How much notice should a nanny give her employers? There is no clear cut right or wrong answer but there are some norms. I think we can all agree that two weeks to replace a nanny is too short a window for most parents. At the other end of the spectrum, expecting the nanny to keep her departure date open ended until a replacement nanny is found is not fair or even viable. Four weeks notice seems to be a reasonable time frame. Despite how reasonable that may sound, many families do not respond well when they learn that their childcare arrangements are coming to an end. After all, this is a working city made of working families who rely on the people hired to tend to their kids. Not having childcare can mean a crisis.
I’ve been mulling over some of the reactions that families have when they get the unwanted or unexpected news. No one likes change especially when it comes to their childcare arrangements. We have seen former love fests turn ugly fast perhaps because the impending departure feels like a betrayal. Responses may range from threats of never being allowed to see or talk to the children again to refusing to provide a decent reference for the soon- to-be-departed and formerly loved nanny. There is no relationship quite like the one between a nanny and family.
Why don’t nannies give more notice? Many are afraid to tell families that they are looking for other employment because they live paycheck to paycheck. What happens if the family says: “You’re leaving? You can go now.” That response has happened with enough frequency to be a deterrent to full disclosure. Most nannies can’t afford the nicety of giving a heads up to an employer. It is a scary option for them to be left with no income.
The flip side to this discussion is how much notice a family should give a nanny when they decide to let her go. That’s a whole other blog.