Keri Russell: ‘I don’t even like the word nanny, so I call them babysitters’


I don’t have much of an opinion about Keri Russell, for or against. I didn’t watch Felicity, nor do I watch The Americans (although I’ve heard good things about The Americans). I’ve seen Keri in various films here and there, and I think she’s pretty and reasonably talented. I think it’s smart that she went back to TV, and it’s clear that she’s at peace with her life and career choices too. Keri covers the new issue of Capitol File, with a holiday-themed photoshoot. I wouldn’t have covered this except that I think her thoughts on nannies and motherhood are interesting. You can read the full piece here, and here are some highlights:

She hates the word “nanny”: A mother herself to two young children with husband, Shane Deary, Russell explains that when she first had kids, she was determined to do everything alone. “I tend to think I can do everything myself. I don’t even like the word nanny, so I call them babysitters. Is that weird?” she says laughing. “I recently read A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, documenting a time in Paris when Hemingway and his wife were just starting out. They were totally destitute—literally, they had no money—and even they had a sitter!”

She films in Brooklyn: Season two is currently filming in Russell’s hometown of Brooklyn. “I ride my bike to work,” says Russell, “It looks a lot like Washington, DC, and is much closer to my family. It’s the perfect job for a working mom.”

Messy lives: Over the holidays, Russell will also have some time off to spend with her husband and their two children. Russell stresses the importance of date nights and not having her entire identity wrapped up in motherhood. She excitedly recommends reading In Praise of Messy Lives, a book by her neighbor and friend, Katie Roiphe. “You’ll love this book. Katie has two kids, and her theory is that we’ve grown boring and conservative, more interested in being parents than in being real people,” explains Russell. “I’m not on Facebook, but one thing Katie says is most moms have photos of their kids for their profile photo, totally forgetting who they are.”

[From Capitol File]

Since I’m not a mom, I clearly don’t have a dog in this hunt, but I think Keri is being both refreshingly honest AND a little bit annoying here. On one side (the annoying side), I don’t really get the semantic argument she’s making about nannies versus babysitters. A nanny is someone who is there, day after day, helping you raise your children, correct? And a babysitter is the teenage girl across the street who you pay $5 an hour while you and your man go see Thor 2, right? So, Keri has a nanny and she likes to call her “the babysitter”. Annoying.

But…! I do like that she “stresses the importance of… not having her entire identity wrapped up in motherhood.” Just as an outsider, reading countless interviews from celebrity moms where the overwhelming majority of celeb moms act like they INVENTED motherhood, Keri’s vibe is refreshing.



Photos courtesy of Capitol File.

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165 Responses to “Keri Russell: ‘I don’t even like the word nanny, so I call them babysitters’”

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  1. cmc says:

    I love this shoot! She looks so pretty and Christmas-y.

    As for the parenting comments, I don’t have kids but I agree with you Kaiser- either you have a nanny or you have a babysitter. Those are totally different words.

    • Norman Bates' Mother says:

      Agree with you about the photos. I’m not a mother as well (my CB name was chosen out of love for Hitchcock’s movies), so i don’t want to talk about the parenting vs career parts but I don’t get her problem with the word nanny. Even if we won’t think about the different meanings of those words but the sound itself, nanny sounds so much prettier, almost like granny – warm, nice and easy to say while babysitter is an ugly, long-ish word which makes me think about someone with no emotional investement to their job.

      • bluhare says:

        I think the issue with nanny is more that a nanny is a full time employee rather than someone who comes over while you and your spouse have date night or whatever. She either doesn’t want to admit she’s got a nanny, or she just uses people when she’s not going to be home. My take anyway.

      • Norman Bates' Mother says:

        After re-reading what I wrote I have to admit it sounds stupid. I failed to make my point but I get what the difference is and I just wanted to add another angle to look at this. I wish people (especially women) were less judgmental. The same people who wouldn’t say a word about a person whose children are raised almost full-time by a grandma or an aunt, suddenly would call her names and jump at her throat if she admitted to having a nanny so in this way I get why a woman wouldn’t want to talk about it but she could easily say no comment or as a rather popular and influential actress, don’t give a damn about the mini-van majority and argue that making career and having a nanny doesn’t make you a bad mother. A woman who can’t spend 24h a day with her child can still be a good mother if she makes sure her child spends time away from her with an experienced, qualified, carefully picked person, who gets really attached to the child she helps raising. Those qualities describe good nannies and nicely correspond with how pretty, and familiar the word sounds. The word baby-sitter is usually associated with a teenager who doesn’t really care about children but wants to earn some easy money to buy make-up or concert tickets. Semantics and mental-image-wise, does it really make her sound like a superior mother if she makes an impression that a random baby-sitter and not a nanny stays with her children while she works? Because we know that as an actress working on a tv-show, she is away longer than 3-hours a day?

    • Lila says:

      As a nanny I will say Kaiser hit the nail on the head about the difference between nannies and sitters. I find the statement offensive,; if I spend more time parenting your child than you do, call me the nanny. It conveys a sense of responsibility and importance that “sitter” does not.

      • Sarah says:

        Lila, I agree. I went to grad school with a woman who had a live-in full-time nanny who had a background in early child education. My friend called the woman “the babysitter”. I thought come on, she’s the nanny! She lives there in your house. I guess people can call the caregiver whatever they want and it’s no big deal but babysitter sounds to me like a 15 year old who lives next door.

      • the_porscha says:

        I agree with your reasoning, except: “if I spend more time parenting your child than you do” is a very insensitive thing to say. Yes, you aid in the raising of the child and you take care of that child as if he or she were your own, but you are not the parent and making it sound like you are on the basis of time is really unfair. (For example, my mom couldn’t afford to spend a TON of time with me growing up because of her job and I don’t consider my babysitters, brothers, or after school programs my parents. She’s my mom. They were also caregivers but I only had one mom.) I take issue with that statement but I agree that nanny implies more responsibility and care than babysitter.

      • jaye says:

        And maybe that’s her issue with using the word “nanny”. She’s probably hyper aware of the judgement people will make regarding employing one. That she is a self involved wealthy celebrity who couldn’t be bothered enough to raise her own children.

    • Ramona Q. says:

      Maybe the word “nanny” gives Keri class and race anxiety, as it does Tina Fey.

      From BOSSYPANTS:

      “I know it’s bullshit that I say “babysitter” instead of nanny. What I have is a full-time nanny, and I should be roundly punished for trying to make it seem like the teenager next door comes over one night a week. But I don’t like the word “nanny.” It gives me class anxiety and race anxiety. And that is why I will henceforth refer to our nanny as our Coordinator of Toddlery.”

      • Annie says:

        I worked as a nanny and daycare provider for a decade, and Keri Russell and Tina Fey’s comments feel like a slap in the face. They’re able to do work they find fulfilling because another person is looking after their children. I’ve seen so many people’s eyes glaze over when I told them I was a nanny, as if I didn’t read books or have interests; to hear people say I was a ‘glorified baby-sitter’ stung every time, even though I loved my job. I taught children to read, potty-trained them, fed them, taught them to identify trees, to use their imaginations, and overall to become compassionate, warm, intelligent adults one day. It breaks my heart to see other women care more about their own egos and take out their anxiety on their children’s caregivers by using a word that is more appropriate for 12-year old girls.

      • LadySlippers says:

        First, who says Americans don’t fret over class??? It underlies most of this discussion no matter what we call the carers watching our children.

        @Annie: Yep. I loved my babies passionately. Still do. And yet people sneer that it wasn’t a ‘real job’ even though I really never had a day off and often worked 60-80 hour weeks. Almost everyday (even weekends) I was doing SOMETHING for my daycare.

        Luckily, by the end, I was able to weed out crappy parents and had two families that loved me just as much as I loved them. :-)

    • Sullivan says:

      I agree that these photos are lovely. As for the nanny/babysitter comment …I think Tina Fey said the same thing in a wittier way.

      Moms, do what works for your situation.

      • Bitca says:

        Agree entirely. In the ’90s, worked as a nanny for an actress on a Bway tour. It was less than 6 months (& way-cool to fly 1st Class), but what an exhausting job! Had they referred to me as “the babysitter” I’d have been truly offended.

        A nanny is often akin to a part-time Mom position. You bond with the child in a way that is an enormous responsibility (my ‘kid’ started to emulate so many of my quirks, grunge wardrobe, & other habits that 2 decades later, if children appear ahead of me, I hide my cigarette (real or electronic)–simply because it took less than 10 days for my 3-year-old charge to start wearing jeans instead of dresses for the 1st time ever–& tho’ she was too young to read, made some assays at imitating my dangerous tendency on breaks to walk while reading a book.

