Nanny Shares–Our Experiences

Nanny Shares–Our Experiences
written by Cortland mom, Megan Canty

Selecting the right child care situation for your family can be overwhelming, and living in a city like Chicago, the options are very different from what my husband and I experienced growing up (we both basically went to a neighbor’s home.) We had our first child before anyone else we knew well in the city had children (and neither of us is from the Chicago area), so we were on our own in navigating this process.

After visiting and researching day care center options, we decided those would not be best for us, considering there were none very close to our current home or offices, and since neither of us drive to work; taking one or more children on the CTA to one destination and then heading to work and doing it all again every evening sounded like a poor option. We knew our actual time together as a family would be limited given that we’d be spending so much time commuting every day.

Next we looked into having a nanny. Having in-home care and one-on-one interaction sounded great but our two concerns were first, the cost, and second, the lack of exposure to other children.

My research led me to where I found message boards, informational posts, and actual events, like one we attended on child care options, where we first heard about nanny shares. This sounded like a great option for what we wanted—a home environment, another child for our son to interact with as he got older, personalized attention, and not as expensive as paying for a nanny on our own.

I can say we have been so happy and fortunate with both nanny shares we have been in. Our first share lasted for two years, and we are still friends with our “share family” and our nanny. We found the share family through the NPN message boards, where many people post child care classifieds.

Once we found a few people who lived in our neighborhood, we communicated over email to discuss what everyone was looking for in a nanny and in a share, and eventually met with
this family. We hit it off right away and hired a nanny together through an agency. Agencies charge a fee to help you and it can be pricey, but that way we knew everyone we interviewed was ok with taxes being withheld, had the kind of experience we wanted, etc. Agencies do all of the reference and screening work for you, which is nice, and I felt like everyone we interviewed was a strong candidate.

The first share wasn’t without its bumps in the road–we had two nannies who did not work out until we found our amazing nanny, but having a great relationship with our share family
made it all work out. I think it’s incredibly important to make sure you take the search for a share family as seriously as you take the search for the nanny, since you are making a lot of decisions together and your children are spending so much time together. A family whose ideas about raising children are in stark contrast to your own is not going to be a good fit, so you want to essentially “interview” each other. For that share, we walked our son the few blocks to the share family’s home each day and picked him up, which worked out very well.

We are now on our second nanny share–we moved when our son was two just before having our second child, and unfortunately our new home took us out of our neighborhood, so our first share ended. We were so sad to leave that share and wondered if finding another would be hard.

The second time around, it took us many tries to find a family we were comfortable having a share with–we had been incredibly lucky to find the first family so quickly, but eventually we found another great family. This time we wanted to host the share at our home, as my husband had recently changed jobs and would be traveling a lot more, and I wanted to make my commute each day as simple as possible since I would be on my own fairly often.

This time, we actually found our nanny through the NPN web site as well as our share family. Sometimes families will post about how great their nanny has been, and how they want to help him or her find a new job if the family is moving, children no longer need full time care, etc. Nannies will also sometimes respond to a classified you might post, which is what happened in our case. Also, sometimes you find a family who already has a nanny and is just looking for a family to share with, so you can interview both the family and their nanny at the same time and see if it is a good fit.

Since we did not go through an agency the second time, we had to do the screening and
paperwork ourselves, but it was not difficult and we once again have a great nanny share.

Overall, we love doing nanny shares–our children have regular interaction with other kids, they get a home environment for child care, and they have very close attention from our nanny. We’ve also gotten to know some great families through our experiences.

The main advice I have on nanny shares is this:

1. First, make a list of your needs. How many hours do you need? Do you want to host some days or every day or not at all? If the share will be in your home, what do people need to know (for example, do you have a dog?) What are things about other people’s homes that you would want to know if a share will be hosted there? These basics help to rule out situations which simply won’t work out because of differing schedules, or an allergy issue,
aversion to smoking, etc.

