids, and nannies are ridiculously expensive, and honestly, I don't really want a roommate at this point in my life, it seems a reasonable decision to change my daughter's care arrangement. I decided to put her in day care/preschool full-time (the place she'll be going sort of straddles a line between these two things). So, I gave the nanny her notice on August 19th. Her last day of work with be September 18th. I gave her through the Weekend of Sept 21-22 to move out. On her last day she'll receive her last week's pay, plus pay for five untaken vacation days as per our employment agreement, plus $1000 in severance which I offered her (which was not part of our employment agreement).

Regardless, she did not take this well. She felt betrayed because I told her when I hired her that I expected to need her two to three years. She made (IMO, out-of-line) comments about how this would have detrimental effects on my daughter. She said a lot of things that were basically her venting her frustration that I felt had varying levels of relevancy. I genuinely felt bad about giving her this news, but did feel I was within my rights to give it. But now I feel like the next month at my own home will be awkward. Things seem civil now in week two, but I sort of just want her to be gone so I can have my home back and move on. I do not think she's a bad person or a bad caretaker or anything, and I wish her the best in the future, but the fallout from my decision has soured things. Still, unless something becomes horrific, I'll let her work out the rest of her scheduled time.

Do you think I handled this inappropriately? Should I have done something differently, or was this an invariably difficult situation and there was nothing I could do?
posted by tylerkaraszewski to Human Relations (43 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You just lost your wife, your daughter lost her mother, and Nanny is pouting about her job not lasting as long as she thought it would??

You have done nothing wrong. You've been more than fair. So sorry for your loss. Don't let Nanny stress you out.
posted by lakeroon at 2:05 PM on August 26, 2013 [49 favorites]

You handled the situation perfectly. She's not wrong to be upset, but uh... that's just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.
posted by wrok at 2:07 PM on August 26, 2013 [7 favorites]

She is being incredibly unprofessional (something you kinda already knew about from things like asking to start later so she can sleep in????).

You acted within the terms of your written agreement and then some. You're fine.
posted by magnetsphere at 2:07 PM on August 26, 2013 [11 favorites]

Sounds like you've done everything just fine. She may be disappointed, but that's because of her own expectations more than anything else.
posted by number9dream at 2:07 PM on August 26, 2013

I've never heard of 3-year guaranteed contracts.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:07 PM on August 26, 2013

No, I think you're fine. Your decision is totally reasonable.

The biggest fear for the nanny may be finding a new place to live, and secondary to that finding a new employer. It's very thoughtful and appropriate that you gave some severance, and in my opinion it would be right to offer (or reinforce) that you will happily provide references for landlords and employers. Additionally, if there are local parent listserves, you might offer to post an ad recommending your nanny. This is a common thing I see on my local parenting listserv when a family decides they don't need a nanny anymore.

Anyway, your decision was fine. Best of luck to you at what I'm sure is still a very painful and stressful time.
posted by latkes at 2:08 PM on August 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

I don't think you've done anything wrong. I thought the severance was a little low, but then I looked up the requirements in California (where I assume you live) and saw there are none. So I think you've been very kind and professional. (Also, as a mom who was at home p/t, I cannot imagine that sort of mileage on the car!)

You are making the best decision for you and your daughter and you've come to that through careful thought and a lot of pain. You are doing the right thing.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 2:12 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

What you thought you'd need a year ago is not what you need now. You're allowed to change your mind. Your nanny is just being petulent.

Be polite in these last couple of weeks. But don't feel the need to be any more polite than you'd normally be.

Hang in there, having a toddler and having lost your spouse is quite a lot for you, and you're doing an AWESOME job dealing with it.

And, "I don't want a roommate" is perfectly valid and cromulent.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:16 PM on August 26, 2013

I think the way you handled it was appropriate, and that she is the one who screwed up here.

Any nanny should know that their ability to get future (good) jobs is predicated on having excellent references. As such, it would be foolish to respond to being dismissed with anything but "I understand, I'm sorry to go, and I'd like to know if there's anything I could improve upon in the future." However, her unprofessionalism isn't your problem. I hope your daughter will thrive in her new situation!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 2:17 PM on August 26, 2013 [5 favorites]

No, you've done nothing wrong. In the contract that you both signed, it was stated that either party could terminate employment at any time with 30 days notice. You're legally fine.

While it is indeed stressful for anyone to lose a job (and in this case housing too!) in this economy, your soon-to-be-ex-nanny is handling this in a very unprofessional manner, considering the employment contract was effectively employment-at-will. I would mention this fact if anyone ever calls you for a reference on a future job for her.

