Natalia Nikulina, a 37-year-old mom, who lives in Brighton Beach, has two kids — and four nannies. Natalia says the disproportionate help is what saves her from losing her mind.
There is the weekday nanny, who usually picks up her boys, ages 2 and 3, after daycare, takes them to the playground for a few hours, serves them dinner and helps put them to bed. The weekend nannies, often on duty for up to 12 hours a day, one on Saturday, one on Sunday and the 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 married to a full-time city employee. “I love my children, but I’m not embarrassed to say the nannies are not just to provide childcare 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 like water, air, and nannies.”
Nikulina is not alone in her blanket child-care coverage, the nanny agencies say 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 Sands Point, LI, mom (who declined to reveal her name for fear of being stigmatized).
“Do I have a 9-to-5 job? No,” the 41-year-old mom 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.”
Harried New Yorkers who say parenting has become too complicated to do without an army of help, employing a child-care team — for around-the-clock coverage days, nights and weekends — is the only way to get the job done.
Limor Weinstein was a nanny on the Upper East Side 20 years ago, she occasionally came across families with such teams. She is now 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 some parents believe 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 emphasizes 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.”
Redundant child-care doesn’t come cheap. Weinstein said that a lead nanny can rake in $200,000, with health benefits, her own car, and perks the 99% 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.”
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