A nanny share can be a great childcare choice for families who can’t afford a nanny on their own if you’re able to find the right family to share with. But what should you look for in a family? Here are some questions to guide you through the process of choosing the right family to begin a nanny share with.
Do the logistics work? There are lots of when, where, and how details that go into a successful nanny share.
Does the other family live close to you? Where the family lives, how long it takes to get there during commuting hours, and if their home is accessible by public transportation or not can make a big difference to the family that makes the trip each morning and afternoon.
Does one of the houses have enough room for two or more children to eat, sleep and play? Most homes can easily adapt to one or more children for meals and play time, but sleep time can sometimes pose a challenge. Some kids can nap anywhere, but others need a dark, quiet, familiar environment to sleep well.
Do the childcare hours needed by the other family mesh well with your needs? If both sets of parents are on similar schedules, it’s pretty easy to make minor adjustments to make sure both families get the coverage they need. But if one family needs childcare during hours that are significantly different from the other family’s needed hours, it may make the nanny’s day too long or may impose too much on the other family.
How will the sharing of supplies work? Kids, especially babies, come with a lot of gear. Will there be enough room to store an extra highchair, bouncy seat, car seat or whatever else is needed at the host family’s house during the week? Will additional equipment like a double stroller be needed? How will the purchase of diaper supplies, food, toys and craft supplies be handled?
Do the parents have compatible parenting styles? You want your nanny to create a daily environment that supports both families’ parenting styles. That’s impossible to do if you and the other family aren’t on the same page when it comes to things like:
- discipline and challenging behaviors.
- food and eating issues (e.g. all organic, on demand feeding).
- ages and stages issues (e.g. sleep training, moving to solid foods, potty training).
- daily activities (e.g. TV, required tummy time).
- outings (e.g. a day at the zoo, a trip to the park).
Talk to prospective parents honestly about what they want for their child, what they feel is most important, what they find inappropriate or unacceptable, and what they’re negotiable on. A helpful exercise is to walk through a typical day and imagine all the choices your nanny will have to make. This will give you a good idea of the things you should discuss and decide on.
Do you have compatible employer styles? Once you know you and the other family are on the same page in regards to parenting, it’s time to talk about how each of you will interact with the nanny and each other. Talk to the other parents about:
- what role they want the nanny to play (e.g. part of the family, strictly a childcare provider).
- what kind of regular communication they want with the nanny and with you.
- how much input they want to give when it comes to planning the daily activities.
- how they want handle performance issues (e.g. meet with the nanny one-on-one, call a group meeting).
- how they feel about offering raises and bonuses.
- what the procedure should be when a problem comes up.
- what boundaries are important to put in place with the nanny and with each other.
Do you like the other family on a personal level? Sharing a nanny with another family means you’ll be in regular contact with that family, your children will likely become close friends, and you’ll all be working as a team to create a successful childcare arrangement. It’s next to impossible to work that closely with a family that you and your partner don’t like. While this is a business relationship in part, it’s mostly a personal relationship. Spend time with the family you’re considering sharing a nanny with. Go out to dinner with them and see if you connect as friends. Invite them over for the afternoon so you can see their parenting style up close. Make sure you’re comfortable making a long-term commitment to work together with them before you move onto finding a nanny.
It’s essential to find a family you’re compatible with when entering a nanny share because it can be a complicated arrangement. The families share a relationship with each other, the nanny shares a relationship with each set of parents, and all those separate pieces must fit together for the nanny share to be successful.