2. Next, decide on financial issues–how much can you afford to pay and how much are you willing to pay? (Most nanny shares split the rate in half between the two families, but if one family has more children than the other, that ratio will change. Simply, if you hire a $20/hour nanny, a fair split is $10/hour for each family.) How will you handle taxes? Are you willing to pay an agency fee for help with a nanny search, or is that not in your budget? Once you have a nanny, do you have a budget for outings or classes for the children etc.?

3. Next, decide what you want in a nanny and what you want in a share family. This includes both the qualities you are looking for and the type of relationship. In terms of finding a share family, is this going to be purely business or do you hope to befriend another family and have your children spend time together outside the share? It’s best to be clear upfront.

4. Once you’ve answered these questions, you can really start your search since you know what you are looking for. Make sure to keep in mind that there will always be new questions and some problem solving to be done as families’ needs will change over time. The most important feature of a nanny share, in my opinion, is communication–between you and your share family, and between the two families and the nanny, making sure the nanny is getting clear and consistent information from both families, and making sure everyone is comfortable with the share situation. I hope you’ll consider the nanny-share option for your own family!

Dramatic Play Games from Mrs. Samara

Each week, the 3 and 5-day classrooms enjoy the benefits of Dramatic Play with our wonderful teacher, Mrs. Samara. Here are some of the latest acting and improv games we’ve been exploring in class–we hope you will try them at home!

Mime encourages confidence and awareness of self and of others. It encourages physical control, simplicity of thought and movement, and more importantly it stimulates the imagination.

Sub aims:

To introduce relaxation exercises and understand their role in a drama class.
To promote group work and co-operation.

Relaxation exercises

Be a star: Lie sown on your back and spread your arms, palms up to the side and open your legs. Stretch the limbs all together. Feel you are making a four pointed star. Suddenly the star collapses. Feel the tension disappear.

Be Hercules: In the same position, imagine that the body is being pushed down by a heavy weight so that all parts of the body are being pressed into the ground suddenly the weight is removed. Feel yourself float on the ground.

Shake off the ants: In the same position, imagine you are tied to the ground but you can wiggle. A colony of ants finds and begins to crawl over you. Commence to wiggle the body until the last ant leaves you. Then collapse.

Be a rubber puppet: Imagine you are made of rubber and there are strings attached to your shoulders which someone can pull from above. You are being pulled up and you find your limbs fly out in all directions. Even the feet can be pulled off the ground at times, finally the strings are cut and the body relaxes.


All the students sit in a large circle. The teacher asks them to imagine there is a magic box in the center of the circle. The teacher can ask: what size is it? What color is it? Ask, Can everyone see it?

Tell them it can be a different shape and color, depending on where you are sitting in the circle..this is because it is a magic box. The teacher goes into the center of the circle first and mimes opening the box and taking out an object. She then mimes holding the object and the class must guess what it is. When the children guess correctly the teacher mimes putting it back in the box and closing it. The child who guessed correctly takes a turn at taking an object out of the box.


This is a follow on from the Magic Box game. The teacher mimes taking an object out of the box, for example a mouse, a rotten egg, a cream pie, chewing gum, lipstick or a puppy, and the children guess what it is. When they have guessed she passes the object around the circle. The children should react as if they were holding the actual object in their hands. Eventually the last child in the circle gets rid of the object and the teacher goes to the box and takes out a new.


Get the students consider the ways that people walk. The teacher gets the children to walk around the room. Then call out different ways of walking

Walk like a…

• Toddler

• child in high heels

• child wearing heavy wellington boots

• child splashing in a puddles

• child stuck in mud

• child walking on stony beach

• child walking on hot sand

• someone walking on fire

• someone walking wearily

• an old frail person


Divide the class into 2 or 3 groups. Have at least 6 in each group. Number the students from one to six. Get each member of the group to leave the room except for number one. The other groups stay in the room. You then give number one an action to mime. You then call number 2 into the room and number one mimes to number 2. They do not talk. Number 2 can not say anything and she has to do mime exactly what she saw to number 3, then number 3 comes into the room and watches number 2 very carefully. Number 3 does the mime for number four and so on. When number 6 comes into the room she has to guess what the original mime was. This is like broken telephone but it is done through mime. Here are some suggestions for mimes:

• Riding a horse

• Skiing

• Washing dishes

• Eating hot food

• Counting money

• Telling someone you love them

• Eating spaghetti

• Singing

• Playing tug of war

• Washing your dog

• Ballet dancing

• Moon walk

• Playing basketball

• Singing opera

• Walking in the desert

• Playing tennis

• Making pancakes

• Opening a present that you do not like

The other groups watch how the mime changes with each person. This is a fun game and helps with observation skills.

