9 things to consider before you rush to become a nanny for the stars.
Being a nanny for a celebrity family sounds glamorous, but is it? To find out the scoop on caring for the children of the rich and famous, we talked to three people who have actually worked as celebrity nannies.
Here, Pam Behan, author of "Malibu Nanny," Helen Moon, baby specialist and author of "Cherish the First Six Weeks," and Suzanne Hansen, baby sleep coach and author of "You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again," draw from their own experiences caring for stars such as Danny DeVito, the Kardashians and Sir Elton John, and share their tips of the trade.
So decide: are you cut out to be a celebrity nanny?
Do You Enjoy Children?
No matter whom you nanny for, the goal is providing excellent care for the children. A celebrity family is no different, so the top priority is that you're an exceptional caregiver. As Moon puts it, "Each child should be given loving, caring, respectful guidance, no matter who their parents are."
Are You Willing to Put Your Own Life on Hold?
Celebrity caregivers are often live-in nannies who work around the clock. As Hansen explains, "You're there from sun-up to sun-down. Your time isn't really your own."
"Their life becomes yours," agrees Behan, so if you want to be a nanny for the stars, be prepared to give up some of your personal time and freedom in order to meet your employers' wishes.
Moon elaborates, "You can't plan your own personal life too far in advance, and you certainly can't be disappointed if you have to postpone your time off."
Can You Maintain Confidentiality?
While you should respect any family's privacy, this is a particular concern with celebrities. It's vital that what you see and hear at work remains there. Moon says, "If you happen to share something that got out to the press, then you would quickly lose your job."
In many cases, you'll be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, and you may not even be allowed to share with friends or family who your employers are. Hansen encourages potential celebrity nannies to seriously consider whether they can honor that policy. "It's hard not to be able to talk to your girlfriends about a bad day," she explains.
Can You Set Personal Boundaries?
"Families that are used to having everything paid for do expect a lot of you, usually not just child care," warns Hansen. She emphasizes the importance of having a nanny contract and setting boundaries. Issues to consider include the hours you're responsible for working and how days off will be handled during periods of travel. For both celebrities and everyday folks, "The family will respect you more if you have boundaries," she advises.
Learn about: Do You Need a Nanny Contract? »
Can You Roll With the Punches?
"Be extremely flexible," suggests Behan. Celebrities often have last-minute gigs, and you and the kids may be required to travel with them. Some trips are quick, but others might last months.
Moon elaborates, "Most of the time you are given some advance notice, but occasionally there is very little notice," so it's important to be comfortable with spontaneity.
Are You Prepared for Any Situation?
Spur-of-the-moment plans also mean that you need to be prepared for anything. "Having a passport on hand and a suitcase of clothes in the trunk of your car can come in handy," suggests Moon. Some important things to have lined up in advance for the children in your care are packing lists, medical release forms and travel release forms.
She adds that thinking ahead is good for any type of nanny, because all nannies must have the "ability to jump in at any given time, in any given location and [know] that whatever happens, you have what is needed on hand to deal smoothly and calmly with it."
Can You Handle the Public and Paparazzi?
Hansen shares that she was once caught in a mob situation on a movie set: "I actually lost one of the girl's hands. It felt scary; [there were] a lot of people rushing in. It can be overwhelming that way."
Moon encourages celebrity nannies to be extra-careful: "If you are with the parents, you have to be hyper-vigilant about who is around you. Are the paparazzi in the area trying to take pictures? Do the parents want pictures with the children or not?" She adds, "If you are out with the children alone, in all likelihood, the paparazzi won't be interested in the children, but other people might."
Do You Have Unique Talents?
Celebrities, like all parents, often look for nannies that are experienced and caring. But some may want caregivers who have a little something extra to offer. For example, Madonna's nanny Angela Jacobsen was fired because she didn't speak French. You'll be part of a glamour world and raising children in it -- your skills may need to reflect that above-and-beyond mentality.
Are You Comfortable Working Behind-the-Scenes?
Behan reminds nannies, "We are responsible for a lot of the child care, but it seems like most celebrity families take their children out in public."
In the public eye, a celebrity nanny must be willing to make it look like the parents are the primary caregivers, even if the nanny really does most of the work. For example, you may be required to jump out of a shot before the press snaps a photo.
"There's a fine line between mother and nanny. The mother hires you to love and nurture their family, but you don't want to cross that line." It's important for the nanny to remember that the parents' wishes must always surpass your own, even if you don't agree.
Every nanny is responsible for providing kind, thorough and compassionate care for her charges, and should possess most of these qualities as well. For the celebrity nanny, however, they are particularly important, as there are added elements that can challenge a caregiver. "You have to have a real love of children, because you will be tested. It is difficult and trying," says Hansen. However, if you're up for the challenge, working as a celebrity nanny can be a satisfying, fulfilling job that keeps you on your toes and provides once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Meghan Ross is a freelance writer with a background in child development, education and family life.