Let’s face it: child care is one of the most significant expenses in a family budget, and that’s why so many parents are keen to set up a nanny share, which promises personalized care with more affordable costs. In this guide, we’ll explain what a nanny share is and how it works, review the pros and cons, address frequently asked questions, and give you tips to set up your own nanny share.
What Is a Nanny Share?
A nanny share is a child care arrangement where two or more families split the cost of one nanny. The nanny, who is paid a premium over nannies who care for just one family, has her salary split between two families—typically caring for all of the children together.
How Does a Nanny Share Work?
The families typically coordinate their schedules, choose a suitable location for the care, and establish clear agreements regarding responsibilities, compensation, and logistics. The nanny’s attention is divided between the children from both families, fostering a shared learning environment.
Benefits of Nanny Shares
Affordability tops the list of unique advantages that a nanny share provides, making high-quality care accessible without breaking the bank. Personalized attention and tailored learning experiences are also highlights, allowing your child to thrive in a nurturing environment. Social interaction is crucial for development, and nanny shares provide built-in playmates, fostering essential social skills from an early age. Lastly, reduced exposure to daycare center germs means fewer sick days for kids and adults alike.
Cons of Nanny Shares
While nanny shares come with numerous benefits, it’s essential to consider potential drawbacks. Coordinating schedules among two families can be complex, collaborative decision-making might lead to conflicts, privacy boundaries could blur, and dividing a nanny’s attention between children could pose challenges. Additionally, logistical aspects like transportation and contingency plans need careful consideration.
Finding a Compatible Family
The cornerstone of a successful nanny share lies in finding a compatible family. This involves more than matching schedules; it’s about shared values and parenting philosophies. Where do you begin? Local parenting groups, online platforms, and recommendations from friends are excellent starting points. Engage in open conversations, discuss expectations, and ensure both families are on the same page to build a strong foundation.
Tips for creating and managing a successful nanny share:
- Choose a Nanny Who Suits Both Families
The first nanny share tip is it’s often best to choose a nanny together with another family—finding one that works equally well for both—rather than joining an existing nanny relationship. Interview potential nanny candidates to gauge rapport, and ensure that he or she meets both families’ needs and that all three parties share the same expectations. Check references and reviews from other families to confirm that the nanny is well qualified for the job. Caring for two families at once is not without challenges, and isn’t the right fit for all nannies.
- Find the Right Family
Choosing a family for a nanny share arrangement is just as important as selecting the nanny. While no two families will share the exact same parenting style, you will want to find a family with similar views on diet, discipline, and screen time since the nanny will be caring for your children collectively. Many parents find that it works best when their children are the same ages and share similar schedules, needs and activities. Once you find the right family, decide where the nanny will care for the children, likely at your home or the other family’s home, or perhaps alternating homes by the day, week or month.
- Create a Thorough Contract
An employment contract should be in place before the nanny begins work, and can be referred to throughout the relationship to keep the arrangement on track. It should include the nanny’s pay rate and pay schedule, hours each family agrees to pay, tax responsibilities (both families are considered by the IRS to be employers with tax responsibilities), and policies for late pick-ups, holidays, vacation time, and sick days (for both the nanny and the kids she cares for), as well as termination. The contract should also include a detailed description of the nanny’s child care and household duties.
- Stay Connected and Coordinated
A successful nanny share requires consistent, open communication between families and their nanny. To keep up with changing needs, commit to frequent meetings or phone check-ins with the other family, and a regularly scheduled, three-way meeting with the nanny—perhaps at pick-up, weekly or biweekly. Discuss how things are going, make adjustments to logistics or schedules, and agree on changes or tweaks that will make the relationship smoother and stronger.
- Contribute Fairly to Shared Supplies and Equipment
Our fifth nanny share tip is also quite important—decide upfront who will pay for and supply meals, baby supplies, and any equipment needs, such as a portable crib, baby swing or car seats. Typically, a family supplies whatever food and equipment their child needs, and contributes to shared items, such as a double stroller and snacks. Agree on how you will replenish shared supplies so no one feels taken advantage of for having to pick up baby wipes, for instance. Decide how you will communicate needs—via text, email or a quick chat at pick-up–to determine who will make the pick up. To create goodwill and fairness, be generous, bringing fruit or treats for the children to share or extra diapers when you know that your child will inevitably require a back-up from the host family’s supply.
