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How should you handle time off in your nanny share?

Jayme Kennedy
April 20, 2018
How Should You Handle Time Off in Your Nanny Share?
Image via Unsplash.com/Link Hoang

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.


By this point, you’ve done a ton of work to set up your nanny share. Let’s quickly recap everything you’ve done so far:

  • You’ve weighed the pros and cons of nanny shares and decided it’s the right choice for your childcare needs;
  • You’ve learned about the different factors that can impact the cost of a nanny share;
  • You’ve found a great family who’s willing to do a nanny share with you; and,
  • You’ve found a wonderful nanny who’s willing to watch both your kids!

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

Life in a nanny share is all about balance, especially as it relates to scheduling. As we all know, life happens, and there will be days your nanny is unavailable to care for your kids. Whether it be a vacation, sick day, family emergency, or car trouble, the best way to solve for a day without your nanny is by having a plan in place. 

With a little pre-planning and communication, you can make sure that things still run smoothly when the nanny needs a day off, or when one of the kids comes down with a cold. There are several different ways to handle time off in a nanny share, so it’s really about finding the one that works best for you. 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, just 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 at your disposal, we spoke with several nanny share families to get their tips and advice on how they handle their nannies’ time off.

Managing Planned and Unplanned 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. However, it also doesn’t need to be that hard; again, all you need to do is set a plan ahead of time.

In fact, many of the families we spoke to said that the #1 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 her that time off.

We spoke to one mom in San Francisco who 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. Here are some examples:

  • 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, she isn’t paid for that time.

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.

A third option to consider is having adjusted hourly rates for the nanny based on how many children are in her 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.”

Just remember that 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, CA, 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 time off in a nanny share doesn’t have to be hard, especially if you’re willing to be flexible and accommodate small changes during the week.

Dealing With a Sick Child

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.

Several of the nanny share families said that they adopted the sick day policies that day cares use when kids are sick. In most day care 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.

Dealing With a Sick Nanny

The big question, though, is what happens when the nanny gets sick? You want to give her 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.

Ultimately, it’s important to keep in mind that 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?

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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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