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5 tips every nanny should know about nanny shares

Rachel Murphy
Sept. 7, 2018

If you’ve started to hear more people talking about nanny shares these days, it’s no surprise: The percentage of families seeking a nanny share arrangement grew 23 percent in 2016, according to Care.com data. But as a nanny, should you consider doing one? And how might your job vary from a traditional nanny role?

A nanny share arrangement, where you care for the children of multiple families, can be mutually beneficial. Here’s how:

  • The nanny is able to charge a higher overall rate because it’s a combined rate based on the number of children in her care.

  • Families usually pay less for each individual child under the nanny’s care, as two or more families split all the care costs, as well as the cost of any shared supplies and snacks.

  • Families still receive personalized child care in a home environment.

  • The nanny is making more money for the same amount of hours she’d likely otherwise work, so she can gain more flexibility in work/life balance.

While there are certainly monetary benefits of doing a nanny share, there are other factors to consider, too: You’ll not only increase your workload caring for more children, but you’ll also have to juggle working and communicating with multiple sets of parents.

If you do decide a nanny share is something you want to take on, follow these tips for getting started and propelling yourself to success.

1. Enlist your contacts and resources

Since multiple parties are involved in a nanny share, finding one can be a little tricky. Cover all your options, including online postings, word of mouth and recommendations from past employers.

Meghan Murphy, a 29-year-old nanny in Baltimore, Maryland, says nanny sharing was a relatively new concept when she first started in the summer of 2013.

“I was just looking for a nanny position in general,” she says. “Nanny sharing eventually just fell into my lap when I was messaged by a new mom asking if I would be willing to care for two babies around the same age. One was hers and one was her friend’s.”

You can leverage job posting sites and social networks, but many nannies also find success the old-fashioned way: through in-person networking and word of mouth. So ask around!

“One of my best friends had the nanny share in her house, and the share was looking for another family to join,” says Angela Linker, a mother of four in Springfield, Virginia. “We trusted her judgment, and after we met with the nanny and the other families, we knew it would be a good fit for our infant. As we continued to have children, it was reassuring to know that we already had established child care with a provider and with families whom we knew and trusted.”

Jenn Nienaber, a mother of one from Minneapolis, has used four nannies over the years. She says she found her first by word of mouth, and that original connection has led her to several more nannies. Today, Nienaber uses the younger sibling of a former babysitter to watch her 9-year-old daughter and her neighbor’s two children.

“We alternate between houses, usually depending on kids activities,” she says. “But we try to have a set schedule.”

2. Set a rate that positions you for success

Compensation for nannies involves a number of factors and will typically vary by location. Murphy says in the Baltimore area, one-on-one nanny care in 2018 is about $15 per hour on average.

In her first nanny share gig in 2013, Murphy says she made $15 per hour to care for two children, but in today’s economy and with her experience, she says she would ask for $20 to $25 per hour working in the same two-child share — a raise of up to 67 percent over her one-child rate.

Murphy says one of the most attractive features of the nanny share for her was that her hours were consistent and reliable, and so was the pay.

“I knew exactly how much I was getting and when, and it put my mind at ease in terms of the bills I had,” she says.

3. Get it in writing

One thing most nannies and families will agree on is that everything should be put in writing, with so many people involved.

"My strongest advice to nannies entering a share would be to advocate for yourself, set your intentions and stress the importance of the need for a contract," Murphy says. "It protects you, as well as them.”

A nanny contract should not only include details regarding schedules and pay, but also contingency plans for when a child — or a nanny — gets sick.

“I wish I knew (when I started) that there is a nanny advocacy network that will help draft contracts that protect both the family and the nanny,” Murphy says. “I was lucky and did not experience anything where I would have had to deal with a large issue, like lack of payment. But no matter how great the families seem, the contract is of utmost importance.”

4. Be flexible

As a nanny, the more adaptable you can be — especially when working for multiple families at once — the better. Make sure the families are aware of this, as well, and work that into a conversation about regular job reviews to help you all stay on the same page.

“The nanny needs to be amenable and flexible to whatever the parents need in terms of communication,” Murphy says. “I always tell parents that their child is theirs, and whatever they want me to do with their child is what I will do.”

There’s no science to completely avoiding disagreements, but trusting your instincts, doing your research and identifying potential dilemmas prior to starting the share can help ease any tension that comes up along the way. If parameters have been set in advance, it’s far less likely families will second guess a nanny’s decisions — or each other — when a judgment call has to be made.

"I think if you're very comfortable with the other family and have a clear way of handling potentially sensitive issues that might come up, it can work really well," says Jamie Beth Schindler, a mother of two who has used nanny shares in Los Angeles and, more recently, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

It’s also important that prospective nannies trust their gut when it comes to the relationship between the families they’re working for. Arguments between clients add unnecessary stress to an already-tough job, so it’s a good idea to brainstorm potential speed bumps and discuss them before signing a contract.

“In the second nanny share I did, the other mom and I focused a lot on the contract with the nanny and not so much on how the two families would interact if disagreements came up,” Schindler says. “We did have a situation where the other mom was upset about something the nanny did, but I wasn't as bothered by it and it became a big sticking point between us.”

5. Communicate equally with all parents

At the end of the day, most families just want to know that their kids are being taken care of and that their nanny is on top of things. As a result, a little communication goes a long way for many of the clients you might encounter.

“Make sure you set up a system for clear communication — a group text or email for last-minute changes to the schedule due to a sick child, sick nanny or a snow day,” Linker says. “Set up something like a Google calendar to make sure everyone is aware of vacation days and planned schedule changes. No one likes last-minute surprises, especially when it relates to child care.”

In Murphy’s experience, many concerns typical in nanny shares could be quelled through regular and detailed updates.

“I kept open communication with the boys’ mothers via a group text all day, every day,” Murphy says. “The communication wasn’t constant or extreme, but I would regularly send them updates on what the boys were doing throughout the day, as well as pictures. As first-time moms, this really put their minds at ease and helped them to focus at their jobs.”

Read next: These are the best U.S. cities for nanny shares

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