Considering that you lost your wife to cancer quite a bit earlier than expected, and now have to raise a daughter as a single dad, I think it's perfectly reasonable to have hired a nanny. If this is your first child, I think it's also reasonable not to know how much work it is to raise a child, thereby telling the nanny that you'd expect to need her for 1-2 years. If you hired her in December, that's almost a year she's been employed, at the low end of your estimate.
posted by tckma at 2:19 PM on August 26, 2013

I kinda hate to say this, but keep an eye on anything small and valuable you want to remain in your house.

Anyway, yeah, you did your due diligence. Above & beyond with the bonus/severance. She did not respond well, and I think it fair to mention that if people ask about her.
posted by Jacen at 2:21 PM on August 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

I don't think you did anything wrong, but I'm not surprised she vented at you after being told you were letting her go. I would suggest you don't hold that against her when it comes time to give her references. The key is that she did a good job on her core child-care responsibilities. I've always had the impression that a sizeable minority of people react with anger on being laid off. Don't take that anger as a sign that you've done anything wrong, but also don't judge her too much for it. Knowing you need to find a new job and place to live can be stressful.
posted by Area Man at 2:22 PM on August 26, 2013 [22 favorites]

I think you did more than fine, and the nanny needs to get over herself.
posted by Salamander at 2:23 PM on August 26, 2013

It sounds as if you handled this well.
Keep in mind that this is shocking news for her as she is losing her residence and job in one fell swoop.
Having said that, I don't think you should offer to post an ad on her behalf, as was suggested above. It sounds as if you also had performance issues and might not provide a glowing reference, so don't offer that too enthusiastically.
posted by calgirl at 2:23 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm sorry for all you've been through.

Don't let the nanny's behaviour get to you — of course she's unhappy with the fact that she has to find a new job and a new place to live at a month's notice, but that kind of thing is usual for nanny jobs and she should have been more mature about it.
posted by orange swan at 2:23 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Depending on how things are going over the next little while, you may (if it is OK for you) gently suggest that she can leave at any time, if that would be preferable for her. She may just want to get out of there too, and no sense prolonging it if you are both not happy.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:25 PM on August 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

I think you handled the termination just fine.

For future reference, I really think you would do well to manage the nanny more firmly. Driving 55 miles a day with your toddler is ridiculous, to me. That's too much exposure of the toddler to the possibility of traffic accidents, plus the expense accruing to you for the gas, and it's simply not what you're paying the nanny to do.

So next time lay ground rules. You're running the show, not the nanny.
posted by Unified Theory at 2:25 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Nthing everyone else. You did everything right. Do bear in mind, though, that the Nanny will have formed a genuine emotional bond with your daughter by this point and that that is no doubt part of what underlies her (unreasonable) anger at being let go. There's not much you can do about that--it's in the nature of the job--but bearing it in mind might help with understanding.
posted by yoink at 2:26 PM on August 26, 2013 [6 favorites]

I was a nanny for over ten years for various families. One family moved without telling me and ended my employment. One family told me on a Friday evening to not come to work anymore, that they had placed the child in daycare and he started Monday. Another family gave me checks that bounced and paid me instead in one dollar bills.

You gave her 30 days, severance, and a place to live. You did all the right things (and PS, can I work for someone like you next time? Please?)

One thing to consider is that she may be frustrated or sad because she feels your daughter is part of her family. I still mourn the child I never saw again when the family moved and didn't tell me (it was a messy divorce situation, as I found out much, much later. Not me.). You went through a traumatic event, and your nanny, like it or not, went through it with you and your daughter. She will likely feel sad and upset with you for losing your daughter in her life (and no, I'm not equating this with your own situation, but letting your know what she might be thinking/feeling). That is a hard feeling to admit to a parent -- that you love their child and feel she is your own (in some ways). It presumes a lot, and so her frustration may come off as petulance that she won't have a job.

To assume she will steal from you and cause issues may be a bit much, but to alleviate the awkwardness, you may want to talk with her about ways you can make her remaining time with your daughter special -- making a photo book, using her as an occasional babysitter, setting up playdates every once in a while, etc.
posted by mrfuga0 at 2:34 PM on August 26, 2013 [24 favorites]

"... Still, unless something becomes horrific, I'll let her work out the rest of her scheduled time. ..."

