About Nanny Shares

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Taking off for maternity leave in nanny share

May 2005


We share a great nanny with several others for our 2 year old girl and are about to have another baby. Two questions - How do people handle unpaid leaves and nannies? We'd like to cut back care of our 2 year old so we can afford to take 3 months off on unpaid leave for the second and then bring her and the 2nd baby back into the share situation at the end of leave. So that's the first question - How have people handled leaves, particularly unpaid leaves, and maintaining relationship with nanny? Second question - we would be adding the baby to the care scene (and yes we'll need another adult)...How much do people pay for 3 year old part time (she'll be starting preschool) and baby full time - 40 hours? We're concerned we won't be able to afford the nanny anymore once two kids are in the picture. Would appreciate any and all comments. Working mother

It's unreasonable to expect to remove your employee's income but her to hold your space for when you have more money. In the meantime, she still has to pay rent, buy food, pay bills etc., so she will try to replace her income lost pronto.

This also puts a stress on the other share families, who may feel obligated to pay your share in the meantime while they are looking for another family to fill the spot (for risk of losing her to a single family who will pay her entire wage). I think you will end up with a bunch of resentful people if you try to go this route.

Oh, and a non-shared nanny for two children runs about $15/hour, even if your older child is in school some of the time (who would be on call for your older child for sick days or holidays, etc?).

I think the best thing to do is to say you will be leaving the share, and looking for another 3 months down the road. If it so happens they still have that space, they might let you rejoin, but you'd be smart to expect a new situation. Good luck.


Liability in nanny share situation

Feb 2002


I've had a babysitter to take care of my 2 kids in my house, However, since my eldest daughter started preschool, I am considering sharing the babysitter with another family. They would drop their child at my house for a few hours per week and my babysitter would take care of both her and my second child. I have some concerns/questions about our liability given that the care will take place in our house. I wonder if anyone who has been in a sharing situation could provide advice/recommendations in terms of liability issues and the need to sign a contract/agreement with the other family. Thank you.

(no replies received)

September 2002

How do people deal with issues of liability when sharing a nanny and either having someone else's child in your house or having your child in someone else's house? There may be an obvious answer since so many people seem to do it... but I don't know what it is! Has anyone ever had a problem, such as be sued because someone else's child got injured at your house? Or have your child get injured because of a dangerous situation in the host house? Do people go and check out the safety of the house their child will be taken care of in? First time mother, nervous and new to all of this, would like to hear others' experiences... Thanks

I would definitely recommend visiting any potential share partners' homes, thoroughly inspecting the homes and discussing any safety issues or concerns with the other parents and the caregivers. If the parents or caregivers don't share your level of concern about safety, they are probably not for you. Things to keep in mind are pets and pools. I found out that almost everyone I interviewed seemed to have a dog or a cat, which was a concern for me because I wanted to keep my child away from allergens. Pools are very dangerous for young children once they become mobile, so if anyone has a pool, I would make sure that they have adopted appropriate safety measures and that no one uses the pool unless a parent is home. As far as liability goes, your homeowners or renters insurance policy should cover anything that happens at your home, but you should check with your carrier. Shared before

We had our home childproofed by a professional before our baby was born (boy, was that a good thing, as it was so hard to make decisions later !). When my son was 6 months, we began a nanny share and both sets of parents ''inspected'' the other family's home (I recommend doing this, of course, before entering into an agreement -- you want to feel comfortable about the whole feel and ambience as well as safety and specifics about the house you'll leave your child at -- and so will the other family want to feel comfortable about your home). When my son was 7 months old (their baby was 2 months younger) and starting to be more mobile, the family we shared with asked about and hired our babyproofing contractor for their home. In any case, I would not hesitate to visit the other family's home, inspect their crib and playpens, check for recalls on any of their equipment, etc, and talk with them about what sort of baby/child-proofing might be necessary (e.g., deck guardrails, etc.). KB

You just need to make sure that the person you are sharing with has the same level of concern that you do. You will find parents who are very very tuned in to total childproofing and spend a lot of time on it, and others who are a lot more casual and put a higher premium on other aspects. The trick is to find another parent who sees it the way you do, so that you feel comfortable having your child there. Definitely you want to visit the house where the share takes place at least once, especially when the nanny is there. And as much as you can, get to know the other parents in the share. I'm in a nanny share with 2 others, but we knew each other before we started the share. So our approach to security is that we have a high level of trust in each other and in the nanny. We assume that each of us has the ''correct'' level of security concern and that the tots will not be wandering around the house unattended. In general I would say that we take care of the just-in-case basics (gating the stairs) but trust that the nanny is watching the tots at all times for rest. And I think that we probably each recognize that no matter how careful and attentive we are, accidents will sometimes happen, nanny or no. So we don't expect that the nanny or the other parents will be able to assure 100% accident-free environment any more than we could on our own. This approach might not work for you, so we might not be good share partners. So my advice is: yes, visit the house where the care will take place, and spend some time with the nanny and the other families. Ask yourself am I comfortable leaving my child here? or will I be worrying about her the whole time I'm at work? Note it's usually hardest the very first time you leave your child, so take that into account. But no matter how hard you plan and make mental lists and review options, in the end you just have to use your instinct. If you really don't feel comfortable with the share in your heart, then let your heart tell your brain what to do! A Mom

January 2003

We are thinking about the possibility of sharing our nanny in our home a few days a week and I am wondering if we should have some sort of legal document or contract that would not let us be liable for anything should something happen to the other baby. Are there any such contract ''templates'' out there or can I just use some sort of language pertaining to to liability? Should I contact a lawyer to draw up such a contract? Thanks.

