Is a nanny share right for you?

July 27, 2020

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.

Finding the right child care option for your family can be overwhelming. Many parents find that they have to decide between hiring a full-time nanny or enrolling in day care, with neither feeling quite right. Fortunately, there’s a middle ground that can provide a high level of personal attention along with the socialization benefits of day care at the right price: the nanny share.

What is a nanny share?

In a typical nanny share, two or more families employ one nanny, sharing the cost of their salary. Most nannies working in a share watch all the children together at once, and alternate between houses, but many families work together to come up with a schedule tailored to their specific needs. Since both families are contributing to the nanny's pay, the nanny is usually able to earn more than she would make working for a single family.

While the cost-effectiveness of a nanny share is what usually draws parents in, there are other benefits of sharing a nanny that are just as important. A nanny share offers the socialization that you typically don’t find with a private nanny, along with the one-on-one attention and flexibility that is hard to come by at a day care facility. It really can be the best of both worlds. 

But as with any child care decision, entering a nanny share requires a lot of research and planning. You’re not just picking a nanny. You’re also picking what amounts to a second home and family for your children. We’ve highlighted some of the biggest pros of sharing a nanny, as well as some considerations to think over before making the commitment with another family.

What are the advantages of a nanny share?

We talked to four nanny-sharing moms to find out why they chose to share a nanny and to get their insider advice on setting up a successful nanny share. Here are just a few reasons why they believe nanny share was the best choice for them, and why it just might be the right choice for you, too.

Quality care at an affordable price

The cost of a nanny share varies by region, but you can generally expect to pay about two-thirds what you’d typically pay to have your own nanny and a little more than you would pay for quality day care.

Here’s an example, using data from the Care.com 2020 Cost of Care survey. Based on this cost information, a nanny share could cost $188 less per week than a private nanny and $162 more per week than a child care center.

The cost of an nanny share vs. a private nanny or child care center

 

NANNY*

NANNY SHARE**

CHILD CARE CENTER*

Per Week

$565

$377

$215

Per Month

$2,448

$1,632

$932

Per Year

$29,380

$19,587

$11,180

* All nanny and child care center rates are for one infant child, according to data from the Care.com 2020 Cost of Care survey.

** All nanny share rates are calculated as two-thirds the cost of the nanny rates shown and are the estimated cost for one family, based on a two-family nanny share. 

However, Stacey King Gordon, a mom from Oakland, California, shared a nanny for three years and says it cut her child care costs almost in half, so savings will depend on the costs of care where you live. She also says the socialization benefits made her feel like she was giving her child the perks of day care on a more personal level.

Attention

Even though the nanny will be watching multiple children, kids in nanny shares still get more one-on-one attention than they would at a child care center, and they are in a home environment, which appeals to some parents.

"The girls get the same care, or better, than we would give them if we weren't at work," Debbie Tobias, a mom in Brooklyn, says.

Children also get the opportunity to build a nurturing relationship with another adult.

"We loved our nanny," Gordon says. "She had a huge heart and genuinely loved our daughter."

Flexibility

The parents we interviewed touted the flexible, DIY nature of nanny shares over day care centers, which often have strict policies for hours, holidays and sick days. With a nanny share, you and the share family make your own rules.

"We need to be sure we have somebody who can handle our crazy schedules," says Tobias, who works full time and whose musician husband is often on tour.

Another Brooklyn mom, Emily Moore, says she likes that on days she works from home or is sick herself, her nanny can watch her son at her share-family's home, and when the children are at her house, she doesn't have to commute to child care.

"It's like having the best of both worlds," she says.

Having multiple parents who can step in and cover when the nanny is sick is also a big benefit. If you have a private nanny and they need a day off or take a sick day, often your only option is to take the day off from work and stay home with your kids. In a nanny share with two families, parents can rotate who takes the day off, so the burden doesn’t always fall on you.

Socialization

Each of the parents we talked to emphasized the bonds their children developed with the other kids in their share.

"The children build strong relationships with other children and learn to share," says Ellen Shahan, a mom in Hopkins, Minnesota.

Shahan has been sharing the same nanny with families in her neighborhood for nine years. Meanwhile, Tobias says her daughter has become best friends with the other girl her nanny watches, and Moore says she's happy that her son "is growing up with someone akin to a sister."

The socialization doesn’t end with the children, either. When you’re in a nanny share with another family, chances are you’ll develop strong, supportive, familial relationships with the parents and kids.

What else should you consider before moving forward with a nanny share?

Sharing a nanny is a wonderful alternative to hiring a private nanny or putting your children in a day care, and many families reap the benefits of this convenient and affordable form of child care. However, it’s a very serious commitment that affects not just your family, but an entire other family, as well as the livelihood of a professional caretaker. Before taking the leap, it’s a good idea to sit down with your partner and ask yourselves some important questions about your expectations and deal-breakers to determine if a nanny share will work for your family.

  • Are you a micromanager or a go-with-the-flow kind of parent? Nanny shares require a significant amount of flexibility between the families — not just in terms of scheduling, but in the day-to-day operations of caring for kids. With a private nanny, you’re able to dictate exactly what time your child naps, what they have for lunch or even what toys they play with. In a nanny share, you need to be willing to bend on some of your parenting rules since the nanny will be caring for other children at the same time.

  • Are you willing to coordinate vacations/time off with the other family? Many nanny share families schedule theirs and their nanny’s vacation time concurrently, so there’s no lapse in child care or one family isn’t left paying the full cost of the nanny for a week.

  • Are you comfortable with your child being in another family's home for long periods of time? Ideally, you will have gotten to know the other family very well before starting a nanny share with them, but some parents struggle with their kids being in an environment that they can’t control or readily change.

  • Are extracurricular activities important to you? If so, are you willing to be flexible and work out an agreement with the other family? If your child has a lesson or class on a day the nanny is caring for all the kids in the nanny share, it can create conflict between the kids, nanny and both families.

  • How does your communication style work? One of the key components of a successful nanny share is open, consistent communication. You should be comfortable addressing sensitive topics with the other family and the nanny, and be open to hearing feedback — good and bad.

Once you’ve concluded that a nanny share is the right option for you, you’re ready to take concrete action steps to setting it up.  

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

Please enter a valid email address

Thanks for signing up!

We’ll see you back in your inbox.

Leave a comment

Create a free account with Care.com and join our community today.

You may also like

How much should you pay for a babysitter?

The Complete Guide to Nanny Shares