I understand that you feel some obligation to the nanny to let her live in her familiar surroundings while she job hunts, etc., but in the future, never terminate an employee without being willing and able to pay them out, severance and all, at the time of termination, and insist that they vacate the premises immediately. It may cost you somewhat more in relocation and severance to make vacating immediately a humane option, but it is generally a "for the best" approach, all around. And if you could, by throwing a bit more money at the current problem, achieve both an immediate quit-and-remove by the nanny, and start of new childcare arrangements for your daughter, you'd potentially save a lot of tears and low key recrimination in the weeks to come.

Or as Macbeth put it, in planning the murder of Duncan:
"If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
It were done quickly..."
Act I, scene vii.
posted by paulsc at 2:34 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

You have fulfilled your contract with her and then some.

She was, as she was well aware, an at-will employee; telling her at the beginning that you expected to need her for 2-3 years did not (and does not) guarentee that you would keep her in your employ that long: expectations do not equal a promise. She knew going in that you had that 2-3 year expectation because of your wife's illness, and she is also aware of how swiftly that situation changed.

On top of that, she's an unsatisfactory employee: what with the sleeping late plus the driving all over town (why??? where in the world is she GOING every day?) it makes me wonder where ELSE she's failing to properly care for your daughter.

As others say, keep an eye on your portable valuables. Also, change your locks as soon as she is out. (Returning in your house keys doesn't mean no copies were made.)
posted by easily confused at 2:40 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Depending on how housing works in your area, you might want to offer to let her leave her things at your place until October 1st, since most leases in places I've lived usually start on the first of the month. She could stay in a hotel or on a friend's couch or whatever, but depending on how much stuff she has, she may need a place to store it a little longer than you've given her.

That said, it sounds like you did everything fine and she said things to you that she should have waited and said later to friends or family.
posted by jaguar at 2:45 PM on August 26, 2013

You have been through an awful lot and I don't think the burden of having a surly, no longer trustworthy employee under your roof for another month is going to help matters.

Do you have enough money to get her into a room someplace for a month and pay her move out costs (I mean, obviously, you'd have to talk to a lawyer) but this sounds really stressful and suboptimal for both you and the kid, and I wouldn't want someone who was really mad at me around my child. Or my things. Or my email account and password. Etc.

And really, again: you need a break from upheaval and stress and so does your child.

So lawyer and perhaps a conversation along the lines 'This situation is uncomfortable and untenable for all of us....etc.'

I don't think you handled it badly and it's unfortunate that the nanny is feeling the aftershocks of the upheaval in someone else's life, but such is the way of the world. It isn't your fault, there was nothing else you could have done, and it sounds like you are making the right decision for you and your child.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:51 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Business relationships ESPECIALLY when they cross over with living arrangement and personal closeness are extremely hard on people. Being a nanny is a strange profession because you want to provide the nurturing care a parent would but somehow not "love" the child or be credited with "parenting". Yes that's what young children need so it's like an impossible dynamic and most people agree to it because they need the money and it's easier than other things they can do with their skill sets.

It's a really complicated dynamic, I think moreso than preschool or even day care, although the pay is better to make up for that.

I think your nanny was unwise to agree to be a live in nanny if she felt it would harm the child to bond with her and then not see her again (this is the way being a nanny works, if you have concerns about child welfare in this don't be a nanny)... and to live in with you without a back up plan knowing your contract included the ability to end it at any time.

So on the one hand, I sympathize with the fact she's in a bind and being a nanny is a strange dynamic because you feel you're part of someone's family but you're actually an employee when push comes to shove they don't care about you beyond that and it's weird and awkward, especially if you feel like to the CHILD you have been a part of their family and are not a robot servant to fulfill their needs with zero attachment or bonding involved.

Personally I don't function like that, where I see children and family life as business transaction, which is why I don't nanny anymore, and certainly would never again with a family that didn't have similar values as I do on sharing labor, love, nurturing and finances with regard to childcare and family life.

I hope your nanny learns whatever she needs to from that. (If she bonds with children and finds it strange to never see the kids again- it's probably not the right job for her-- preschool or day care has more structure to prevent that level of one on one family experience that suddenly disappears). Also- you're dealing with enough and in terms of doing right by the nanny, you did more than enough. It's all good. Life is hard and there are suffering people all over the place. Sometimes you just have to do as good as you can to people and if it's not good enough for them wish them the best and hope they find whatever they're needing elsewhere.
posted by xarnop at 3:09 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Mod note: comment removed - this is a basic question about a specific situation and other commentary that does not address the question can be emailed to the OP.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:12 PM on August 26, 2013

Agree that it sounds like you acted perfectly appropriately. If you are feeling like you wish there was more you could do to make this less difficult, you can certainly help your nanny find a new job by giving her a great recommendation letter and offering to post an ad on her behalf on Sittercity or whatever the local parents' meetup boards are in your town.
posted by Mchelly at 3:13 PM on August 26, 2013

It sounds to me like you're going above and beyond for the nanny, who, from the sounds of it, hasn't been doing the same for you. Her anger is probably less anger and more a knee-jerk fear reaction--she has to find somewhere else to live and a new job, which is scary and a lot to deal with, especially in a down economy. It's not, however, your responsibility, and is a risk she assumed when she accepted the position.

