Transitioning to a New Family
by nicola manton.
I was with my previous family for almost five years before I had to move on. We have been through a lot together and they are like my family. On my first day with them, MomBoss went into labor with her second child. I stayed home with the two-year old big brother. It's truly amazing when you become a part of your nanny family. We went through some good times as well as hard times together. I’ve witnessed breakdowns and financial problems and I reduced my hours to help them get through it all. They helped to plan my wedding, and in doing so they met my family; MomBoss even did my hair and make-up! I know them through and through. The baby, now 5 years old, has especially become a piece of me, and her parents would agree! Unfortunately, it no longer made sense financially to continue working for them, as they could no longer guarantee me the hours I needed to survive in NYC. It was time to move on. At first I was anxious, but mostly optimistic about starting again with a new family. I needed more money to pay the bills and, also to have a life outside of work, so I looked forward to the idea of not struggling financially. The idea of bonding with a new little one was also appealing to me. I knew I would miss my old nanny family; the kids were like my kids and the idea of leaving them broke my heart, but I knew I'd see them often, and I do.
I didn't anticipate what ended up happening. At first it was just as I had hoped; starting fresh opened a whole new world of possibilities. I was excited to impart my experience and knowledge on a new family and help them with their transition to a new city and, also to being new parents, but it just wasn’t the same. I bonded with the baby; that was easy. The income was also a great relief in comparison. What I hadn't anticipated was that I would now have to prove myself to a new family who didn't know me well yet. They don't know that I treat their son as if he were mine. They don't realize that I do everything for him and that it's not always easy. They're not exactly hands-on parents, so I'm essentially raising their son and trying to meet their slightly unrealistic expectations. I have their trust, to an extent. They don't question my methods because they know I'm qualified and experienced and that my references are impeccable, but there's always that feeling that because they don't know me like my other family did, I'm constantly having to prove myself. I miss the feeling that I am 100% valued and respected. I miss going to a job where I was also an equal member of the family. It wasn't all rosy and sweet at my previous job; it was hard! MomBoss was disorganized and somewhat unreliable, and of course the children had their moments, as all children do! I had a lot of responsibilities for a lot less income and with a lot less time to do it in, but there was a sense of “home” when I was with them. They were familiar and warm to me. Now, unfortunately, I feel like the "help" and because my salary is so good, I feel like I shouldn't have any complaints.
Needless to say, the transition has been a hard one. I don't know if it’s the family in particular that has made it hard, or if it's like this for every nanny. I imagine it's common for every transitioning nanny to feel this way; when you move on there's always some grief at losing what you once had. I don't think it helps that my new MomBoss is struggling with their move to NYC; she is having a hard time finding a job and isn't handling it well. Maybe it's me, too. I may just need to give it more time to fully adjust to their way of being. I'll give it my all and hope that I can find what I found in my last family. In this profession, it's not all about the money; there needs to be a mutual respect and trust between you and the family or it just won’t work. A real connection has to be made if both parties are in it for the long haul.
If you are worried about starting a new job or find yourself in a similar position to the one I am in, here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way:
Common transitional concerns:
• Feeling a sense of loss at no longer being with your previous NannyFamily.
• Feeling regret and guilt at having left them (even if it was a necessary move for your future and well-being).
• Having to build a whole new relationship with a family who you don’t yet know that well yet and having to prove yourself to them at the same time.
• Disputes with your new NannyFamily over contractual issues such as salary, hours, holidays, etc.
Tips for a smoother transition
• Assuming that things ended on good terms with your previous NannyFamily and neither of you moved away, be sure to make a plan to visit them a few times in the month following your last day. This will help both sides see that the relationship is not over; it hasn’t ended just because you no longer work for them. I still try to see my previous NannyKids at least once a month, whether it be for a simple dinner or a day trip. It definitely helps us all to remember that we’re still a big part of each other’s lives.
• Don’t expect your new NannyFamily to take the place as your previous NannyFamily. I wanted so much for my new NannyFamily to feel the same way about me as my previous one did. It took me a while to realize and accept that it took 5 years to reach the level of comfort, trust, respect, and mutual love that I have with my previous employers. These bonds are not formed overnight and it’s not fair to either party to hold such unrealistic expectations. Give it time. The relationship you had with your previous NannyFamily has not been lost; it is not something that needs to be replaced.
• Expect that there will be an adjustment period where you’ll have to acclimate to the new family and their lifestyle. All families are different and have different philosophies and practices, whether they be small things like whether or not they buy organic, or larger things such as co-sleeping or CIO (Cry It Out) methods. Much of this should have been discussed at the interview stages (remember that this stage isn’t just about them interviewing you; you are deciding if they are a good fit for you as well), so you should have a good idea of what to expect. However, it is normal that there will be things you’ll need to get used to.
• If you’ve given it a reasonable adjustment time and you are still feeling uneasy about your new role with your new family, arrange to have a chat with them (either formally or informally, depending on what you feel makes more sense for you). Use this time to discuss how you think things are going on your end, and to bring up any concerns that you may have. This idea was very daunting to me. I am terrible at confrontation, and I tend to forget everything I had wanted to say. It helps to write down everything that is on your mind and have that with you during the discussion. At the very least, you’ll be able to see how they react to your concerns; a good indicator of how the future with them will be. If they disregard your concerns, maybe this isn’t the right family for you to be working for. When I sat down for a discussion with my new NannyFamily, it was awkward at first and they got a little defensive at times, but they did listen and talk things through with me. It’s not about making a list of demands, it’s about working together to ensure all parties are getting what they need, and hopefully from there a more open and respectful relationship can begin.