(no replies received)

Logistics of a Share


I am just beginning a nanny share and was wondering if anyone has any advice about some of the logistics. I am a first time mom and recently moved to the area so am really not sure about one thing in particular: how does one normally deal with the nanny's vacation? Two weeks being the norm for most people we have offered her this but are finding it difficult to coordinate when this should be taken. Complicating factors are that three of the four parents involved have started new jobs this year and so are not getting vaction time soon. Also it would be nearly impossible for both couples to be free at the same time of year. Finally the nanny says she normally does not take vacation. What is definitely forseeable is that soon enough one couple's child will need care while the other family is away. Would it be standard to keep paying regular wages to the nanny (i.e. full payment for both children) even if only one child is being cared for? Or does it mean the vacationing family pays their normal weekly wages while the family whose child is being cared for pays wages for single child care (which is higher)? Should we insist the nanny take vacation or simply pay her an extra two weeks salary? I would just like it to be a fair situation for everyone while not making childcare needlessly expensive. Thanks for the input!

Of course there are many ways to make arrangements, depending on what is agreeable to all parties. It's been a long time since we had a share, but... In our case, we gave our sitter 2 weeks/year that she could use for sick leave or vacation. If she wanted to take a longer vacation, she did so without pay. Our agreement was that for vacation time (as opposed to sick days), she would try to coordinate her vacation with ours. We never had a problem with her not using all of the days. One thing you could do would be to set one or two vacation weeks, when the sitter would be paid but would not come, for example Christmas week. Those in your share who needed time during the vacation week could then pay the sitter extra for that time (if she wanted to work then). In our arrangement, we each paid a regular weekly amount, whether or not we used the time. I also at times had more informal shares, where I was the primary employer and a second child came on a less regular basis. In that case, the second family paid as needed, and I covered the single child cost and vacation pay at all other times. Cynthia

By far, the easiest (and in my opinion, fairest) arrangement is to decide what each person the share will pay the nanny each week, and each person should pay this amount regardless of whether a) a parent is on vacation b) the nanny is on vacation c) a child is sick, etc. If you think about it, you still get paid even if your boss takes vacation, so this is really the fair way to do it. Scheduling nanny vacation with four parents in the share could get really hairy, so if your nanny says she doesn't want to take any vacation, I wouldn't object if I were you!! I would expect she would want an occasional day off or long weekend, though, and you should simply try to get her to give you as much notice as possible when she does. Fran

it has been my experience with nanny/daycare with the following: whatever your hourly/weekly compensation to your nanny is, is paid continuously throughout the year (whether she vacations or you vacation). if you or the other family do not use her because of illness or vacation, she is still paid the guaranteed weekly amount. she should also be paid vacation time. most nannys do not seem to take vacation, so do not push it on her if she does not. you should not have to pay a higher amount if the other family is on vacation, because they will still be paying her the agreed upon salary. i hope this is helpful. i have used a shared nanny as well as now have my son in a professional daycare. in the daycare, she takes all the school holidays and 2 weeks vacation, in which we still pay her the monthly fee. nicola

Trouble Finding Someone to Share With


Hi! I'm having an unbelievably difficult time trying to find someone to share the nanny who cares for my son. She is very generous with her love, extremely good at keeping him challenged and learning in very fun ways and quite conscientious about all aspects of his well-being. She has taken all the safety classes and has excellent references. In addition she is VERY affordable when I compare what she charges to the $ i have seen posted over the past few weeks and yet we've had little or no response from this venue or bananas. Please comment with alternatives other that the high priced agencies (I'm a single parent and the prices most agencies charge for networking are out of my league). thanks in advance Michelle

We had a tough time setting up a share care, too. We had a babysitter and a kid-friendly home, but moved to Albany when our son was nearly two. When looking for an age-appropriate child to join our son and sitter, it almost seemed like trying to get a date to the prom in May -- everybody was already hooked up! We got lots of call from folks with newborns, but not much for the toddler set. We persevered with ads in this distribution list as well as Bananas. After we pretty much gave up, a family called from our Bananas ad. I would encourage you to keep posting your ads. It just may take some weeks, if you have the time to spare, that is. Once you do find someone, I would encourage you to give it a trial run. With did this with the first, very nice family we met and discovered that even though the children and adults did well together, the other family found our sitter's style too domineering. As a result, that situation ended very amicably before it began. Also, if you can pass this hurdle, try a trial period of a month to make sure it is compatible. And talk out the tough stuff beforehand, such as whether kids stay home when they are sick or go to the share-care house, holiday payment of sitter, and so on. It is much harder to talk about that stuff when you are in the middle of the share care. Share care is working great for us and I wish you the very, very best. Lynn