If you're able to take on daycare right now, you might want to offer your nanny an immediate out--tell her she doesn't have to work out the remaining three weeks, if she doesn't want. (You can decide for yourself if you feel you should pay her for this or not.) If she has a friend or someone she can stay with, she may take you up on this to avoid awkwardness or whatever.

I hope that you find that your new arrangement works out better for you and your daughter!
posted by MeghanC at 3:15 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

It was gross for the nanny to complain to the extent she did, but it doesn't sound like she ever had really exceptional professionalism in the first place.

You feel bad because you're a nice guy and the relationship with domestic employees is necessarily more intimate than someone who does yardwork or your taxes. As a human being, it's probably better to feel a little bit bad than to not feel bad at all, but you're not obligated to keep feeling bad.

There's no way it's not going to feel awkward as she works out her notice. I don't know if there's any better way to handle it than you're handling it, since she has to have some time to find a new arrangement.

You're doing fine. You'll probably have to grin and bear it through the last couple of weeks and then it will be over. Nannies come and go just like teachers and neighbors and friends, that's just a fact of life and employment, so you've hardly done anything outrageous here. It's just difficult to avoid the awkwardness.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:20 PM on August 26, 2013

you can certainly help your nanny find a new job by giving her a great recommendation letter and offering to post an ad on her behalf on Sittercity

Considering her appalling reaction and somewhat poor service*, I wouldn't go this far. In a previous question you mentioned she spent a lot of nights with her mom and/or her boyfriend, right? I'd honestly ask her to move out/complete her employment sooner rather than later because she has places to go, sounds sort of immature/impulsive and you are rightfully eager to get your house back.

*I was a nanny for five years and the IDEA that I'd ask to change my hours so I could sleep in -- no. Nope. Never.
posted by kate blank at 3:21 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

You've done nothing wrong. If I were in your situation, I'd want to term her immediately, get her out of my home, give her a reasonably generous severance package, and never see her again. There's nothing wrong with doing any of that, but it totally depends on how much cash you have available to carry out this strategy.
posted by Mr. Justice at 3:28 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

You are absolutely making the right decision. Your child deserves a child care provider who is professional and reliable, and this woman is neither. You deserve it, too; I would lose my top if my childcare provider was trying to change the day's plan 10 minutes before start time. I'm sure the daycare/preschool setup will be great for everyone.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:46 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Follow up:

Yes, in hindsight I realize I should have been firmer with the nanny in the first place as to what was and wasn't allowed, specifically with things like driving all over the place. I largely just left it up to her discretion and while that wasn't disastrous, it likely would have turned out better if I had acted more like "the boss". I'll remember that for next time, if there is a next time.

As for where she drives, she'll do stuff like take my daughter to the park, on the other side of the county. And then another park in the afternoon. I don't mind her going to the park, but it adds up to a lot, and there are closer parks. Also, she insists I provide her with a car, which means I'm maintaining two vehicles so the nanny can drive one of them around during the week. She got annoyed with me when I asked her to drive her own car for a while, which I did largely because she was taking her dog places in my car and leaving it full of dog hair. I let her drive my car again on the condition that she keep it free of dog hair. I could have insisted that she either not take her dog or that she always use her own car from the beginning, but I was trying to be the nice guy. And with sleeping in, she was originally scheduled to work 8-6 Mon-Thurs, and on a couple occasions would text me at 7:50 in the morning (from downstairs in my own house) asking if she could start at 8:30 or 9:00 that day (she seemed to think this was acceptable because my own work schedule is flexible). I let her do this two or three times before I told her that if she wanted to change her schedule, she'd need to ask ahead of time and make it regular, since I wanted to know what I could expect more than 10 minutes ahead of time in the morning. Then we ended up with a schedule where she started at varying times of 8/8:30/9:00 on different days (though consistent from week to week), which was never really what I wanted, as I wanted her to start at 8:00, but I caved trying to be the nice guy again, which I guess is a bad call for an employer. I'm not trying to harp on her, but these are the sorts of things that have added up to me not wanting to have to manage an employee.

