The Nanny Cheat $heet

You’ve already got the ins-and-outs of hiring a nanny – and maybe you already have one you adore. Then why – even when you lovelovelove her and you two talk about everything – can conversations about money feel so awkward? It’s usually because you don’t have a point of reference, says Erica Komisar, co-founder of Nannies Who Know, which trains and places nannies in New York. Her ballpark figures for hourly rates, raises and bonuses will help – and please, add your rules of thumb in the comments!

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A few things to
keep in mind:

Generosity will never go unnoticed.

There are a few things that make a difference to your nanny and don’t cost you a lot:
1. If you’re in NYC and commute via subway, share a monthly unlimited MetroCard – doubles its use and costs you nothing extra since you would purchase anyway.
2. Add them to your family mobile plan.
3. Ask what they like to eat and keep it stocked at your house, so they don’t have to buy/bring lunch.

Always negotiate these things in advance. It’s good for both parties to have clear expectations and ensures a healthy relationship long-term.

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The going rate

Prices are for NY, LA and SF. In other cities, rates will be less.
Hourly: $15 – $18 starting rate for one child; $18 – $21 for two.
Overnight: $50 – $75 flat rate from kids’ bedtime to wake up.
You’re late getting home: Same hourly rate, but round up. I.e. pay a full hour even if you’re just 15 late.
Comes on vacation with you: Additional $50 – $75 per night + all meals + regular rate for any days that fall on a weekend.
Birthday: $50 – $100 or the day off
Holiday gift/bonus: Small gift + 1 – 2 weeks pay as a bonus (depending on how happy you are with them).
Typical Raise after year 1: $1/hour
Typical Raise after year 2: $1/hour
Second child: Additional $3/hour

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shoshanna_gruss

Within 2 minutes of chatting with Shoshanna Gruss, we were smitten. She’s warm, kind, real, honest, funny, and a successful entrepreneur who’s managed to find true balance in her life. But then she told us about her daughter Sienna and their impromptu girls trip to New Orleans, and we almost ditched on the designer to hang with her. “She’ll eat anything, try anything, loves museums, and is always down to explore.” And she’s in a band. She’s nine.

But back to our mom-crush. The mother of 3 (aforementioned Sienna; twins Colby and Angelica are 2) runs a business, sees her friends (albeit not as often as she’d like), takes her daughter to school (and picks her up) every day, reads an occasional book, and travels (with and without kids). She’s the quintessential role model for entrepreneur moms, and we say that without even the slightest eyeroll.

Besides overseeing her eponymous fashion line (that’s been around for 17 years!), she’s also the Style Director at Elizabeth Arden, where she collaborates on the design of new products and acts as a spokesperson for the brand. And speaking of collaborating, Sienna has helped design suits for the babygirl swim: “She’s more rock-n-roll than I am, so our stuff is a little too girly for her. I let her help, and her designs have been best-sellers!”

She talked openly with us about her difficulty getting pregnant both times (the 7-year age difference wasn’t “the plan”), and her good fortune of having 3 healthy kids is not lost on her – her gratefulness is palpable. She’s also shared tips for twins parents, her secret to staying organized, and her terrifying #momfail we give her kudos for sharing.

Meet the smart, beautiful, down-to-earth Shoshanna Gruss.

She’s With The Band

Sienna sings and plays keyboard and drums in a band. Currently she’s in a Rolling Stones cover band with the School of Rock, but her old band, Kings of Brooklyn, played at the Bitter End – it was such a proud moment!

Colby strums away on his ukulele all day long. Some people are born with this.

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Out Of Your Control

Anjelica, on the other hand, is going to be an ultimate fighting champion – she’s very physical. I was an athlete and was the same way as a child. My mom is the most refined elegant woman but was a wild animal as a child. You gotta celebrate the kid you got, not try and make them into what you want them to be!

Meaningful Names

My kids are all named after grandparents who have passed away. It’s such a nice Jewish tradition to name kids after family members who are no longer with us. When they ask why they have their name, it keeps you talking about people who were loved and special so they feel that connection.

Winter Babies

The twins were born in November during the coldest winter ever, and I’m a secret hermit so we were shut-ins for the first year, and I didn’t feel guilty about it. No one loves a snowstorm more than me – I love being trapped in the house , so it was a perfect year for me!

Twins Must-Have

The City Select Twin Jogger is the perfect twin stroller. They can face front and back, facing each other or not – you can coordinate it a million different ways. It’s easier to have them front and back so you don’t take up the whole sidewalk, and they enjoy it.

Twins Tips

Don’t buy 2 of everything! They only want whatever thing the other is playing with – it’s not about the toy itself. He loves cars and trucks, and she likes to beat him up – whatever he has in his hand, she wants.

Don’t compare them. She is physical, verbal, and jealous; he is totally laid back. They never hit milestones at the same time. It’s a fascinating study of gender.

The Struggle

Sienna is 9 and the twins are 2 – that was not our family plan. It was hard for me to get pregnant both times, so instead of seeing anything as a negative, I am just so grateful that I have 3 healthy kids. The long road has made me never sweat the small stuff because I know how lucky I am.

Perspective

It’s almost a beautiful age difference because Sienna grew up with just us for so many years, and now the twins are as well. I’ve been the young mommy and the old mommy. I was always so nervous with Sienna, but I am less so with the twins. All the things I have watched some super successful type-A moms stress over – getting into the right schools and making straight A’s – I don’t fret about that stuff. My only goal is to keep my children healthy and happy. You have to find your child’s strengths and help them feel good about that, and instill confidence in the places where they aren’t excelling, all while allowing them to be themselves.

