Zoe Saldana. Carrie Underwood. The famously organic and locally sourced Blake Lively.
Within a few months, they’ll all be first-time mothers. Like many a celebu-mom before them, they’ll take a few weeks off, maybe a few months. Then they’ll probably start making the rounds again, talking about how a good night’s sleep is a thing of the past, how tough it is to balance work and parenthood, about how they believe being a mom is the most important job they’ve ever had.
And most likely, all of those statements about parenthood will be half-truths. At best. For more than a decade, I’ve researched how celebrities really live, including how they raise (or don’t raise) their kids. I’ve even written a book about it.
And the truth is, celebrities spend relatively little time doing the bulk of what average parents do every day. If you’re a mom—first time, third time, doesn’t matter—and you’ve ever wondered why you can’t lose the baby weight the way that actress did, or why you’re having trouble squeezing in feedings when Beyonce managed to do it on a world tour, or why you can’t style yourself so chicly for a day out with your brood a la Angelina Jolie, now is the time to stop. Right now.
Because if most parents knew precisely how much help the average star got in the mothering department, how hands-off most star moms really are, they’d never compare themselves to a celebu-mom again.
Don’t believe me? Let’s start with a simple fact: According to one former Hollywood nanny, the average working celebrity spends perhaps one hour per day with her child. One. Nannies, chefs, personal assistants, tutors and teachers get the rest. During vacations, stars may spend a generous four hours a day with their offspring.
Shall we continue?
Let’s start with the moment a baby is born. Neonates wake up every, what? Two hours, to be fed? So you and your partner, if you have one, are essentially up at 3 a.m. doing that essential work.
Celebrity parents? Nope. Enter the “baby nurse,” whose job is to help care for newborns of the rich and famous. Or just the rich.
“The ‘A-list baby nurses’ are typically the first (if not the second) phone call once the parents find out they are pregnant,” says Rebecca Stewart, CEO of VIP Nannies Inc. Household Staffing. “We currently have baby nurses booked with A-List families through 2015.”
These nurses generally work 10, 12 or even 24 hour shifts.
Of course sleep isn’t the only perk of having one of these nurses, who cost around $600 to $1,000 per day. They’re also a big reason why stars are able to lose that baby weight so fast. It sure is easier to meet with a trainer if someone else is feeding, burping and changing the baby.
Meanwhile, it’s also likely that a professional baby proofer ($1,500) and car seat installer ($50 to $100) already has visited the star’s home.
“No A-list celeb is going to wait in the line (or even more realistically is not going to have their nanny to wait in line) at Toys R US or a Highway Patrol Office to properly have their carseat installed,” Stewart says.
And let’s talk about those nannies. They don’t just take the kids to school or get them dressed in the morning. While a housekeeper or house manager is busy doing the child’s laundry and a chef is preparing the child’s meals, the nanny is doing—well, a lot more than you think.
“It’s everything,” Stewart says. “Getting the kids ready to travel. Packing the bags. Finding the best age-appropriate classes for them. Finding age-appropriate activities. Checking out potential schools. Coordinating schedules and organizing play dates. Keeping abreast of parties, getting gifts for those parties and preparing the kids for those parties.
“Nannies keep drawers organized in tip-top shape, and alert mom when it’s time to shop or order the next size up.”
If you think this sounds like a 24-hour job, you’re correct. Which is why most children of celebrities have at least two nannies in their lives at all times, if not three or four. And if the kids have divorced parents, two sets of nannies may be involved.
During family travel, “I’ve seen two nannies fly out to work for two weeks and then two more nannies come in to replace them while the first two fly back for a break,” Stewart says.
And just how much does each nanny cost? Roughly $80,000 to $90,000 a year, not including benefits.
Of course none of this means we should hate celebrity parents for the choices they make. Every mom is different. But let’s not be too hard on ourselves either.
“Moms are moms and dads are dads,” Stewart says. “We all have struggles and are trying to do the best we can with what we are given, however little or however much.”