How to Fire Your Babysitter

recession guide

how to fire your babysitterMaybe you've just lost your job and are becoming a stay-at-home mom. Maybe you can no swing the extra help with the kiddos -- as much as you wish you could! There could be numerous reasons why you can no longer afford to pay your babysitter. It still doesn't make breaking up with him or 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, 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.

Rehearse Write out a brief script that you can practice. Being prepared will help you feel more confident and more relaxed.

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.

Be compassionate Taking a clinical approach to the firing might seem like a safe route, but it can make you seem cold and can hurt your chances of ever retaining this sitter as a future caregiver. Remember to be compassionate and sympathetic to the situation.

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.

Be honest Make it clear that this isn't about anything she did or didn't do; rather it's an unfortunate effect of this difficult economy. Tell her that you did everything you could to avoid having to having it come to this. A firing goes more smoothly when the employee understands that it wasn't an easy decision and that you made important efforts to avoid it.

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."

Offer assistance Helping the sitter move on to another job is an especially good way to soften the blow of letting her go. You should provide her with a list of resources where she can look for other jobs, such as, and you may also want to offer to be a reference for her for future jobs.

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.

Allow time for goodbyes. Especially if they have been very attached to the sitter (and she to them), you'll want to give everyone a chance to say goodbye. Tell the children that Susie won't be coming over to babysit anymore because you'll be staying home (or because Grandma will be caring for them, whatever the case may be) and tell them that they can still draw Susie pictures or write her letters even though she won't be the caregiver anymore.

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.

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

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