Is a Nanny Share Right for You?

Decide if it makes sense for your family to share a nanny with other families.

nanny with two kids

Finding the right child care situation for your family can be overwhelming.? Many parents find that they have to decide between hiring an in-home nanny or enrolling in daycare, with neither feeling quite right. ?Fortunately, there is a middle ground that can provide both a high level of personal attention and the socialization benefits of daycare, at the right price: the nanny share.

What Is a Nanny Share?
In a typical nanny share, two or more families employ one nanny, sharing the cost of her salary. Some nannies watch all the children together, others split time during a week between each family (I have M, W, F; you have T, Th), others fall somewhere in the middle. Working collectively, the families are able to craft child care arrangements tailored to their needs and are able to pay the nanny more than she would make working for a single family.

We talked to four nanny-sharing moms to find out why they chose to share a nanny and to get their insider advice on setting up a successful nanny share.

Advantages of a Nanny Share
Here are three reasons a nanny share may be the right child care solution for you.

  1. Quality Care at an Affordable Price
    "We basically have all the luxuries of having a nanny at half the price," says Debbie Tobias, a mother in Brooklyn, NY. The cost of a nanny share varies by region, but with this type of nanny share, you can generally expect to pay about the same or a little more than you would pay for quality daycare. For Stacey King Gordon, an Oakland, CA, mother who shared a nanny for three years, the socialization benefits made her feel like she was giving her child the perks of daycare on a more personal level. It also cut her child care costs almost in half.

  2. Even though the nanny will be watching multiple children, kids in nanny shares still get more one-on-one attention than they would at a daycare center, and they are in a home environment, which appeals to some parents. "The girls get the same care, or better, than we would give them if we weren't at work," says Tobias. Children also get the opportunity to build a nurturing relationship with another adult. "We loved our nanny," says Gordon. "She had a huge heart and genuinely loved our daughter."

  3. Flexibility
    The parents we interviewed touted the flexible, DIY nature of nanny shares over daycare centers, which often have strict policies for hours, holidays and sick days. With a nanny share, you and the share family make your own rules. "We need to be sure we have somebody who can handle our crazy schedules," says Tobias, who works full time and whose musician husband is often on tour. Emily Moore, a mom in Brooklyn, NY, likes that on days she works from home or is sick herself, her nanny can watch her son at her share-family's home, and when the children are at her house she doesn't have to commute to child care. "It's like having the best of both worlds," she says.

  4. Socialization
    All the parents we talked to emphasized the bonds their children developed with the other kids in their share. "The children build strong relationships with other children and learn to share," says Ellen Shahan, a mom in Hopkins, MN, who has been sharing the same nanny with families in her neighborhood for nine years. Tobias's daughter has become best friends with the other girl her nanny watches. Likewise, Moore says she's happy that her son "is growing up with someone akin to a sister."

Keys to Successful Nanny Shares
Want to organize your own nanny share? Here are four things to keep in mind.

  1. Choose Wisely
    When putting together a nanny share, take time to get to know both the nanny and the share family well before settling on an arrangement. "It all works well if you have the right nanny and the right family to share with," says Skahan. Tobias suggests making sure the family you share with has a similar outlook on parenting issues like education, diet and behavior, since the children will essentially be raised like siblings. Make sure the kids have chemistry as well. "We had one kid who was a hitter," one mom said.

  2. Put It in Writing
    "Make a list of everything--hours, sick days (both the nanny's and how to handle a sick kid), holidays, pay schedule, petty cash, what to eat, activities, where kids will sleep, who will buy what (you'll need a double stroller)--and put it all in writing so there's no miscommunication," says Tobias. An agreement or contract gives everyone a common road map to refer to when issues come up.

  3. Communicate and Stay Flexible
    Once everyone has settled on the details, it's important to keep the lines of communication open and the drama to a minimum. "With three parties involved, all manner of issues will come up--having everyone on board with helping to cover an unexpected nanny sick day or a parent running late helps things run smoothly," says Moore. She makes time for all three parties to speak together when issues come up or just to check in. "Professional and clear communication is key," she says.

  4. Anticipate Change
    For all its advantages, a nanny share is also more fragile than a daycare or single-family situation, says Moore. If one party decides to leave the share you might be left scrambling to find a replacement. To minimize this, Gordon suggests sharing with a family that has a child the same age as yours so they will "age out" of the share at the same time. Also, talk about how you will handle it when someone wants to leave the share up front to avoid conflict and hurt feelings.

With a little work, a nanny share can be a great experience for everyone involved. "It's one of the very best decisions I ever made," says Moore.