        Nannying also requires a boundless amount of physical energy, & ability to summon up good nature even if you’re ready to scream w/frustraton. Unlike Baby-sitters–who work a few hours to ensure someone’s kids are safe while the ‘rents are out–a Nanny has a far more substantial responsibility; one that makes you keenly aware of how impressionable children can be. Mom is working day & night; & if you’re traveling, the little one has no peers to share time with. Ergo, nanny becomes sitter, playmate, guardian, AND Role-Model.

        It ws a wonderful, enlightening experience, but a Nanny does not just spend a few hours w/the kids; put them to bed; then chill with a book or watch TV ’til mom & dad return. With just a few years of life behind her, a child can be enormously impressionable. Even a short-term nanny can have a substantial impact on a child. Heck; in my “trial week,” was awakened the 1st morning at 6AM to find my new 3-yr-old charge foraging thru my suitcase seeking high-heels to try on. She was both appalled & fascinated when I informed her I rarely wore heels ;-) .

        In short, using “Nanny”& “Sitter” as synonyms is as demeaning to the former as equating an experienced–& fully accountable–full time employee with a P/T office intern. No disrespect to sitters & interns; both can be indispensable if really good. But even the most brilliant intern or beloved sitter are far different to a full-time employee or nanny.

        Still, Ex-”Felicity” girl looks terrific! Also, any A/B/C-list H’wood performer inevitably seems to develop a lifestyle so different to most of ours, they must inevitivably form at least a few perceptions utterly unrelated to, say, 95% of our population. IMO, Ex-Felicity seems pretty nice; it’s just been a very long time since she’s lived where I do.

  2. Yadicakes says:

    I don’t think it is so much forgetting about yourself but when you have kids, your life opens up in a different direction and you feel this completely different love and appreciation for things you never thought of before. The posting pictures of your kids part is more of a proud mama display that you want to share with others.

    • lauren says:

      The point she was trying to make, or rathter her author friend, was about moms who use pics of their kids as profile pics on social networking sites and therefore losing their own identity and not posting photos of your children in general.

      I hated the nanny/ babysitter comment. She is in a privileged position where she can hire a nanny 24/7 – so own up to it and don´t pretend your doing it all on your own and just sometimes use a babysitter when you want to go to dinner.

  3. Maureen says:

    Well, isn’t she special.

    I can tell you this, babysitters and nannies are NOT the same. Not even close. And a nanny does not like to be called a babysitter. It is incredibly unprofessional and disrespectful towards the person who provides full-charge care of a child. Keri should know the difference and treat her employees accordingly. One mistake a mother should never, ever make is being disrespectful to the person who helps care for her child. Keri needs to check her ego and gain some gratitude!

    • LadySlippers says:

      Agreed Maureen.

      I was a daycare provider and was routinely called a babysitter and it irritated me to no end. Daycare providers and nannies care for children as a living as it’s their profession and often have education to back them up. Babysitters are part-time people that are not caring for children as their profession. They aren’t required to get any certification or training, although some do, but it’s nothing like what a professional needs. Night and day difference.

      Respect the people you have entrusted to care for your children. We get dumped on enough by others and don’t need it coming from parents too.

      • Maureen says:

        The only way to change the way others view this profession (and that’s what it is!) is to gently, and with great pride and confidence, correct people every single time they use the wrong terminology. Many people legitimately do not know the difference. Most of us grew up with the word “babysitter”, and only just recently has the *official* term become “sitter” because older kids don’t like being referred to as babies.

        Explain the difference, and when you show pride in your chosen profession others will gain more respect for you. Let’s be fair: most people view child care as being about feeding babies and changing diapers. But in reality you do most of the same things a parent does. In the case of an in-home nanny one can hardly differentiate her duties from those of an actual parent.

        It’s not only disrespectful for someone to speak of your job in a down-grading manner, but people also need to be helped to use accurate terminology.

      • LadySlippers says:

        @Maureen: Sadly, even when gently told of the differences, most people do not change their terminology. It was, far too often, met with derision.

      • Alarmjaguar says:

        Personally, I think day-care providers have one of the hardest jobs in the world. It is exhausting and you are caring for human beings (nurses and elder care are high on the list as well). I am so thankful everyday for the daycare providers, teachers, and, for a short time, nanny, that take such wonderful care of my kids!

    • bluhare says:

      If she does have full time nannies and wants to kid herself that they aren’t, I don’t see it as demeaning to the nannies at all. I see it as more HER issue.

      • T.Fanty says:

        I’m kind of in this camp. My nanny/sitter/childminder/careprovider and I have a good enough relationship that a) I don’t think it’s defined by her title, and b) if it was, she wouldn’t hesitate to let me know. She’s pretty vocal about her expectations from our relationship, so I think that short of calling her “house wench,” my label of her job isn’t a huge deal to her. (*suddenly curious to try out the “house wench” thing on Monday)

        Plus, I think more possibly more important than MY showing her respect is that I make my kids respect her. They called her Ms X until she decided they could first-name her, and unless otherwise instructed (by the woman being addressed) refer to all other nannies as Ms. ?. It drives me crazy when kids I know refer to their parents’ friends as Mrs. X and the nannies by their first name. Respect comes in many forms.

    • jaye says:

      People are assuming so much from this one statement. It’s a stretch to state that she is disrespectful to the person who helps her care for her children. It’s more that she probably feels guilt in some way for having a nanny. She even stated that she wanted to do it all when she first had her children but then realized that she couldn’t, so she hired a nanny.

  4. Tessa says:

    Can’t stand when people pimp their kids all over the internet. The kids don’t want their pictures all over the place for other people to see, it’s just the mothers who want people to fawn over them to boost their own egos and dwindling self esteems. Reality? No one besides your immediate family and absolute closest friends give a flying @#$% about your kids. Your kid’s picture is now on the internet, forever, for basically anyone to have… forever. Facebook isn’t secure. That’s a farce.

    • Birdix says:

      I like seeing distant friends’ kids on social media, seeing how they are growing up, if they resemble their parents, etc. to each his own…

      • Tessa says:

        Yes, but do you really care about these children? Or are you just giving in to curiosity? These children are people, who will grow up to be adults, and every single person their mom knew in life will have seen them grow up… online. I find it to an invasion of your future grown child’s privacy. I would not want my baby pictures on the internet. No thanks. I guess I’m just lucky I grew up before social media.

      • Birdix says:

        You have a valid point that these mothers do not know what their children’s desire for privacy will be as adults, so they should err on the side of caution, and many do not. (But that’s still a far cry from pimping out your kids.)

      • Anna Scott says:

        I feel the same way as Tessa. These children have a right to privacy and parents who think that posting children’s pictures on FB is fun, are doing more harm than good. Especially when they post pictures they consider funny. What’s funny to a parent, might be embarrassing to the children. It will be interesting to see what happens in the near future. Many of those toddlers whose pictures are online now will be old enough to find out. Will the pictures be still there? Will be kids be ok with that?
        I don’t have kids but if I had them , I would never post their pictures online. I would show them to my close friends and family.

    • Mel says:

      Although I don’t post much on FB I do post the occasional pic of my kids. I have only posted fully clothed, smiling pics of them as well BUT I keep FB to only family and close friends who actually would care about seeing my kids. I really don’t have many FB friends compared to the majority of users out there.

      • newtoyourn says:

        If you have a private FB what is the difference between posting pics of your kids versus when I was growing up and my mom showing actual photos of myself and my sister, to friends and family. Just a different media. Its not like you can’t put privacy settings on who see them.

    • ScrewStewrat99 says:

      I post pics of my baby almost everyday, but all of my family and close friends live in Fl while I live in Tn. Me and my bf moved here on our own. We have no family in Tn. This is the only way my family gets to see my child grow and if I don’t post a pic for a few days I get calls from both of her grandmothers asking where pictures are because they need their Luna fix. I can see how it might be annoying to friends I have on fb, but they can hide my posts or unfriend me. For situations like mine facebook is great and as long as only appropriate pictures are posted I see no problem with it. If facebook is around in ten years and my child wants her pictures taken down then fine, but for now this is how everyone gets to see her and I’m glad I get to share her first moments with our family.

    • littlestar says:

      Tessa, I agree with you and this is one of my biggest annoyances with Facebook. I am good with seeing the occassional photos of my friends and family’s kids but there is no need to post photos every day or have a status update about them every day. Considering I live hundreds of miles from most of my closest friends and family, Facebook is a great way to keep everyone updated so I really do enjoy seeing my friends kids pics every now and again (especially since most of my friends have had their first child in the past couple of years). BUT some take it to the extreme – my cousin posted a photo of one of her kids completely naked in the bath (you could see everything). She made a comment that she was going to have to take the photo down because someone apparently had reported it and she was ticked off. Worst of all, her privacy setting was set at public so ANYONE could see it. I did tell her to change her privacy setting, which she did not even realize was public!, but did not take the photo down. Stuff like that just drives me Facebook crazy :S.

      & while I’m on a complaining streak here, I too hate when peoples profiles pictures are of their kids. I mean, really people? Sigh.