I don't think she's dangerous or untrustworthy in any way along the lines of wanting to steal from me or needing to change my locks. If something seems to change in this regard I'll watch out for it, but she's never, even now, given any indication that anything like this would be a problem. Mostly she's just young (early 20s) and hasn't really help "professional" jobs and sort of expects her boss to be her friend.

I did consider letting her stay until the end of the month in case she signed a lease somewhere else that began on the 1st of October, but it seems like that won't be necessary, so I didn't feel the need to offer it proactively.

I do realize that it's hard to lose your job and your housing all at once, and that's part of the reason I offered the severance pay. I wanted to help make her transition to whatever she does next easier, if that meant having a security deposit ready or whatever she would need the money for. I don't see what else I could really do though to alleviate that issue, she was eventually going to lose both those things one way or another. I also realize that she's formed a bond with my daughter and she's reluctant to lose that. I don't know what I can do about this either, though. They were going to part one way or another eventually, and realistically I'm a lot more concerned about how my daughter will handle it than the nanny. Honestly, I think she (my daughter) will be ok.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 3:50 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you just want her gone, then pay her until the date you told her she'd be working, plus vacation, plus severance, and ask her to get out ASAP to a relative's, because it sounds like she has them around. (If she doesn't, then it isn't right to put her out, ignore all the above.)

It sounds like you acted 100% appropriately and she just lost her temper. BUT, that said, I am a babysitter and I can understand where she's coming from. Being a domestic worker is a delicate thing and IME *all* employers think they are the world's best employer, etc. I'm not saying that you do...I'm just saying her reaction sounds within the realm of normal person who lost her temper. Thank her for the care she gave your daughter and part ways ASAP.
posted by skbw at 3:55 PM on August 26, 2013

I think having people come and go is hard on kids and they do get attached. But that is life. And when you're a single parent this will be innate, you may date people that will come and go, if you hire help they will come and go. I don't think that's ideal, but I also think it's for you to support your daughter with and none of your ex-nannies business whatsoever. If she thought losing her would be so hard, she should have thought of that before agreeing to be a temporary caregiver in your daughters life. Your daughter is not going to get LESS ATTACHED if you keep the nanny on for that reason? It makes no sense.

Seriously I'm a huge radical about bonding and love and changing how we treat caregiving, but your nanny is just pushing your buttons and this does not sound like it's about her enduring love for your daughter (in which case she was setting your daughter up to lose her from the beginning right?)-- but about being sore over the change of plans.

Your wife died sooner than expected. If your ex-nanny can't understand that sort of thing changes plans than just WTF is all I can think of.

You're daughter will have you, and you'll be there for her. You might even find some home help from someone more professional (go older and more experienced, some people are well suited to it and learn to make boundaries that work for them). DO NOT second guess that you're doing what's right for your family just because your nanny said something that hit a sore spot ok? If she had done it because she cared about your daughter she would have mentioned sooner that she thought ending nanny relationships was harmful to children (so you could have avoided hiring her because why is she trying to even be a nanny then?)

I really sympathize this is hard for you, for many reasons, you and your daughter will get through this and try to sail over this bump without second guessing yourself because this person is not good for your family at all right now.
posted by xarnop at 4:03 PM on August 26, 2013

It sounds to me like you acted appropriately and generously. It's of course natural to question oneself when another person gets upset, but just as often, it's them, not you. That's even more the case, as here, when that other person frequently pushes boundaries and acts a bit entitled. I don't blame her for being upset (it's natural to feel that way when one's life suddenly changes), but it does surprise me that she's not balancing her feelings with more professionalism, sympathy for your point of view and for the fact that your own situation changed unexpectedly, or both. I'm so sorry for your loss.
posted by salvia at 6:17 PM on August 26, 2013

I understand that this is a difficult time for you; I'm sorry for that and for the loss of your wife. However...
I don't think she's dangerous or untrustworthy in any way along the lines of wanting to steal from me or needing to change my locks.
You will need to change your locks when this is done. Your nanny sounds a little immature and the mileage makes me wonder what's up with that. It's not that you don't trust the nanny but you don't know her friends. It is worth the price of a locksmith for peace of mind going forward. If everything is on the up and up, she will never know and you will rest easier.
posted by Morrigan at 6:30 PM on August 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

One thing to consider is that finding housing mid-month can be really tough in some places. It's almost impossible in my city. You might encourage/pay for her to be in somewhere as of September 1 if that's an option.
posted by barnone at 8:00 PM on August 26, 2013

realistically I'm a lot more concerned about how my daughter will handle it than the nanny

Of course! And you should be! And if she were actually prioritizing your daughter's needs, your nanny would be figuring out how to make this transition as easy as possible on your daughter, too. Make sure that both of you give your daughter plenty of notice, so that it's not a surprise to her when the nanny leaves.

