What is a nanny share?
Simply put, a nanny share is when more than one family joins together to hire one nanny, who will care for all of families’ children collectively. It’s a way for parents to use the services of a nanny, usually the most expensive form of childcare, while sharing the cost with others.
Under most circumstances, a Cambridge Nanny chooses NOT to work with families seeking nanny shares. In the event of there being families who work in very close proximity, have children roughly the same age, and are committed to paying a salary rate as under other circumstances, they may choose to work as a shared nanny. However, it is incredibly difficult to recruit and retain qualified nanny candidates willing to do work a nanny share. The vast majority of nannies prefer working for single families.
Nanny sharing enables families to get specialized care at affordable prices, but it does have its pros and cons. Sharing a nanny can potentially be the best of both worlds, or it can more trouble than it’s worth. It all depends on your personal goals. After carefully considering the many details involved, you will be able to determine whether this is the right avenue for you. The first step is finding the right family to work with. Here are some things to consider when choosing a nanny share family to partner with:
Considerations when partnering with a nanny
- Age of the children – It is better to have children close in age so they can play together and become friends. Nanny share works particularly well for newborns and infants.
- Values – How does the family view the nanny in their household? Do you envision the nanny becoming part of your family or do you see the caregiver as a professional, a hired hand. Do you want the nanny to become familiar, or do you want to keep firm boundaries on the domestic relationship? You’d be surprised at how even friendly neighboring families differ here.
- Parenting Philosophy – How do you want the children disciplined? What does your child like to eat? Does one of the children have a food allergy? What are your rules regarding television? The families must agree on items like this in order for the nanny share to benefit everyone. Different sets of rules for different sets of kids just ends up with everyone feeling resentful.
- Where will the care be given? – Some families rotate; others use only one home. If care is to be given exclusively in one family’s home, consideration should be given to the wear and tear that will occur in that home. Is the home maintained and cleaned to the satisfaction of both families? Is the home child-proofed? Are there pets in the home? What care must be taken to protect all children? Who will be responsible for supplying the toys and replacing broken ones? What about meals which the children and caregiver will be eating during the day – who will provide the food and pay for it? These are all tough questions, and need to be addressed with the other family BEFORE brining a nanny into the nanny-share equation.
- Scheduling – How often do either of the families require a nanny? If your schedules do not coordinate, how is this going to impact you? How often does each family go on vacation? How is the nanny compensated when only one family is using her? Timing is everything. Sitting down with another family and looking at what is needed in the average day, week, and month could save everyone a lot of hassle in the long term.
- Activities – Do both families allow the nanny to take their children on outings to the zoo or parks? What activities would each family be comfortable with their children doing? Surprisingly, a good amount of families do not want the nanny to take the child out of the house. This needs to be discussed and considered.
- Salary – When a nanny is hired by two or more families, the nanny’s salary is usually higher due to the more complex situation, but the cost for each individual family would still be less than a private nanny. But consider what happens if there are days where one family’s children are not being cared for. Is the nanny paid the same salary or is a lower hourly rate OK? The same salary is recommended, but this kind of thing must be worked out ahead of time. The families involved and the nanny hired should coordinate the withholding of payroll taxes and consult a payroll company (GTM) or accountant to find out how to handle this appropriately.
- Benefits – What benefits will you offer your nanny? How do you plan to coordinate vacations? If the host family is vacationing, will the nanny be required to go to the other family’s home? Full time nannies expect to receive weekly pay for every week of the year, even if a family does not need her care on any particular day or week. Typical benefits include paid federal holidays and 1-2 weeks of paid vacation.
- Illnesses – It is important to work out what happens when the children are sick. It’s possible that one of the children of the host family will be the one who is sick. Will the care be given at the other family’s home that particular day?
- Communication – Open lines of communication are very important. Both families and the nanny should be comfortable in bringing up any issues that might arise. Make it a point to check in once a month and give regular reviews to your nanny.
- Contracts – Both families should have a contract not only with the nanny but each other. This should cover all the details like salary, benefits etc, but also what happens if one family wants out of the share. Always discuss an exit strategy, including what the rights and obligations of each family are, when the relationship ends.
- Proximity – Consideration should be given to location of each families home. This is particularly important if you will be rotating homes.
- Possibly more personalized attention than a day care, depending on the daycare facility and child/staff ratio.
- A shared nanny is a happy medium between traditional nanny care and daycare.
- With fewer kids around than at a daycare center, your child is more likely to get one-on-one attention, which some experts say is especially important for infants and newborns.
- If the nanny comes to your house, your child spends her day in their own familiar environment. And because she’s not around many kids, your child may not get sick as often as she might at a daycare center (be prepared, though, for some germ-sharing. It’s unavoidable when children get together).
- It’s much more affordable than individual nanny care.
- Greater flexibility in regards to scheduling. If you have a more unpredictable schedule than daycare allows for, a nanny share may the answer
- It can be very difficult for two families to find a nanny that they both agree on. Ample time should be set aside for the nanny search and for negotiations between families.
- Decreased candidate pool. It may be more difficult to find experienced nannies interested in working a nanny share vs. a single family employment.
- If child is particularly demanding or has special needs, it can be especially challenging for the children to get equal attention.
- If the nanny will be trading off by the day, week, or month, the routine can be disruptive. If your nanny needs to travel between families, any change to the schedule (e.g. if you are running late) will affect both families.
- It may be logistically difficult to rotate the childcare between the two houses
- You will need to plan carefully around both families’ holidays to coordinate the child care.
- Disagreements between the nanny and one family may affect the other family.
- Communication – set up regular three-way meetings to cover any changes in care requirements or scheduling. This way the nanny isn’t receiving a mixed message from two sets of families.
- Over time, your needs may become different from the other family’s, and the nanny may no longer suit both of you.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If a private nanny is not a financial option your family, under the right circumstances, sharing a nanny can be the best of both worlds. Each family gets a more individualized care of a nanny at a more affordable cost.