How to fire your babysitter

Maybe you've just lost your job and are becoming a stay-at-home mom. Maybe, as much as you wish you could, you can no longer swing the extra help with the kiddos. There may be numerous reasons why you can no longer afford to pay your babysitter. It still doesn't make breaking up with her any easier. You'd rather walk naked through a pool of dirty diapers than have this talk.

Genevieve Thiers from tells how to get it over with quickly and professionally, and leave things on a good note.

Do it face to face
-- never on the phone or email.

Do it quickly There's no "good" time to fire someone, so it's best not to wait until the moment feels right. Once you've decided to let your sitter go, do it right away.

Pick a time when you won't be distracted
Wait till the little ones are at school, taking a nap, or at their grandparents'. The last thing you want is one child screaming at the other child while you're trying to have a calm, respectful discussion.

Offer compensation Allow the sitter to continue working for an extra two weeks after the firing while she transitions to a new job. If you can't afford that, offer her a one-time severance check of whatever you can afford.

Prepare yourself emotionally You're making the necessary decision for your family, so don't blame yourself. Before the meeting, take some time to breathe fully and relax.

Use the right words Since this is a sitter you love and wouldn't dream of living without if it weren't for the difficult economy, it's better not to use the word "fired," which sounds harsh and final. Especially if you'd like the option of being able to re-hire the sitter in the future, it's better to use the term "let go."

Get to the point
Tell the sitter that she is being let go within the first few minutes of the conversation. A long build-up won't soften the blow as much as it can confuse the sitter and possibly send the wrong message. Quickly follow the firing with the compensation offer.

Give the sitter time to react
With the state of the economy, many sitters are already prepared for a slow-down in jobs. Even if you don't think this will come as a shock to her, you should still give her time to absorb what you're saying. She may have questions or she may offer you a lower rate in order to keep her job.

End on a good note Tell the sitter that you truly value her as a caregiver and as a person, and that you regret that things worked out this way. If you'd like to keep the option of re-hiring her in the future, tell her that directly. At the same time, it's important not to make any promises, such as, "I'll call you about working again in three months." It's better to tell the sitter, "You are an amazing babysitter and both the kids and I adore you. If our situation changes, you'll be the first person I call, if that's okay with you."

Put details in writing Since sitters may not hear every exact word you say during this talk, it's a good idea to put the details of what you've discussed in writing, including how much money you are offering her as severance, her last date of employment if different from the day of the firing, the list of resources she can use to help find another job and your phone number/email so she can contact you as a reference for future opportunities.

Be prepared for the children's reactions. Because you're dealing with kids, whose idea of the universe is a lot more flexible than most, let them do what they need to in order to be okay with the parting. If they want to send Susie a card saying goodbye, let them. If they need to attach themselves permanently to your leg for a while to make sure that you don't go anywhere either, let them. It's tough on everyone, but a little reassurance from you will go a long way.

Find the complete list of tips in Toddler Buzz.

++Have you ever had to fire your sitter -- for financial reasons or otherwise? How did it go?

Written by Cynthia Dermody on

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