The average cost of a nanny in San Francisco, according to UrbanSitter, is $18 an hour. But you don’t have to look far to find parents willing to pay upwards of $25 an hour, a wage that works out to $200 a day and—brace yourself—$50,000 a year. Which is, let’s face it, nuts. Enter the nanny share, wherein two families team up to hire one Mary Poppins to watch two or three kids. Each family pays around $10 to $13 an hour—25 to 50 percent less than going solo. But before jumping into one of these enticing situations, know the ropes.
Don’t show up with a sick kid: It’s not fair to the other family or the nanny. You need a backup plan (or nanny) for those fever days.
Map out vacations early: Here’s one possible setup: The nanny gets two weeks of paid vacation, one week of her choice and the other agreed upon by both families based on when they too are taking off. If one family goes on a vacation at any other time of year, they continue to pay their share of the nanny cost.
Split hosting duties: It doesn’t hurt to switch houses every other week or so. Each family brings food and supplies (diapers, wipes, bottles, and so on) for their child. Create space in a cubby or drawer in your home for the visiting kid to minimize the need for shuttling stuff back and forth.
Don’t partner with a good friend: Nanny-sharing relationships are notoriously rife with financial complexities and emotional dramas (check out any Yahoo parent group for examples) that are best handled when the sharers are acquaintances, not intimates.
Share all costs: The double stroller for transporting the kids to the park, the holiday bonus, the bus fare to the music together class—all costs should be agreed upon up front and divided up even-stephen.
Originally published in the November issue of San Francisco