You might want to try Neighborhood Moms and local papers (Express and whatever neighborhood paper you get, if any). Inbal



re sharing nanny: I found my shared nanny thru an ad in the Montclarion placed by the mom who had hired the nanny initially. Bananas newsletter also lists similar situations, and you can go to Bananas and look thru their files. Linda






When the Share isn't Working


We seem to be having a problem with our childcare share arrangements, and I was hoping some of you veteran sharers could offer some input. Our son, now one year old, has had a part-time nanny from five months old. Recently, our needs for full-time necessitated sharing our nanny, since she is expensive (i.e. part-time is not a problem, but full-time is). We have developed a great relationship with our nanny, so we decided to keep her and introduce another baby to the arrangement. So far, it has been 4 weeks and we're not confident the share is working out. The conflict seems to be with the other parent (a single mom). My husband and I are not sure our personalities are meshing well. In addition, our nanny does not seem to be getting on with the other parent. We are concerned that our relationship with our nanny will deteriorate, because we know she is not happy either. The children do not seem to be doing so well: the younger son is not sleeping well and seems more agitated, according to the mother; and our son is not eating well, nor sleeping well. Since our son knows the nanny, we think he's more discombobulated by the change in schedule and scenery (the share takes place at the other parent's home) than anything else. Maybe we were all spoiled by having the nanny come to our house and just focus on looking after our son, and that we need a little more time to get to know each other. But another part of me feels that we need to start looking for another share. At this point, the only plus to this arrangement is financial. We think we made some mistakes going into this arrangement: the other mom's apartment is not very conducive to childcare, especially with a mobile destructo-child like ours; the second-floor location makes it difficult for the nanny to put the kids in/out of the stroller, especially when one or the other is sleeping (when our son is sleeping in the stroller she just leaves him in, since he's a light sleeper, but she can't do that with this new arrangement); it's very far from any parks, etc. In sum, we're not happy with the share, and I suppose we're trying to find things we don't like about our arrangement so that we can leave guilt-free. How long did it take you veterans to feel comfortable with your share arrangements? Did any of you quit and just decide to go solo? What are your experiences?

I've been in three shares with my daughter. One worked out beautifully. We became friends with the parents, our daughter became best friends with the other girl, and our slightly different different requirements meshed well (They needed full-time, we needed part-time and a flexible schedule). The second one we jumped into quickly because it was an emergency, and we always felt we were subject to a lot of rules we weren't comfortable with. What really made me angry was a double standard on illness: if our daughter was sick we weren't allowed to bring her to the share, but if their son was sick and they needed to have him cared for, it was okay for him to be there! After that happened, we pulled out and looked for another share. We found a third situation that seemed great, but right from the beginning it was clear it was just too complicated. There was a total of three children in the share, three parents, all with different schedules, and after a week or two of constantly shifting, last-minute schedule changes, we regretfully pulled out. I think 3 families in a share is probably just too much, unless the nanny runs it like a daycare.

For all of our shares, within a week or two we knew whether it was going to work or not, and the good one just got better and the bad one got worse. If it hasn't worked for you in 4 weeks, it's time to move on. Give the other mother a couple weeks to find other care, and look for another person to share with. Good luck! We ended up going solo even though we're paying our sitter a little more than we can afford, just for the reduction in stress. I still keep hoping for a share like that great first one we had, though!

We had a similar circumstance where we weren't happy and neither was our babysitter. I called the other family and told them that our sitter wasn't handling the 2 children well and wanted to go back to a single child situation. I felt bad about not addressing the complete story but it sort of let everyone off easy without having to discuss negative aspects of the situation.

To the parents with the share that isn't working out. I felt comfortable with each of my shares right away. Compatibility with the other family was a must--both among kids and among parents. Also comfort with the home. Given what you describe, I think you are fully justified in ending it now. Or, if you think it's the setting, suggest moving the share back to your home, if the other parent wants to try for longer. With caregiver situations, I found that if it didn't feel comfortable at first, I was unlikely to feel fully comfortable with it later on, although I might be able to live with it for awhile. In fact, as I got more experienced I set up a strategy of a 1-week trial period on both sides, so that I could back out if necessary without the guilt (this was after paying a substantial sum to one babysitter when I decided after 1 day that it clearly wasn't going to work). (Incidentally, I also became resigned after a while to greater expense as a tradeoff for better care and more flexibility for my kids; one sitter stayed on for years at close to full time when we no longer needed as many hours, using the extra hours to run errands, do laundry, and clean house. We didn't have much surplus income while we were doing this, but I could get to work reliably, and had someone at home when the kids were sick). Good luck.