‘I’m a stay at home mum with four nannies’
NATALIA NIKULINA has two kids - and four nannies.
The mum, 37, who lives in New York, says the disproportionate help is what saves her from losing her mind.
There's the weekday nanny, who usually picks up her boys, ages 2 and 3, after day care, takes them to the playground for a few hours, serves them dinner and helps put them to bed. Then there are the weekend nannies, sometimes on duty for up to 12 hours a day - one on Saturday, one on Sunday - with a fourth nanny on call.
"I don't have the mental capacity to spend time with my children all day," said the clinical social worker, who typically works 9-to-5 five days a week and is estranged from her husband. "I love my children, but I'm not embarrassed to say the nannies are not just to provide child care when I'm at work - they provide mental rest for me [when I am at home] as well.
"I don't see any way around it - [otherwise] I lose my mind, and then I can't work. [Having extra help is] a must - water, air and nannies."
Nikulina is not alone in her blanket childcare coverage. Nanny agencies tell The Post that more families are shelling out big bucks for multiple nannies who work even when the parents are at home.
"Of course I have two nannies - one watches the baby, and one watches the toddler and straightens the house. But I don't want anyone to know," said one mum (who declined to reveal her name for fear of being stigmatised).
"Do I have a 9-to-5 job? No," the 41-year-old mum admitted. "But I run a household, I run my social media and I am very involved in charity."
She insists that her need for two nannies is benevolent - she employs the second one because she fears burning out the first.
"Can one woman handle all of that? No," she said of caring for her 3-year-old and 10-month-old. "When you give her too many things to do, she'll quit. To lighten the load of one, you employ the other."
Indeed, for harried New Yorkers who say parenting has become too complicated to do without an army of help, employing a childcare team - for around-the-clock coverage days, nights and weekends - is the only way to get the job done.
When Limor Weinstein was a nanny in Manhattan's posh Upper East Side neighbourhood 20 years ago, she occasionally came across families with such teams. Now, as the founder of Upper East Side-based LW Wellness Network, a concierge service that helps vet nannies, Weinstein said: "More than half of my clients have more than one nanny. We have one family with four nannies for three kids. And the mother's home - it's crazy."
It's not just large broods. One Upper West Side family with a 4-year-old has three nannies for the girl.
"The parents work a lot," said Erin Maloney-Winder, founder of Abigail Madison Nanny and Household Staffing, of the lawyer and financier parents. "These people do spend time with their kid - they just want the nannies there in case something comes up."
Weinstein said that, for some parents, having multiple caretakers is "definitely a status thing" - evidence that they can afford to outsource everything or that they can buy the very best for their kids.
"[Parents] are looking for a unicorn," said 34-year-old Casey, a nanny of 14 years. "You see the ads: 'Nannies who are multilingual and can tutor.' "
Noa Mintz, the 17-year-old founder of Midtown placement agency Nannies By Noa, said, "Often families will choose a nanny who emphasises structure for weekdays, and someone who is more easygoing for weekends. Families may have one nanny who will speak a second language, so that the children have that language immersion, or a nanny who is an athlete so kids are active."
Nancy, a 35-year-old lead nanny, is one of three caretakers in a downtown household with three kids. In her case, she said there's a near-total transfer of parenting duties.
"You have these people who can afford all this [help] and they don't even ... make their own bed. They don't have to brush their children's teeth. They're not capable of doing it without a team of people."
Nikulina, however, said she just needs the extra help. "When I'm with the nanny, I'm never relaxing - if the nanny is with the kids, I'm cleaning up."
All of this doesn't come cheap. Weinstein said that a lead nanny can rake in $A200,000 ($261,000), with health benefits, her own car and perks the 99 per cent can only dream about.
Of one Fifth Avenue nanny, Weinstein said, "If you saw her room, you'd die - it's sick. Overlooking Central Park, a huge room with TV, private bathroom. And the cleaning lady will clean her room."