Don’t want to send your child to daycare or “back to school” due to COVID exposure risk?
You are not alone. Many parents are switching to nanny childcare over “group care” settings right now because of the pandemic.
But are you feeling that you can’t swing the high cost of employing a nanny solely for your family?
Hiring a nanny to work only with your family is expensive. Consider a nanny share instead!
Nanny shares are a fantastic childcare option
What is a nanny share? Typically, a nanny share is when two families employ one nanny and split the cost of care. Each family pays around 2/3 of the nanny’s typical, one child rate for nanny share care. Nanny shares help to make the cost of care more affordable, and it can help to keep your family’s COVID risk exposure lower than care in a larger group setting while still offering your child some socialization.
So, how do you set up a nanny share during COVID times?
First… Don’t panic! There are some logistics involved, but…
Read on! I will walk you through the entire process!
Step #1: Making a Plan – Finding a Family or Nanny First?
While there are pros and cons with each approach, I ultimately recommend finding your nanny first if you know you want a share and don’t yet have a family to partner with. The reason for this is that you need care when you need care. It is also very attractive for another family to join an established nanny situation because the nanny has already been vetted, and has established a relationship with the first family.
Step #2: Making a Plan: Things to Consider When Choosing A Share Family
It’s helpful to find a family that has similar parenting philosophies and expectations, and a similar “personality”, if possible. Being aligned in these ways will lead to a smooth working relationship for the nanny share. Additionally, consider the ages of the children in the share, the schedule needs of each family, the location, and the budget.
Ages of Children
Is it important to you that your share family have a child that’s close in age to yours? Many people prefer that the share family’s child be close in age to theirs. The ages of the children in a share can affect meal time, play time, outings, nap times, and necessary equipment like highchairs and strollers.
It’s ideal if both families in a share have schedules that match up closely. Nanny shares involve a lot of logistics, and having drastically different schedules can complicate things for the nanny, and leave one family shouldering a lot of the nanny’s pay on their own (which may or may not work well for the one family).
Do you need a family close in proximity to your home so that drop offs and pick ups are easy? Or could the share happen along the way to work or close to work? Or could the nanny’s day start by picking up your child and taking him to the share house? Speaking of location, many care providers find that minimizing switching houses for the share is easier logistically. If you must switch share locations, doing so no more frequently than a monthly basis is ideal.
It’s important that you outline your childcare budget and what you can offer a nanny together with your share family prior to beginning your nanny search. Aside from nanny compensation, what other costs should you account for? In some shares, one family will always host. To offset this cost the other family might chip in more for the food, or pay a larger portion of the payroll service or background check cost, or pay toward an outing or supplies fund.
Prospective nannies will need to have an understanding of the compensation for a position to ensure that it’s financially feasible for them. If this information is not included in your job description, a nanny may very well skip over your ad and continue right on to the next one.
Step #3: Searching for a Share Family
Neighbors, PEPS Groups, friends, and families met at childbirth classes can be great options for finding a nanny share family. Social networking is another fantastic choice. Nanny Parent Connection is an excellent place to connect with share families via the dedicated quarterly Nanny Share discussion threads and the Member Search tool.
Important COVID-19 Considerations During the Search
When searching for a share family to partner with, it’s important to ensure their COVID-19 precautions they are taking are in alignment with what your family is comfortable with. This is important because welcoming additional people into your COVID bubble can increase the risk of exposure if everyone is not on the same page with their practices.
Under normal, non-COVID times these questions might seem invasive. However, they are totally necessary and acceptable to ask now in order to keep your family safe and healthy. Screening questions I recommend to ask:
Who do you see with a mask each week?
Who do you see without a mask each week?
Do any family members/housemates work or go to school? Do they physically go to an office or classroom? Or is everything remote?
Do you utilize public transportation?
What kinds of errands do you go out for?
Are you doing any travel?
Do you attend any social gatherings?
Once you have a good understanding of the level of COVID precautions your share family is taking, you can have some reassurances in place about safely welcoming them into your bubble.
Step #4: Planning the Logistics of the Share
In a nanny share, good communication and flexibility are CRUCIAL. I recommend getting together with your share family (front yard or Zoom/Skype) to talk about as many aspects of the share as you can think of. Make sure you’re on the same page with things and if not, try to find a compromise that will work for everyone.
It’s easy for misunderstandings to arise if something comes up and is not addressed right away in the share. For example, one family may host and the other family may always shop for food for the share. If the family contributing the food feels that they are shouldering a larger portion of the financial load of the share in this way, this needs to be addressed right away to keep everyone’s feelings in good standing.
Once you have found your share family, it’s time to start envisioning what your nanny share will look like. I recommend running through how a typical day might work. When do the kids eat? Where do the kids nap? What types of outings might occur, and how often? Do you need any special equipment like highchairs, strollers, or car seats? (Note: several nannies have pointed out that if you need to purchase additional car seats for the share that you wait to see what types of car seats your nanny’s vehicle can accommodate first.)
