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Setting up your nanny share: The 10 most common mistakes to avoid

Jerriann Sullivan
June 22, 2018
Image via Thinkstock.com/Poike

Considering sharing a caregiver? Be sure to do your homework: Nanny shares and shared care arrangements may be subject to various licensing requirements or prohibited in certain states and jurisdictions. Research local laws and regulations.


Care.com interviewed parents across the country to find out the biggest mistakes they’ve made when setting up their nanny shares. Read through their experiences and tips so you can avoid similar pitfalls.

Mistake #1: Finding the Nanny First, Instead of the Other Family

It's typically easier to hire the right nanny than it is to find the family you'll be partnering with for child care needs. That's why parents and experts agree that families looking to start a nanny share should focus on finding the partnering family first.

Before jumping right into such a significant commitment, spend time with a potential partner family to make sure you are compatible and share similar values.

“Consider getting feedback about the other family from others (former nannies, house cleaners, etc.)," suggested Park Slope Parents, an organization of more than 3,000 New York City families that provides support and resources for parents. "The other family may be charming but not a respectful, fair employer."

Mistake #2: Not Listing Important Details in Your Job Post

When crafting your first nanny job posting on Care.com, it’s important to list as many details as possible about the type of care you're looking for and when and where you'd like that to happen. We spoke to one mom in Boston who didn't do that and said that she regrets it.

"I got like four or five responses, and we met with three families," she told Care.com. "The first two didn’t work out because of timing. One of them wanted to start a couple of months earlier, the other one only wanted, like, four days a week and we wanted five days a week."

She updated her Care.com posting and quickly found a nanny she loved.

Mistake #3: Not Clarifying Rules and Expectations

As humans have evolved, so have our parenting styles. What our parents considered reasonable punishments could now be regarded as taboo, which is why talking about the types of rules that will be implemented in both homes is crucial.

Parents who spoke to Care.com said that clarifying rules and expectations in their job posts helped communicate the type of care they'd want their children to receive from potential nannies. "The most important thing is that you are aligned on the care that you want," explained the Boston mom.

Once you've decided on the number of days, locations, and range of pay, it's easier to focus on finding the right fit for your family’s' needs. "Usually, it's not just about the specs right?” said one mom in San Francisco. “You also want to make sure the style of the family in which they want the kids to be cared for is similar. Are you OK with the nanny giving the kids timeouts? Are you OK with kids being sleep-trained by the nanny? All of these factors go into that decision."

One easy way to make sure everyone is on the same page is by working with your nanny and the other family to create a nanny share contract.

Mistake #4: Not Researching Legal Issues, Like Insurance

Nannies are employees who need to be protected in case of an emergency. Will your nanny be driving your car, or will he or she be working only in your home? Your situation will determine the type of insurance you need, along with any other potential legal expectations.

"We weren’t aware that we had to pay for workers' compensation insurance for (our nanny) in case she gets hurt while she’s working at our house," said the Boston mom.

Thankfully, she said she was able to secure insurance for her nanny right away. When making your nanny share contract, make sure to check out your state’s laws first. Care.com HomePay has a program called HomeStaff Protect that provides families with access to workers' comp polices and free quotes.

Mistake #5: Not Discussing Extra Expenses

You've created a budget and are sticking to it. Way to go! All of a sudden, you find out you owe the other family in your nanny share an additional $100 for extra snacks. What gives? Discussing extra expenses ahead of time and then tracking them will only help families and their caregiver communicate better in the long run.

“If one of us buys something for the group, we just put it on that shared expense list and then split it up and once a quarter go through it,” one mom from Portland, Oregon, told Care.com.

Mistake #6: Not Calling the Nanny's References

The Portland mom also said that a key to her nanny share success was utilizing the references her potential caregivers gave during their application process.

"The one thing that was super helpful for us when we were trying to find a nanny and going through interviews is we asked for references, and we talked to our nanny's other families about a ton of different items," she said.

She asked her nanny's references about their experiences with the nanny, as well as logistical questions related to pay, sick time, vacations, etc. "I feel like that was really helpful," she said.

