With the country in an economic recession there has been a lot of media coverage about nannies losing jobs and coming up with creative ways to keep their jobs. For example, some nannies have accepted less hours or less money to keep their jobs.
Other nannies agree to take on more household responsibilities like housekeeping, see http://bestnannynewsletter.blogspot.com/2009/03/feeling-pinch-from-la-times.html
Others agree to work for two families to keep working as nannies full-time. See http://bestnannynewsletter.blogspot.com/2009/03/cnn-about-nannies-and-recession.html about nanny sharing.
We spoke with Katelyn Montgomery, a 25-year-old nanny in Ridgewood, New Jersey who has experienced changes in her nanny job in the economic recession. Katelyn was solely working for an affluent family with one pre-school child and loved her nanny job. But the father (who wishes to remain anonymous) who had been working on Wall Street lost his job in November, 2008.
“At first the parents agreed they still needed me to work for them full-time so the father could search for a new job,” says Katelyn.
“But after the holidays and he still had not found a job the parents and I brainstormed about different ways to keep me employed, at a time when they needed to save money,” explains Katelyn.
The nanny continues, “I am very good friends with the mother next door to the family I work for and we see each other every day that I work.” She continues, "The neighbor has a child the same age we like a lot." Katelyn’s employers discussed the nanny helping the neighbor out a few hours a week as a way to reduce the cost of her full-time employers.
“The idea of sharing me as a nanny for the two families sounded great because I like both families and could still keep my job,” explains Katelyn.
So, in February, 2009 Katelyn started working in a “Nanny Share.” Nanny Sharing is when two families share the nannies services.
Although Katelyn is grateful she is working and the families are working together so she does not lose any income she admits, “It is hard working for two different families each week.”
Other problems for Katelyn have been, “Now I have to wash two families worth of children’s laundry instead of one. Each family disciplines their children differently. Both parents have different rules about television watching. One of the families has a huge pet dog which I didn’t realize was going to be so difficult to manage,” says Katelyn.
She continues, “Adjusting to working in a new home environment with a new child has been really challenging.”
Katelyn says her biggest challenge so far working in a nanny share is, “When one child was sick they both get sick. But, the children have different pediatricians and they had to tag along to both doctor’s offices with me.”
“But, I am happy to be working and do like the parents and children,” says Katelyn.
She admits, “An advantage is that both children like playing with one another and keep one another occupied. I also like that they are learning to share with one another.”
Although the parents that have hired Katelyn wish to remain anonymous, they share the following tips with other parents considering a Nanny Share. The father who lost his job in November, 2008 recommends, “If parents are considering a Nanny Share arrangement they should definitely share the nanny with close neighbors they are friendly with, not strangers.”
“The two sets of parents should sit down and create a contract alongside the nanny together so that neither family is a more desirable job than the other,” explains the father.
The father continues, “Parents have to be more flexible when sharing a nanny. They have to reduce their housekeeping expectations and understand the other family’s needs are important for the nanny too.”
Kathy Webb of HomeWork Solutions says:
"Benefits of Nanny Share include:
· Children are with friends and neighbors not strangers
· Much more affordable
· Minimum sickness
· No late fees when running a few minutes behind
· Bottles made and dinner table set
· Light housekeeping and laundry
· Professional, prompt, courteous service
· Professionally screened caregiver
The downsides of a Nanny Share include:
· Vacation scheduling for the nanny becomes complicated by the differing schedules of two families.
· Disagreements one family has with the nanny could overflow to the other family.
· Over time, families may develop differing philosophies about things such as appropriate television viewing, homework, housekeeping, playmates, and playgroups.
· Liability and homeowners insurance will not likely cover an accidental injury the other child suffers. The host family should consider this carefully and a discussion with a licensed insurance agent is recommended.
· If one family leaves the share. This can leave the remaining family in a financial bind as the nanny will expect her full income. This should be planned in advance when the relationship starts. Nanny Share families should have a minimum notice (four weeks is suggested) of intent to leave the share, or pay the nanny in lieu of the notice.
· Parents must consider who pays for food and supplies used in the home."
Katelyn says, “Although working in a Nanny Share can be challenging, it is also fun. I high recommend nannies consider working in a Nanny Share rather than losing her income during the recession.”
Katelyn’s employer who lost his job in 2008 sums up, “Rather than losing your great caregiver considering a Nanny Share with a family you already know and trust is a great way to keep your nanny.”
Do you work in a Nanny Share? What has your experience been?