There are a lot of advantages to hiring a nanny over sending your child to a daycare center. Having a nanny is more convenient, your child is likely to get more attention and care, your child doesn't risk getting sick so often from being with many other children, and your child has the comfort and security of staying home. As your child getse older, the nanny can take him to or pick him up from preschool or kindergarten. Some nannies even do housework and doctors' appointments.
Of course, there's one big disadvantage to hiring a nanny: the cost. The cost differential is especially large if you only have one child.
When I went back to work after having my first baby, I couldn't even get my child into a daycare facility because where I lived (San Francisco) the waiting lists were over a year long. That's right, the only people getting infants into these centers applied before they were pregnant!
I did some reading and realized that a nanny would be better for my child anyway. Since many nannies in my area earned as much as I earned at my newspaper reporting job (and some more), I knew we couldn't afford to go it alone.
So we began advertising for nanny shares on Craigslist. We found another family who was also looking for our very specific qualifications: We wanted a Mandarin Chinese-speaking caregiver who would work part time. We interviewed one together and hired her.
Working with the other family and the nanny was great. It was most convenient for the other family to bring their child to our house, so that's what we did.
I discovered that there are other advantages to nanny sharing beyond the cost. For one, if one parent is going to be late, the other parent can send the nanny home at her regular time and keep an eye on the extra child. For another, if one of the children is sick or on vacation, the nanny is not completely out of work for the day. Our children were just babies at the time, but for older only children, having a playmate come over every day is another plus.
Soon we discovered another benefit: If you worry that there is a problem with a nanny, you have another parent right there to bounce your concerns off of. Both us moms began to realize that our nanny was awfully flaky. We got together and discussed the problems, such as her repeatedly ignoring our feeding instructions and her continual requests to take the kids places outside our neighborhood.
Just as we were getting ready to fire her, she did us a favor and quit for a full-time job.
Then I discovered another benefit of nanny sharing: If the other family has known a caregiver for a long time, you have added peace of mind. The other family was able to rehire a previous nanny whom they hadn't been able to keep in the past because she needed more money than they could offer. With two families, it worked out well, and they knew this nanny well and loved her. Soon we loved her too.
After running into a few hitches with the first nanny, we sat down and wrote a full nannyshare agreement before hiring the second nanny. Here is a link to the agreement we wrote, which can be used as a boilerplate for other families in the same situation.