Mistake #7: Not Ironing Out Sick Days, Vacations and Time Off in Advance

Everyone needs time off from work, including nanny share families and their nannies. Parents told Care.com that outlining vacation time when they first crafted their nanny share contracts helped everyone stay organized throughout the year.

"In San Francisco, you give them two weeks of paid vacation and paid holidays,” explained the mom in San Francisco. “You treat it like a full-time (job) so that nanny has guaranteed income.”

Additionally, the families and their nanny agreed ahead of time when those two weeks of vacation would occur. For example, knowing well in advance that your nanny wants to take time off during the week of July 4th allows both families to make alternate arrangements for child care or plan their own vacation.

"If you happen to not plan a vacation, then it's your responsibility to figure out coverage for your kid for that week," continued the San Francisco mom. "The last week of December is usually another week that you take off. Anything outside of that, if one family decides they're going to take a three-day weekend, you're still responsible for paying the nanny."

Another important component to consider is sick days. Will you cover the cost of your nanny taking a sick day? Who will watch the kids? One parent told Care.com that their nanny share relies on the parent with the most flexible work schedule to watch all of the kids when their nanny is sick. Although this scenario might work for one nanny share, it could cause disagreements for others. Be sure to discuss your options ahead of time and outline a plan in your nanny share contract.

Mistake #8: Not Choosing a Family With Kids Around the Same Age as Your Own

While every child is unique, when they're learning new skills alongside other kids, it's best if they're close in age. That’s why we organize classrooms based on kids' birth dates.

"My daughter, when she was put into the nanny share situation, was around 6 months old," recalled Ken, a dad from New York. "We didn't want anyone more than a month older or a month younger because then the kids are too far apart. At that age, we want them to progress almost together. If one kid is walking around while the other kid is still crawling, it throws off the schedule for the nanny, and it's also dangerous for the children, too."

Mistake #9: Not Telling the Nanny Upfront That You’re Hiring for a Nanny Share

The sooner you bring up the desire to share a nanny, the better. When crafting your post on Care.com, make it clear that you're looking for a nanny share so you don't waste time interviewing candidates who aren't interested in that type of arrangement.

"Throughout the filtering process, we let them know ahead of time, 'Hey, we're looking to do a nanny share with two separate families,'" said Ken. "The nannies that we interviewed were not hesitant at all [about a nanny share]."

Mistake #10: Not Paying Your Nanny On the Books

A nanny share may be a new venture for both families, but it's important to remember that both families are considered household employers. That means taxes need to be withheld from the nanny by both families and each family will be responsible for paying employment taxes.

"The good news is that because both families are splitting the cost of the nanny, they're only being taxed on the portion of the nanny's wages they're paying," says Tom Breedlove, Sr. Director of Care.com HomePay. "That means each family will have a smaller tax liability to be responsible for, but they'll both be able to take full advantage of the tax breaks associated with paying legally."

For more information on how to handle taxes and payroll for your nanny share, click here.

Think a nanny share is right for you?

Care.com Nanny Share makes it easy to start connecting with local families.

Ready to take the next step in setting up a nanny share? Click on the next article in our "The Nanny Share Guide" series:

1) Is a Nanny Share Right for You?

2) How Much Does a Nanny Share Cost?

3) Day Care vs. Nanny Share: Which One's Right for You?

4) So, You Want to Do a Nanny Share! Here's How to Get Started

5) Setting Up Your Nanny Share: The 10 Most Common Mistakes to Avoid

6) Finding the Other Family in Your Nanny Share: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

7) Your Place or Mine? How to Decide Which Family Will 'Host' Your Nanny Share

8) How to Interview Nannies for a Nanny Share

9) How Should You Handle Time Off in Your Nanny Share?

10) How Do You Manage Expenses in a Nanny Share?

11) How Do You Handle Communication in Your Nanny Share?

12) Learn How to Craft a Great Nanny Share Contract


The information contained in this article is provided only as a general guide and is not intended to be nor should it be construed to contain legal, medical or financial advice.  The selection of a caregiver and terms of any caregiving arrangement are solely the responsibility of the individuals involved and not Care.com

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