As states begin to open back up and allow businesses to return their employees to their offices, parents going back to work are facing tough childcare decisions.
Scores of daycare centers shut down during when the pandemic first struck, and many will, unfortunately, not reopen. The facilities that do open will have limited availability due to social distancing and other health guidelines mandated by local and state authorities. Even if daycare was an option, some parents may not want to send their children to a facility for fear of increased exposure to the coronavirus.
Hiring a nanny and bringing just one person into the home may be a better option but one that may not be affordable to many families.
Having a grandparent watch the kids – while likely a “free” childcare solution – is probably off the table as the senior population has been the most susceptible to the coronavirus and families may not want to risk exposing an elderly loved one.
There is another option that would cost less than hiring a nanny on your own and potentially be a safer option than a daycare center.
And that’s a nanny share.
What is a nanny share?
In a nanny share two (or more) families hire a nanny who then typically cares for children in one of the family’s homes. During the pandemic – when you are limiting your family’s exposure to other people – you likely would limit the nanny share to you and one other family.
How is a nanny share more affordable than hiring on your own?
Each family in a nanny share pays a portion of the nanny’s regular hourly rate rather than their full rate if you were hiring the caregiver on your own.
Let’s say the going rate for a nanny in your area is $20/hour. The families in a nanny share each pay a portion of that rate, which is typically two-thirds but can be higher.
Now you are paying $13-14/hour while your nanny share family is also paying the same rate. That’s big savings over the course of a year. And your caregiver benefits too, as they should. Your nanny will be dealing with multiple families and that requires additional scheduling and coordination. They are now making around $300 more a week for full-time work in your nanny share.
Keep in mind that each family in the nanny share must pay at least minimum wage, which will be the highest of the federal, state, or local rates.
How is a nanny share a safer option than daycare?
The idea behind stay-at-home orders and social distancing is limiting the number of people you encounter every day. By limiting interactions, you can help stop the spread of the illness.
In a daycare center, your child will come in contact with many other children, their parents, and staff which can increase the chances of infection and opportunities to spread the virus to others.
With a nanny share, you are only concerned with one other family and a single caregiver. You will want to partner with a family and nanny who are like-minded when it comes to safety during the pandemic. Do they socially distance? Do they wear masks in public places? Do they follow recommended handwashing and disinfecting practices? Will they be traveling to areas where infections are still high?
While no solution is 100% foolproof, finding the right family and caregiver for a nanny share may help keep you and your children safer and reduce the spread of the virus.
What are the other benefits of a nanny share?
Families love the benefits of a nanny share as they enjoy personalized, in-home care for their children while sharing the costs with another family. Being around fewer children means your kids will get sick less often even during non-pandemic times. And they get to socialize with other children and develop friendships. For you, a nanny share offers more flexibility. A daycare center will likely have strict policies on hours, holidays, sick days, food, nap time, and more. With a nanny share, you and the other family can make your own schedule and rules.
Is a nanny share like a “double bubble?”
The pandemic has introduced us to different terms like social distancing to stay-at-home orders. And now we have the “double bubble,” which is simply pairing up with one other family, typically a neighbor, for help with childcare, running errands, and socializing.
This idea first came about in Alberta, Canada back in March. Authorities announced that families could come out of their home isolations and partner exclusively with another family – or a “cohort family” as officials called it. Other provinces followed as this idea helped end the exasperation and loneliness of isolation and brings about some normalcy in difficult times. The idea of a “double bubble” is slowly taking hold in the U.S. as well.
In a “double bubble,” parents typically take on the role of caregivers for all the children in the cohort. With a nanny share, you are bringing one other person into your bubble. However, the idea of finding another family and taking precautions together remains the same.
How do we choose a nanny share family?
Here are some things to look for when joining another family for a nanny share:
You have similar values and outlook on parenting
You have a shared sense of responsibility
You genuinely like the other family
Your children get along with the other family’s kids
Your children are of similar ages with the other family’s kids
The other parents get along with each other
What should be in our nanny share contract?
In many ways, a nanny share contract is no different than a typical nanny contract between a caregiver and one family. You will detail all the basics to the job – pay, hours, schedule, benefits, paid time off, etc. You will also describe duties, goals, and expectations for both the nanny and families. It will help everyone stay on the same page and act as a reference guide if there are any issues or misunderstandings between the nanny and the families.
During the pandemic you will also want to agree upon:
a return to work plan for families and the nanny to follow
safety procedures – like taking the nanny's temperature – before they are can work that day
what to do if the caregiver gets sick
cleaning, handwashing, social distancing, and other safety protocols.
Posted with permission from GTM Payroll Services (www.gtm.com)