No matter what option you choose, childcare is expensive. When I discovered it would cost nearly £2,000 a month for childcare for my two children, then aged 6 months and 2 years, I decided it made more sense to quit my job, take care of my children, and work from home. Unfortunately, not all parents have that option.
If you are exploring options for affordable childcare, one option that might make sense is nanny sharing.
What Is Nanny Sharing?
Two families agree to share the same nanny. This could either be that each family needs the nanny on a part-time basis or that each families’ children are cared for by the same nanny full-time.
Benefits of Nanny Sharing?
There are many benefits of nanny sharing, one of the most important being financial. Sharing “can save families about £300 a week by splitting a nanny’s typical weekly salary in half” (thisismoney.co.uk).
Nanny-sharing is typically a reaction to childcare costs from low-income families. Whereas previously these families might have had their finances in a knot with childcare costs – using predatory lenders, credit cards and payday loans to make up the shortfall. A shared nanny can be an affordable option that doesn’t mean falling into debt.
“The use of short term loans for childcare costs is something that does happen. If someone feels that it is an emergency use and they need those funds for an emergency situation, then it’s circumstantial from there” (simplepayday.co.uk).
Another important benefit is companionship. If your child is an only child, sharing a nanny allows him to have another child to play with all day long.
Drawbacks of Nanny Sharing?
While the financial aspects of nanny sharing are appealing, there are several important potential drawbacks to consider.
1. Who takes vacation when? How will you handle vacations? Will the nanny travel with one of the families when they vacation? If so, how will the other family fare without the nanny? How many weeks off does the nanny get?
2. Do your families agree on parenting issues. If you want your child to never watch television while the other family thinks television is fine, you may have an issue. The key is to be flexible as well as to try to share with a family who has values that are closely aligned with your values.
3. Do your kids like each other? It is one thing for the parents to get along great, but what if the kids don’t like each other? They will be spending time together every day, so ideally they like to play together.
4. Whose house will the nanny use? Which family will the nanny and the children stay at during the day? Will it be the same house each time, or will she work at one house one week and another house the next week?
Benefits for the Nanny?
Many nannies don’t mind working in a nanny sharing arrangement because they are assured work. Two years ago, nanny use was down 30 percent, according to a survey by the International Nanny Association. That number has since bounced back, in part because nannies are willing to accept unconventional arrangements such as nanny sharing.
Others like nanny sharing because they are used to working in a daycare environment, and even if they are caring for 2 to 4 kids, they are caring for fewer kids than they did at the daycare. In addition, the kids often entertain one another by playing together.
Where to Find Nanny Sharing Arrangements?
If you would like to look into sharing a nanny, you can inquire at nanny agencies. In addition, other groups are popping up specifically for sharing nannies.
As far as finding the perfect family to share a nanny with, look to your play groups as well as your prenatal classes if you are expecting or your exercise classes.
How much should you pay a baby-sitter?
The answer to that question, like the answer to so many like it, is that it depends. What you pay depends on a number of factors. You want to be fair to the sitter, but you also don’t want to overpay for the service.
Factors Involved in Paying a Babysitter
As you consider how much to pay the babysitter, here are some things to consider:
- How old is the babysitter? A teenage girl in your neighbourhood isn’t likely to cost as much as a college student with more experience. Consider the sitter’s age when deciding what to pay.
- What do expect the sitter to do? Another consideration is what you expect the sitter to do. Are you actually looking for a nanny that can prepare simple meals, do light housecleaning, and take care of other items? Will the babysitter need to drive the children to activities, or pick them up from school? If so, what you pay will increase with the amount of work expect.
- Will the children be awake? Even if you don’t expect the babysitter to take care of other household tasks, alert children are tougher than sleeping children. If your children will be awake, and expect to be entertained, that’s more work for the sitter. If the children will be in bed, and all the sitter has to do is be around in case of emergency, watching TV or doing homework, you can usually pay a little bit less.
- How many children are there? The more children there are, the more you can expect to pay. You might pay $5 an hour, plus an extra $2 for each child beyond two children in a neighbourhood like mine. So, if you have four children, the cost might be $9 an hour.
- Location: Where you live matters. Where I live currently, childcare is quite cheap, whether you hire a babysitter or take your child to a daycare. However, when I lived in New York, childcare cost more than twice as much. Take into consideration the “going rate” in your neighbourhood. You can ask other parents what they pay, or ask if the babysitter has a set rate.
- Special training and experience: Some babysitters choose to become certified in First Aid and/or CPR. These sitters might charge a little more, since they have specific training that can help your child.
Don’t forget to leave money for food you have the sitter order and offer money for gas or a cab ride if you don’t pick your sitter up. Another consideration, of course, is how often you need the services. If you have someone babysit your children two or three days (or more) each week, it makes more sense to negotiate an equitable weekly rate. Also, consider that you might provide a raise as your babysitter ages and has more experience, and becomes better acquainted with your children. A good babysitter can become someone you trust and rely on, and you want to make sure that he or she is adequately compensated for the work done in your home.