MANHATTAN — Sharon Meiri Fox understands the anguish families face when figuring what to do with their beloved nannies when children start school.
The website Fox started, ShareOurNanny.com, is filled with pleas from parents who no longer need full-time caregivers and are looking for creative solutions.
Some keep their nannies by joining forces with other families while others come to terms with letting them go by helping their nannies find other suitable families.
As the new school year approaches, many families are faced with tough decisions, pitting hearts against finances. Childcare remains an issue — the needs just change. Hence the scramble to keep, share or find new part-time nannies or babysitters, who can help pick up kids from school, take them to lessons and classes and playdates, and perhaps even help with homework.
“I have a husband, and I have a wife. She’s my wife,” Fox, an Upper West Sider, said of the nanny who looks after her two children. “She makes things go round in our household. My husband and I joke that we have to have a third child in order to keep her.”
Once the children start school, families who can afford to keep their nannies full-time, will do so even if they don’t need the hours, while others will have nannies start later, stay later and do housekeeping, grocery shopping, meal planning or other errands, Fox explained.
“It’s an emotional decision, more than practical,” she said.
Others try to arrange for shares, so their nanny can watch mulitple kids after school or another family can have morning hours. But it’s not always easy to find a family which only needs mornings, Fox said.
Roughly 40 percent of the families who call Heyday Nannies — a high-end service that recruits college-educated nannies — are looking for after-school hours, from 2:30 to 8:30 p.m. or 3 to 6 p.m., said co-founder Annabelle Corke.
“The good thing about that schedule is that it attracts the type of nanny who might have something going on that can enrich their work, instead of a career nanny,” Corke said.
Some of these nannies might provide help with school work or violin practice, said Corke, who recently found a family a sitter with tutoring experience in the sciences.
“When your kids are in school, you can find an educated person working for less hours but who can maximize that time,” she explained.
Many families, however, get attached to their “career” nannies.
When her 3-year-old daughter scored a lottery seat for a public pre-K program starting in September, Loree, an East Village mom who works in e-commerce and who requested her last name not be used, considered herself lucky. But she’s been despairing over her nanny, since she no longer needs her full-time.
“There was a moment the other day where we were both crying,” she said. “If something works in my life I don’t like to change it. She’s raised my daughter.”
She’s attempting to find another family to share her babysitter, posting on Share Our Nanny. But if that doesn’t work out, she’s also trying to help her nanny find a full-time job, helping her write ads for popular sites Care.com and Sittercitty.com.
“It’s heartbreaking having someone leave your family. We don’t need the hours, but she needs to support her family,” Loree said. “The most important thing is she make a living, because we care about her."
Where to find a nanny or nanny share:
Families, often looking to keep caregiving expenses down, flock to this site hoping to share their nannies, help them find additional hours or even help them find full-time work. The posts follow a specific format to foster workable connections, requiring such details as whether your kid has allergies, if you live in an elevator building and if you live near playgrounds.
“It takes a certain nanny [to do a share],” Fox said. “You don’t have to be friends with the other family, but you have to respect way they raise their children.”
Eating habits are sometimes an issue with nanny shares, as is tardiness.
“Someone is always running late,” Fox said of parents. But, she added, “The really great thing about a share is your child gets a friend. You always have a playdate.”
This site specializes in placing college-educated nannies with the right family. Corke and her co-founder Deb Crisford spend time interviewing families in their homes to zero in on what their children’s needs are.
“It’s almost like a matchmaking service,” said Corke, who then narrows the field to two ideal candidates for the families to meet, with nannies charging $20 an hour on average. (Fee up to $4,000.)
Having a nanny with other talents can help school-age children, noted Corke, who also said it’s important for families to have a dialogue with nannies about why they like kids.
This site allows families to post ads for what they’re looking for and to search posts by nannies and babysitters looking for work. Basic searches and posts are free, but to exchange messages with possible nannies, access background checks and peruse reviews, there’s a fee to join ($40 a month; $150 a year).
Membership ($35 a month or $140 for a year) allows families to find babysitters or nannies for long term jobs or when you’re in a pinch. The site boasts of having more than two million caregiver profiles across the country. Like Care.com, the profiles have reviews and background checks.
Former employers post on behalf of their nannies on this parenting site devoted to resources, support and education. Families write short — often glowing — blurbs summing up their nannies’ qualifications ($85 for a 30-day posting).
The social event group — which has network of more than 100,000 moms across the country — simply has a list of nannies, who have been recommended by Big City Moms, looking for work. The list is not vetted and there are no descriptions of the nannies, so the site advises families “use discretion” when meeting potential hires.