how to hire a nanny


by Marianne Georgiou-Galberg

With all of the options of childcare out there, have you ever considered a nanny-share?

If you like the idea of having a nanny but don’t think you can afford the expense, consider sharing a nanny.  Nanny-sharing is an increasingly popular childcare solution for many Canadian families. It enables two families to use one nanny and share the costs of employing the nanny between them.

Typically a live-out or live-in nanny travels each day to one household, or alternates if the families take turns hosting the children. Sometimes a nanny lives with one family and cares for the children of two or more families in that home.

Here are my tips for going through the process, some of which are based on personal experience as well as friends’ recommendations.

1. Partner with a family first and then find a nanny together.

Although this may seem  like extra work and you may be tempted to just join another family who already has a nanny in place, partnering with a family before finding a nanny allows both families to be equal partners in a the nanny finding process and eventual nanny share. If you’re both equal partners, it means you both have equal say in what is agreed to and how things are managed right from the beginning with hopefully few surprises. I admit this is my bias. I’ve just had more friends share success stories in the former situation than the latter – but that’s not to say there aren’t successful nanny shares that started with a family and a nanny seeking another family.

2. If you do end up finding another family that has a nanny already, make sure you’re not being brought on board to merely subsidize that other family’s financial childcare situation. Sure that’s part of it – but it shouldn’t be the only reason why they’re seeking another family. Otherwise you may find yourself with little power in what should be a partnership. The flip side is that if you’re tempted to hire an amazing nanny first and then look for a family to nanny share later – make sure you can afford the nanny on your own. It’s amazing how blurry things get when money is your only motivator.

3.  Have a back up plan if things don’t work out.  Irrespective of how much you get along with the family you’re sharing with or you love your nanny – you always want to have a back up plan in case one family decides the nanny share isn’t for them. Make sure you put your child on home care agency lists (they often tend to have more flexible enrolment waiting periods) and day care lists. As great a nanny situation may appear to be you never know what may happen in the future and you want to always feel you have options for childcare. There’s nothing worse than staying in a less-than-desirable   situation because you have no other options available to you.

4. Consider a back up plan if your nanny gets sick.  It is normal for your nanny to get sick or to need time off. Life happens for everyone. What will you do if that’s the case? Does each family have flexibility to take time off work or do you have relatives who can pitch in? Are you willing to each take turns watching both children in cases where the nanny is away for more than one day? You’ll want to discuss this with the family. Additionally you may ask if the nanny has a back-up plan. Perhaps she’s friends with several nannies in the neighbourhood who can be vouched for who wouldn’t mind watching your child for a day for some extra money. If you know other parents on your street who also have a nanny, you may want to form a little network – where you agree to (with all the nannies permission of course) to help each other out if either of your nannies get sick.

5. When looking for a family to nanny share ask yourself the following:

a) Do you want the care to take place in one home or both? If care will be shared in both homes, you’ll need to have/acquire two of everything (including playpen for sleeping, highchair, double stroller, or wagon etc…) as you won’t want to move these items back and forth between homes.

b) What are your expectations regarding care? Do you expect the nanny to take your child out 2x a day, or are you content with a morning walk and some play time around the house after nap in the afternoon? Be clear about your needs.

c) What about naps? If the two children are on two different schedules your child may be  home bound while the other naps and vice versa. Assuming children are similar ages this will usually sort itself out in a few weeks.

d) Do you expect the nanny to do chores or clean your home? Expecting her to tidy up or do some chores is one thing but if she’s watching two children you will need to set realistic expectations for what the nanny can do during ‘nap time’ so that it doesn’t affect the care your child is receiving. I know that it was impossible for me to care for my child AND prepare 3 meals a day, clean, iron, do laundry etc. when I was home. So make sure you enter into the arrangement with realistic expectations. Your nanny will be able to focus on what’s most important and your child will be happier for it.

e) Do you expect the nanny to make breakfast and lunch for both children? Or will you need to supply the nanny with breakfast/lunch each day?

f) Do you expect to share/agree to the vacation time taken by both families? Do you expect the nanny to take her vacation when you want her to take vacation?

g) What are each family’s expectations regarding engaging the nanny for after-hours babysitting? Does each family promise to pay the nanny for the extra time and provide a cab fare home if she’s babysitting late? You may wish to set some boundaries around  how often each family will request extra babysitting. Keep in mind that when a nanny is staying into the late evening on a weeknight watching one child – both children will be affected by having an extra tired nanny watching them the next day.

h) What are the hours in the day you each require care for? If you’re both sharing care at the same time, at different houses but one family has a different work schedule than the other you’ll want to sort that out from the very beginning – or find another family that shares the same schedule as your family.

6. Ensure you capture everything on paper by writing up a simple contract agreed to between the nanny and both families. Get it signed by all parties. You may be tempted to have a contract specific to the nanny only – however it’s important to set parameters for what each family agrees to do or not do in the same contract or in a separate contract. This may seem like an awkward thing especially if you fear insulting the other family or feel the family is ‘nice enough’ – however it’s important you protect your rights for when the honeymoon period passes. You never know when a situation will go south, so following the adage ‘better safe than sorry’ is critical.

Part 2 of Nanny-Share Tips – The Contract




Marianne GalbergMarianne Georgiou-Galberg is the mother of one girl. She’s also a business manager for a Marketing Communications Agency by day and in her spare time volunteers as an assistant organizer for the West Toronto Families Meetup Group.