How a nanny share works
There are a couple of ways that people use the term "nanny share." On occasion, a nanny share is when two families essentially time-share one nanny — for example, our family uses her for our children on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and your family uses her on Tuesday, Thursday. However, the more common way a nanny share is used is when two (or more!) families combine their childcare efforts, hiring one nanny to watch a combination of children from those families, at the same time. For example, one nanny would watch both of our 2-year-olds, at the same time, usually on the same schedule.
"As easy of a solution as having a nanny share may seem, it takes mindful planning to be successful."
Nanny shares have become increasingly more popular in the past five years, with a turn in the economy. People who want to have a nanny for their child (as opposed to a day care setting), but who can't necessarily afford to carry the burden themselves, have found nanny shares to be a good solution.
As easy of a solution as having a nanny share may seem, it takes mindful planning to be successful. Not only do you want to make sure that you have a nanny that can handle multiple children, from multiple families at one time, making sure that the kids are a good fit and that your parenting philosophies line up with the other family's parenting philosophies are key. In addition, logistical details such as whose house they'll be at, what happens if one child is sick and vacation time need to be discussed before launching into a nanny share relationship with another family.
Let's talk money
Financially, there's no doubt that sharing a nanny with another family will benefit your pocketbook. While the nanny may be getting paid more to watch multiple children — for example $15 an hour to watch two kids, instead of $12 to watch one — you'll still be paying less because you'll be splitting the new $15-an-hour fee with the other family, making your share $7.50 an hour.
Keep in mind that the split in cost may not always be equal with another family. If you have two children being cared for, and they have one, you'll need to carry two-thirds of the cost. Or, if you have an infant and they have a toddler, you should be pitching in more (newborn and infant childcare rates are typically higher.) Sometimes, the family whose house is used pays less as well and same goes for the family who may offer up their car for the nanny to use to drive the children to the zoo or preschool in the afternoons.
Don't forget to discuss employment taxes with the other family — depending on where you live, the rules about paying for childcare in your home vary and the way the taxes need to be paid each month, year or quarter may also vary depending on if you or a parent in the other home is self-employed. There are services to help you navigate these complicated waters, such as The Nanny Tax Company.
Why a nanny share worked for us
The first family we talked to had been in a nanny share situation since their first daughter was an infant and although they are using a different nanny now, they are still in the same nanny share relationship with a family that they met at the park (of all places!).
"I think the success in our nanny share comes from not being best friends with the other family."
Now, five years later, their nanny share situation includes their two kindergarteners (the original nanny share kids!), a 3-year-old brother from one family and an 18-month-old sister from the other. "I think the success in our nanny share comes from not being best friends with the other family. For us and for them, this is more of a business relationship than anything," the mom shares. "The kids, on the other hand, certainly are best friends — more like siblings, really — as they have spent nearly every day of their lives together."
Why we left our nanny share
"It just wasn't for us," a different mom candidly tells us, regarding the nanny share that her family was using. "Although it seemed like a great idea, both financially and for our kids to have built-in play dates, I didn't feel like I had enough control over the direct care of my children." She explains that they came into a nanny share that was an already established nanny-family relationship. The other family had an older child starting elementary school, as well as a 2-year-old and had a pre-existing nanny who had been with them for years. "I felt like the nanny put the other children first, since she'd been with them longer and that since we were the ones who came in later, it was hard to change the ways that they were already doing things to fit the needs of my kids as well." In addition, this mom shares that being at someone else's home all day was just too stressful on her young children.
More on childcare
How to find a good childcare program for your child
Chasing the Dream: Do you need childcare?
Summer vacation childcare options for WAHMs