  5. AG says:

    Yeah… It’d be awesome to have date nights and not be all wrapped in your child and motherhood. However, not everyone can afford nannies/babysitters.

  6. Birdix says:

    I hope this doesn’t ignite the tired working vs stay at home mom debate. It’s too easy to see it as a shade of mothers who don’t work as boring and conservative, and being a full time mother as being incompatible with being a “real person.”

    • Tessa says:

      It depends on the individual. Some moms are studying their kid’s poop and following them around like a shadow, while others keep a safe distance and have their own lives and interests. I think people equate having a career with having a life, but it’s possible to have your own life and stay home. It’s harder, but it’s not impossible.

      • Maureen says:

        + 1,000

        The best parents are the ones who have their own identifies and raise their kids with a healthy respect for individuality and independence. I can tell from watching kids on the playground which ones are coddled and co-dependent, and which ones are confident and independent (and as a result are super happy and cute).

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        You’re describing my mom. She was SAHM but ALWAYS had her own hobbies and interests. She loved my brother and I dearly but was still very much proud of her identity as a PERSON, which included-but was not defined by-the “mother” title.

        I think the difference was that she was married to my father for 8 years before she had us, and my older brother was unplanned. She didn’t grow up wanting to be a wife and mother–not that there’s anything wrong with that! I think it’s wonderful that many women know from such a young age that they want to be mothers.

        I echo the sentiments of others above that ultimately it’s a personal choice, with the most important aspect being a strong focus on parenting to the best of one’s ability. Loving and caring parents come from all walks of life.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      I think you can be a full time stay at home mom and still retain something for yourself. I have lots of friends who do that, and they have an easier time when their kids leave for college than do my friends who are 100% wrapped up in their children’s activities. Actually that goes for my working mom friends as well.

      I agree that it’s sad when some women don’t support other women’s choices if they are different from their own. I think you can be a good mother both ways, but it’s hard work and either way presents challenges.

      • jaye says:

        I agree that being the kind of parent who is constantly hovering over their child undermines their confidence and can create an extremely co-dependent child. My mom was like that. When my son was 10 or 11 we lived w/my mom for a while and there was a playground in the subdivision. I didn’t have a problem with him walking over to the playground with his friends. My mom would always say “don’t you think you should walk over with them?”. My reply was always “He needs to have a sense of independence or he won’t be able to make a step without me”. I always gave my son a wide enough berth so that he could feel confident enough to make some of his own decisions but also know when to come to me for help.

    • Vera says:

      I hate the “stay at home moms v moms who work outside the home” thing. It really depends of the woman’s disposition, and we really need to support each other’s choices. I will add that for too many women in this economy, staying home is not a choice they have the luxury to make.

      Russell’s babysitter remark is simply clueless, disrespectful, and inaccurate.

    • Shoe_Lover says:

      She didn’t shade or even mention stay at home mothers (i’m not calling them full time mothers because whether you stay at home or work you’re a full time mother) so i hope people don’t take it that way.
      What she is talking about is the the mothers, regardless of whether they work outside the home or are homemakers, who completely lose their identity to motherhood. I see it with a lot of my friends and the women i work with having kids (i am not ready for motherhood and i’m not sure i ever will be) that as soon as they have the kid its all about the kids and the mother and her individuality and needs are forgotten.
      One in particular is now incapable of having a conversation about anything other then the children. If i even change the subject its quickly changed back to “oh the kids did this or that”. And the husband doesn’t even get a look in either. Its like he is invisible. And while she is extreme so many of my friends with kids have lost their identities. I’m not saying they have to stay the same but it seems as far as some are concerned anything that doesn’t involve the kids is invalid. One even insisted i make my birthday party a day thing at a park so her kids could come. I said no way and that i wasn’t rearranging my life to accommodate kids that aren’t even mine and that i understand if she may not be able to make it.
      How are kids supposed to learn to be themselves and form an identity if mummy has no interests outside of her children and just becomes a “Stepford Mum”? and if they ignore the husbands as well how will the children learn about healthy relationships?

  7. Mel says:

    When I worked, a lady watched my daughter out of the home. I guess you could call her a nanny. I wasn’t comfortable with that word because I thought it lessened my role in my daughter’s development. I referred to her as the babysitter because I had some issues with my career and parenting. It wasn’t meant to offend Esther, it was just my own insecurity. Maybe Felicity or whatever her name is, feels the same way deep down.

    • LadySlippers says:

      @Mel (and other mothers that relate to Mel’s comments): I can promise you that a great many people will impact your child(ren) over their lifetime. But nothing will ever compare to their primary caretaker which is often, you, the mother. You are the child’s first love. Know that and trust that too.

      When you show others’ respect and honour their role in your child’s life — it reflects positively on you and comes back to you magnified. Trust me, the kids pick up on how you feel and react to it. When I was respected, my relationship with the child was all around better as was my relationship with the entire family and the child was better for it. I saw the opposite happen too and it was heartbreaking.

      Also, trust in the fact that love is not a divider but a strengthener.

      Please know this is in no way meant to be disrespectful on my part. When everyone is on the same team it creates such a magical experience for the child and prepares them for a successful adulthood. Which I hope is everyone’s goal.

      • Mel says:

        No offense taken. I am at peace with the decision I made four years ago and the decisions I have made today. I am grateful that I had such a wonderful caretaker of my child when I worked. It could have been much worse.

        Now I stay home with my children. They drive me insane but I love them dearly and wouldn’t really have it any way.

      • LadySlippers says:

        @Mel: Phew! I’m glad you weren’t offended. Many moms do get offended and honestly they need to know their kids adore them! :-)

      • TG says:

        Very good comment @LadySlippers. I dropped my daughter off at a very nice ladies house while I went to work when she was 1 year-old. This was a wonderful woman who loved to teach kids. She also say for pre-school children so my daughter say in on her sessions of reading, etc. This lady potty trainedy daughter and was so good with her that I thought of it as my daughter’s second home and the lady as a second mother. I never felt threatened by their relationship. I would go over there and learn from her. The only reason I don’t still use her is because she moved away to buy a house. So good for her and over a year later I still wish we had her.

    • Maureen says:

      I think @Mel has made some really honest and introspective comments here. The dark secret about working moms (though not all of them) is that they feel tremendous guilt leaving their children. Yes, they can argue passionately about their need to work and be independent, but nothing can change that bond and drive to be with their children. So, they use any means they can — no matter how trivial and trite — to control the situation. That can include irattionally haggling over what term to refer to their child-care provider with, or much worse behavior such as outright disrespecting the people they hire so that they CCP stays “put in her place” so the mother doesn’t have to feel so guilty. It is a very complicated and complex ordeal for many, many women. By the same token I know moms who happily walk out the door each morning and are very respectful of their nannies and treat their nannies with very high regard. If these moms feel any guilt they certainly are good at hiding it.

      • LadySlippers says:

        Oh Maureen, I don’t disagree with you at all. The fact that a mother needs to justify her desire or need to work is equally bad. That’s why I was trying to be gentle and I sincerely apologise if I failed at being gentle. I too had my children in daycare when I worked. I’m also still friends w/ my son’s first daycare provider — she is and was a gem.

  8. Buckwild says:

    Unrelated to this debate but did anyone watch the Magic of Ordinary Days? I watched it one bored Christmas at a friends house and it made me really like Keri Russell…she did a good job with Skeet Ulrich. Not sure how popular that TV movie was though lol.

  9. j.eyre says:

    I do kind of understand what she is saying. No, babysitters and nannies are not the same, I recognize that. But she is a control freak like me and the semantics play into her need to feel as if she has it all together. But I like that she is admitting it. I don’t think she is diminishing the role her nannies have in her and her children’s lives, I think she is pointing out her own hypocrisy.

    I don’t really feel strongly one way or the other about this interview, I just think I understand where she is coming from.

  10. dorothy says:

    I don’t like that word either. At my house we just call her “mom”. That would be me, we don’t have a nanny. I take care of my own kids.

  11. T.Fanty says:

    It’s a class-consciousness thing. I have a nanny, and I call her a sitter. In my neighborhood, hiring a full-time nanny is cheaper than daycare, so most people do it. The nanny is the primary caregiver, and that usually involves a whole slew of housework duties, too. But to say that I have a nanny just sounds very pretentious and as though I’m farming out my duties as a mother, which is not true – I’m just going to work. I also think that it creates a division between me and my sitter, by making her sound like house-staff. That said, I have a ton of trophy-wife mommy friend (whom I hope don’t read this blog now!) who hire full-time nannys and call them sitters, I think for exactly that reason, even though that’s clearly what they are.

    I’m pretty sure that didn’t help the discussion at all, but that’s my perspective!

    • Tessa says:

      Have you ever asked your “sitter” what she preferred to be called? I just found out in the last couple months that the woman I have been calling my secretary for the last five years actually preferred if I called her my assistant. I never bothered to ask, and I felt dreadful when she told me. She’s now my assistant.