How will food be handled in the share? Who will do the shopping for food for the share, and when does this happen? It’s difficult when kids are served different meals – they usually want to be eating what the other kid has. Are views on types of food children should eat similar? Is everyone okay with the nanny eating whatever she likes in the home? Will you take requests for grocery items from your nanny?
Is rainy weather outdoor play encouraged? Who will host and will hosting duties rotate? How often will hosting rotate? Will you work with a payroll service, or are you spreadsheet savvy and will handle payroll yourself?
What is your inclement weather policy? If it’s snowy or icy out on the roads, do you still need to go to work? Is the nanny still expected to come? If a nanny can’t make it in to work on account of the weather, will this fall under guaranteed hours in your share (it should 🙂 )?
What will happen if the nanny is sick? If one of the children are sick? What illnesses are you okay with in the share? Where does the nanny go if one child is sick and cannot be around the other? How is backup care handled? Discuss this and work out what will happen under these circumstances. Make sure to have a backup care plan in place. Our Verified Care Providers and Last Minute Care Text Service are good places to start.
In the planning stages of the share, it’s nice if each family can host a planning meeting. This will allow each parent to check out the homes their children will be spending time in. This makes for an excellent time to check in about safety features like gates on stairs, outlet covers, and cabinet locks as well as napping arrangements, necessary equipment for the share, etc.
Step #5: Agree on COVID Safety Plan For Your Share
Make sure to have a COVID safety policy in place between the families and the nanny.
The Nanny Parent Connection team put together an informational flyer on operational and safety guidelines that you might want to review. You can find that by clicking here.
Nanny share families and their nanny must be on the same page when it comes to COVID precautions. Have a conversation about gatherings, travel, quarantine protocols, when to stay home from the share, daily temperature screenings and hand washing upon entry each day, and cleaning of high traffic touch areas (doorknobs, light switches, bathrooms). The exposure risk can increase as the size of the social bubble increases, so make sure everyone is committed to doing their part.
Here is an example of a potential protocol for how to handle illness or symptoms during a nanny share:
Anyone with the following symptoms should stay at home and away from others:
Temperature of 100.4 degrees F
Cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
Sore throat, congestion or a runny nose
A new loss of taste or smell
Nausea, diarrhea or vomiting
Any signs of new illness unrelated to a pre-existing condition (such as sneezing or sniffles due to seasonal allergies)
The person that was experiencing symptoms should return to the share after a waiting period of 10 days after the onset of the first signs of illness or if they receive a negative COVID test result.
Step #6: The Nanny Search
Now it’s time to find the perfect nanny! Hopefully you and your share family have already discussed family budgets and the compensation package for your nanny. This is important information to include in your job description.
Make sure you have discussed what qualifications and attributes you would prefer your nanny share nanny to have. Is there a minimum experience requirement? Would you prefer a nanny with previous share experience? Current with CPR/First Aid Certification? Is a nanny with a background in early childhood education ideal? Or must he or she be all-knowing in the areas of spontaneous dance parties, finger painting, make-believe and jumping in mud puddles?
Plan at least two to three months for your search, if possible. Do your research beforehand about industry standards for compensation and job duties. Nanny Parent Connection is a fantastic place to search for a nanny yourself. If you are feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of conducting a nanny search consider Nanny Parent Connection’s Concierge Service. We can take care of the nanny search for you!
Nannies will want to get a general sense for how the share will operate. Make sure to include schedule and location information, ages of the children, the types of things you envision your nanny doing with the children (outings, story time, developmentally appropriate activities, etc), and a little bit about the personalities of the families involved. Are there pets at either share home? If so, make sure to mention that so that nannies with pet allergies can steer clear.
When you have nanny candidates you’d like to learn more about, it’s time to schedule some interviews. Zoom interviews have gained popularity during COVID times, and they can be a nice option during a nanny share interview with multiple participants. Click here for tips on interviews and some questions to ask prospective nannies. I also recommend asking the nanny the same COVID screening questions you asked any potential share families, listed above in Step #3.
Once you decide a nanny may be a good fit, it’s time to set up an in-person interview with parents from each family. This may be both sets of parents, or one parent from each family. Some families will want the nanny to meet their kids at this point to get a sense of how the care provider interacts with the children. Make sure to have a plan that everyone is comfortable with regarding masks and with the interview location being indoors versus outdoors.
You may get the sense that some nannies are interviewing YOU as well. I often find this is the mark of a good nanny, and often your more experienced nannies will be the ones doing this. Nannies want to make sure a position is the right fit for them, too!
Step #7: Making Things Official: Job Offer, Vetting Process, Nanny Contract
Spend some time and review your nanny’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. profiles and make sure you are comfortable with what you are seeing. If you notice something that concerns you, talk to the provider! Don’t automatically drop the idea of working with them – there may be an explanation.
Search the Web
Spend a few minutes searching the provider’s name on Google and look for anything that you want to discuss with the provider. Also, check for any inconsistencies with what you find on the web versus what they have presented to you during the interview process or their resume.
