Jen Psaki: ‘We have an incredible nanny – she’s a member of our family’

Jen Psaki
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has a “what I do in a day” interview with NY Magazine’s The Cut. I’ve never read an interview with her and came away impressed with how candid, straightforward and insightful she is. Psaki has been married to fellow Democratic operative Gregory Mecher since 2010 and they have a six-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son. Psaki spends 12 hours a day at work, and she has about two hours to be with her children both in the early morning and at night when she gets home. She said last year that she would step down from her position with the Biden administration in about a year. Doing interviews like this may be part of that but it’s hard to tell. Here’s some of what she said and you can read more at the source. I’m mostly excerpting the parts about her home life, but her work schedule is interesting too.

On her morning routine:
I get up at 5:15 a.m., sometimes 5:45 a.m.. I have a three and a six year old who — we’re probably enabling them — come into our room in the middle of the night and get into sleeping bags. When I wake up, they’re awake. That’s the best quality time. Before most of the world is awake I can build Legos like I did with my daughter this morning. But I can’t speak, really, before I have coffee. I also eat a lot of toaster waffles, which sounds really sad when I say it that way, but they can be delicious. I leave the house around 7:15 a.m.

On unwinding after work:
On my best days, I have a good book I’m diving into. I just read Fates and Furies. I also love watching things that have nothing to do with politics. Some of them are fun, some are informative, some serious. I just watched Dopesick, which is about the opioid epidemic. Really incredible, sad, enraging, all of the things. But I also love Queer Eye and Emily in Paris. My kids are at the age where they are tough negotiators. Often, they’re not asleep until around 9 p.m. So it really depends on the night, but when I have free time, that’s what I do.

On failure and disappointment:
There are moments when you handle something poorly and you disappoint a boss. I think of moments I disappointed President Obama, which he would never remember, but still make me cringe. There are moments in your career when you don’t get the job you want or think you should get. I was up for this job twice before, and it was heartbreaking at the time. One of the things I’ve learned is that people will disappoint you. I don’t mean to be too dark. What I mean is, when I was in my twenties or early thirties, I would put mentors or put people I looked up to on a pedestal. My best advice would be to look at people for the gifts they have and what you can learn from them, and not to look to perfection, because that doesn’t exist out there.

On handling child care:
You have to figure out what’s going to work for you and, most importantly, your kids. We have an incredible nanny — she’s a member of our family, and we would not be able to live our lives without her. It’s not just because she takes wonderful care of our kids, it’s because she provides stability and joy during a very challenging time in the world with COVID, but also at a time when I’m working a lot.

[From The Cut]

There’s so much more in there, including the fact that having children made her feel more ambitious. She’s passionate about her work and wants to make the world a better place and model that to her children. I really appreciated what she said about being disappointed both in yourself and others. In a roundabout way she said that she tries to go easy on herself and the people she works with because we’re all human.

It’s refreshing when high profile people admit they have nannies. We had a nanny when my son was young, I was still married and had just started this site. I was embarrassed about it and didn’t talk about her much, even though she was invaluable. Also, that’s cute that Psaki loves Queer Eye and Emily in Paris!

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Jen Psaki

Jen Psaki

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22 Responses to “Jen Psaki: ‘We have an incredible nanny – she’s a member of our family’”

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  1. tempest says:

    I respect her for many reasons, the latest one being that she gives credit to her nanny.

  2. Zut Alors says:

    My family had live-in nannies. I don’t see why it’s such a big deal. While we loved them and they took excellent care of us, we knew they were not our parents. I should note that I was born and raised in Kenya and that was the norm for a lot of families.

  3. Nibbi says:

    I have an immense appreciation for this woman. Her calm, direct, clear manner, the fact that you can tell she has a brain in her head and isn’t an asshole (I’m still traumatized by the last administration’s series of moronic sycophants in that role) has been a sort of balm, a fulfilment of Biden’s promise for a return to normalcy, although she’s a lot more than just competent in her role. She’s really becoming someone I admire.

    – I don’t know why people would or should be ashamed of having a nanny? How on Earth should people with jobs like that properly care for their children, otherwise? I think it’s right and proper that she calls out how important their nanny is to them.

    • goofpuff says:

      I admire her so much as well. I hope we can keep her for as long as we can. And whoever they get to replace her is just as awesome.

  4. ScarcasmQueen says:

    I like when people admit they have nannies. I do not like when they call them members of the family. They are not. There is and always will be the employer/employee dynamic first.

    Families who call their nannies family often impose upon their nanny’s time and don’t think twice about it because “she doesn’t mind” but rarely is the nanny fairly compensated for that extra time or task because employers view it as a favor, not additional hours or labor worked.

    It was one of my biggest pet peeves as a nanny, especially as a live in one.

    • Seaflower says:

      I took her comment to mean that one of their family members – sister/aunt/etc – was the nanny, not the other way.

    • Eve says:


      Love your comment.

      Happens a lot here in Brazil (albeit considerably worse). During my whole life I heard the typical comments: “Oh, but she’s family”, “She’s my second mom!” and so on…

      In reality, these women are brought from small towns in the countryside, usually at a ridiculously young age, do not receive proper education (or wages) and end up never having a family of their own.

