If both you and your spouse work, it is likely you employ a nanny or childcare, especially if you have young children. But, what happens when you get divorced? When do you tell the nanny and what do you tell the kids regarding the decision you have made about their trusted and loyal friend? How will your divorce affect the employment of your caregiver? Can your nanny help during the transition that is your divorce?
It’s best to share basic information about your divorce as soon as you are certain that a divorce will occur. Tell your nanny before you tell your kids. Provide her with the information you wish her to give your kids when they speak with her about what they are thinking and feeling during this transition. Ask her to keep you informed of how your kids are doing (i.e., are they feeling ok or apprehensive?).
As you communicate with your childcare, bear in mind that this is still an employment relationship between employer and employee: if you begin confiding in your nanny, speaking ill of your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, trying to be the favored parent in their eyes, or using them as a communication liaison between you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, your relationship will become strained at a time when you need her the most. It is best to keep the relationship professional.
Additionally, you will need to communicate how the divorce will affect her employment. Will she maintain full-time employment but divide that employment between the homes of the two divorced parents? Will she become part-time because one parent will hire his/her own nanny? These issues need to be decided as soon as possible: uncertainties are difficult for both your nanny and your kids. Be sure you revise your nanny contract and submit it to her for her signature.
After you have spoken to your caregiver, you can then speak with your kids. Speak gently about your soon-to-be-ex-spouse as s/he is still your kids’ parent. Let your kids know with as much clarity as possible how the divorce will affect them. For example, where each parent will live, when the kids will get to see each parent, how their things (clothes, toys, etc.) will be divided between two households, how they’ll get to see their friends when they are staying in a different home, etc. State and demonstrate that you love your kids very much. Let your kids know that you are available to speak with them when they want to talk about the divorce.
Maintain as much consistency as possible throughout the transition. Don’t begin over-spending on your kids, use your kids as a communication liaison between you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, or engage in a competition with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse about who can be the favorite parent. And rely on your babysitter to provide additional nurturing and reassurance for your kids.
In your kids’ world, where everything is changing, a consistent, loving caregiver is a comfort in a scary place. They can help reinforce the message that you want your kids to receive about the divorce. In sum, your nanny is a god-send.
Candi Wingate is the founder of Nannies4hire.com, Babysitters4hire.com, Care4hire.com and a Nanny Agency. Her nanny experience actually goes way back. She was a nanny for a family with five children, which included newborn twins. After becoming a nanny and working in a nanny agency for several years, she purchased the successful Nation-Wide Nanny Placement Agency. After finding that the company needed to expand, Nannies4hire.com, Babysitter4hire.com and Care4hire.com were born.
Nannies4Hire.com has been named as one of the INC500, by INC magazine, is the recipient of the Mom’s Choice Award and the 2010 Nebraska Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year Award and is an ongoing media resource for television, radio and online organizations including ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN.com, The Dr. Phil Show and ABC’s Supernanny, to name a few. Since 1987, Candi and her services been helping wonderful families and nannies.