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Comments (14)
Care.com Member Care
Hi Pamela! Thanks for the question! The wages we have on our website are based on what all of our members are asking for or offering for jobs. We have a babysitting rate calculator on the site as well that I would recommend checking out!
http://www.care.com/babysitting-rates
Posted: April 03, 2014 at 2:34 PM
Photo of Pamela H.
Pamela H.
I want to know how you are figuring your wages? Is there anything out there that has like a wage chart?
Posted: March 25, 2014 at 10:51 AM
Zoe J.
Super great I idea.
Posted: December 03, 2013 at 11:18 PM
Photo of Katy B.
Katy B.
I think this is a wonderful idea. It saves the nanny from having to jump around town to various part time jobs, but most importantly the children can play with other children and families can rest assured the kids are having a great time at a less expensive cost to them.
Posted: August 31, 2013 at 10:37 PM
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Syn F.
As a nanny, my biggest concern/gripe is families thinking they are getting a nanny for "half price" when, really, it should be them saving a percentage while the nanny earns more than she would with just one family. I have seen LOTS of ads for share families who want to pay $20-25/hr. You may think that's a great wage for a nanny (it's not, if she is experienced and qualified), but actually, you are saying that you will only pay $10-12.50 for each child. Where in the world would you expect to pay a quality caregiver or day care $10-12.50 per child? Yet, you want a private nanny? Think about it from the nanny's perspective. Also, it is actually MORE difficult to work with two families than for one, and more difficult to care for two little ones of the same age (if they are under 3 or 4 yrs old) than for one little one and an older child. (When was the last time YOU watched TWIN NEWBORNS?) Yet, MOST shares are for infants, even newborns. Qualified, legal nannies I know would never take on twin infants for $25/hr even for one family, why would they do it for two? A share is to save families money AND give the nanny a higher wage, NOT to get a 50% discount on nanny services or take advantage.
Posted: August 30, 2013 at 5:56 PM
Member Care C.
Hi Oksana,
Currently Care.com is not set up to find a Nanny for a Nanny share program, just based on how our safety vetting works. What you can do however, if you already have a Nanny hired, is to find a family for the share! We have a program set up on the site called 'My Care Exchange'. It is located in the list of links on the left hand side of your home page, the same place you would find 'My Jobs' and 'My Messages'. You can get started there today. I hope this helps!
https://www.care.com/my-account-care-exchanges-p1175-q540599.html
Posted: November 27, 2012 at 5:20 PM
Oksana P.
How would family go about finding a nanny share? We are members of care.com, but I don't see a way to post an announcement/ad for a nanny share family. Would love to give this a try!
Posted: November 21, 2012 at 4:46 PM
Photo of Victoria K.
Victoria K.
I think its a marvelous idea especially since it would give the benefit of varied playmates..I would be very much for the arrangement
Posted: June 08, 2011 at 9:29 PM
Photo of Sandra R.
Sandra R.
I am a young retired grandmother, looking to supplement my fixed income. I love the idea of caring for a group of children and sharing those children with other nannies. Great way for children to learn socializing skills.
Posted: June 02, 2011 at 2:55 PM
Gouri S.
I have a 8 month old baby boy who usually goes to day care but the daycare owner is closed for a week. So we are sharing our friends' nanny just for a week in July. They pay her $300 per week and our friend suggested we could pay her $200 or $250 depending on what we think is a fair price. I really don't know how these things work - are we supposed to pay her exactly the same rate they pay her or lesser if it is a temporary arrangement? The hours will be the same, except that she babysits their baby at their house so we will be dropping off our baby there for 5 days. Please let me know what is fair thing to do. I don't want our friends to think we are taking advantage. Your comments will be helpful!!! Thanks in advance.
Posted: May 26, 2011 at 12:36 PM
Photo of Sarah R.
Sarah R.
I have done nanny share on a few occasions. When a group of families are going out to dinner and someone's sitter cancels they can add their children to my care group. It works out great and the changing sets of playmates is always a hit!
Posted: May 10, 2011 at 5:19 AM
Photo of Debbie B.
Debbie B.
Hi,

How do I go about becoming a member of Nanny share?

Thank You, Debbie
Posted: May 06, 2011 at 2:46 AM
Photo of Erin M.
Erin M.
If I get interest from a family that pays less then I require I ask if they'd be interested in doing a nanny share with another family, who I could find through the website also. I'm in one now and it's a great deal for both families.
Posted: May 02, 2011 at 9:10 AM
Brenda S.
i love this idea! I hope that a lot of parents respond. How would we as caregivers put the word out?
Posted: May 01, 2011 at 6:15 AM
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