      • T.Fanty says:

        She refers to herself by all of those terms, depending on her mood. And just as “Our [her name].” It also gets complicated because a good nanny becomes a part of the family – some nights she stays for dinner with us just because we’re cooking something she likes, and she attends school plays with us, and we have never asked her to. I’ve met most of her family, too, at various events. It’s a REALLY complicated and close dynamic, and to call her staff kind of demeans that, even though we pay her to be there.

      • Maureen says:

        @ T. Fanty

        I’m really surprised that your nanny allows herself to be called a sitter or alternates words by which she refers to her job. A person in any other field would likely not do that. I wonder if, subconsciously, this is because she doesn’t see her job as professional? A doctor wouldn’t call himself a “healthcare practitioner” (that could mean anything, including volunteers who just spend time with patients and re-fill their water pitchers). Assistants don’t like being called secretaries anymore. Teachers wouldn’t be called anything but a teacher. Titles are important because they not only define a person’s job, they also appear on resumes and thus reflect a person’s professional experience into the future of their career. If one wants to be REALLY technical, nannies are “child care providers”, but that sounds a bit dry. A babysitter literally looks after a child for a short amount of time and does very little actual parenting duties. A nanny, on the other hand, does all or almost all of the duties of a parent — including being able to guarantee and safeguard the welfare of the home in general terms. I think a lot of people have gotten around the discomfort of “nanny” vs. “sitter” by referring to their employees as “mommy’s helpers” or something similar.

      • T.Fanty says:


        But that’s my point. Of course my nanny is serious about her job. But, at my level, a good nanny becomes a part of the family. We’ve already talked about her continued relationship with my children once we don’t have any need for her anymore, and we’re already trying to help her facilitate another job that we’re all comfortable with her having.

        I live in NYC. There are (roughly) three levels of nannies that I am aware of: the uber-professional nanny, the family nanny and the “mommy’s helper.” I know a woman who earns upwards of $200k for being a nanny, and is basically the surrogate mother for wealthy UES folk who want her on demand and don’t want to have to deal with their children. She has a waiting list for her services and doesn’t stay with a family for more than a half a year or so, because the work is stressful. There are mid-level nannies who want to be part of a family, and are mostly employed by working professionals, who stay with the same family for 4-5 years, and are very close with the family (my daughter’s last birthday party included her friends, three or four of whom were her friends’ nannies’ own children), and “mommy’s helpers” type nannies. At our level, the lines are blurry, and to me, that’s a good thing. I’m trusting the woman with the most precious thing I have. I have 100% faith that my nanny treats my kids like her own, and part of that is because she feels respected and we have mutual care and respect. It’s more than a job to her, and she’s more than just “a nanny” to us.

      • LadySlippers says:

        Fanty, I’m with Maureen on this 100%. I do get the class consciousness but I still feel like your demeaning her job in order to negate/relieve your cognitive dissonance. Sorry to sound so harsh.

        To me, nanny does imply family more than what I was which was a daycare provider. But I did things with my families and they were included in my family events too. I was treated more like an aunt as opposed to a casual sitter. Which I loved! :-)

      • bluhare says:

        My theory at work is “I don’t care what you call me, just pay me properly”.

      • T.Fanty says:


        I’m kind of in this camp. My nanny/sitter/childminder/careprovider and I have a good enough relationship that a) I don’t think it’s defined by her title, and b) if it was, she wouldn’t hesitate to let me know. She’s pretty vocal about her expectations from our relationship, so I think that short of calling her “house wench,” my label of her job isn’t a huge deal to her. (*suddenly curious to try out the “house wench” thing on Monday)

        Plus, I think more possibly more important than MY showing her respect is that I make my kids respect her. They called her Ms X until she decided they could first-name her, and unless otherwise instructed (by the woman being addressed) refer to all other nannies as Ms. ?. It drives me crazy when kids I know refer to their parents’ friends as Mrs. X and the nannies by their first name. Respect comes in many forms.

      • LadySlippers says:

        I hear you Fanty I really do. But it shows others that sitter is okay when it’s not. Can you see our point as well?

      • T.Fanty says:

        @LS, I do, but the point I’m trying to make, and that keeps getting glossed over, is that it REALLY depends on the relationship, and every family is different. Childcare is a TREMENDOUSLY intimate and powerful position, from both ends. For me, personally, I need someone in my family who doesn’t care about titles, because she doesn’t need to. When my carer is in my house and on the clock, she is the boss, whether I’m there or not. She can’t do her job if that isn’t the absolute rule. When she clocks off, she’s our guest. The lines are necessarily blurred because of our relationship, and personally, if she were hung up on me giving her a proper titles, then I don’t think she would be the right fit for our family. As a carer/ex-carer, you know that fit is EVERYTHING in this job. What works for one family is completely wrong for another. That’s what I keep saying: it’s SUCH a weird dynamic. Actually, it’s very similar to the working moms/SAHM argument.

        And just out of curiosity, I texted her this question earlier today, and her response was that her title should actually be “Queen of the Fantys.”

      • LadySlippers says:

        @Fanty: Oh fit is EVERYTHING! And then some. And probably even some more after that. You have to know that your values are similar or can be followed, that your child is safe & secure, and that the child(ren) also click with the care giver. Plus meshing personalities and so on (people it’s a HUGE list). Fit really matters.

        What people call themselves in the house is not my concern. It’s outside to the public that matters as it reflects society and their attitudes to anyone that focuses on children in their choice of career (early ed teachers get it too so it’s not an issue for nannies or daycare providers). Plus, if more people used nanny/daycare provider others would get more comfy with it too. It’s kinda a circle in that regards.

        Part of the issue here is how little we value anyone that cares for others. And I think that’s partly what’s at stake here.

        Queen of the Fanty’s eh? ;-) I do like that. As I cared for more than one family I was never Queen of anything other than my own roost. *sigh* But I was certainly loved by my little chicks. I still miss them…

      • T.Fanty says:

        I agree with that, but as someone elsewhere said, to call someone “the nanny” is to dismiss them as staff, when our QOTF (as I’ll call her here) is so much more than that. In NYC, “the nanny” is the woman who sits alone and quietly on the couch in the living room at a playdate, while the mums sit in the kitchen and gossip. She’s the woman in a nurse’s uniform walking alongside some gym rat blonde on the Upper East Side, pushing the stroller or carrying the child, as the mum chats on the phone and drinks her coffee. Maybe a sitter does denote something less formal, but if that’s what’s formal, I want none of it for my relationship with QOTF.

        And QOTF rules my roost when she’s here. She’s even been known to call Mr. Fanty and tell him off when he runs late to relieve her, which is AWESOME.

  12. Macey says:

    I always like KR, I just watched one of her movies other week and she was really good in it. Might have just been a lifetime movie, cant remember, but she’s always likable in her projects.

    I totally understand what she’s saying about the mothers identity thing. I’ve worked with women who have absolutely no other interest or anything to talk about other than their kids. I couldnt imagine not having at least my own hobbies or interests even if I was a mother. I get that when you have a baby, the baby is your world, totally get that. I just dont think that means you shut the entire world out unless it has to do with your kids, which is what some of these women did and their kids were teens by this time, Im not talking about toddlers here.
    It always made wonder what they would do or how they will fill their time when their kids are grown and out doing their own thing. Ive gone thru this with some friends too after they’ve had babies. They cant even discuss something like music, which we all used to enjoy b/c now they only listen to their kids stuff. I just think you should still be able to hold an adult conversation without it having to do with your kids. Its like all the activities and interest are no longer worth doing or taking about unless their kids are involved.

    • Tessa says:

      Overbearing parents of teens are the WORST. The game is an hour away, it’s 35 degrees outside, past 8pm, and there’s a bus… Do you really need to be there with hot cocoa and a blanket ready for when it’s over? Really? Or can you just let your kid be, and pick them up at the bus like all of the other parents. When your kid gets to college they aren’t going to know what hit them whenever they have to actually function on their own. Whenever it gets cold they’re going to be looking for mommy and her cocoa.

      • Maureen says:

        I’ve known parents who put towels in the dryer so their kid has a warm towel when she/she gets out of the bath. Coddling is RAMPANT in this generation. Actually, it frightens me. Maybe because I grew up with such independence and it made me and my siblings strong people. I don’t know. But I see a lot of behavior from this generation of parents that really shocks me. Like the article that T. Fanty posted above from NYT: these parents seem to want to wrap their kids in bubble wrap and strap mattresses to their backs so they never have to experience pain and discomfort. Anyone who has ever seen parents with their hands on their toddlers’ bottoms as their toddler climbs the jungle gym knows exactly what I mean. For God’s sake, take your hands off your children!!!! So what if they take a tumble? They’re 2 feet off the ground and most playgrounds these days are built on soft material!! And for the love of God, step. away. from. the. kids. Go sit on the bench or stand several feet away and just observe. Give the kids some freedom of movement and freedom for independent exploration and to be able to mix in with other kids (older and younger!) without the grown-ups right on their asses.

