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How should you handle time off in your nanny share?

As you start to work out the schedule for your nanny share, make sure you don’t forget one crucial detail: Your nanny’s time off.

How should you handle time off in your nanny share?

There are a number of unique logistics to work out when you’re part of a nanny share, including where the nanny will be caring for the kids and how to deal with two families’ potentially differing parenting styles. Another oft-forgotten detail, though, is figuring out a protocol for everyone’s planned, and unplanned, time off.

There are several different ways to handle time off in a nanny share (for both families and the nanny), so it’s really about finding the one that works best for your situation. Whether it’s a predetermined vacation schedule and unplanned day-off policy, or whether you rely on communication and teamwork to address issues as they come up, it’s important to make sure it’s a strategy that everyone in your nanny share agrees to.

To help you get a better idea of the different time-off strategies, we spoke with several nanny share families to get their tips and advice on how they handle their nannies’ time off.

Managing planned time off in a nanny share

Planning your family’s vacations or long weekend getaways can be tricky in a nanny share. Now that there’s another family involved in your child care arrangement, it’s not as simple as giving your nanny that time off and leaving it at that. Figuring out how to make things work isn’t impossible, but it does take planning.

Many of the families we spoke to said that the easiest way to handle this kind of situation is by getting together a year in advance and setting a vacation schedule for your nanny share. That way, each family will know when the other will be gone, and can plan to either keep the nanny on for those days or give them that time off.

Here are a few options, considerations and tips from families:

1. Plan to go away at the same time

One mom in San Francisco said that she and the other family agreed to give their nanny two weeks of paid vacation every year. They also included a pre-planned time-off period for both families and the nanny in their agreement. At the very beginning of the arrangement, the families and nanny got together and decided to schedule their vacations at the same time so that everyone could take the time off together.

Also included in their agreement were contingency plans for time off, including:

  • If one family is unable to schedule their vacation at the same time that the nanny’s gone, they’d be responsible for finding care for that period of time.
  • If one family takes a long weekend or goes out of town for a few days, they’re still responsible for paying their share of the nanny’s salary for that time.
  • If the nanny takes time off that isn’t planned, they aren’t paid for that time.

2. Pay even if you’re away

We spoke to one mom in Boston who used a similar agreement structure when scheduling time off in her nanny share. In her case, both families and the nanny agreed on vacation times in advance, but in the event that one family is on vacation and not taking part in the nanny share, they would still pay their share of the nanny’s salary during this time.

3. Adjust the hourly cost based on kids

A third option to consider is having adjusted hourly rates for the nanny based on how many children are in their care. For example, Ken, a dad from New York, told us that his nanny share set an hourly rate for one child and a higher hourly rate for two kids. So, if one family was gone, the other family would pay the nanny the “one-child rate.”

4. Be flexible (and communicative!)

Nanny shares are all about balance, and the only way to maintain that balance is by being flexible in your scheduling. We spoke to Carrie, a mom from Newport Beach, California, who said that she has a nanny share that relies on constant communication between each party to make last-minute schedule adjustments work. The families try to schedule their own time off around the nanny’s schedule, but it doesn’t always work out. When one family is gone, they work together to swap days the nanny usually spends with them.

For example, the nanny usually spends Mondays at Carrie’s home. However, Carrie’s family was out of town one Monday, so the other family agreed to take that day with the nanny instead. In turn, Carrie’s family had the nanny come over to their house that following Tuesday. Their nanny is salaried, which means that she makes a fixed income based on a predetermined number of hours a week. In order to help her reach those hours, the families sometimes offer to have her go to their homes to clean while they’re out of town, or simply move her hours to another day during the week or on a weekend.

Handling sick days in a nanny share

Sick days are the worst, especially in a nanny share. Not only do you need to have a plan for when the kiddos are sick, but you also need to have a plan for when the nanny gets sick, too. You don’t want your sick child to spread germs to anyone else, and you also don’t want to have a healthy child in the care of a nanny who is under the weather.

When the kids are sick

Several of the nanny share families said that they adopted daycare sick day policies when kids are sick. In most daycare facilities, a sick child has to stay home until they’ve been symptom-free for 24 hours. We spoke to one mom in Portland, Oregon, who said that her nanny share follows that same 24-hour rule: If a child has a fever or some kind of tummy trouble, they stay home until they’ve gone a full day without showing any symptoms of illness. Similar to Ken’s set-up, this mom’s nanny share established a sliding hourly rate based on how many kids are in the nanny’s care. So, if one child is out sick, the other family pays the nanny the “one-child rate” to care for their child.

As with many other aspects of a nanny share, handling sick kids demands flexibility on everyone’s part. If you’re the host family for the day or that week, and it’s your child who’s fallen ill, you will need to change the host schedule. Just make sure that you discuss these potential situations with the other family as soon as possible so that everyone is on the same page regarding last-minute sick day scheduling changes.

When the nanny is sick

The big question, though, is what happens when the nanny gets sick? You want to give them time to rest and recuperate, and you definitely don’t want to expose your kids to the germs. Some nanny share families pay their nanny for sick leave, which allows the nanny time to recover without losing out on income.

But how do you find a child care fill-in? That’s when having a back-up child care plan comes into play. Some families are fortunate enough to have family or good friends nearby who can step in for a day. Others have a list of back-up babysitters they can count on being able to step in at the last minute. If your family doesn’t have either of these options at your disposal, then focus your energy on establishing a good relationship with the other nanny share family.

The Portland mom says she and her husband are very lucky to have lots of family near them who can help out, but the family in their nanny share doesn’t. So, on the days when their nanny has been sick, she has sometimes offered to watch the other family’s child if they’re unable to make other arrangements.

The bottom line

When it comes to time off in nanny shares, things can get tricky, but it’s not impossible — and remember, you simply can’t plan for everything; life just doesn’t work that way. What you can do is establish a few mutually agreed upon policies ahead of time that will allow your nanny share to roll with whatever last-minute changes come your way.

And again, being flexible is key; when it comes to sharing child care with another family, there’s no real room to be stingy or difficult. At the end of the day, your nanny share is a team, so you all need to work together to make things go as smoothly as you want them to.

Think a nanny share is right for you?

Whether you’re wondering about cost, logistics or how to connect with local families interested in a nanny share, our complete guide to nanny shares has all the information you need.