I'm also going to give you advice you didn't ask for, so feel free to ignore it if you want: Your nanny leaving is likely going to re-trigger your daughter's grief about losing her mom. Not because you're doing the wrong thing, but just because any loss tends to trigger feelings of past losses in all of us humans. So after your nanny leaves, you may find that your daughter gets moodier than usual or more defiant, or regresses in her behavior (especially since she's also going to be starting a new preschool/daycare, which is another big transition). It will likely be helpful to expect that, and mentally/emotionally prepare for that, so that you can treat her acting out with patience rather than confusion or exasperation. (You can, of course, be as exasperated as you want after she goes to bed!)

If you haven't already, you may also want to let the preschool/daycare know about the two losses, so that they can also contextualize her behavior a bit.

And I know that if it were my daughter, her grief would trigger my own grief, so if you have a support system (friends, family, therapist, support group), you may want to alert them that you may need them in the next couple weeks. Hell, it's possible that "losing" your daughter during the day will re-trigger your own grief, all on its own. Be as gentle as possible with yourself and your daughter, and seek as much help as you need, during this time of major transition for the both of you.
posted by jaguar at 9:00 PM on August 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

Listen, here's the dealio. The whole issue here is contained in this:

I could have insisted that she either not take her dog or that she always use her own car from the beginning, but I was trying to be the nice guy.

You weren't TRYING to be a nice guy, you ARE a nice guy. And she is pissed that she lost a sweet gig working for a nice guy who was kind enough to let her adjust her hours so she could sleep in, provided her with a car so she could be-bop and gallivant around the county, and you were just generally a very easy guy to work for.

So she's pissed that you're suddenly snapping to your senses. She wants the old you and the sweet gig back. Tough titty.

It's funny, really. You were more than fair to her, you have NOTHING to feel bad about.
posted by Unified Theory at 10:29 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm so sorry about your wife. the nanny's always been a good caretaker to my daughter is the most important hting. She's likely to be good to your daughter for this last month. You gave her an unexpected bonus, which is a good thing.
But now I feel like the next month at my own home will be awkward. Help her any way you can to find a new position. Write her a letter of reference and give it to her with her final pay. show her how to behave by being cheerful and positive. This also gives you time to talk to your daughter about Nanny leaving, and help her have a smooth transition.

Being an employer is a pain, and having an employee live in especially so. You did fine.
posted by theora55 at 11:01 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Something to remember is that sooner or later, for whatever reasons, your nanny would leave you and your daughter; and honestly, I suspect it'll be easier for your daughter to have this split now --- at age 2, after just 8 months --- than it would be in 2 or 3 more years, at age 4 or 5.

And if you ever need household help again --- another nanny or a house cleaner or whatever --- don't make room & board part of the deal..... just a straight paycheck: no living in your home, no use of your car.
posted by easily confused at 3:56 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't think you did anything wrong, per se, by letting her go. I do think most of your complaints were rather petty (parks too far away??), not dealbreakers, but you seem to realize that they just rise to the level of annoyances. So as long as you don't give her a bad reference, I think you're fine.

But I will say this -- your nanny has been through a lot with your family, which may account for some of her behavior and her reaction. Obviously you have been through more. But she was hired on to live in your house while your wife died, and act as the primary caretaker of your daughter during that time. That's pretty heavy stuff that goes far beyond most live-in nanny jobs, and she may feel a little confused to now be treated like a regular employee. I think that to the extent you can sincerely thank her for being with you during such a difficult time, that would help a lot.
posted by yarly at 5:49 PM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Today is the nanny's last day, and it looks like things have played out alright, mostly. She got another (more exciting sounding job) lined up fairly quickly, and I think that helped ease tensions a lot. Now she gets to move abroad for a year and work for a minor celebrity, so the bitterness about not being here anymore seems to have dropped. My daughter also did an intro half day at her new preschool, and she had fun playing with the other kids. She starts on Monday and I think it will be fine.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:18 AM on September 12, 2013 [7 favorites]

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