Back in 2006, when Britney Spears hired a male nanny, known colloquially as ‘manny,’ to take care of her son, little did she know that she’d kickstart the sauciest trend in childcare, with celebs and well-to-do families hiring mannies to take care of their children. A decade on, the concept of manny is no longer a privilege of the rich and famous; it is now a legitimate childcare option for busy moms and dads opting to hire a male over a female caregiver to help around the house.
Where Do You Find Mannies?
Once a radical idea, there are now many certified websites available helping families connect to the right ‘manny.’ John Brandon, owner and co-founder of My Manny
, was once a male nanny himself. The college graduate and professional opera singer says he fell into the role while studying to help pay the bills. “In 2006, in my junior year, I lived in with a family; I lived for free, got paid on top of that, but didn’t know what to call it. I ended up working for a very high profile family on the Upper East Side. Through that, all of the families began to ask where they could find a manny for their kids,” shares Brandon on a popular website. More than 250 male caregivers created their profiles on MyManny.com in the first two months after its launch, with most in their 20s having at least a university degree. Brandon says many of his mannies already have part-time or full-time jobs and pick up caregiving as a side job to supplement their income.
Ingrid Kelleghen, founder and CEO of Cambridge Nanny Group
in Chicago, says, “We’re meeting men with experience in education, social work and coaching sports, or who have college degrees. They are unable to find jobs in their respective fields, so they come to us.”
“We offer everything from a regular babysitting job a couple of nights a week, afterschool care, homework, putting them to bed. But then I’ll get requests for a guy with certain specifications and qualifications—a background in child education, experience with autistic children
, an interest in basketball, guitar,” explains Brandon.
What Sets Mannies Apart From Female Nannies?
The trend of mannies is on the rise, with more families opting for them over female nannies. What could be the reason?
Positive Male Role Models
Some families are specifically searching for mannies. At the Cambridge Nanny Group, those requests come from single moms, lesbians couples and families with boys. “They’re looking for a positive male role model,” says Kelleghan.
Annabelle Corke, the co-founder of Hey Day Nannies
, shares: “We get a lot of single moms. It’s the woman who is divorced and the father is not able to play an active role, and she’s looking for a role model her son can play catch or video games with.”
Teaching Kids Men Are Caregivers Too
Sidney Dilder, a writer living in Western Massachusetts, wanted to teach her son that men are caregivers too. She shares her experience on why she chose to hire a manny in a family website
: “As much as I want Trevor (the manny) as a playmate for my son, I also want him as an example of how a young man can be kind and capable with children. I have never wanted him to have only female childcare because in so many ways, it perpetuates the mythology that women are inherently more adept at caring for children, and men simply sub when a woman is not available. Not having boys take care of children leads to men like my husband who had never held an infant before our own child, changed a diaper, never been entrusted to care for a baby, and never been taught how to do so. He learned quickly, is an incredible father, and always hated the refrain that too often greeted him when he was out with our young child. “Giving Mommy a break?” people asked, to which he always wanted to answer “No! I am parenting my child.”
A Manny—A Friend—A Playmate
Stacy Kramer, a mom of three, says her kids love spending time with Judd, their manny. “He was a real playmate. He was down on the floor, roughhousing with them, being silly, and playing games.”
Dorsea Palmer, a 29-year-old actor living in New York, set his profile on a manny website and was soon contacted by a family. He shares: “The dad was a GM of a huge restaurant in New York so he was out of the house at 7 am to 8 pm. He first had a female nanny but wanted someone to be active with his boys, take them to the park, play catch with them, pick them up from school.” He then adds: “I’m 29 years old, I am a big kid at heart. When I realized what this job entails, not only being a brother or a mentor, but I get to be someone who gets to play Xbox and to wrestle and to jump on a bed and use my imagination—it really is a dream job.”
22-year-old Will Kenworthy has been a manny in a family with two young boys since a year and a half. He shared his experience with parenting.com
: “I think I’ll be with them for a while. I really care about the kids, and we have a great connection.” On a recent outing, when an outsider parent asked the youngest boy if Kenworthy was his babysitter, he replied—“No, he’s my friend,” as Kenworthy fondly recalls.
What is your take on mannies? We’d love to hear about it.