Best practices for sharing a nanny
December 14, 2010 7:06 AM   Subscribe

Nanny Share best practices. Please help.

We've come to the conclusion that a nanny, shared between 2 families, makes the most sense for us for childcare for our 2-year-old (25 months.) (I'll spare you the details but our current daycare center is not good and we want our kid out of it as soon as possible.)

We live in a very family-oriented neighborhood with an email listserv blowing up daily with nanny recommendations and people looking to share, so I don't need advice on the searching part.

We want to do it at our house because we'd like the nanny to take our dog out at noon. (For which we'll throw the nanny an extra $100/month.)

Nanny: Although dozens of possibilities were presented to me, through a friend-of-a-friend we found a non-college student native English speaker professional nanny that seems amazing and upon an initial 1.5 hour phone call, we share a lot of values when it comes to parenting/food/discipline/etc. We're going to meet her in person this weekend. She is also available ASAP (which would help us schedule-wise.) However, if that doesn't work out, there are dozens of other possibilities. (The downside to this nanny? In the spring she wants to go work on a campaign, but I figure that this will buy us some time to figure out another option.)

Sharing: We found a family that lives behind us (walking across an alley) with a 10-month-old (if they were further away I wouldn't do it based on age difference, but for location and other factors, I think that it will work.) They are academics and won't need fulltime care after the spring anyway (so it works out with this potential nanny's schedule.)

We've worked out the details about the finances - paying taxes, SS, and health insurance. We want to pay $8/hr per kid, but would be willing to go up to $10/hr per kid, and then do the correct taxes after that. This seems to be mid-range for this city/neighborhood. We discussed this verbally but would it be smart to get this is some sort of contractual written form? (Or would maybe the nanny's contract include the language about what parent pays what?)

- The other family wants to do 4/days a week mostly and occasionally Fridays. What should we do about those Fridays? Pay the nanny what we'd pay her for just our kid and if the other family brings kiddo over they pay too?
- Do we need to get any special insurance for our home?
- Where does the 2nd kid sleep if it is at a different home? We just moved and don't have a crib anymore. Would we buy a crib? Would the other family buy a crib? Where would we put it? In our son's room?
- We don't have a highchair anymore. Assuming that the younger child would need one, would we buy it or would they buy it? (I'd want one that takes up the least floorspace possible and isn't ugly if I can help it!)
- We'd probably need to get a double stroller. Would it be easier for us to buy it and sell it when we're done or would it make more sense to split the cost with the other family and split the sale (more complicated.)
- What about buying food? Nanny needs to eat lunch, obvs, but what about buying snacks and lunch for the other child? I imagine that his parents could bring food over, but especially as the younger one gets older, it makes more sense for Nanny to make them both the same lunch/snack, so who buys that food? Could we ask Nanny to keep track of what she uses and total it up and ask for reimbursement from the other family? Or do we just eat this cost?
- Since we're hosting and especially since the second child is younger, I'd imagine that we need to kick our babyproofing up a notch, for safety and liability. Right?

In terms of the human relations side of this, the other family aren't friends (yet!). We've only met them in the neighborhood. Any words of wisdom about these sort of sharing arrangements and possible challenges?
posted by k8t to Human Relations (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
A lot of your questions about gear and baby-proofing could be easily solved if the nanny and the kids were at the other family's home on the days the baby is there. If you're going to do it at your house, and the other family agrees to that, it would seem like their responsibility to provide a high chair, Pack-n-Play for sleeping, and so on if they wanted the baby to have access to those things. Ditto for baby food. In your shoes, I'd consider whether I was willing to baby-proof to someone else's specifications and have all that extra gear in my home (my home is smallish). If the other house is right across the alley, couldn't the nanny still walk your dog pretty easily even if she was over there for the day?

I think the nanny needs to negotiate with the other family about Fridays and how they're paid for.

As for the double stroller: does either family plan to have a second child soon enough to possibly need a double stroller? Perhaps that family would be willing to buy one. Do you know anyone who might have a double stroller they're not using right now (they're between babies) that you could use for a few months until spring? I would be cautious about buying together and selling together. I'm the kind of person who would rather have ownership be clear (otherwise there's the potential AskMe from 2 years from now: We bought a really nice double stroller with another family, we were supposed to use it for both our kids and then sell it when we were done, but they moved away a few months ago and took it with them...). To me, it seems less likely for their to be angst if one family buys the double stroller, owns it, and gets any proceeds from eventually selling it.

