Participating in a nanny share can be beneficial for lots of reasons — and there’s no better time than summer, when the kids are out of school and families often need additional child care. Sharing a nanny can be a huge cost savings since the hourly rate is usually split between two families — that means a great caregiver at half the price for you. Nanny shares also provide built-in playmates, so your kid gets great social interaction.
Before you enter into a nanny share with another family, here are some things to consider to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Look for a family that shares the same child-rearing mindset
Keep in mind that your nanny is going to want to have consistency in the way she works with the kids collectively — not different rules for each kid. If you have strong views on discipline, sleep, nutrition or anything else, it’s best to get these out on the table from the start. Have a meeting or two before you enter into this partnership to make sure you are all on the same page for most major topics (or willing to get on the same page). Otherwise, the relationship will be destined for disaster from the start.
Know that you will make some compromises
Also keep in mind that when you are working with three sets of people (your family, the nanny and the other family) compromises will need to be made. Make sure you philosophically agree on the big stuff — discipline, safety — but know that you may have to give in a little on other things (like a trip to the ice cream shop).
Look for a family in near proximity
Many nanny shares switch houses weekly or monthly, so there may be some time where you are dropping your child off at the other family’s house. The closer they live to you (or where you work), the easier it’ll be to get the kids to where they need to be in the morning.
If you can, find your nanny together — and be clear that it’s a two-family job
Some nanny shares involve you joining an already established nanny-family partnership, and that’s OK. If you aren’t, it’s nice to be able to interview the nanny together so both families agree on what they are looking for. In any case, it’s important that the nanny understands she will be working with both families — not all nannies are OK with that. Also make sure she is aware what will happen at the end of the summer if this is a short-term arrangement.
Be upfront about your expectations
If a nanny has been previously working with only one family, things will change when a second family is added into the mix. Make sure that you are clear with what you expect from the nanny as things may be different from what she’s used to. Make sure you reiterate schedules, pay rate and other logistics. Check in regularly and keep the lines of communications open. Encourage your nanny to give feedback on what’s working (and what isn’t).
Your stuff is their stuff and vice versa…so be comfortable with that
Part of doing a nanny share means that kids who aren’t your own will be in your house — and kids bring lots of stuff with them. Most successful nanny share families are cool with the other family leaving supplies at their house and entering anytime to pick up their kids. If you are overly protective of your space or shudder at the thought of someone seeing your house a mess, this might not be the best relationship for you.
Remember that this is a working relationship
The thought of doing a nanny share with your best friend may seem appealing at first, but if you decide to move forward, make sure to set clear boundaries. Although your kids will get to play together all summer long, when it comes to managing the relationship you may or may not be on the same page with the details. Think about issues that may arise: What if she plays good cop and you are always the one having the tough talks with the nanny? Would you feel comfortable approaching her if there was something you weren’t happy with in the share? Will it irk you if she’s always late to pick up her kids and you are stuck paying overtime or watching them when the nanny leaves? Often times the best nanny share matches aren’t best friends — they’re acquaintances like a neighbor or parent of your child’s classmate who you can keep it mostly business with.
Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be destined for an amazing summer partnership. And check out Sittercity.com when you’re ready to start your nanny search.