        Ugh. Makes me crazy just thinking about it.

      • LadySlippers says:

        TBH, overbearing parents of ALL ages suck. How about a parent doing their child’s homework? Real example, a child had to do alphabet writing exercises…. in kindergarten. Kinda defeats the purpose of practicing and strengthening hand muscles if mom does it.

        Overbearing/helicopter parents are awful all around — no matter what the age of the child.

    • Ange says:

      I have a friend like that and the kid isn’t even cooked yet. She announced her pregnancy at my birthday dinner, jacked my hens night by boring all my friends (who didn’t know her from a bar of soap) with intimate gynecological details as well as forcing them to assess if she had a good ‘bump’ yet then at my wedding she spent the evening standing at the bar loudly proclaiming to everyone that SHE couldn’t drink because she was PREGNANT. I’m super glad we’ve grown apart and I’ll soon be moving away.

  13. aims says:

    I think it’s sad to me when I talk to friends and I ask what’s new with them, and they start rambling off the laundry list their kids are doing. I’m a mom of three, and have done the classroom mom thing, but I put my foot down on PTA. The reason for that was I couldn’t handle being in a room talking about how their kids are doing such and such. I couldn’t relate to that. I feel it’s so important to have prospective and remain an individual.

    • Spooks says:

      I’ve always been interested in why women choose to be stay at home mothers. I know only two women who are and they’re not very happy about it. I’m not shading, I’m just interested.
      IS it really better for the kid? My mom worked and I never felt I’ve missed out on anything. I was very very proud of that when I was a kid.
      I also don’t know anyone who has a nanny, that’s very rare around here. Kids are either looked after by their grandma (as was I, free of charge, of course) or go to daycare.

      • aims says:

        I was a stay at home mom for a while for financial reasons. It didn’t.make sense to go to work, and give childcare half of what I made. But I was really unhappy because it was so isolating. I did a play group once, but it was to clique. I then understood why housewives turned to booze to cope.

      • Virgilia Coriolanus says:

        I’m not a mom, but I think one big issue is safety. My mom was a single parent when she had me and my twin brother. When we were babies, she used to go out once a month–just for fun, like going out to the clubs. We had a sitter; we were about ten months old. One weekend my mom left, and then came back twenty minutes later because she had forgotten something. When she came back, I had a big mark on my cheek–a bruise. My mom asked the sitter what happened, and the sitter said something like I had fallen. But my mom put her thumb up to the mark—the sitter had been squeezing my face, and had squeeze so hard that it left a bruise. That was the last time my mom left us with a sitter. After that, she stopped going out, and we were either in a good daycare or we were watched by a family member. Even now, my parents sometimes go out, just the two of them, but they didn’t do that until we were old enough to stay home by ourselves for a few hours.

      • Isa says:

        I’ve had brief periods of being a SAHM and I loved it. Being a working mom I felt like there’s not enough hours in the day. I have more time to clean, cook and run errands and all the other crap that cuts into time with the kids when I’m At home. It’s definitely not for everyone but if I had the opportunity I would stay at home until the kids are in school!

      • CC says:

        You’re lucky that your grandma did it free of charge. I had to pay my mother to look after my kids. I paid less than day care, but I still payed.

      • Spooks says:

        You paid your mother?!? Your family? Seriously?

      • Maureen says:

        My mom was a housewife (to use the old phrase!) and I loved it. She loved it too, and while it meant a HUGE decrease in the household salary (and no vacations EVER), she wouldn’t have done it any other way. It’s just a different mentality. It can’t be explained because the reasons/desires/needs are as numerous as there are mothers in this world.

      • Stef Leppard says:

        I’m at SAHM and I love it. I love being the one raising my kids. I love being there for all the fun moments. It’s HARD work, true, harder than when I used to go into an office every day, but it’s also really fun and I feel like my kids and I have a special, close relationship because I am the primary caregiver.

      • LadySlippers says:

        @Spooks: Numerous studies have shown that as long as a child has strong bonds with whomever is caring for them — they do well. Also, a happy provider makes for happier and healthier children as children really are in tune with their providers. So, to answer your question, any number of scenarios can work for a successful family.

        It’s the studies where children have a revolving door of providers (often the case with horribly paid daycare centers) that children don’t do as well since they never have time to form a good bond with the provider. It’s having a good bond that is the key issue here.

        As for me, I liked working part-time when my children were young. Or doing daycare in my home. That allowed me to balance my need to work and provide stability for my children (my ex-husband was military). Also, it allowed me to have a life beyond my kids. AND I could speak in complete sentences. Wahoo!! Always a bonus! A happier mother makes for happier children. :-)

      • Marigold says:

        It’s not always or only about what’s better for the child. Often, a lot more goes into the decision. For me, I was a lawyer that kept awful hours in a job that didn’t make me happy. I’m incredibly fortunate that I have a choice to stay home but honestly, my sanity was at stake. I would have made it work if I had to but I’m really happy that wasn’t the case. I’ll say this-it’s no easier being at home than being at work for me. Obviously it’s totally different but I still have to be “on” all day. Basically, I get more out of being home with her than being at work. That’ll probably change at some point. Staying home versus working is different for different women (and/or men). There is no one reason people do it or don’t.

      • Spooks says:

        @LadySlippers, thanks for the explanation. Both of my parents were very involved, as was the rest of the family ( Croatian family syndrome ), I was very lucky. It probably helps that working hours here are not 9-5, but 7-3 or 8-4, so the whole afternoon is free to spend with the family.

      • Bizzyb says:

        Hey Spooks. My husband and I got married to have a child. Our little guy was born with Down syndrome (we knew pre-birth). There was no way I was not going to stay home with him. 5 years later, and I’m still loving being home.

      • Kortnee says:

        If someone does not earn a lot of money, they may feel it makes sense to stay home rather than give half their paycheck to daycare. Or in many cases, three-fourths of their paycheck to daycare. A lot of SAHMs go back to school, do volunteer work, or pursue other hobbies and interests while staying home.

      • Spooks says:

        So you stay home because you can’t afford to go to work? It’s exactly the opposite here. If a woman wants to stay at home, her husband has to earn quite a lot for her to be able to do so.

      • Prim says:

        SAHM of twins, one of my twins needs a lot of hospital time. I love it. I loved my career too. I’ve no family close by and have never had help. It suits us. I think having twins late, I was 40, and having done what I wanted career-wise means I’m happy to be at home with my two and I really appreciate that I can do that.

      • Erm says:

        My mum was a sahm and all the kids ended up being professionals. We appreciated her hard work bringing us up and I am proud of her and grateful for the personal sacrifices she made to look after us.

    • ScrewStewrat99 says:

      I understand not going to work because childcare is expensive. If I put my three month old in daycare it would take just about my whole check, so instead I work two days a week when my bf is off. It’s nice because I get to raise my child and know she’s properly cared for, but I also get to get out and have an adult break. I make enough money to pay my car insurance and have a little extra to spend and the bf thankfully covers the rest. When my baby is a few years old I won’t mind so much putting her in daycare. I feel like kids need to be social to develop, but by then I will have finished school and will be able to have a better paying job. It’s just right now it feels stupid for me to work just to pay someone else to raise my baby.

    • LadySlippers says:

      @Spooks (from above comments): Too many want to paint a picture that a mother (or father) has to be slavishly devoted to their child in order for the child to be successful. And it’s simply not true. At all. Mother Nature or God has designed children to be able to succeed with even mediocre parenting. Over parenting (as others have mentioned) does indeed have strong negative repercussions as children often have no life skills in which to rely on as an adult. My last comments are supported by recent studies. Sadly these parents continue to interfere even as their child is an adult *eye roll*.

      Parents should know that as long as their child is loved and has a strong bond with whomever is taking care of them — no matter the number — is what matters. Raising a child does indeed take a village. We should not be shaming women for their parental choices either unless they are truly bad ones (abuse, neglect, etc). And there are certainly many combinations for a successful outcome with children. No one size fits everyone.

  14. Dawn says:

    The Americans is simply great and I can’t wait for it to return. That said I think she is simply speaking to what works for her. She said she thought she could do it all and was wrong. I couldn’t afford a nanny so I just sent my son to daycare. And if I went out at night I hired a baby sitter. We all need time to be ourselves and away from our kids from time to time in my opinion.

  15. Marigold says:

    Since I don’t know the context for her use of “babysitter” versus “nanny”, I can’t really comment. Does she have someone come to her home day after day or is she hiring someone here and there? A nanny and a babysitter are certainly two different things but I don’t know her life in that respect.

