More and more parents are turning to nanny shares to deal with soaring childcare costs

A few things swirl through your mind in those seemingly endless nesting days. Can you just call your baby Squish forever or do you actually have to agree on a name? What kind of nursery will be just right for said baby? And who on earth is going to take care of them for their first few years of life?! With childcare costs always on the rise, that last one is a real doozy. In fact, the average cost of childcare has gone up more than 30 percent since 2019, according to the Bank of America Institute. But crafty families who can’t get a spot at their local childcare center and can’t afford a dedicated nanny have found another, more affordable option: nanny shares.

If you’re reading this now, it’s safe to say you’re probably interested in finding a nanny share, or at least learning more about them. So we spoke with childcare experts and families who partake in nanny shares to get the lowdown on this more modern, budget-friendly(er) approach to babysitting. Plus, you’ll get some tips on how to find a nanny share in your neighborhood and what you can expect if you decide to go this route.

What is a nanny share?

As the name implies, a nanny share involves sharing a nanny. According to Lynn Perkins, founder and CEO of UrbanSitter, a nanny share is where two families team up and split the cost of a single nanny, who cares for kids from both families. “It’s a budget-friendly way to get personalized care for your children,” says Perkins. “Families coordinate schedules, pick a host home (or share hosting), and work out all the details.”

Now that you know the basics about nanny shares, let’s get a bit more into the nitty gritty.

How do nanny shares work?

So what does a nanny share actually look like? In terms of picking a host home, that’s generally sorted out by the parents or at the request of the nanny (for example, if they live closer to one of the families).

“The nanny may travel back and forth between the two families’ homes, or pick one location and have that be the permanent spot for the nanny to work from,” says Olivia Rutman, founder of Kids Care Finder.

For Kristin Nelson, a mother from Nashville, TN, her nanny was vocal that she did not want to move between houses and pick up and drop off any kids. “Our arrangement meant the second family dropped their child at our house on weekdays around 8:00 a.m. and picked him up around 5:00 p.m.”

“We set up a dedicated room (let’s be honest, it was a closet in a spare room) with our pack-and-play, blackout shades, and a sound machine for the other child’s naps. The family provided a monitor we set up in the room,” says Nelson. “I let the family have their own drawer in our kitchen to store formula, bottles, diapers, and other stocked items. This way, the second family didn’t have to transport daily essentials back and forth every day. They would restock formula, diapers, wipes, etc. periodically. Any dirty laundry went home with the child.”

What does a nanny share cost?

Nanny shares cost more than the average daycare, but less than a personal nanny. According to Rutman, private nannies typically range from $25-$30 per hour, give or take $5/hour depending on location and experience.

“The nanny’s rate is set based on the number of children and sometimes nannies will add a slight premium for working with two families,” says Perkins. “This cost per family is usually much less than they would pay for a nanny for just their child.”

Nelson and her sitter agreed on 1.5x the standard nanny rate. Jamie H, a communications executive from Chicago, and her nanny settled on a rate of $28 for two children, which goes to show how pricing can vary greatly depending on the number of children, location, and responsibilities, among other factors.

You might be able to save more by sending your child to daycare, but this depends on the type of institution, hours, and location—and, in some cities, securing a highly coveted spot.

What are the benefits of a nanny share?

More affordable

As mentioned above, nanny shares are a more economical way to have a personal nanny as you’re splitting the hourly cost with another family. For parents with a limited budget for childcare, a nanny share can be a workaround if they don’t nab a spot at a daycare.

More flexibility

“Our nanny share couldn’t have been more convenient because the other family lived in our building,” says Lauren, who was based in Brooklyn at the time. “The morning rush was practically nonexistent!” She also explained how much easier it was to deal with unexpected hiccups in the schedule, sick days, and holidays versus childcare centers with strict hours and dates.

Another perk, as opposed to personal nannies, is that having four parents on hand instead of two makes covering a sick nanny’s days off a little easier.

More opportunities to socialize

For those families with only one child, the opportunities to socialize might be limited. However, participating in a nanny share can help introduce more socialization in a more intimate and controlled setting.

“I think it’s really important that both kids be at similar ages so the activities and schedules match up with where each child is developmentally,” says Nelson. “For example, since our kids were 3 months apart, they both napped at the same time, went through potty training together, etc.”

And not only are the kids building sibling-like relationships, but it’s also an opportunity for the families participating in the nanny share to build a close, familial connection— and some maintain that relationship for years to come.

More Attention

Another thing parents love about nanny shares is that the ratio of baby to caregiver is so low, so they’re still getting that personalized attention that isn’t possible at daycare centers.

How to find a nanny share

Once you’ve decided on a nanny share, there are a few things you have to figure out: finding a local family who is interested in having a joint nanny and a caretaker who is willing to make this type of arrangement.

These days, it’s easier to locate interested families on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram, and websites like UrbanSitter, Care.com, Sittercity, and The Nanny Network help parents find nannies who are open to nanny shares.

Jamie H. found a family for her child to join through a local Facebook moms group. This isn’t the only way, but it’s definitely a great place to start if you’re looking for a family that’s close to where you live.

You can also go by word of mouth. For example, if you have a friend who is currently involved in a nanny share, check if they or their share family know anyone looking to do the same. You can also ask if their nanny knows any other nannies looking for a similar setup.

How do you know if a nanny share is right for you?

If you’re looking for more personalized care for your baby but without the private nanny price tag, this type of arrangement might offer the best of both worlds. That said, nanny shares work best with parents who are open to compromise since two families will be making decisions on what the kiddos eat, their sleeping arrangements, where and how they spend their days, and so on. They might not work as well for people who sweat the details or need to be completely in control.

And then there’s the nanny’s preferences. If they prefer to go to the other family’s house, then you’ll have to be OK with the morning commute. If you’re hosting, you’ll need to have the extra space in your home to accommodate the kids and be prepared for clean up.

Additionally, a lot of families in nanny shares like to coordinate their time off so no one is left paying for several days or weeks alone, so some flexibility is always an asset.

At the end of the day, when a nanny share works it can really work, and that’s why so many parents have gone down this road. The key is finding a fellow family that you jive with and a nanny who you both feel comfortable with.

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