Nanny Sharing: Lowering the Cost of Personal Childcare

by Carlos Portocarrero on 12 January 2011 2 comments

Having a baby is awesome, but it's also expensive. So when M and I started researching day-care centers and nannies, we realized that we needed a different option — a cheaper one. A friend of ours had mentioned nanny sharing, which turned out to be the best option for us.

What is Nanny Sharing?

In a nanny share, you hire one nanny to watch two babies. You join together with another family to find a nanny you both like, and then you share her services. The nanny gets paid a little more (but not double) to watch two babies instead of one, and the two families get to split the cost.

That's the gist of nanny sharing, but how do you know if it's right for you?

Benefits of Nanny Sharing

Cost: Cost is one of the biggest advantages of nanny sharing. Depending on where you live, nannies charge around $12–$13 an hour to take care of one baby. Nanny sharing, on the other hand, only bumps the price up to around $15–$16 an hour. So if you split that halfway, each family is looking at a total cost of around $8/hour. That kind of savings can mean the difference between being able to afford a baby and not being able to. 

One-on-One Time: When you're a new parent, you always imagine the worst when it comes to day-care centers. You picture your baby sitting in a stinky diaper in the corner by herself, ignored for hours. In a nanny share, instead of being in a day care with a bunch of other babies, you'll have one person splitting his or her attention between two babies. That's as close as you can get to one-on-one...without the cost. 

Socializing: The big upside to a day care is that there are always a bunch of people hanging around: babies to play and socialize with, adults to get accustomed to, etc. It's a microcosm of the real world, and the sooner babies get used to it, the better (germs and all). If you have your own nanny, the baby won't have as much socializing, especially in the winter when going to parks and the zoo is miserable. But in a nanny share, your baby sees another adult and baby every day, which is a start.

Downsides to Nanny Sharing

Multiple Routines: It's harder to have one routine that you do every day. When it's your turn to host, it's awesome because you don't have to do anything but wait for the nanny to show up, and then you can go to work. But when it's the other couple's turn, things change. So you actually have to have two separate, alternate routines.

Inconvenience: Nanny sharing is great for the days where it's at your house, but when you have to take them somewhere else, it's not as nice. Also, if your nanny gets sick or something like that, it's not like a day care where you can just keep dropping her off and someone will be there to pick up the slack.  

Complications and Compromises: You can't tell your nanny you want things done this or that way without first consulting with the other family. It's a partnership, so if you're a very bossy person who wants things your way, nanny sharing may not be for you. You're both paying her, so you need to reach a consensus on stuff like schedules, taking the babies out, etc. 

Is Nanny Sharing for You?

Nanny sharing isn't for everyone. But for couples looking to save a little bit of money on day-care expenses that also want some of the conveniences of having a nanny, it might be the right fit. How do you know if nanny sharing is a good option for you?

  • You're flexible
  • You don't mind sharing (duh)
  • You have good communication skills
  • You have an open mind about parenting styles

Do your homework, talk to other couples who have done it, and ask questions: You may find nanny sharing is right up your alley.

M and I did it mainly for the money we'd be saving, but were lucky enough that our personalities are flexible and we found a great family to nanny share with. It's been a great experience.

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We shared a nanny in San Francisco back when we had only one kid, and found other advantages too. Being in it together with another family means you have someone to consult if there are issues with the nanny. I could ask the other mom, do you think this or that is appropriate? And when our nanny left, we had the resources of two families to draw on in finding someone else. We ended up hiring back a babysitter who had worked for the other family in the past, so I enjoyed the benefit of getting a pre-screened caregiver.

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NannyShare Connection publishes a free list of families in your neighborhood who are interested in sharing a nanny. To subscribe to the list: http://nannyshareconnection.com/