    As for the mom thing and losing your identity, I feel her. Two times this week, I went out without my baby-to the spa and to the movies. I feel no guilt in telling you that I didn’t think very much about my baby while I was out. I knew she was safe. So I was just a regular person out and about *not* being a mom. It was great. And my profile picture on Facebook? Me. I’d be fine with it being me and the baby but it will never be only her. It’s not her profile. She’s a part of my life just like my husband and friends who also appear in some of my Facebook photos so she’ll be in some pics but she doesn’t have an account and she can’t have mine.

  16. Isa says:

    I think when people hear the word nanny they assume that the parents barely even see their kids and are being raised by the nanny. How often do we see it on this site? That so and so probably has full time nannies and they imply that the mother isn’t do any of the work. (Which I’m sure is true for some celebs)
    So I can see how she would want to avoid the word.
    And I’m totally one of those mothers that sometimes has a profile picture of my kid. Let’s face it, they’re cuter and I don’t exactly have anyone taking photos of me. If I do have a new one it’s a dreaded bathroom selfie.
    Anyway, I don’t see it as being any different from people with sunsets as their profile picture or their beloved pet.

  17. Kristin says:

    So as a nanny I feel the need to weigh in here… May sound weird but I HATE being called a nanny or more importantly The Nanny. Yes it’s my profession and I’m good at it, but sometimes it comes with a negative stigma. I’m either expected to not be white or not be American. Which is super annoying. I don’t mind the word babysitter. I do introduce myself as a nanny when asked what my job is, but on a daily basis I don’t mind baby sitter. So long as I’m not paid as one, if that makes any sense

    • LadySlippers says:

      It does make sense but babysitters now often make more than daycare providers. I’ve heard of sitters charging $20 and hour or more. And I live in the Midwest!

      It sounds like tone has a lot to do with the title. I hate it when people are condescending and that’s how people usually used the term sitter…

      No matter, people should still respect any and all people that care for children. Including SAHM — it’s not easy.

  18. Relli says:

    Love Keri! Let’s just say felicity helped me through some difficult times in my life. She has a point about people losing themselves in their children. It’s wonderful to love them but I think for some it’s difficult not to put all their emotional needs on them, including happiness. I don’t do FB either but I assume you post pictures that make you happy and for some it’s their kids. But as kids grow up and have their own lives you have to be ready to have your own again too. It’s very difficult and a constant balance.

  19. Lark says:

    The Americans is great…Can’t wait for it to return. It was good seeing that fine piece Derek Luke doing quality work again too (he was a guest star/supporting). It’s kind of sad that such a good actor who had critical acclaim and some awards (believe he won an indie spirit) isn’t “bigger” when bland pieces of white bread like Ryan Reynolds have multiple huge flops (and not just hard sell movies, but easy sell commercial films) and keep on getting big roles.

    • mayamae says:

      Didn’t Derek Lee’s character die though? The Americans is amazing. You know it’s a well written and acted show, when you’re rooting for the Russian KGB spies over the American government. I though Keri was amazing in Waitress too. Before that, I didn’t pay too much attention to her.

  20. GeeMoney says:

    I was a Felicity fan and a huge fan of the movie Waitress, so I have a special place in my heart for Keri Russell. I love her!

    I don’t get the nanny vs. babysitter thing either (I have no kids, maybe that’s why).

  21. lucy2 says:

    This is a pretty photo shoot.
    Keri is really, really good on the Americans. I like the show, though it’s a bit slow and hard to follow at some times, but overall it’s pretty good, and she and Matthew are both great in it.

  22. bns says:

    She’s so beautiful. I love her.

  23. Andrea says:

    I am not a mother either, but I must say, most of my friends who have had kids lose their identity once they have children. Its all about the kids on FB and you never see a pic of their partner or husband again. There are no date nights. Those people sadly most are now divorced. The husband feels neglected, there is no communication on the man’s part, they end up cheating or just leaving. One of the many reasons I don’t want to have kids unless I have a super involved man who wants to be a super involved father. A lot of men still feel childrearing is “women’s work only” and thus with that attitude, it ruins the relationship once kids come along and leads to bitterness, envy, jealousy etc. Just my observations with my friends and family.

    • shellybean says:

      I agree, Andrea. In my experience, my friends have had complete personality transplants when they had kids. I understand that some things will change. But what bugs me is they think their childless friends will treat them differently once they have kids, when actually it’s THEM who treat their childless friends differently. Suddenly they have a superiority complex and are all super-judgy of those friends’ supposedly responsibility-free lives. They get all sanctimonious. They are the ones who change in the friendships. I am always up for family-friendly outings, but they always think those without kids would be bored or not interested.

      • Andrea says:

        I have had similar experiences. Comments like “It must be nice” when they asked what I did this weekend and I state things like slept in, went out to dinner, a movie, etc etc. I don’t have kids, of course I get to sleep in! And they always make comments like I haven’t slept in X many years…

        I also have “whiny” friends now once they became mothers. Its like they really didn’t think things were going to change that much and they are jealous of someone like me who does not gloat but who clearly has more time for hobbies, more money to spend on myself, etc. I really feel like some want me just as miserable as them so we can whine together which makes me want to have children less and less.

    • Goofpuff says:

      I agree. I am lucky to have a super involved father for my children, but I refused to have children until I met someone who was willing to be an active partner in raising the child. I think too many women are setting their standards too low. if you like that kind of thing that’s great, but don’t whine to me about how your husband never helps you if you don’t make him do it. he can’ read your mind.

  24. shellybean says:

    I don’t have a problem with her calling a nanny a babysitter. What always bugs me is real-life women, not some super rich person who has help all the time, calling their part-time babysitter the “nanny”. It’s pretentious.

    Anyway, I love Keri. Waitress is one of my favorite movies of all time. So loved her in that.

    • LadySlippers says:

      But is the part-time sitter really a daycare provider? If so, it is still offensive to most daycare providers. There *are* distinctions to all the jobs.

      ~Babysitter/Sitter: Someone who occasionally cares for children. Usually a teenager. May have CPR or a certicificate for babysitting.

      ~Daycare Provider (can be in-home or center-based): Someone who cares for children for a living and does this outside the child’s home. Daycare Providers HAVE to have several certifications to be licensed and this varies by state/country (comprehensive CPR is usually mandatory). Usually an adult.

      Also, if licensed is required to get continuing education hours to stay licensed. Many further their education with an associates or bachelors degree related to children.

      ~Nannies: Same as above except care is conducted in the child’s home. Not sure about licenses. (Sorry)

      • taxi says:

        In home, daily care “nannies” often are not licensed. My next door neighbors on both sides have 1 small child each.
        Left neighbor is SAHM, fairly heavily involved in charity fund-raising activities. Her “nanny” comes 4 days a week, 8:30-4. Plays with the child, does laundry, light cleaning, talks on her cell-phone most of the time while she’s outside with the child. Is not supposed to entertain her own friends at her employer’s house, but occasionally does.
        Right neighbor-part of a working couple. Nanny comes every day, mom’s friend drops off her child too, daily. They share nanny’s wages.
        Neither is licensed for anything. In my neighborhood, nannies congregate daily at 10 am to push their strollered charges to the park in groups of 6-8. Sidewalks don’t hold them, so they walk abreast in the middle of our 1 lane street. None of them are native to the US or educated, but all are called “nannies.”

  25. newtoyourn says:

    I don’t see how posting pics of your kids equals losing your identity. I see myself as many things besides wife and mother. I am a nurse and above all I think I am a good person. Yes I am sure their are women who do lose a part of their identity and are consumed with the title of mom. I just don’t see the connection with that event and posting pics of your kids on FB as an exclusive relationship.

    On the subject of nannys when you compare it to babysitter people have a different perception. They mean different things in the grand scheme of things.

  26. Miss M says:

    ” And a babysitter is the teenage girl across the street who you pay $5 an hour while you and your man go see Thor 2, right? ” What a cheap labor for so much responsibility…

    I don’t think this is the payment in the Northeast, even if it is for a teenager. Weird.

  27. tekla says:

    “They were totally destitute—literally, they had no money—and even they had a sitter!”

    Wow, I’m from eastern Europe and this is so offensive… and I don’t say that very often.


    • Diana says:

      What? How is that offensive? Hemingway was an American living in Paris, in a different age, when you could be broke but still maintain a certain elegant lifestyle on credit.

    • Jenn says:

      You can’t be “totally destitute” and have a nanny unless the nanny is your teenage daughter or a dependent/relative of some sort. Or maybe an indentured servant?

      Just saying.

      And also just saying: It’s weird to see a celebrity female in a photo shoot this…. clothed. It looks like a spread from “Focus on The Family” magazine.

      I’ve nannied for three families– it’s just my experience but the nicest family was the one that called me a “childcare provider”. The mom in the family told me she didn’t like the term “nanny”. I have no strong feeling about titles– it’s how you are treated and generally, I made more nanny as a nanny, but with less education. Now, I make less money, even though I have more education. (Working at a preschool daycare).

