Nanny Share - Age Ranges
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Should the other child be younger, older, or similar age?
I am going back to work and we are considering a nanny share
for our 6 month old son. We were wondering what age range we
should look for in terms of the other child. Should we look
for a share with someone who is younger, similar age, or
older? Any advice would be appreciated.
A new mom
I would say the closer in age the better, especially when under
a year old. The milestones are so dramatic (learning to move,
eat, walk, etc) that's is so much easier when the children are
in sync. Older children demand more attention, have the capacity
to do more damage to themselves and babies, and have completely
different needs. A younger child - even by a few months - has
different needs and capabilities as well, and can make a big
difference to the nanny.
There are several things to consider when answering this question.
First, what is best for your child? My son was in a nanny-share with two
little girls, both a month older than he, and he really had a great time
and became very attached to them (they are now in a family day-care
together, and doing very well). So I think from your child's point of view,
similar age, perhaps slightly older, is best.
However, I learned that it can be very difficult to get a nanny-share set
up the way you want it (the right nanny, the right kids, the right days and
times...), and so one needs to be pretty flexible. When the two little girls
mentioned left the nanny share to go to the family day-care, I originally
tried to set up another nanny share. When I specified a 6-month age
range around my son's age (12-18 months; he was 15 months old) I was
told that, if I wanted to have a reasonable chance of success, I needed
to accept a wider age range of child (e.g. 9-24 months). So you might
need to be willing to accept several months younger, or several months
older, than your child.
We have been in a nanny-share since I have gone back to work
FT twice now-- my oldest is a 2 1/2 yo girl and youngest is 9 mo
boy. I went back to work the first time when my daughter was
9 mos old and she joined a share with two other 2-yr olds.
The other 2 yr olds were very nurturing with my daughter so
the age spread did not worry me. As those kids got older, their
parents moved them into pre-school situations and my daughter is
now the oldest in the share which includes my now 9 month old boy
and one other girl who is 1 1/2 yrs old. When the 1 1/2 yr old
joined (she was 7 mos at the time) which was before my son was
born, my daughter in essence got to ''practice'' having a younger
sibling before her brother came along which was an unexpected
bonus for us. My 9 mo old son is enraptured by the two
''big girls'' in his life and one can see how much he tries to keep
up with the walking and talking girls. I guess my advice for
you is that, given our experience, though there might be an ideal
range of ages, there are benefits to each ''age-spread''
relationship and not worry too much about that being a part of
interviewing families that might nanny-share with you-- if you
haven't started interviewing families yet, believe me it is a
lot harder just to find a family where everyone's needs match up.
Certainly as the kids get older (2 +) there is probably more and
more value of having same age kids together since they learn so
much in having peer interactions, but at 6 mo. I just wouldn't
worry about it too much. Good luck.
My son was in two nanny-share situations, one with a child a few
months older than him, when they were both around 2 years old,
and once with a child who was 9 months old when my son was 2
1/2. I ended up being more happy with the second situation that
with the first. I will say, though, that I think it really
depends more on the nanny than anything else. Though it could
have been because they were two year old boys, there was a lot
of fighting and rivalry-type behavior with the first share.
With the baby, the nanny was able to attend to both children
simultaneously without really dividing her attention -- she
could hold the baby while pushing my son on the swing, they
would read books together, she would sing songs to both of
them. Plus my son developed a wonderful way of being with
children who are smaller than he is (he has no younger
siblings), something that we still see almost a year later. My
son really got to be the ''big boy'' and developed a strong sense
of responsibility, while his ''little sister'' just adored him --
her face lit up every morning when we arrived. No matter which
way you choose to go, ideally interview the nanny while she has
both children at once, to see how she attends to them. That
will tell you the most.
For the last year and a half we have been sharing a nanny 2
days/week with the son of close friends who's the same age as our
boy - they are two years old now. When our guys were 18 months,
we started sharing with a third child who was 10 months old. She
came on the days when the other little boy wasn't here. I
thought it worked out great. The 10-m-old was more into lap
sitting, while the 18-month-old wanted to run around and play, so
the nanny would take them to the park and hold the younger child
most of the time while the older one ran around with other tots.
The parents of the younger child told us they thought her
language skills really took off after she started hanging out
with the big guy. The idea of the kids all being the same age is
appealing, but truthfully I'm not sure our 2-year-olds really
play together all that much - they spend a lot more time
competing for the same toys! By the time they are 3, they'll be
more into cooperative play, but they will be at a preschool by
then. Having a range of ages is nice because it allows the nanny
to devote more one-on-one time to the less independent
younger child, instead of having two children with the
same needs at the same time. She can hold the one that needs to
be held, an older child can feed himself finger food while the
nanny feeds the younger child, and so on.
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