As working parents most of us need to find reliable and flexible childcare – but it needs to be affordable, too.
A nanny is seen by many as the most effective way to manage the balance between work and parenting. After all, they are looking after your children in their own home, cooking meals, keeping things tidy and retaining the routine that everyone is used to.
But a nanny or au pair certainly isn’t the cheapest option. That’s why parents are increasingly turning to ‘nanny-sharing’.
In many cases, sharing a nanny between two families costs around the same as nursery or a childminder. It can even prove to be cheaper, depending on the hours of care you need each week and childcare costs in your local area.
It’s also a very flexible approach. You could split the week in two so that the nanny works for one family for half the week and the other for the rest. Alternatively, the nanny could look after both sets of children at once, from one of your homes.
The key thing in making nanny sharing work is to find the right family to share with. If you’re going for the second, full time option, you need to make sure your children get along! There will be some collaborative decision making too among the parents, to agree mealtimes and typical food for example – so it helps if the other parents are like-minded or easy going.
So how do you find a nanny that’s happy to work this way – and the other family?
Most nanny shares are set up by people that already know each other – friends that had children around the same time; others that met at a parenting course like NCT, or through nursery or preschool.
But if you’re not in this situation, there are other ways to find a nanny to share. The website www.childcare.co.uk or www.nannylane.com enables you to search for nannies in your local area that are open to sharing, which will kick start your search for both the nanny and the other family.
Fiona Jull, a PR consultant, recommends nanny sharing. She says: “I just assumed I would put my baby into nursery when I went back to work, but when Max was born I changed my mind and didn’t want to put him in a nursery when he was so young. Then I looked at having a nanny as, to me, this is really the best childcare option, but I realised it would cost half my salary so I decided I would have to share a nanny.
“I found a family through a childcare website that lives just around the corner. I drop my son off two days a week and he’s here two days a week. I save over £100 a week compared to the cost of my local nursery which I had booked a place at when I was pregnant.”
Fiona returned to work when her son was six months old.
She adds: “A ‘nannyshare’ arrangement works really well for me. It’s more flexible – you can’t send your child to a nursery when they are ill. Also, having a nanny makes my ‘work life’ balance so much better. Things like Max’s washing and his food are done, leaving me with more quality time with Max at the weekend.”