Sharing a nanny with another family is a relationship, and like all relationships, they take nurturing, patience, flexibility, and in this case, a contract.
We highly recommend starting off your partnership with a contract so there aren’t any surprises. Topics like paid vacation time, play dates, nanny bonuses, sick policies, and food costs can be discussed upfront.
Here are some of the most common nanny share etiquette breaches, how to avoid them, and what to do if you spot it happening.
Upsetting the Nanny:
Often times when starting a nanny share, both families have similar work schedules and care needs. While this isn’t always the case, it’s important to have any logistics figured out in the beginning.
If you know you’ll be rushing to meet a 6pm deadline, don’t join a nanny share that’s 8am-6pm without making alternate arrangements. Habitually showing up at 6:30 can upset both the nanny, and the other share family.
Instead, be upfront about your hours or needs, and create a payment plan if you’re the later-working family. You could make sure you hire a nanny who is flexible and can accommodate additional hours.
You will also want to discuss a payment plan, so only one family covers the cost for the extra time. Being late might be one of the main ways you can upset your nanny, but there are other issues that will inevitably occur.
Be sure to create an open dialogue where your nanny is comfortable coming to you with their concerns. Weekly or bi-weekly check-ins are a great way to make sure that everyone is as happy as possible, and to make adjustments as needed.
Communication styles always differ from family to family. When choosing a nanny share family, make sure you feel comfortable communicating openly with them, and share similar values.
You should discuss how you will want to communicate any concerns that could occur. If one of you seems to be suffering from poor communication, try to schedule a casual meet-up. Explain you have a list of things you want to cover since it’s been a while, and go through them as partners.
Remember, you’re managing this relationship together, and you both really need it to work. A miscommunication could just be a misunderstanding.
Trying to Play Favorites:
You just learned that your nanny share family has been giving your nanny monthly gift cards, while you’ve been giving them a nice smile and a pat on the back. When one family tries to be the favorite, it can make all parties uncomfortable.
You can avoid this conflict by including in the nanny share contract that all bonuses and gifts will be discussed ahead of time. However, if you do see this happening, it’s best to explain to your share-family that you fear this will create some bias, ask that you be made aware of all gifts going forward, and create a plan for this type of thing in the future.
Gossiping about the Other Family:
In some situations, a share-family can have different preferences that you don’t understand. For example, they might prefer homemade, organic snacks that seem unnecessary to you.
If this occurs, it’s important to discuss this with your share-family directly to avoid making your nanny uncomfortable by putting them in the middle. You should try and maintain an open mind, but if it becomes a serious issue, you should consider finding another nanny share arrangement.
If it turns out that gossiping is an issue with your share family, try to address it calmly at your next bi-weekly meet-up. Something like: “Hey, I know we have different food preferences with the kids. I know mine might seem a little extreme, but please let me know if you have a concern about them.”
Breaking the Contract:
Your contract is put in place so you can discuss many of the nanny share details upfront, and minimize any conflicts moving forward. If one of you breaks an element of the contract, it might not be a huge issue with the nanny or the other family, but it might be irritating.
Try to consult your contract as often as possible, especially around important issues like payment, scheduling, vacation and house rules. One big topic in which your nanny share contract might have legal recourse is in the issue of termination. Firing your nanny incorrectly or getting out of your nanny share without following the agreed-upon steps, can be held against you.
Want to learn more about how to cultivate a great relationship with your share-family? Here are some topics you may want to include in your nanny share contract!