February 21, 2014

The truth about nanny shares

4 minutes
Childcare options

Trying to find affordable childcare these days is a big challenge for many families. One of the newer trends that has emerged as the cost of childcare continues to rise is the idea of a nanny share. A nanny share is an arrangement where two or more families split the cost of one nanny who either cares for all of the children together or divides her time between the two families.

How do you find a nanny share?

Finding a nanny share can be more challenging than simply finding a nanny because of the extra family involved. On top of searching for a nanny, you need to find another family or families who want to share the nanny with you as well.  Some people find the nanny first and then look for a family to share with, while others start with another family and then look to hire a nanny together.

Either way, you may have to do a lot of searching and interviewing to find the right nanny and family for the nanny share. Your online resources can range from big national nanny finder websites to online neighborhood groups for parents. Do an online search for resources in your area, or ask your neighbors and friends for their recommendations. There are also forums and message boards where nannies or other families may post resumes or nanny job openings.

Benefits of a nanny share

Lower cost

One reason people choose a nanny share arrangement is to make hiring a nanny more affordable. The cost of a nanny share can vary depending on factors like where you live, the number of children to be cared for, the schedule, the nanny’s experience, and the benefits provided (paid vacation, sick days, health insurance, transportation reimbursement, and more). You might encounter caregivers who are recent graduates and ask for $12-$20/hour per family, or career nannies who ask for $20+/hour per family plus benefits.

Social interaction for your children

A nanny share can be a nice alternative to daycare if socialization is one of your priorities. Being cared for alongside other kids will allow your children to learn social skills like sharing, imaginative play, compromise and adaptability.

More individual attention

When compared to daycare, a nanny share provides more individualized care for each child and less exposure to illness.

Convenience of in-home care

If your nanny will spend half or more of their time in your home, stressful drop-offs and pick-ups become less problematic. Additionally, you may include some light housework as part of the nanny’s job responsibilities.

What are the challenges of a nanny share?

Finding the right family and nanny

A successful nanny share depends on finding another family and a nanny who both fit your family’s needs. A relationship with a minimum of 3 parties requires a significant amount of compromise. You’ll want to start out on the right foot by drafting a contract, and trying to outline as many contingencies as you can in advance.  At a minimum, you should include: pay rate and timing of payment, description of nanny’s childcare and household duties, sick policy for the nanny and children, vacation policy, termination policy, qualification requirements such as CPR and First Aid certifications, criminal background check, clean driving record, timing and frequency of regular group meetings and whatever else you feel is important.


Coordinating childcare with another family and a nanny can be challenging. Your schedule and expectations for work hours and vacation time should be discussed in advance, as well as your expectations for maintaining a safe environment for the children. Important questions to discuss include: What happens if one family is running late?  Will both families take vacation at the same time and require the nanny to do the same?  Do you need the nanny to drive the children to and from activities?  How will food and other supplies like diapers be provided and prepared?  What happens when the nanny is sick?

Parenting styles

It’s important to discuss in advance how you want your child to be cared for with both the nanny and the other family. Your philosophies regarding discipline, feeding, playtime, sleep, etc. may be aligned with the other family or they may be somewhat different. If the gap in your approach is too wide, it may be difficult for your nanny to accommodate both family’s wishes.

Additional children

What happens when one or both of the families has another baby? Is the nanny comfortable with caring for more children? Can the schedules for the older kids accommodate the baby? Some families find that they have to give up their nanny share when a new baby arrives because the logistics become too difficult or the responsibilities become too much for the nanny. You can also try to discuss this scenario in advance to get a sense of each other’s comfort levels.

The key to success

The key to success in a nanny share is ultimately lots of communication and honesty.  The more you can cover in advance of any conflict, the easier the relationship will be. Many families have great experiences with nanny shares, while some do not.  Do your research, trust your gut and then communicate as much as possible to pave the way for a great experience.

If you feel that organizing a nanny share is too much work or too inconvenient, or you can’t seem to find the right family or nanny to do the share with, you may want to consider other childcare alternatives like hiring your own nanny, or hosting an au pair. The cost of au pair childcare is competitive with the rates of nanny shares, depending on the number of hours of childcare you need. In addition to being affordable, au pairs provide flexibility in scheduling and cultural exchange. In the end, the highest priority is finding the right match for your family.