What Is a Nanny Share—and Is It Right for Your Family?
Finding childcare is a full-time job in and of itself. There are daycares to be toured, nannies to be interviewed and numbers to be crunched. Figuring out what works for your family—practically and financially—can feel incredibly overwhelming. One less-talked-about option that might benefit both your situation and your wallet: a nanny share. It’s a savvy way to secure personalized care for your kiddos at a reduced rate. It’s no wonder that modern families are considering a nanny share as a flexible and affordable alternative to traditional childcare. Of course, it’s not completely without its own set of caveats and potential drawbacks. So how does a nanny share work—and is it the right option for you and your family? Here’s what to know.
In this article:
What is a nanny share?
Is a nanny share right for you?
Benefits of a nanny share
Drawbacks of a nanny share
How to find a nanny share
How to find a compatible partner family
How much does a nanny share cost?
What should your nanny share contract include?
Part of the beauty of a nanny share is that its definition can be interpreted by the employing families. In simple terms, it refers to an agreement between two or more families who employ one nanny and split the cost. The details of how time and money are divided up are up to you and your “share family.”
“Typically, nanny shares are two families, often in the same neighborhood or with children in the same age range,” explains Lindsay Thomason, founder and CEO of The Nanny League. “The nanny can care for your children under one roof, or split time between each home.”
While nanny sharing has been a viable option in the US for some years now, it’s gained momentum following the COVID-19 pandemic, adds Elizabeth Malson, MS, MBA, president of the US Nanny Institute, an organization that provides training programs for nannies and babysitters. As more families are working from home or in a hybrid situation, they need more flexibility than traditional childcare options offer, she says.
Like most commitments, there are several things to consider before entering into a nanny share agreement. For starters, location, schedule and budget all play major roles. The biggest key to success, though, is finding both a partner family and a nanny with similar expectations to your own. “Nanny sharing works best when families have similar schedules and needs. The greater the overlap, the more successful a single nanny can be,” Malson says.
It’s also important that you feel comfortable about your relationships with both your nanny and your share family. Moreover, you want to feel good that both sets of the children interact well with each other and their new joint nanny—especially if care will be happening simultaneously in one home.
There are quite a few reasons to consider a nanny share. Here are a few of the most advantageous:
- Lower cost. One of the most attractive qualities of a nanny share is splitting the expenses with another family. Malson says you’ll likely spend less than if you were hiring a nanny on your own. Meanwhile, if a nanny is caring for two sets of kids at the same time, they’ll typically earn more money per hour in what’s often considered a long-term, reliable position.
- A customized situation. There are also few rules with a nanny share, so families and the nannies themselves can outline what’s important to them from the get go. “Essentially, you’re getting very personalized care in your home where you get to define what activities you want your child doing,” explains Emily Louange, a childcare consultant and founder of Via The Village.
- Flexibility. Another area that often makes nanny sharing appealing is the flexibility around working hours, including overnight for parents who travel for work. “Nanny sharing can be especially popular for frontline workers and those who are working shifts beyond traditional hours,” says Malson.
- Socialization for kids. Nanny sharing can help with socialization too. Depending on your set up, your kids may be in a position to form special bonds with the other kids in your nanny’s care.
Adaptability is an attribute that lends itself well to nanny sharing, but if you have strict requirements, a nanny share might not be right for you, says Louange. “As a generalization, you kind of have to be a little bit more on the flexible side. If you were quite rigid on how you want your care… you’re probably better off hiring a nanny just for yourself,” she adds.
Unless you’re going through an agency, a lot of the legwork of finding a nanny share and executing an agreement falls on the families themselves, which some may consider to be a labor-intensive process. This includes research, interviewing and screening potential candidates, as well as understanding your legal obligations as an employer.
It’s also important to note that there aren’t specific rules or guidelines in place to protect families if a nanny share doesn’t work out, Louange says. “Generally, if things aren’t [copacetic], the nanny share just breaks up. That’s why agreements are so important,” she says.
If you’re starting from scratch, connecting with a local nanny might feel overwhelming at first. However, there are a variety of options to help parents, from nanny placement agencies to caregiver listing sites.
“Job boards are a great option for those who are more comfortable managing the human resource aspects, including background checks and interviewing,” advises Malson.
“For those who would like additional support, nanny agencies are available in nearly every US city to help parents find quality nannies,” she adds.
Of course, with a nanny share you not only need to find a caregiver, but also need to make a match with an appropriate family. Don’t underestimate the power of social media, says Louange. “You can post that you’re looking for a nanny share, or post details if you already have a nanny and you’re just looking for a family,” she says. “Or you can find the family first, and you can look for a nanny to hire together.”
Childcare-specific communities or local parenting groups on platforms like Facebook can help with introductions, as can connections through baby classes or playgroups. Other strategies might be more traditional like word of mouth or through friends. Nanny agencies are also on hand to help.
A recent Care.com report found that childcare is increasingly unaffordable for the majority of US families. According to the survey, parents are, on average, spending 27 percent of their household income on childcare expenses, with 50 percent of parents admitting that they’re more concerned about these costs than they were last year.
For some, a nanny share could provide a workable solution to the national crisis. While costs vary greatly between states and cities, parents can expect to pay a nanny two-thirds of what a nanny might charge if they worked for the family exclusively, according to Nanny Lane, an online resource for nannies and nanny employers. (This is assuming that the nanny is caring for both sets of children together, full-time.) In other words, with a hypothetical rate of $24 per hour, both partner families would get a one-third discount on that per-hour cost. So you’d pay $16 an hour, as would your share family. Meanwhile, your nanny would make $32 an hour. Of course, if you’re splitting days with a second family, your agreement might be structured differently. Regardless, it’s important to note that a nanny’s hourly rate of pay must meet or exceed your state’s minimum wage requirement.
An “airtight agreement” is essential to avoid potential misunderstandings that can derail a partnership, says Louange. “If you’re in a nanny share or just hiring a nanny there’s a lot of assumptions that are made on both ends. Putting it in writing helps catch misunderstandings before they occur a lot of times,” she says. Louange says that this can apply to major decisions like how comfortable all parties are with firearms stored in the house, right down to transparency around how the host home is childproofed.
Remember that, legally, nannies are considered household employees and have to be compensated hourly, emphasizes Thomason. Your contract should cover protocols around sickness, vacation and leave, working hours, payment and discipline.
With the flexibility of a nanny share agreement, one size doesn’t always fit all. The first step, according to Malson, is for the families to be honest about what they each need. This should address the number of hours required and the tasks they’d like the nanny to manage.
Remember that nannies come with all different types of skill sets, but being realistic about your budget can help streamline your search. “If you’re looking for a more affordable nanny then look for [fewer] years of experience and strong references,” says Malson. “If you can pay a competitive salary, it’s fair to look for childcare training and certification in addition to experience when screening candidates.” Moreover, always conduct a background check and call references.
Whether you go the nanny share route, or ultimately decide that this joint endeavor isn’t right for you, make sure you’ve done your research and set out your expectations clearly from the outset.
Emily Louange is a childcare consultant and the founder of Via The Village.
Elizabeth Malson, MS, MBA, is the president of the US Nanny Institute, an organization that provides training programs for nannies and babysitters.
Lindsay Thomason is the founder and CEO of The Nanny League, an elite nanny agency that matches college-educated nannies with families across the United States.
Care.com, Cost of Care Report, 2023