  28. P.J. says:

    I generally like Keri (Felicity & Ben forever!) but I have to say, as a former professional nanny who happens to also hold a degree in Early Childhood Education, I can tell you that this is, across the board, one of THE most offensive things that a parent can ever say.

    If I’m caring for and with your child more hours out of the week than you are, then I am not your &%@# “babysitter”! Please refer to us with the title and respect that we work hard for and deserve. This is a common, very heated topic of conversation amongst professional nannies. Kaiser could not have hit the nail more in the head when she pointed out that a “sitter” is the local 12/13 year old girl or occasional random person you hire on weekends so you and your spouse can have a night out, NOT the primary, practically 24/7 caregiver. But as Keri perfectly illustrates here, it is often merely the egos of parents that get in the way and prevent them from admitting that they have full time help. As the saying goes, “a rose by any other name…” Years later and whenever I hear this it still just really, really bugs.

    • LadySlippers says:

      Agreed PJ.

      Even if your nanny is okay with the term, you actually demean all people that provide care to children by reducing them all to the lowest common denominator. Please help elevate the respect for our profession by changing your terminology to reflect our status.

  29. A says:

    Hemingway was from a different time….. Times change.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with her having a nanny, but what does Hemingway have to do with it? The Victorians, even the middle class ones, had scullery maids. So? It would still be absurd to have one in this day and age.

  30. lawyerette says:

    This was really refreshing to read regarding Moms who live for/through their kids. I met some ladies for dinner recently whom I had never met before. The evening started as follows: Question 1: Do you have kids ? Question 2: What does your husband do ?. Since I had no kids and no husband, they had no further use for me. I spent the rest of the dinner listening to their stories of kids sleeping habits, food allergies, pregnancies, diapers and mucous plugs. I tried to be polite and engage as best I could but they seriously had no interest in finding out anything about me or talking about anything other than their children. It was mind numbingly boring. When some other childless girls and singles showed up, the conversation gratefully turned to books we had recently read, our jobs, the holidays, current events etc. I don’t fault these women at all, it’s just that most of the generation of Moms these days sacrifice themselves completely for their children. By doing so, they lose themselves and that’s a shame. My mom did not do that; doesn’t mean she wasn’t a good mom, she was actually a SAHM. However, she was well-read, had varied interests that did not revolve around me and I had no interest in being smothered or coddled.

    • LadySlippers says:

      But right now, the trend is, if you’re not totally focused on your kids your a bad parent. And I don’t mean the first, very intense baby/toddler years — I mean in totality.

    • taxi says:

      My sister went to her first faculty wife lunch at Univ. of O______, where her husband was the new Dean of the Medical School. Conversation there was all about bra sizes! She didn’t go to anymore luncheons. Picked up another master’s degree while taking care of her own 2 kids.

    • Andrea says:

      I’ve had similar experiences. I am childless and unmarried (long term bf). I feel like there are two camps forming in our society: married with kids vs married without kids or single without kids and it is almost like the two have absolutely nothing in common. Sadly, I have found most people with kids are undereducated, particularly people who have kid young and thus have no time or energy to talk about anything BUT their kids. The only people with hobbies and more things to talk about who are married were parents who had kids later in life.

  31. Kate says:

    It sounds like she maybe uses an agency when she needs to, rather than having one person there day in day out. Where I live there are numerous agencies that send out nannies for what is essentially babysitting work. A lot of people need childcare a couple of times a week and want or need a professional/an adult, but don’t require a part time or full-time nanny. One week I may need someone to stay overnight with my child a few times while I’m at work (kids are old enough to sort themselves out, all I really need is an adult in the house with them in the event there was an emergency eg. fire) but then I may not need anyone for a month. So the people I hire are qualified nannies, but it does feel weird to call them that because the title implies something far more than what they actually do for me personally.

    • Stacy says:

      That’s not what she saying .

      What’s she saying is that when she first had kids she wanted to do everything herself but realized she could so they got a nanny.

      She calls her nanny a babysitter because it makes her feel like she still raising her kids herself, and less like she “failed” or was unable to.

  32. taxi says:

    “Nanny vs babysitter” is connotatively charged in the current US social culture. There’s often no difference except to the egos of the employer & the employee.

    I’ll call them whatever they want to be called. Imo, a “nanny” lives in, is salaried monthly, has health care & retirement benefits, annual sick leave & paid vacation. A “sitter” is paid hourly or weekly & takes care of children for date nights, weekends, after-school, or whenever needed on as-need basis. 20-25 hrs weekly, after school , is a sitter imo. Someone who cleans & prepares meals while minding the tots might be a housekeeper?

    It’s all semantics. Does it make you feel more upscale to have or be a “nanny” rather than a “sitter”? Go for it. The”Nanny” I know is paid $150K annually + a car, ok for personal use. She’s a college grad, lives solo in a $3500 apartment, & works for a family w/2 kids. She starts at 7:30 am, M-F, has breakfast with the kids & takes them to school At 8:30. Free until 2:30 pm school pick-up. She schedules all routine dr/dentist visits, after-school activities/errands. At home, she handles homework, kid’ meals, baths, & chores. Off work no later than 7pm. They travel a lot & she does everyone’s packing, parents too. When she accompanies them, she flies however they do – 1st or private, stays in same level accommodations. She gets benefits including 3 weeks paid vacay. When she goes on their vacations with them; it doesn’t count against her vacation.

    By comparison, lots of people want to be called nannies. My 6 year old granddaughter calls her friends’ after-school, 3 day a week, 3-6pm at-home person a “Nanny” & thinks that’s way more cool than her own “sitter”, the high school girl across the street who comes for date night. The high school girl gets $18 hour. The immigrant “Nanny” gets $20, no benefits, and does light housework. Adult “sitters” agency cert’d & bonded get $25 per hour, extra $20 if they provide their own transportation, & $35 per hr after midnight.

    I was probably an au-pair in my student days? I lived in, ate apart, had separate living quarters, and had adequate skills to take care of 3 kids aged 8-15 because I was the eldest of 5, with a 12 year age-spread. I cleaned up after family dinners M-F, wore a modest LBD & a white apron & served/cleared at occasional dinner parties, & moved over to the big house to stay when the parents left to ski the Swiss Alps or hit NYC for a week of Broadway theater. In loco parentis, I ruled the daily maid, ordered groceries, cooked, & drove the car-pools, and supervised the kids’ social activities & had veto power on teenage activity requests. I didn’t have a title & didn’t care. In return, I got free rent on a lovely estate, with pool & boating privileges, weekly laundry service, occasional personal use of the family cars, and great borrowing privileges for clothing & accessories far beyond my reach.
    I think people worry far too much about job titles. Secretary->Adm Asst->PA. Janitor-> Sanitation Sup’v. Waiter->Server->Menu Consultant. Barrista. Gag me.

  33. Laurinha says:

    Well I’m a career nanny and I’ll tell you what it annoys the shit out of me when people refer to me as a babysitter. (I also babysit and in that case it’s fine) but when I’m babysitting your kids, they r usually asleep not long after I arrive, I watch your tv and prob eat your snacks. When I’m employed full time as your nanny, I’m with your kids majority of the week, set learning experiences, observe and then implement behavior strategies and assist you the parents in all things related to the running of the house. I’m a professional that charges a high rate for my skill set (which I studied four years for) and there is most certainly a difference! Don’t know anot America as I’m Aussie but here there doesn’t seem to be any stigma attached to being a nanny. It seems many mums in the us feel hiring a nanny shows the aren’t raising their kids themselves but from my experience here most families are proud to have a nanny, maybe as a slight status thing but mainly I think coz they truley appreciate having someone who their kids adore and vise versa and appreciate not having to put them in childcare centre for ten hours a day! ( 5 years in a centre and some toddlers were there 50 hours a week!)

  34. Laurinha says:

    @ taxi
    Totally understand what you are saying and do agree with much of it. I think the reason the title annoys me is at least where I am from a babysitter is treated with very little respect (in many cases and judging only from my own experiences) whilst a nanny is usually more recognised as someone with a career in early childhood education. I have worked fulltime for both kinds of parents and it really makes all the hard work I put in worth it when you meet a family that recognises I’m trained in my field and the family and I can then strive together to create the most loving and education environment possible. I definitely consider what I do a career just like anyone else who has studied and is working in their field and sometimes as a childcare worker people do make you feel that your job is not that important. But it is one of the most important jobs!

    • LadySlippers says:


      Using Nanny or Daycare Provider alerts people that this is your job and often have very good credentials to back you up. It has nothing to do with ego.

      No one would have call a 4 year RN a CNA either just as no one would confuse a doctor or a nurse.

