I’m always a little defensive when people ask about my childcare. I always emphasise the ‘share’ in my ‘nanny share’, and tell them how in London, nurseries cost just as much (which is true) and that Scrip felt quite little to be left with lots of others when I went back to work. The truth is, I’m very happy with our arrangements and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
It was actually my employer who first suggested a nanny share – ironic considering what difficulties followed with work, but that’s another story. She’d had one a few years before and it worked well. So, during my pregnancy I ignored the “put her name down for nursery after the 20 week scan or else” scaremongering and we decided to considering sharing.
It’s been fantastic – our little ones get on so well and they learn a lot from each other. I’m sure it’s helped with their development. They both crawled and then walked at very similar times, and they now play together, eat together and even hold hands every now and again (very sweet).
I’m sure we’ve been lucky – and it helps that our nanny is fantastic – but we’ve also learnt a lot inthe process. Here are some nanny share tips to help along the way:
To find a family to share with use your network
There are some great sites that people I know have used – like www.nannyshare.co.uk – to find a family to share with, but it’s also worth asking around your NCT friends, ante natal class friends, hospital friends, children’s centre friends, swimming friends, friends of friends etc. Never will you have such a receptive, ready-made network of people going through a similar thing – and in my experience, people are happy to try and help. Our nanny share family are friends of a friend I made in ante natal physio and live just two minutes down the road.
Be opened minded
The family we share with have a slightly older toddler and the mum was going back to work a few months before me. And she wanted to work fewer days. So on paper, it wasn’t a match made in heaven. But everything else felt right, and we thought it would be unlikely to find someone with exactly the same arrangements. So we talked it through and came to an agreement.
Make sure you agree what you’re looking for in a nanny up front
It’s important to share a similar mindset on areas like discipline and learning, You don’t have to have identical views, but you should agree the key things you’re looking for. We decided the most important thing was about warmth and interest in our babies – we wanted them to be loved as well as looked after (and you’d be amazed at some of the candidates we met who didn’t even look at the little ones). Smaller things, like disagreeing over when to potty train, can be worked out along the way and while their routines will fall into line, there’s still a lot of scope for the babies to have different needs addressed.
Be prepared to be flexible all the way along
For us, two weeks at one house then two weeks at the other works very well. Two families means (potentially) four adults to pick up or look after our children, which is reassuring. All of us help the others out when they can – so when one person’s running late, another will stay with the little ones until they arrive. Likewise, with holidays we try and plan together to make timings work for everyone. There’s a lot of give and take – but as parents we’re very used to that…
Make sure you all agree a contract
There are some off-the-shelf contracts online – like this. We got ours from a friend and ran it past an HR professional. Make sure you get signatures from everyone and agree things like holidays in advance – the families dictate half and the nanny half, in our arrangement. It’s a good idea for the families to meet and go through it and then discuss it with your nanny together before bringing out the paperwork.
As with all relationships, it’s really important to be open about any concerns you have when they arise. We see each other briefly when picking up and dropping off and then email and try and meet up socially as well when we can. We try and address any issues or questions with our nanny together – otherwise it’s easy to slip into reported conversations, which cause confusion.