Snacks: perhaps the family would be willing to contribute a set amount per month toward food? That would be my preference in your shoes. Much easier than keeping a detailed tally of what was used and presenting bills.
posted by not that girl at 7:22 AM on December 14, 2010

Response by poster: I should add - the other parents work out of their home, so they don't want the share at their house.
posted by k8t at 7:23 AM on December 14, 2010

Response by poster: And our house is bigger/more child-friendly overall.
posted by k8t at 7:24 AM on December 14, 2010

I have no idea on most of these things, but re: insurance:
1. consider getting an umbrella policy. I tell this to all my friends. It's cheap - we have over a million dollars of coverage for I think $135 a year. It did require that we up our coverage on our primary car insurance, but is well worth it. This should also cover, I think, the kid if something happened. But make sure of that with your insurance guy.
2. figure out the workers' compensation and unemployment insurance schemes for your area. where I used to live, you could get a workers' comp account and just not fund it, then back fund it if necessary (at least I think that is how it worked). This protects you (at least somewhat) if she's injured on your property. Your homeowners kicks in, and then your umbrella, should things get bad.
3. is she going to drive your car? you need to add her as a driver.

We have our daughter at our nanny's house three days a week. We used to send her food; now we just give her an extra $5/week to buy milk and snacks. We purchased, for her home, a pack and play, a car seat, and a stroller. I assume we'll get those back when she stops going/needing them. They had a booster seat type high chair already - I'd think by 10 months you could get a way with that. In other words, I would think that the parents of the other kid should outfit whatever is needed, but that means they get to pick. They should provide snacks, unless they agree to reimburse you for the amount of snacks. You might consider providing all the snacks/food for the nanny if they split the cost equally (I assume that you would pay more because she's coming to your house).

Get the plan in writing - especially the part about who pays how much, what happens if there is an extra kid on Friday, etc - I'd put that in the nanny's contract. Also, how you are going to schedule vacation, and what happens when anyone is sick - what does "sick" mean; if your son is sick, does the nanny go to the other person's house? does everyone still pay?: what about when the nanny gets sick?. Also, be very explicit about what happens if one of you is unhappy with the arrangement for any reason - if the other people split, are you stuck with the whole bill? Just your part? Etc.

What about outings for the kids? You want your son to go to the zoo, who pays? Is there some amount set aside for that generally? Or are they just staying home?

There are services who will help you with the withholding/pay/etc - from what I understand they are worth it, and not very expensive. Might want to consider.
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:25 AM on December 14, 2010

One thing I'd suggest: consider agreeing on a limited trial period to be nanny sharing with this other family, perhaps 8 weeks, but not all the way til Summer. If you find you don't like sharing with them, or the children don't do well together, you will have a graceful way to part with people who will still be your neighbors. You can always "renew" the deal a lot more easily than you can break things off.
posted by keener_sounds at 7:57 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Our older son has been in a nanny share part-time for the last two years, and it's been fantastic. Here is how our share has handled things:

-we have a written agreement among all parties re pay, regular schedule, sick/vacation days, etc. (memail me if you want to see ours)

-we pay our nanny one rate for caring for one child and a different rate (not the single child rate doubled) for two

- in CA we need worker's comp insurance, which we added to our homeowner's policy. That's something you'll need to check out for your jurisdicition

- in our share, the location rotates between houses, so every house has all the needed equipment. As the host location, I'd say it's on you to get a highchair/double stroller. Get a used stroller- Craigslist is a great resource for this kind of thing, and IKEA has perfectly good cheap highchairs and other kid stuff. Used Pack&plays are not hard to come by either.

- Each family provides food for their own child, and the hosting family provides lunch for the nanny

- Definitely upgrade the babyproofing.
posted by ambrosia at 8:16 AM on December 14, 2010

Response by poster: So, ambrosia, for example. If it was 2 kids each family pays $8/hr and if it is only 1, $10/hr by 1 family?

