Being a nanny is not an easy feat. You provide exceptional, well-rounded care for your nanny kids and do everything in your power to ensure that they are happy, healthy, and thriving. Getting paid to do what you love is one thing; receiving a bonus is another! More than just cash, a year-end bonus can be a show of recognition and appreciation of how important your role is to your nanny family. But what if you don’t get the bonus you hoped for, or if you don’t get one at all?

Although there are countless reasons why you might not get the bonus you expected–many of which might not be a reflection on your performance or the importance of your work– a feeling of disappointment can creep in. Here’s how to manage it.

1. Acknowledge your feelings

This one’s important, you have the right to feel and name your feelings, nanny! Although it might be easier to ignore them, in the long run, this option might end up affecting your mood, how you handle your tasks, and your overall mental health. And you sure don’t want that to happen, right? So if you’re feeling disappointed for not getting a hard-earned bonus, know that it’s okay and there’s no shame in feeling your feels!

“A part of healthy coping with disappointment is reminding yourself that disappointment is like a wave — ride it until it passes,” said Justin Arocho, a psychologist who specializes in the cognitive-behavioral treatment of anxiety disorders. Acknowledging your emotions is the first step in coping in a healthy way. Once you’ve recognized it, you’ll find the next steps easier.

2. Reevaluate your perspective

We’ve all seen the expectations vs reality memes circulating on social media. And yes, the very root of a lot of our disappointments is our own expectations. Disappointment happens when we set expectations and the reality turns out differently. So, when you think that you will get the bonus you’re hoping for and don’t get it, you can feel disappointed, or worse, undervalued.

Pause. Breathe. You have been working so hard, and all of that work deserves acknowledgement! Know that you are appreciated by your nanny family, and that you are always ALWAYS appreciated by us. Your NF may have failed to equate your efforts for the past year with an anticipated holiday bonus, but take a look back on the days they have shown their appreciation to you–whether it be thoughtful notes you’ve received from the kids, a treat they got you on your birthday, or even encouraging words after a long day. When you take a moment to reflect, you’ll realize that sometimes, being welcomed, loved, and acknowledged is also an indication of how appreciated you and your work are.. We absolutely understand that finances and appreciation are two different conversations, and we are getting to an action step, we promise! But a little bit of gratitude goes a long way.

In an interview with Sam Weinman, author of Win at Losing: How Our Biggest Setbacks Can Lead to Our Greatest Gains, psychologist Dr. Jim Loehr talks about framing events in our lives constructively. He said that the more we can learn to frame in a way that’s constructive and positive while still being honest, the better we are able to process disappointment. Spot on, right?

3. Communicate with the right people

Here comes a way of dealing with disappointment that might feel intimidating at first: have a conversation about it with the right people. If you feel unhappy, confused, or disappointed, communicate with your employers. It might be a difficult conversation, but open communication is the key to a good nanny-family relationship.

This gives your employers the opportunity to explain their reasons, and it may come to light that the situation is more complex than it looks. The realities of this past year have taken a toll on many, including many nanny employers. Most families are significantly affected by the economic downturn–from the stock market taking a hit, to increased prices due to inflation, to impending layoffs at many companies, etc.–and your employers may be facing financial challenges that you might be unaware of. Some families’ budgets are tighter than usual this year, and they might be financially unable to match what they’ve offered for a bonus in the past.

It’s natural to want to avoid the conversation, but as much as it’s important to acknowledge how you feel, it’s also significant to address the elephant in the room.

Tips on How To Help Your Conversation Go Smoothly

  • Set a time for the conversation. Ask to meet in person (if possible!) at a time that works best for everyone, preferably when you are not on the job.
  • Lead with professionalism. This can include actively listening and showing you understand, but also offering your own thoughts and opinions in a respectful, professional manner.
  • Politely negotiate. Once you’ve opened this dialogue with your employers, consider asking for an alternative. Think additional paid time off, assistance with airfare home, or a suggestion that specifically suits your relationship and situation.
  • End the conversation on good terms. Make sure everything is addressed and expressed before ending the conversation.

If, after the conversation, you feel like there is no reasonable explanation for the fact that you didn’t receive a bonus and instead feel like it is a continued pattern of disrespect, take this into consideration, too. Though this can be a painful discovery, it may be your cue to find a new position where you are more valued and respected (but then again, you probably already knew that). Though nannying can feel more intimate and personal than a lot of other careers, this is, at the end of the day, a business agreement. We are adamant about encouraging you to do what’s best for you.

4. Don’t let it fester

Harboring negative feelings can not only negatively impact your work performance, but it can also have an impact on you and your health outside of the workplace. So if you’re done with the previous steps, the last thing you want to do is to not let it get in the way of doing your work.

We know you love your job! From the very beginning, your priority has been to provide the very best care for your nanny kid. It’s easy to brood in disappointment, but if you’ve had the tough conversation and have decided to stay with the family, you’ll have to come to terms with the circumstances and realize that it’s time to continue doing what you love to do: taking care of your NK.