Don’t forget to run a background check on your care provider! This important step can seem overwhelming and expensive, but Nanny Parent Connection has created a simple and affordable system to take the guesswork out of running a background check on your nanny. You only need to enter your nanny candidate’s name and email address – the candidate fills out the rest of their personal information during the authorization process. Only takes about five minutes to order!
Ask the provider for a minimum of three reference families that they have worked for in the past (or if they are newer to the child care world, ask for character references instead). Make sure to ask open-ended questions to get a good sense of the nanny’s working relationship with previous families.
Make a Job Offer
Once you have checked into a nanny’s background and have checked their references, it’s time to make a formal job offer in writing. It is perfectly acceptable to make a job offer pending a clear background check as well.
Create an initial draft of the contract for all parties to review. This is an excellent time to establish a collaborative relationship with your nanny. Invite their feedback on the contract to see if they have any suggestions. The final contract should be a working agreement that everyone feels is fair.
The contract should include everything you have discussed regarding compensation, schedule, location of care and when that rotates, if it does; job duties, and how to end the working agreement. Nanny Parent Connection offers a comprehensive and easy to follow nanny share contract template that is specifically written for nanny shares in Washington state.
Step #8: Ensuring a Good Working Relationship Between the Families and Nanny
Good communication will keep a nanny share running smoothly. It can be helpful for there to be one designated contact person in the share for the nanny to communicate things about the share with. This parent can communicate the information to the other share parents. (If there is something about one individual child, the nanny should address that with the specific family.) It can be a recipe for disaster if one family asks the nanny to communicate something to the other family. Families should always keep the lines of communication open between one another and handle any issue that arises directly.
When a share is just getting started, you should plan to have regular check-ins with the nanny about how things are going. This might happen more frequently at the beginning, and then move to monthly or once every couple of months once the share has been happening for a while.
An annual review is also a good idea as circumstances can change (new family members, a family leaving the share for daycare or preschool, etc), and it’s an excellent time to have a conversation about what’s working well, any areas for improvement, discussing children’s development, and considering a raise for your nanny.
Here are some tips from nannies to help a nanny share run smoothly:
“Good solid expectations between both families is KEY. Ensure both families are similarly financially minded and have the same idea of “fair” as far as time off, vacations etc. I found this part to be the most challenging. Also give the nanny one “point” person so they don’t end up feeling like they have four bosses….and yes communicate ALL THE TIME. Don’t hold things back and get resentful.”
“Having families with similar parenting styles/expectations is a must! With my last job, the moms had completely different expectations (i.e. one mom wanted the kids to go on an outdoor outing daily regardless of weather, while the other didn’t want her baby in the rain). Same with household chores, one expected a perfectly clean house at the end of the day, while the other was happiest when the babies had a good day regardless of how clean the house was!”
“#1 – Families that are friends/neighbors and have similar parenting styles…though best if trending towards being laid back. #2 – Having one house as the share house or switching infrequently. Maybe every other month. #3 – Paying well and giving EXCELLENT benefits. $26 on the minimum for a less experienced nanny. Two weeks of nanny’s choosing PTO. #4 – Having the share house be well equipped…extra bedroom for share kid is the best. #5 – Communicating collectively with the nanny and never putting nanny in the middle to communicate issues between families.”
“Guaranteed hours at the share rate for both families is a must. I’ve seen shares where there’s a “1-kid rate” for when the other family doesn’t need care (or is on vacation, etc). It always ends up with the nanny resentful that they’re being paid less, and the family who is receiving care resentful of having to pay more, because of factors outside of their control (the other family’s care needs). For this reason each family should pay their share rate at the guaranteed number of hours, all 52 weeks of the year. No “1-kid rate” or “1-family rate.” I guess my point is that whatever typical schedule and rate is agreed to, each family should pay at least their portion and the nanny should never make less that that. Additional hours would be additional pay, of course.”
“If two parent groups have completely different styles and expectations it’s a huge problem. Parents need to be on the same page with each other first.”
“I’ve seen problems discussed around sick kid policy. Both parties need to agree to what constitutes sick as in that kid stays home from the share or if the host kid, how that is handled.”
“Make sure families have similar parenting styles. Have a clear sick policy before you even start. Guaranteed hours for sure. Figure out the food situation. Are there big dietary differences? Who is providing what food? etc.”
“Make sure appropriate supplies are available – a triple stroller saved my life in my last share! Ensuring big changes are discussed before going into motion – i.e. potty training. Having lots of extra supplies available at the hosting house so there’s not too much to pack up each day. Check with nanny before making big purchases – the stroller at my last share was so hard to lift into my car! I also need special narrow car seats to accommodate my available car space. Discussing what will happen if one family leaves the share – who will be responsible for finding a replacement family? What is the timeline for finding a new family? What rate will the nanny receive if there is lag time in between one family leaving and the next joining? Location – will it switch, and if so, is the commute doable for everyone?”
Nanny shares are a great option for families needing to keep their risk of COVID exposure low while still keeping childcare affordable. Nanny shares can be wonderful arrangements that provide a playmate for your child, and they can help to instill a spirit of flexibility in your child from a young age. Children receive some great socialization experiences, personalized care, and often long-term friendships are formed between the children and families!