These days, sharing a nanny has become an increasingly common and popular childcare option for parents and one which has many benefits. But how does it all work? Here are some of the key things to consider.
Why choose a nanny share?
Enrolling a child in a nursery or with a childminder means conforming your life around that of the institution or individual – for some parents this is perfect, but if you require more flexibility, a nanny is certainly the better option. Of course, employing a nanny is expensive, but, shared with another family, the cost can actually work out cheaper than that of a nursery so it is something well worth considering.
The key pros of a nanny share
There are lots of plus sides to sharing nanny. First of all, the adult to child ration remains low. This means that your child will have almost individual care while still benefiting from being with another child and learning to share, develop social skills and so forth.
Secondly, you have flexibility. Employing a nanny allows you to set the hours at the beginning of their contract and revise them if your situation changes. While you won’t have complete control of the schedule if you are sharing a nanny, you will only have to negotiate with one other family. This means it will be easier to keep your child on the routine you’ve started – ie nap times and meal times.
Choosing another family
Choosing a family to partner with is one of the most important decisions. You want to make sure that they live close enough that it’s convenient for both of your families and the nanny, and you want to make sure that you parent in similar fashions. It also helps if your children are similar ages. Make sure you agree on things like the kinds of food your children eat, the types of activities you want them to be involved in and, when the time comes, how you want your child to be disciplined. If you parent in a similar way it will be a lot easier for the children and your nanny as there will be no double standards and no one will feel pulled in different directions.
Finding a family
If you don’t know a local family that you would be willing to share a nanny with, there are other ways to find one. This can be as simple as word of mouth or using an online service such as NannyShare (www.nannyshare.co.uk) to help you find a suitable match in your local area. When choosing a family to share a nanny with you’ll need to decide how you want to share a nanny. You may want to have the nanny three days a week and the other family has them the other two, or you might decide to share the nanny full-time. This usually takes the form of both children being cared for in one of the family homes, or alternating homes on certain days of the week. In the second situation you will need to decide who will become the employer for tax purposes, but we recommend that you consult someone who is an expert in that field such as Nanny Matters (www.nannymatters.co.uk).
Once you’ve found a family and are ready to start looking, make sure you have written the job description together and that you’ve both considered your non-negotiables and what you can be flexible on. This might be the experience or qualifications of the nanny or it might be that they speak a second language. Knowing these things upfront will help you or the agency you employ to find the right nanny for you. If you don’t use an agency to find a nanny, make sure that you fully vet the person who will be taking care of your child. Go further than simply asking them to complete a DBS check, makes sure you speak to their references and get a full understanding of their employment history. Even if you don’t use an agency to employ a nanny, agencies such as Tinies can help you with these references.
Employing a nanny
Communication from an early stage is really important, so once you’ve hired the nanny make sure you keep the lines of communication open. You’ll want open communication between the nanny and both families as well as regular contact between both families. If there are issues you want to highlight or things you wish to praise the nanny for it’s worthwhile having a conversation between the families first. If you find this difficult on an ad hoc basis – schedule in a monthly coffee when you can raise anything. The key is to present a united front to the nanny and address quickly any issues that may arise.
Kristen Harding is a childcare expert at Tinies Childcare www.tinies.com
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