How She Does It

I am a super organized person, and I have to write everything down, like with pen and paper. I use a paper calendar, and I have all of them from the last 20 years – they are so helpful with remembering things!

I am committed to dropping Sienna off and picking her up every day at 2:30pm from school. I’ve had my business for 17 years, so it runs like a machine. What suffers is my social life – I see my friends a few times a month, and I plan it in advance (it’s all about being a planner). I have really great help and the women I work with are incredible and the reason I get to be the kind of mom I want to be.

Her Style

I wear a uniform: a Chinti & Parker sweater or Steven Alan button-down, high-waisted skinny jeans (either Citizens or Sevens – I love the high-waisted are flattering and nothing sticks out), and Supergas. I feel casual enough to get on floor with the kids but pulled together enough for work.

The Hardest Part

I struggle with letting them be independent and giving them space to grow. When I see them try something and not succeed right away, my instinct is to go and do it for them, but they need to figure things out on their own sometimes. That’s hard for me.

Biggest Fashion Pet Peeve

That trying too hard look: I see these NY women wearing the highest heels and the tightest pants, and it makes me uncomfortable for them. Comfort, grace, and elegance are so appealing. I like people to express themselves and the non-creativity in that look bums me out.

Ahhhhhhhhhhh

To unwind, I love to listen to that flutey spa music, put my face in a pillow, and lay there and drift off at night. I would love to find more time to read (there are 30 books next to my bed), but I am so tired!

I did just read I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You and Warpaint, about the Elizabeth Arden-Helena Rubinstein rivalry – their stories are fascinating. I get super obsessed with women who have broken boundaries like they did.

My fantasy is to be on a beach with sea glass and beautiful shells, a chair, my flutey music, a beachcomber, and a reader – if anyone wants to give me a present!

Last Purchase

I have a thing with chromatic color, and Solange did this Chromance collection of multi-colored stones – it was a real gift to myself. Women, in general, are not as giving to themselves as men, but I’m changing that!

Secret Obsession

I torture Sienna with crafts like making friendship bracelets, and she is not into it like I am! I love to bake, paint, and make stuff. I have a sketchbook of stuff I have cut out and glued in: things that inspire me, places I want to go. I just took Sienna to New Orleans, and we had the best time. That’s what life is all about.

#Momfail

When Sienna was little, I was holding her on my hip and gabbing away on the phone, not paying close attention to her. She had pulled a knife out of the woodblock and was holding it over herself, and I smiled and slowly just grabbed it from her, praying she didn’t drop it. Then I moved the woodblock to the other side of the kitchen… and started breathing again.

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holiday gift guides

The time to get your holiday shopping done is right NOW. Our 6 gift guides make it super easy.

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last-call-gift-wrap

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holiday traditions

Nothing says December quite like holiday pajamas and family QT. To wit: 7 seasonal pairings of jammies and family holiday traditions. And remember, it’s never too early to start making memories with your own brood.

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Glow-In-The-Dark Pajamas
+ Christmas Light Hunting

Bundle the rascals in J.Crew’s glow in-the-dark togs (Santa, lights, or yeti for kids; lights or snowmen for baby) and then pile the fam in the mini-van (as if) to scope the neighborhood for the best holiday lights, while listening to Christmas music, of course.

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Festive Pajamas + Hot Cider + Cookie Decorating

Dress the kids in cute matching jammies (kid, baby), heat up some apple cider (spiked for the adults), and bake and decorate cookies. Make memories off the sugar (and possibly bourbon) high!

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Hanukkah Pajamas + Kid-Friendly Menorah + Hanukkah Books + DIY Dreidl

Oh, Hanukkah, oh, hanukkah come light the kid-friendly menorah (in festive jammies). Until your littles are old enough to play with fire, designate this wooden menorah their candle holder of choice. Teach them what it all means with fun books they can understand like Sammy Spider’s First Hanukkah, Hanukkah Bear, and Hoppy Hanukkah. Then get crafty and decorate your own dreidl.

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Flannel Nightgowns + Festive Movie + Snacks

We think red flannel nightgowns (mom, daughter) are the Christmas version of girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes. Pair the gowns with everyone’s favorite holiday classic (we watch The Sound of Music at our house) and a bowl of popcorn and some hot cocoa, and you’ve got yourself a mommy-daughter tradition.

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Moose Union Suits + A Personalized
Video Message from Santa + Reading of
Twas The Night Before Christmas

Nothing says, “Ho, ho, ho” like an actual personalized video greeting from the man himself. And if you’re going to go all out with the kitsch, go all out with moose union suits for the whole gang (baby, adult). Bring the message full circle with a reading of Twas The Night Before Christmas.

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Adopt A Family In Need + Have A Wrap Party

Tis the season for helping others – an important lesson for littles to learn. The best way to teach them is by doing, so adopt a family in need and spend an evening together wrapping gifts for your adopted family. In NY, we love NY Cares Winter Wishes, but a quick search will find one in your area.

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The Fifth Night + Hanukkah Jammies

Eight nights of gifts is a lot of loot. We love the concept of turning the fifth night into an evening all about giving back. Pick out gifts with your child and take them to the local charity of your choosing. We like JChoice for finding one.

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