Otherwise, yeah, I am totally about the used/Ikea kids stuff. We used that sort of thing when our kid was smaller. I was sort of hoping that I'd have control over that. ;)
posted by k8t at 8:24 AM on December 14, 2010

If you want to control it, then go for it. If my nanny had said "I'd rather have a fancy stroller" or "we want a crib not a pack and play", that would absolutely have been on them.
posted by dpx.mfx at 8:44 AM on December 14, 2010

k8t, our rates are skewed by crazy Bay Area numbers, so don't freak out, but this gives you the idea:

One child: $16/hour
Two children: $22/hour, ($11 per family)

(In our case, two of the families recently had babies, so the structure became more complex, but that's what is was when every family had only one child.)
posted by ambrosia at 8:55 AM on December 14, 2010

I'm a nanny and I've worked in a nannyshare before. It can be tricky.

The most important aspect of your arrangement is the compatibility of the two families. Please talk a lot in advance about what you would do in situations like if your child starts hitting or biting the smaller child. How will you feel if the other family gives the nanny a much bigger Christmas bonus than you are willing to, would that be okay with you? What if one family needs to work late unexpectedly, would the other family relieve the nanny and take over childcare?

ambrosia, the rates you stated don't sound at all exorbitant to me. The rule of thumb is that each family should pay 2/3 of the nanny's standard rate. So if her standard rate is $18/hour, she should make $24 for nanny share. The rationale is that the biggest challenge for a nanny is dealing with the parents, and in the case of a share that is doubled and tricky. I have never heard of the nanny being paid less when she cares for only one child. A nanny should be paid for all of the hours she's booked. If she typically works 9 hours/day M-F, and one family doesn't need her on a particular Friday, they still pay the nanny. Also sort out how you are going to schedule her vacation days and share the cost of benefits like health insurance.

The family of each child should supply the supplies for that child. High chair, pack & play, etc. The family who's house it's at should provide food for the nanny, and the visiting family should provide food and supplies for their child. The hosting family should provide space for the visiting family to keep supplies like a change of clothes or two and diaper supplies.

One family should buy the double stroller. And if you are going to buy supplies like that, you might want to wait until you hire a nanny and ask her if there's a particular model she prefers. I know I have strong opinions on that, and she's the one who's going to be using it.

I'd be happy to answer any additional questions you have.
posted by palegirl at 2:38 PM on December 14, 2010

I was a nanny for 2 families at the same time. I never cared for their kids at the same time (2 sets of twins, oy, that would have been too much!) but each family wanted me 2 days a week. The one thing that drove me nuts is that even though I gave each family the other family's phone number, they would never call each other to make arrangements. I had to arrange them myself and so sometimes had to make 3-4 phonecalls... "Family 1 needs me Mon & Wed" Family 2: "well I was hoping to have you Wed & Thur, can they make it Mon & Tue?" etc etc etc.

Agreeing on letting the nanny help pick out double stroller, any extra car seats, etc.

If you want certain chores done (other than normal cleaning up after the kids), make it clear which ones and prioritize them.

I found it helpful when I had more than 1 kid in diapers to put up a chart or dry erase board to write down who was changed when and if they went #2 or not. Some parents may be more concerned about this than others.

I was paid $9/hour by both families and they did not withhold taxes, and my only "benefit" was that I was welcome to any food in the fridge/pantry unless told otherwise. I think $8-10 is very reasonable especially if you're providing health insurance to your nanny.
posted by IndigoRain at 9:17 PM on December 14, 2010

Hi everyone
I just joined metafilter because of this post.
We are pairing with a friend who has a son the exact same age as ours (born the same day) to share a live-in nanny in our home when we return to work in August. We are on the same page with many things, but are looking for a good sample 3-way contract to use as a baseline, as well as for some 'watch outs' regarding us sharing a nanny, and as we begin our search for the ''perfect" nanny. We will both be doing full-time, M-F, in my home.

Ambrosia - I saw you had a sample contract you'd be willing to share. I'd appreciate this.

Any other tips or tricks would be really great, including: who sets the menu (the boys will be eating the same thing, but does the nanny decide or the parents?); how do people handle vacation time (parents and nanny?); etc. Any pointers would be great...

Thank you!
posted by coffeegirl at 7:03 AM on March 27, 2011

I would love to get an update as well.
posted by bq at 5:10 PM on April 22, 2011

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