What Is a Nanny Share?

Nanny with two children

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Considering the annual cost of childcare for an infant can reach $16,000 nationally (sometimes more in metropolitan areas), parents are looking for ways to give their little ones the attention and nurturing they need to thrive while being as cost-effective as possible. With this in mind, nanny shares are a popular option for families who would like the personalized approach of a single caregiver at a more affordable price. Here is what you need to know.

Nanny Share

A nanny share is when two or more families share one nanny, says Shannon Auster-Weiss, general manager of Nanny Lane, a service connecting families with nannies and nanny shares. The concept is a simple one. The nanny works full-time while the families share the cost of the salary among them.

"There are two ways to set up a nanny share: Either a nanny cares for different families at the same time, or a nanny splits their hours between these families," Auster-Weiss says.

Finding a nanny share arrangement, however, can be an overwhelming process with plenty of things to consider.

Is a Nanny Share Right For My Family?

To answer this question, you need to ask yourself a number of others. For starters, how many hours per week do you need childcare? Does your child have very specific needs that would be better met in a one-on-one caregiver situation? What's your realistic budget for childcare?

"Nanny shares are best for cost-conscious families who can handle extra logistics," explains Auster-Weiss. "They’ll need to manage coordinating schedules with other families and pick-ups and drop-offs."

When Mo Mulla became a father for a second time, he decided to look into the option of a nanny share because it sounded affordable while also offering himself and his wife Iesha some time for themselves.

"I didn't know very much about how nanny shares worked at the time but had a few friends who had used them for their children," says Mulla, who blogs on his site Parental Questions. "They gave me different suggestions. In the end, I found an outstanding nanny share from a co-parents referral. She was knowledgeable, and it got me off to a great start."

What Should I Look For in a Partner Family?

While the Mullas' arrangement worked out, he admits that finding the right match can often be difficult. It's a conundrum families seeking out nanny shares often find discouraging. Allison West, mom to a 4-year-old daughter, discovered this first hand when she started her search for this type of arrangement in her neighborhood.

West loved the idea of a nanny share with the socialization benefits of a preschool or daycare with the individualized attention of a dedicated caregiver. However, she stresses the importance of finding a like-minded family in more ways than one.

"Do your due diligence in terms of whether you and the partner family are on the same page concerning parenting desires and what it means to be a decent, responsible employer," she says.

After quickly learning that not everyone who hires a nanny makes a great employer, West notes that the caregiver themselves has the challenge of managing the various input they're receiving from what basically amounts to multiple bosses. This, in and of itself, can create conflict.

"Most parents have never been an employer before, even if they've managed people," she says. "It's a totally different ballgame when there's no human resources department to handle things like personal time and unexpected circumstances."

How Can I Find a Nanny Share?

After looking at exactly what you need from a nanny share (amount of time, specific, days, etc.), it's a good idea to consider the qualities you are looking for in a partner family before diving into your search.

When he moved from Singapore to the United States, Alex Wan, co-founder of Vinpit, knew he was going to need to find childcare for his now 7-year-old son, but was at first skeptical of going the nanny route.

"I had a shift in my career that left me with little choice but to seek out someone who could help with my son," he shares. "Previously, I wasn't in favor of hiring a nanny because I had heard some terrible stories from fellow parents. I was in a dilemma because opting for one was inevitable. It took me some weeks to do some research before figuring out whether I should hire one or not."

Ultimately Wan used a service to help him find a good fit for his family.

"I visited a website that connects parents and nannies after being recommended by a colleague," he says. "She told me they were trusted third parties and that I shouldn't have issues since she had also acquired nannies before through them. I had to try them and that's how I ended up with a nanny who was also working for other families."

For her situation, West found nanny share arrangements through parent and caregiver Facebook groups local to her neighborhood. But, again, warns that in this instance you really need to vet the families you're linking up with to make sure you're all on the same page.

Auster-Weiss echoes that statement.

"It’s important to find a family who lives nearby and with similar values," she says. "When finding a family, it’s best to start with logistics. Discuss the location, schedule, how old the children are, and how long they're looking for care. Most families don’t know other parents with compatible schedules and needs in their community. Services like Nanny Lane help by finding nearby families with similar schedules and needs."

1 Source
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  1. Gorry D, Thomas DW. Regulation and the cost of childcare. Applied Economics. 2017;49(41). doi:10.1080/00036846.2016.1276275

By Kelly Kamenetzky
Kelly Kamenetzky is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer/editor with more than a decade of experience covering the parenting and family space. She enjoys connecting with experts in the parenting field and delivering impactful recommendations on family issues. She is also a mother of three.