- Expect Change
Eventually—either because your needs change or because you are no longer happy with the relationship—you or the other family will want to exit the nanny share. It’s advisable to give a minimum notice, likely four weeks or longer, or to pay the nanny in lieu of the notice. “Advance notice of your intent to leave a nanny share ensures that the other family involved is not stuck footing the nanny’s full salary, and allows them to either find a replacement for the share or alternative childcare,” says Lynn Perkins, CEO of UrbanSitter. “It also gives your nanny time to look for other employment, if necessary.”
Nanny Share Costs
Nanny shares offer a cost-efficient childcare solution, but it’s essential to grasp the cost breakdown. Key considerations include the shared nanny’s salary (see average nanny salaries by US city here), additional compensation for tasks like transportation and housekeeping, taxes, benefits, administrative fees, shared expenses, backup care costs, legal documentation expenses, and long-term planning adjustments. Open communication about these costs ensures transparency and effective financial planning for both families involved.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find a compatible family for a nanny share? Seek out like-minded families through local groups, online platforms, and recommendations. Shared values and open communication foster compatibility.
What’s the best way to interview a potential nanny? Beyond qualifications, inquire about child development, emergencies, and conflict resolution to gauge compatibility.
How should we handle sick days and vacation time for the nanny? Incorporate sick days and vacations into your agreement, deciding on paid time off or backup care solutions.
What’s the best way to divide responsibilities and communication? Establish a communication plan, decision-making methods, and clear responsibilities to ensure harmony.
Are there legal requirements for a nanny share? Yes, cover legal aspects like contracts, taxes, and liability to comply with regulations and protect all parties.
Beyond logistics and costs, there are other nuanced factors to consider when setting up a nanny share including:
Cultural Alignment: How to ensure that both families’ cultural values and practices align within the nanny share. Addressing cultural differences early on and finding common ground can contribute to a smoother experience for everyone involved.
Nanny Share Dynamics: Exploring the potential dynamics that could emerge between the children, the nanny, and the families. Understanding how to foster positive relationships and navigate any challenges that might arise is essential.
Child’s Transition and Adjustment: Strategies for helping children adjust to the new environment and routine of a nanny share, particularly if they’re transitioning from another childcare arrangement or home care.
Emergency Protocols: Developing a comprehensive emergency plan that outlines procedures for medical situations, accidents, and unexpected events. Ensuring that both families and the nanny are well-prepared for various scenarios can enhance safety and peace of mind.
Conflict Resolution: Detailed insights into how to address conflicts that may arise between families or with the nanny. Strategies for open communication, compromise, and problem-solving are vital to maintain a healthy and functional arrangement.
Sibling Dynamics: Tips for managing situations where one family has siblings and the other doesn’t, including how to address potential disparities in attention, activities, and sibling interaction.
Transitioning to Preschool or School: Planning for the transition when one or both children are ready to attend preschool or school. Discussing how to manage the change in schedule, transportation, and the impact on the nanny’s responsibilities can be helpful.
Additional Costs and Budgeting: Beyond the nanny’s salary, exploring potential additional costs such as activities, outings, and extra supplies. Creating a realistic budget can prevent financial surprises down the road.
Communication During Nanny’s Absence: Strategies for maintaining communication and coordination when the nanny is on sick leave or vacation, ensuring minimal disruptions to both families’ routines.
Long-Term Planning: Discussing the potential for a long-term nanny share and considering scenarios such as one family’s needs changing or children starting school. Preparing for the future helps create a stable foundation for the arrangement.
A nanny share can be an ideal child care solution for families who commit to open communication, flexibility, and mutual respect for each other and the nanny who cares for their kids. Services like UrbanSitter offer a convenient way to find qualified nanny candidates for your nanny share.