What Is a Nanny Share and Is It Right For You

Find out if a nanny share is right for you and how to set up a successful one

What a Nanny Share is all about
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A Nanny Share is when two families make an arrangement to share a nanny.  The benefits are to cut child care costs and also to give the growing children regular playmates without the exposure to the many germs they could catch if sent to a daycare center or home daycare.

While you typically pay $1 or $2 more per hour to a nanny who cares for two children as opposed to just one, that's far cheaper than if the two families would pay separately. Some people may consider it a nanny share when your family uses a nanny on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and the other family hires her for Tuesday and Thursday, but that's not a true nanny share.  A true nanny share is when the nanny watches both family's children at the same time five days a week.

If you are considering sharing a nanny with another family here are some tips to be sure this arrangement is right for both of you.

Be Sure That Both of Your Family's Get Along Well

You want to be sure that your family and the other family are a good fit.   After all, the other family in a nanny share will be privy to some of the most intimate details of your life. They'll see you in the harried rush out the door; they'll know about the days when you leave dirty breakfast dishes in the sink all day long. If one family is tightly wound neat freaks and the other is laid-back but careless, you're headed for conflict at some point.

The bottom line is do you like these people enough to share child care with? Would you feel comfortable talking with them about parenting, feeding, discipline, extracurricular activities and your reproductive plans? Do they seem like a family with whom you could work out any problems in a civil and cordial way?

You may need to go through several "mom dates" before you find the right fit. Yes, this can be awkward, but it's better to answer these questions honestly now than end up in a child care arrangement with a difficult family.

Besides chemistry and rapport here is how the two families begin to collaborate.  Typically, expectant moms line up a nanny share in the weeks before their baby is due, by finding another pregnant mother who plans to return to work at the same time. Make sure that you're on the same page on the timing of the end of maternity leave and that neither of you is likely to decide to become a stay-at-home mom. 

Also, ask about your typical work hours and expected routine, so that one person doesn't end up keeping the nanny late and running up overtime while the other person comes home on time. Ideally, you'll live near each other so that neither of you is going far out of the way to drop off a child on the morning commute.

Set the Ground Rules for Sharing Your Nanny

Once you've found a good family to share a nanny with, you can interview a nanny together. As this process goes forward, you'll want to develop ground rules for what exactly the share entails. Will you alternate houses where the nanny will provide care? If so, how often? Some families swap every other day, while others may flip weeks or pick specific days of the week for ease of scheduling or because of different work hours on each day. Will you coordinate family vacations so the nanny has that time off completely?

What are your expectations for the physical space in which the nanny share will take place? What does the baby's play area look like? Are there two cribs in each house for naps, or will the nanny set up a portable crib every day? Is each house large enough for each child to nap in their own room? How will you handle expressed breast milk, if you or the other mom (or both) plan to nurse? And will you have two high chairs and a double stroller at each house -- or lug them back and forth?

Make sure to talk about exactly what will be shared. Are you going to each provide diapers, wipes, linens, bottles and other supplies for the days when the nanny share is at your house? Or should you bring a supply of your own to the other family's house? Most importantly, how will you handle it if one child is sick? One tip to manage if one child is sick and they are still watched by your nanny.  Use different colored markers to identify each child's diapers, bottles, and other belongings to keep the spread of germs to a minimum.

Put The Ground Rules in Writing and Sign It

Once you work out all the details, write it up in an agreement that both families and the nanny will sign. It doesn't need to be legally binding, but if it's in writing that will help you resolve future confusion or disagreements. Make sure to include your expectations for the future, such as what would happen if either family had another baby. Would you have to continue paying the nanny during your maternity leave? How much more would you pay for the nanny to care for the new infant? (Assuming that she is willing to supervise three.)

Consider setting up a joint family meeting twice a year to formally review the arrangement and discuss any schedule or logistics changes. Even though you'll see each other every day, it helps to have the structure of a planned meeting to make sure any sticky issues are addressed.

You'll most likely want a contract for your nanny as well, which you can get from the many templates available or create yourself with the help of a lawyer. This will spell out expected work hours, sick or vacation time, phone or computer use, benefits, and wages, of course.

 

A Nanny Share can be great if you find the right family to team up with, a nanny who is comfortable working with two families, and a written agreement so that everyone is on the page.  Although you may be pretty close with the other family remember that in essence, you are going into a business agreement with your children being the number one priority.

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