      In many situations, it equals slave labour.

      P.S.: My family never had a live in nanny.

    • Angelica+Schuyler says:

      I’m sorry you had that experience. I was taught to always treat the nannies, housekeepers, etc. very well. You are entrusting them with your most precious assets – your children . You have to take care of them with the same respect you want them to have for you and your family. It’s a two way street. I can’t leave and go do my job comfortably, unless I can trust that my children are being looked after by someone who is invested in keeping their position because they’re happy and feel they’re being treated fairly.

      If you don’t treat the people who work for you well, it will inevitably come back to bite you in the butt. I’ve seen it happen too many times.

      • liz says:

        You sound like a good friend of mine. Her kids are now in high school and college and they no longer need child care. When they were younger, her attitude was also “I can’t do my job well unless I know the kids are in good hands. And that’s not possible unless I treat the woman who is caring for them really, really well.”

        To the point that their now-former nanny still visits. She was there for Thanksgiving dinner – as a guest. I think I washed more dishes that night than she did.

    • eliza says:

      I think it’s great to pay a nanny well and it’s natural to become emotionally close, but it’s also important to have boundaries. They are your employee, and that is not a dynamic that can or should be glossed over. I really don’t like when nannies are called ‘members of the family’ because they can be hired and fired without consequence, and they inherently have to put their own lives on the back burner in service to the family they work for. That is literally the exact opposite of how family dynamics should function. You can’t fire your kids and you shouldn’t ask family members to indefinitely put their own needs on hold because they are proving to be very useful.

  5. MaryContrary says:

    We had a pt nanny when my kids were little. My husband traveled constantly for work and it was great to either have another pair of hands to help out or to be able to get a break altogether. I remember a friend being snotty like “it’s your job-why do you need help?” And my feeling was “my husband has assistants at work-why shouldn’t I?”

  6. Louise177 says:

    A lot of celebrities don’t talk about having nannies because a lot of the public shames them. I don’t think I have ever read a post where there weren’t a bunch of comments about the nannies raising the kids. It’s weird considering most working parents pay for childcare. But for some reason a nanny means the parents don’t care.

  7. anniefannie says:

    I was a nanny that was considered family and found the opposite to be true. My time and life was valued and respected. The family took a great interest in my future life goals and wanted me to succeed. It most definitely depends on the family but my guess is Psaki would be supportive of ambition…

  8. Bettyrose says:

    A man in her job who was married to a SAHM would never be asked about the free labor in his home. Good for her for being unapologetic that she has a nanny who is certainly fairly compensated for her work and clearly treated with deep respect by the family.

  9. E says:

    I have a 5 year old and 3 year old and we had a nanny when the kiddos were younger. Unfortunately she moved out of state, but it was some an awesome experience and we really were so close with her and miss her so much.

    And I would lose my freakin’ mind if my kids stayed up until 9pm! They’re asleep by 7-7:30pm. An early bed time is the best thing for their sanity and mine.

    • Mirage says:

      Yes, her kids seem to need little sleep.
      My son is in bed at 8 and wakes up naturally at 7.
      If he goes to bed at 9, he won’t wake before 8!

  10. ScarcasmQueen says:

    To be clear, I’m sure she treats her nanny well and most families who do view their nanny as family are usually kind, try to be considerate, and don’t feel they are being predatory.

    But it’s simple dynamics. Employers will often ask and nannies often volunteer to work outside of their hired hours, do additional chores, run errands, help with birthday parties, stay an extra hour, work extra hours in a crunch, etc. And nannies are expected to just help, or don’t have genuine freedom to say no.

  11. Truthiness says:

    I love Jen P so much as a press secretary, she is so articulate, canny, and better than any Press Secretary in years. I know she wants to step away so she doesn’t miss her kid’s childhood but all the other options are far less skilled and the administration needs all hands on deck. Nobody should be asking her about her nanny, they don’t ask male Press Secretaries.

  12. Wickster says:

    Former nanny here; I appreciate that Jen Psaki has clearly real commitment to her children and I am certain she treats her nanny/ ies well; but I agree with the previous post: I didn’t like being called a “member of the family” and neither did the nannies I knew–even less so the ones who had their own children in another country who were working crazy hours, often live-in, to take care of someone else’s children. No matter how caring and appreciative a family is–being a nanny is a job like any other job. it takes time away from your own family and things you wish to do. I loved the children I worked with, and still am in touch with many of them –I treasure those times deeply. But to call someone a “member of the family” is not as welcoming as it seems. It’s imposing/ assuming a relationship that they did not agree to. They have their own families. Because of my own experience, I make certain that my mother’s caregivers are never contacted outside of work hours by me unless it is an emergency; I always apologize if i do so; and I never expect them to work overtime. I give many bonuses. My mom’s main caregiver loves my mother–but I am clear that she has her own family.

    • tealily says:

      Thanks for this perspective, @Wickster! I’m sure it’s easier for a lot of parents to think of the relationship this way, but undoubtedly most people doing the job absolutely do not.