When the nanny leaves

Elementary logic tells me that because Stan and I are moving to another country, we are going to have to leave our current jobs. This is going to be hard for me. Actually it already is, even though I have two weeks left to work.

I’ve been taking care of Goober & Goobrette since they were four months old. They’re turning three next month; this has been the longest I’ve stayed with one family. We actually haven’t started transitioning the kids much — that starts next week — because right now their sense of time comes down to “yesterday,” “now,” and “later.” We figure two weeks’ worth of “soon” and “in a bit” and “in a few days” should do the trick. But it’s definitely something that’s been on my mind.


My first nanny gig was just a temporary arrangement, covering the first half of a summer during my university years. The family in question already had a nanny who had been with them since the birth of their first child, nearly five years at that point. She had been live-in for most of that time, but now had her own place and was being “transitioned out” — to use the mother’s words. Flora* was still working a few days a week, but I was also working a few days a week. After about a month of this the family was going to France for a vacation, and when they came back, abracadabra: no more Flora and no more me.

The thing that made this arrangement exquisitely uncomfortable was that the parents had not bothered to tell Flora that she was been “transitioned out”. The writing was on the wall, of course, and she knew as well as I did what the deal was — in fact, we talked about it more than once. But it was an exceedingly poor way to handle that transition, for Flora and for the children. The parents didn’t seem to want to risk Flora accepting another job before they had gotten all of their desired use out of her; I believe the plan was to give her notice once they were actually in France. Too, they hadn’t told the children anything about Flora leaving, or about why I was there. The youngest had told me many times and in no uncertain terms that “I want Flooooora” — and this is while we were both in the house, often at the same time. I can only imagine what it would have been like once she’d disappeared entirely.

I think I have more experience with transitions that were handled poorly than the reverse.


The tricky thing with this job is that you always know that it’s going to end, but you attach anyway. You have to attach to the children if you’re going to be caring for them effectively. You just do. But there’s a constant tension there, because the job will end: you’ll move or have a child of your own, or they’ll move or decide they’d rather use a daycare, or at the very least, eventually the children will grow up a bit and be in school full-time. That’s the reality of the job. It just is.

A quick google seach on “how to prepare children for the nanny leaving,” however, tells me that while nannies always know this, parents sometimes don’t. The articles I find have three dominant tones. First, there are the preventative articles: How to Keep Your Nanny Forever in Ten Easy Steps. Then there are a few fairly balanced pieces acknowledging that yes, these transitions are hard for everyone involved.

And then there are my favourites: the articles that sound something like this:

“Waaaaah! My nanny is leaving and my life will be sooooooo hard now! Why is she soooooooo selfish? Why me? What have I done to deserve this? I can’t believe she wants to [take a better job / move / go back to school / have a baby / insert other extraordinary self-centred reason here] — the cow!!”

Amazingly, this attitude can also be found off the internet. My mother told her of a family she knows of whose nanny just left. There are two children, ages eight and ten. The parents have had to hire people to do the laundry and cut the grass and such, because they just! can’t! keep up! without the nanny. (My question: why aren’t your capable older children being taught how to do the laundry? My brother and I started washing the dishes every night when we were younger than that.)


In two weeks, my job ends. A few days after that, Goober and Goobrette and their parents are going on an extended vacation to the prairies and then (funnily enough) France. We’re moving away in the month after they get back, and they’ll actually be moving not long after that. So it will work out conveniently enough for everyone involved. But this time, we’re going to do transition right. This time, there will be no abracadabra-the-nanny-is-gone.

This time, there will be a chance to say goodbye.

Friday evening thankfulnesses

A while ago, following the example of Ann Voskamp, I decided to start writing down a list of things that I am thankful for. You know, attitude of gratitude!, and all that (I feel as if that phrase always ends with an exclamation point whether warrented or not). As promised, I did actually notice a change in my internal habits of thought — and perhaps a lessening of my cases of the grumples — as I tried to intentionally notice God’s small gifts all around me. It was good.

Like most of the habits I try to start, however, this practice fell by the wayside after too short a time, and the special little notebook I bought rattled its lonely way around my purse for some weeks without being pulled out. But I think that it’s time to start being thankful again. I need to be reminded.

Here are some of today’s thankfulnesses:

– This morning I put out the nativity set, as a surprise for Stan when he got home. I’m thankful that Christmas is coming.

– Yesterday Goober said his first complete interrogative sentence: “What is this?”. The twins have expressive language delays and so it’s really encouraging when they make strides like that.

– Tonight I got home from a singalong performance of Handel’s Messiah, which is my all-time favourite piece of music in the world ever — both to listen to and to sing. It was amazing to sing it with hundreds of other people. The soloists were very good this year, particularly the alto, and I had a great time. I’m thankful for singing, and for music, and for Handel, and that I was able to get off work early so that I could make it to the rehearsal on time!

Things I’m not as grateful for:

It’s Christmas (well, almost), which means Christmas decorations, which of course means bringing out our favourite ornaments from our separate pasts (this being our first Christmas and all), which means that Stan has gotten out his creepy, creepy nutcrackers. Although he’s kindly placed them facing away from the bed, I just realised that this means that they’re just watching me in the mirror. They are CREEPING me OUT, honey.

He just whispered that they’re plotting against me. Thanks, babe! I’ll sleep well tonight!