What every nanny needs to know about nanny shares

Sept. 21, 2020

Thinking about working for multiple families in a share? 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.

The percentage of families seeking a nanny share jumped 23 percent between 2015 and 2016 alone, according to the latest Care.com data. It’s a job high in demand, but how exactly does a nanny share work? And how can it benefit you as a nanny?

Here's what you need to know to decide whether a nanny share job is right for you.

What is a nanny share?

Simply put, a nanny share is when two or more families share one nanny. Typically, the families agree on a joint schedule, where the nanny takes care of the children together at one of the family’s homes. But nanny shares can take different shapes. For instance, two families might agree to use the same nanny, but individually, on alternating days.

“Nanny shares are an excellent solution allowing parents to share the cost of a high-quality caregiver,” says Laura Schroeder, a professional nanny in Charleston, South Carolina, who is also a parent coach and president of the International Nanny Association. “Families get all the benefits of nanny care at a lower rate. Plus, they get built-in socialization and friendship for their child.”

There's benefit for the nanny, too. You’re watching more children, so you can demand a higher pay rate for the same number of hours you’d be working with just one family.

Beyond agreeing to work with multiple families, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to nanny shares. Some shares alternate between the families’ houses, while others stick to one home. Costs and supplies can be jointly split between the families, or one family may take the lead with the other family reimbursing them. The important thing is building an agreement that works for everyone involved, including you.

“I know other nannies who shift houses every week or every month,” Schroeder says. “These are decisions that should be made prior to beginning a share, and can, of course, change as circumstances allow.”

The benefits of working in a nanny share

Consider these advantages to working in a nanny share:

1. Higher pay rate

“Nannies benefit by earning a higher wage than they would working for just one family,” says Schroeder.

That’s because you’ll get a combined rate based on the number of kids in your care.

“Generally, each family pays the nanny 2/3 to 3/4 of her regular rate for one family,” Schroeder says.

With multiple families, that adds up to more than what you’d make with one family.

2. Regular employment

“Nanny shares can help provide steady income,” says Elizabeth Malson, president of Amslee Institute, an online, licensed technical school that issues child care diplomas to professional nannies.

Because everyone is dependent on each other in a share, families will often agree to guaranteed pay, even if one of them is on vacation or sick. And if one family decides to leave the share, you’ll still have the other instead of your entire job being eliminated.

3. Doing more of what you love

“Nanny shares can provide opportunities to work with and mentor children of different ages,“ Malson says.

And resume-building aside, you may find more really is merrier.

“Some nannies, like me, enjoy having more children throughout the day to teach and share adventures with,” Schroeder says.

The challenges of working in a nanny share

Nanny shares are more complex, by nature. Working with multiple children and sets of parents can be challenging.

Here are some of the differences from single-family jobs a nanny share demands:

1. More complex communication

You’ll need to communicate with several parents, and solid exchange of information is critical to the success of a nanny share. This might mean learning how to adapt to each parent’s unique communication style. Parents will also want to make sure that their child is still getting individualized attention — and you’ll need to articulate how.

“With multiple families, it’s important to remember dates, activities and insights with the respective parents,” Malson says. “This can include observed behaviors, as well as helping with homework and other child care information that's important to parents.”

Lastly, you’ll need to be able to honestly convey how things are working out — or if part of the arrangement isn’t.

2. Multiple family/kids/parenting styles

One family’s OK with screen time. The other parents are against it. One kiddo’s being raised vegan while the other has red meat and dairy at every meal. How will you enforce both sets of rules?

“Having the skills, maturity, experience and communication skills to adapt to the needs and parenting styles of several families is important for a successful nanny share,” says Malson.

Having more child care experience may help you know how to juggle different personalities and rules. Still, prepare to ask lots of questions upfront to get a sense of each family’s expectations.

3. Changes in scheduling

Let’s face it: Families have a lot going on, whether it’s someone coming down with strep throat or a new job that mandates moving away. Make sure everyone agrees to a contingency plan at the start. You don’t want to wait until a problem arises to figure out how to deal with it.

Nanny shares can be an attractive job option. If you decide it’s right for you, being prepared, flexible and able to clearly communicate will help you juggle it all.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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