Exploring the nanny share idea


It seems like wait lists for the best daycares and government accredited day homes continue to get longer, and that childcare is becoming more and more expensive. Believe it or not, it is less expensive to hire a live out nanny than to send two of your children to some of the most reputable daycares in Calgary (true story!).

For some parents, sharing a nanny with another family can be a great option, especially if each family has one child or if they only require part time care. I shared a nanny with a former colleague of mine on a full time basis for almost three and a half years, when we each had one child. It was economical, convenient, and allowed for the kids to have social interaction with each other five days a week - and the children are still buddies even though they go to different schools. 

The beauty of a nanny share arrangement is that you can tailor it to meet your specific childcare needs. For example, the nanny may care for one or more children from each family at the same time either at one home, or alternating homes every week or two. Another scenario is for each family to have the nanny at their home (caring for their children only and assisting with household tasks) for a certain number of hours or days each week. 

The cost distribution could vary depending on the amount of care required and level of convenience. Most parents I know would agree that it is much more convenient to have the kids at your place rather than dropping them off. In terms of payment, one family could be the employer and provide a receipt to the other family for their childcare expenses at the end of each month or year. Alternatively, the nanny could have two employers -- each family could pay the nanny and remit taxes and other deductions (and issue a T4 slip at the end of the year) -- this may simplify your childcare tax deductions (check with your accountant).

Something to keep in mind is that the nanny may request a salary above market price or a longer notice period upon termination of the nanny share arrangement because of the increased risk of being let go (if the families change their minds about sharing earlier than expected). And, depending on the childcare arrangement, it may be important for the two families to have consistent views on a number of things. 

Things to consider before you enter into a nanny share arrangement

  • Hiring a nanny - read Hiring a Nanny - What You Need to Know
  • Employee vs contractor - who will employ the nanny (one or both parents), or is she is expected to be on contract and handle her own tax remittance, etc.
  • Salary and bonuses - the amount each family is responsible for paying
  • Location, food sharing and hours - where the children will be cared for and how often (and overtime). Pets, smoking and food allergies may play a part in these decisions
  • Schedule - the children's daily routine. This includes snack and meal times as well as nap and quiet time
  • Family values and discipline - including views on time outs, yelling and spanking
  • Daily tasks - the amount of time the nanny should spend caring for the children and doing housework, if any housework is expected of the nanny at all
  • Sick days - a bit of a cold might be okay with you, but if someone has a runny nose, bad cough, the flu or a fever, you may want to draw the line, and
  • How long will you share for - how long the arrangement is expected to last (i.e., until one family has another baby?) as well as the notice period for ending the arrangement.

It may be preferable to share a nanny with a family you already know because you may have a better idea of what you are getting into. Regardless, a written contract evidencing the intentions of the parties may not be a bad idea (check with your lawyer).

Helpful resources

Canadian Nannies provides a good forum for parents in search of a nanny share, and Kijiji also seems to be a go to place for parents to connect. Baby Centre also provides insight about nanny sharing in Canada and the U.S. 

Other related posts: 

Five tips for finding suitable childcare
Things you should know if you plan to hire a nanny
Parent's Guide to Childcare