Nanny shares are hard work. As a nanny share specialist, I know that better than most. I see comments on nanny groups all the time like “I could never”, “I got burned”, “I tried, it was terrible”, and my heart goes out to those sweet nannies because I truly love doing shares! I may have fallen into my first nanny share out of necessity, but I have since made it my specialty. It is my passion, and I just think everyone should do them, haha..!!! That said, there are certainly a few key components to making a nanny share run smoothly, and if I’m going to make a believer out of you readers, I better dive right in.
Compatibility. I am an extremely picky nanny. I cannot work for just any family. I ask a million interview questions, and I turn many families down, because I am not the right fit for every family. So, in a nanny share, a very important component is compatibility. If the nanny feels they are pretty compatible with each family individually, then they are on the right track to managing a successful share. Take note, the family’s do not need to match in style or philosophy; they need only match with the nanny. If not, if the nanny-family fit isn’t right with either family, then the share is likely not going to last long-term. After all, it is the nanny’s job to properly support each family and care for the children in the custom to which their parents desire. This is true of any nanny-family relationship, and more challenging in a share, so compatibility is more important than in solo nannying.
Flexibility. When families and nannies jump on board the nanny share train, they get a lot of benefits, but they are also faced with a fair amount of compromise. Being flexible to the needs of both families and the nanny is helpful to making a share last long-term. That means, if the host family has family in town and they need the nanny share to happen at the other family’s house for a few days, roll with it. Or if the nanny’s car needs to be serviced, and that means they are unable to pick up your child, go with the flow. Things will eventually settle back into their normal place, but for that day or week, being flexible to work with the upset will go a long way in keeping everyone feeling satisfied in the share. In my personal experience, I have only had one share not work, and it was due to the parent’s inflexibility. Their needs were not meshing well with the needs of the other family; additionally, it was making my job much harder. For 2 weeks, they tried to switch the schedule around to what I asked, but ultimately, they couldn’t stick with it, and thus the nanny share dissolved. Being flexible to compromise for the good of the share is crucial, for both nanny and family.
Guaranteed Hours and Pay. For those who don’t know, guaranteed pay means each family agrees to pay the nanny $XX for X amount of hours, regardless of whether they worked all of those hours that week. It’s a guarantee that they will not earn less than $XX a week/month. I literally could not afford to live without this. I definitely could not nanny share without them! I neeeeeeeed to know my monthly income will not fluctuate, and both families need to know that they can rely on spending that much on child care for the month. Guaranteed hours means security and financial reliability for all parties. It’s non-negotiable. Guaranteed hours comes up a ton in a share: vacations, changing work needs, etc...with sick kids being the most frequent issue. With guaranteed pay, if a family decides to keep their healthy child home, away from the other sick child, then guaranteed pay kicks in. Or, if a parent opts to stay home with their sick child, guaranteed pay is there to make sure the nanny isn’t losing out on pay, and that the share family isn’t being charged extra for their child receiving solo care for the day. Guaranteed hours and pay is a “use it or lose it” agreement. In addition, in a nanny share, a nanny should charge each family 2/3 to 3/4 their rate per family; the nanny earns more than the going rate and the family pays less than the going rate — it’s a win-win situation.
Grace. What I mean is that sometimes the house is a mess. Sometimes a beloved lovey gets misplaced. Sometimes a shoe is lost on a walk. It happens. It’ll happen to you parents. It’ll happen to you nannies. Grace in a nanny share is a beautiful and precious component. Everyone does the best they can, but knows and understands that sometimes as you’re rushing out the door, you forget to grab shoes for your child, forcing your nanny to swing back by the house to grab shoes before she can head to their morning outing. Life happens, be gracious when it happens to others and affects you. After all, eventually it’ll be you who dropped the ball and needs to be shown grace.
Communication. In the past, all of my shares have been between families that did not know each other beforehand. Currently, I am in my first share between friends. Wherever you find yourself, you need to know going in that communication must be open. Always. Between friends, it is easy to chat about upcoming needs or the week’s schedule and make adjustments accordingly, updating all parties as the need arises. For shares between non-friends, communication often comes down to the nanny. Sometimes the family’s will work together to solve issues or conflicts, but many times it is on the nanny to bring everyone together and onto the same page. So, in a nanny share, it is important that you feel comfortable keeping the lines of communication open and honest. Because nothing is worse than being presented with an issue that could’ve been avoided had it been talked through.
Nanny shares are not for the faint of heart. After all, there will regularly be multiple children crying at your feet, double the runny noses, double the dirty diapers; but double the snuggles and love. All in all, I truly believe nanny shares are a beautiful arrangement that benefits everyone involved. Nannies earn a higher wage. Families are drawn to the cost-savings. And the children gain a sister or brother of sorts. Shares involve more compromise, but the benefits far outweigh any downsides.
Britney Fredrickson started out as an infant and toddler teacher in a Montessori center, while pursuing her B.A. in Child Development. After several years teaching, she transitioned in to the nanny sector, and now specializes in infant and toddler nanny shares. She also serves as the Community Manager on the Pareday team, a nanny share website devoted to helping families and nannies connect to form successful nanny shares. A California native, Britney and her husband recently relocated to Colorado with their dog and cat. You can follow Britney at @itsfinallynaptime on Facebook and Instagram, or on Twitter @finallynaptime, for real-life anecdotes, nanny tips, and creative learning activities.