Basic Situation: Divide the class into small groups and they must use body language and facial expression to 5 ways of showing that their are

• Cold

• Hot

• Surprised

• Frightened

Other ideas/themes for group mimes: Camping, the circus, a pirate ship, going on a bear hunt

Starting to use mime in a Drama sessions

Start beginner groups on occupational mimes and later move to emotional mimes. Mime starts within and is then portrayed by the body. Never forget that through mime is that art of movement it is also the art of stillness.

Occupational Mimes: lift a bucket, box, brush. Place the same objects on a shelf or table, place them, carefully on top of each other. Use scissors, shears, pickaxes, fishing rod. Use activities such as sewing buttons, cooking, putting on clothes, painting, cleaning windows.

Character Mimes: Portray different types of character, the young girl, the old woman, the rich lady, beggar, clown. Watch people around you.

Emotional Mimes: These are the hardest to portray. Feel, understand, convey happiness at receiving a gift. Sadness at hearing bad news, shock, horror, love etc..,


Place a chair in the center of the circle and participants take turns to mime what they imagine it to be, for example: a post box, a kitchen sink, a dog, a new car.

The person who guesses correctly takes their place in the middle.

Take over

• in a circle, walking on the spot

• leader makes a gesture, in time, that the everyone else imitates

• continue for 8 beats or so, then shout the name of a participant and they must change or add to the action

• this can continue until the group has warmed up


All sit in a circle. Give everyone an occupation (e.g. policeman, astronaut, postman, teacher). Use each occupation twice, and make sure the occupations are kept secret.

Students use the space to mime their own occupation. Their task is to spot the person with the same occupation as them. When they have done this they should approach their partner, and without speaking, check that they are both miming the same job.

They should sit down in their pair when they think they have found them.

The game continues until everybody is sitting down. The teacher should check they are all correct at the end of the game!


This game was originally named Change 3 Things, but I simplified it for my preschoolers to just 1 thing. They absolutely love playing this game and it will absolutely get giggles out them. Divide your students up into two lines of equal number facing each other. The persons directly across from each other are partners. They quietly study each other closely for one full minute. One line turns around and hides their eyes. The other line changes one thing about their appearance. They may take off one shoe or un-tuck their shirt or roll up a pant leg. After all have changed one thing the other line turns around and guesses what they changed. This game is all about being observant. After the changed item has been identified, the lines switch parts and continue to play. This is fun to do as duos with the rest of the students as the audience too!

Pair students up and tell them to pick an A and B.
Tell A’s that they are looking in the mirror. (Optional: Tell them it is morning and they are getting ready for the day.)
Tell them to move VERY slowly. B’s are the mirror and must follow A so closely that an observer would not be able to tell who is leading and who is following. Encourage them to mirror not only body movement but also facial expression.
Have them switch after a minute or so. Then tell them that neither is the leader or follower. You will probably have tell them to go slower a few times.
Start again with A’s but this time tell them that they are talking to themselves in the mirror as B’s follow. Again let them switch and then try it with no leader and no follower.

Purpose: A simple way to get even the most shy child acting bold in front of the group.
1. Players stand in a circle.
2. One player starts a small gesture.
3. The next player takes it over and makes it even bigger.
4. This continues all the way around until the last person takes it to the EXTREME.
5. After a couple times with just movement, tell the players they can add a sound as well.
– Encourage the kids to never lose a sense of the original gesture in their exaggerations.
– This can be a great lead in to character development, taking small traits and enhancing them to extremes.