  35. Peachy says:

    Actually I always have read that Ernest and Hadley were doing fine. A Moveable Feast was exaggerated and romanticized for the reader. Hadley had a trust fund of at least $3000 a year, as well as dividends from investments, and the cost of living was very cheap in Paris in the 20′s. They rented a shabby apartment because they enjoyed the bohemian lifestyle and thought that true artists flourished in an environment of poverty. Ernest also rented an office for writing and they spent lots of money on nightlife/entertainment/travel. They had a nanny for Bumby and left him for months at a time.
    So naa naa naa nanny on Keri!

  36. Peachy says:

    Very pretty pics, but I suddenly feel a mysterious need to shop at Target.

  37. Kelly says:

    Love what she said, she’s awesome!

  38. taxi says:

    @ Laurinha
    @ maureen
    I get why you’re upset if you live in countries where becoming a Nanny requires a curriculum offered by an accredited institution which teaches child psychology, early education, and early childhood development, baby CPR, etc, in order to be credentialed or certified as a Nanny. Perhaps a final examination by a government licensing authority is required to get that title? I don’t know. I live in the USA and am therefore unfamiliar with your local procedures.

    What I do know is that in California, teachers, teachers’ aides, RNs, LVNs, doctors, paralegals, public accountants, estate agents, attorneys, insurance agents, stockbrokers, civil engineers, architects, etc, ad infinitum, have to have valid, state licenses in order to call themselves “________”. Those licenses require continuing education and periodic re-examination, generally on either a 2 or 4 year cycle. Since California doesn’t certify nannies, lots of people call themselves nannies or say they have nannies, when in fact there’s no such evidence of any qualification beyond desire. That is my point.

    If one has formally studied a recognized curriculum and passed examinations, been vetted for any criminal history, fingerprinted, bonded, and had the same health tests that teachers and licensed daycare workers are required by state law to have, then call oneself “_______.” Absent any governmentally recognized minimum standard, it is a catch-all title, use of which is vague & mostly discretionary by those who want to use it. Lots of self-named “nannies” in Central Park caring for children of Wall Street titans don’t even have work permits. Some lack Green Cards. So the difference here is often merely ego & fee driven. Not in your world, but in mine.

    Bring your UK, NZ, Australian, French credentials here and be nannies. Your talents and skills are prized & rare, since so many US “nannies” have co-opted your job title without the commensurate qualifications. Personally, I give neither more nor less respect to either job designation unless, as in the case I told you about in my post, the woman is an organizational whiz with a degree in Childhood Development from a prestigious university. The family which employs her ran extensive background checks on her before hiring her. They also pay her costs to attend any educational seminars in any field relating to her job as their Nanny. She deserves her title.

    The “nanny” who takes care of my granddaughter’s friends after school 3 x weekly oversees 3 kids, including 1 infant & 1 toddler, from 2 families who share her wages. She speaks broken English but cooks well. Could she communicate effectively on an emergency phone call to get help? I’m not sure. The employing parents are both attorneys.

    Nothing I said was meant disrespectfully to either of you or anyone else who trained for & treats your work as a career. My point is that many people use the term “nanny” inappropriately to elevate babysitters to higher perceived status.

  39. lisa says:

    to me, a nanny is a professional with training, a license, a decent salary, doesnt do housework

    i know girls who hire someone who no training, license, expect them to do some housework, dot pay them particularly well, sometimes under the table, and they are there from 9 to 5. is that person a nanny because of the amt of hours they work? i wouldnt think to call them a nanny but based on some of the above posts, i wonder if other people would?

  40. HAVE CHILDREN says:

    Oh – and a colleague of mine – before she went to college . . . moved to NYC and was a “nanny” for a prominent family. The husband tried to pick up on her several times – and she decided to quit the job. Make up a title for yourself – if that’s all you define yourself by in your lifetime. Sad if you choose to do that.

  41. Jenn says:

    I do agree with having your own identity outside your kids. She does downplay the importance of the person taking care of them every day. I’d call her–that awesome chick that watches my darlings so I can work at my high paying job, away from the brats. Psshh.

  42. BackstageBitchy says:

    @annie the nanny above-:forget Tina and Keri- you sound amazing! Like, the greatest nanny ever! Are you available? Haha. But your families should be thrilled to have you and appreciate all that you are, and call you whatever YOU want to be called…

    • Annie says:

      That was such a lovely thing to say, you made my morning! I will be available again in the new year, once I relocate to Pittsburgh. Nannying is a wonderful job – I took a year off, because you get so attached to the kids, and I for one don’t like to just “replace” them (my previous charges had to move back to their home country). It was fun working with grown-ups, but I miss reading to the kids and going on nature walks. Being a nanny is wonderful – even if people do sometimes says “babysitter.” Thanks again :) !!

  43. HAVE CHILDREN says:

    And my colleague just reminded me of:

    1. Mary Poppins
    2. Nana the Dog in Peter Pan
    3. And there’s always Mrs. Doubtfire

    We could definitely go back to the fifties and sixties for a few other television “nannies.”

    The point I am trying to make is that you are WAY MORE IMPORTANT than some label someone gives you. I have learned this during the decades I have worked. I would say those of you who choose to label yourself as a “nanny” – and you think that label is even good enough for you – I would rethink your title.

    Women who employ you – “NANNY” is NOT a term of esteem. People throw the word around in the office as if you are a SERVANT. I am very surprised if you do not know this.

    I guess you should at least elevate yourself to “GOVERNESS” like Maria in THE SOUND OF MUSIC.

    I think the reason I am so discouraged tonight by this thread:

    If you have to choose a title for yourself -

    Why is the word “NANNY” even good enough for you?

  44. Erm says:

    If I put a picture of my dog as my fb profile, post cute puppy pictures and anecdotes, and talk a lot about my dog at dinner, I’m just a boring person with a strong love for dogs. Nobody would say I’ve lost my identity to my dog. It just means that I love my dog and as a natural consequence, I love to share him with people (even if they are cat people). Surely we all know people with a strong interest in certain things (gay rights come to mind) who seem to post only about that topic on facebook for a fairly lengthy period. It doesn’t mean they’ve lost their identity, but that they’ve found something they’re passionate about. Isn’t doing that part of their identity? Having said that, I agree that people should be careful about the images they post on the internet. Too many weirdos out there, and there is the privacy/respect issue.

  45. GreenTurtle says:

    Brooklyn does not look like DC. That is all. :)

  46. Faye says:

    Interesting discussions here re the role of a nanny. From the perspective of someone who grew up with a full-time nanny (she was with our family since the birth of my older brother), I really think it is a disservice to call such a person a “babysitter.” I don’t judge any woman who employs a nanny, but just give credit where credit is due.

    My nanny was really a second mother to me, and still is in many ways. We’re very close even now and see each other often. She had such a huge role in raising my brothers and me that it would be offensive to equate her with the neighborhood teenagers who watched us at night when my parents went out. And my own parents were always the first ones to tell everyone that Nanny was their third co-parent. She even sat at the family table when I got married!

    As for the article, Kerry looks great in these clothes. And Brooklyn does not look like Washington, D.C.

  47. Jigli says:

    I don’t even like the word actress, so I call her bullshitter.

  48. Quincy says:

    Even though this site is obviously for profit, I’m always a little bummed when I realize a post is solely to generate a debate. (LeAnn v. Brandi, Jen v. Angie, Miley v. Reality.) Today it’s the ol’ Working Mom v. SAHM debate, which is a dead-end conversation at this point. And yet, here we go again.

    My take? I think each side needs to concede some claims. I think working moms need to accept they can’t take all the credit for the child-rearing they don’t do. You are not a “full-time mom” when you work outside the home. You are either a working mom, or you are neglecting your job to micro-manage your children from afar. But you can’t take credit for someone else’s work, nanny or babysitter. Your love is not diminished by your career, but your influence often is. But if your child is cared for by someone whose influence you trust, then who cares? It’s really no different than sending a child to public school, but most SAHMs don’t think the schoolteacher is the real mommy. (Unless this is also a public school v. home school post. Did I miss something?)

    On the other hand, SAHMs need to concede that staying home isn’t the end-all, be-all determinant of a healthy child. They need to recognize that kids are pretty resilient and can thrive in many different arrangements. Many moms don’t get to choose in this matter, so just be glad you can do what you feel is best for your family. But check the judgment at the door. Good moms and bad moms come in all packages.

  49. Becky1 says:

    I hate the current parenting culture. It’s part of the reason I don’t have kids. I just didn’t want them badly enough to deal with all of the judgment. I would not have been able to afford to be a SAHM, I would not be the super Mommy throwing lavish parties, I would not be the helicopter Mom, etc…I’m sure even though I’d love my kids and do my best there would be many who would judge me. I know I’m judged as a woman without children but I think if I had kids the judgment would be worse.

  50. SuSu says:

    wow ladies read her words again. it has nothing to do with nanny vs babysitter.
    She says she calls her nanny babysitter because so she feels more like a fulltime-mother.