Being a nanny is different from other jobs because of the level of intimacy you have with your employer. You work in her home and have built relationships with those nearest and dearest to her -- her children. When you decide it's time to quit, you're in a delicate situation, whether the job was a pleasant experience or not. The best approach is to balance professionalism with sensitivity. If the resignation goes well, both you and the family will be able make a smooth transition. And don't forget that you'll be more likely to land a great reference.
Refer to your contract, if you have one, for resignation procedures. Your employer may have required that you give a specified period of notice. If you don't follow the guidelines in your contract, you probably won't get a good reference. Worse, if your employer is really nasty, you might end up in court.
Be considerate of the family. If your employer never specified how much notice you should give when you quit, realize that she'll need a few weeks to find a new nanny. Plus, imagine the heartbreak of the darling children if they don't get adequate time to say goodbye. Even little terrors get attached and have feelings. A good rule of thumb for nannies is to give about a month's notice.
Write and submit a formal letter of resignation. Include the current date, how much notice you're giving and your intended end date. Mention why you're leaving, but keep it cordial. If you can't stand your boss or the kids, say something like, "I have decided to leave because our personalities don't seem to match," as opposed to something like, "I hate your guts and can't wait to get out of this dump." Also, be sure to thank your employer for the job. Be professional and submit the letter in person, along with a verbal resignation.
Continue working until the end date that you specified, unless your employer asks you to leave sooner. Not only will you be more likely to get a good reference, but you'll be giving yourself and the kids much-needed closure.
Gina Poirier has a professional background in nonprofit administration and management, primarily with youth development organizations. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international studies from the University of Washington and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Alaska Anchorage.