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Mom who posted viral nanny ad defends herself: ‘As a working woman, I need a wife’

A CEO and mother of 10-year-old twins whose lengthy job posting for a “household manager/cook/nanny” went viral last week is defending herself from critics who mocked her exacting requirements, which include river swimming, vacation planning and traveling, skiing, managing databases tracking chores and allowances, playing math games and preparing organic, allergy-friendly meals while considering vegan substitutions and the latest dietary studies.

In an interview with Slate, the unnamed, self-proclaimed “single mom entrepreneur” from Menlo Park, Calif. explained what motivated her to post what’s been dubbed by the Guardian as the “the most demanding ad for a nanny ever.”

“All I really want to do is run my business well and be the best mom ever,” she said, noting that the demands of caring for two children with various activities has to be outsourced. As a busy CEO and single mom, she added, she struggles with the pressure to do it all — and considered backlash to her job posting sexist.

“As a working woman, I need a wife,” she shared. “Our society is broken. Here it is January, and I’m having to spend hours of my time, like late at night, trying to figure out summer camp and get them signed up for sports and all that. [I’m a single parent,] but if I had a two-parent household, I would assume that the other parent would at least be doing some of that, one would hope. Although, again, most women tell me that they have to do it all. So I think that people related to the post because it’s absolutely true. If you’re a working woman, you need a wife.

“Also I think a lot of people read the post, and women attack women,” she said. “We live in a sexist society. And so, of course, women are sexist because they live in a sexist society. If I were Scott McNealy, former CEO of Sun Microsystems, and I’d done this ad, nobody would think twice.”

A mom (not pictured) says backlash to her "demanding" job posting is sexist. (Photo: Getty Images stock photo)

A mom (not pictured) says backlash to her “demanding” job posting is sexist. (Photo: Getty Images stock photo)

She went on to defend some of the job requirements featured in the ad, which she placed after being sent candidates who didn’t meet her family’s needs.

“I need somebody who is physically active,” she said. “My kids and I love to swim in rivers. We’re really into river swimming. We’re into going to rivers and swimming through caves in rocks and also climbing rocks and diving off the rocks. I was trying to give some examples of what I meant by ‘strong and physically fit,’ because I had problems before when I’ve recruited au pairs where I’ve said ‘must be physically fit,’ etc. and even when I’ve said ‘must be able to run a mile,’ the person shows up and there’s no way they could run even an eighth of a mile. I wanted to make sure that the agency would be able to screen like: Can you swim in a river? Can you swim against a current? Can you swim in the ocean? Can you body surf?

“I put in the list what’s preferred and what’s necessary,” she continued. “I would love it if the person were a strong skier and could arrange ski vacations. Most families go on ski vacations with the husband and the wife, right? Usually one of the parents is the stronger skier or they’ll tag team taking the kids out. But for me, if I take them skiing alone, I mean, that’s exhausting, right? Having somebody who’s great at skiing, who likes skiing, is really good.

“But the important [qualifications] are what differentiates the nice, grandmotherly baby nanny from this wife type is the executive functioning: the ability to plan, to do research, to make good decisions about ‘this is the right flag football team versus that one and this is why.’ It’s intelligence, education, analytical skills, thoughtfulness. That’s not like a superwoman or super nanny. Most of the moms you know probably have all of that.”

Though some readers still balked at her posting (calling her demands “obnoxious” and the $35-$40 hourly wage, plus perks, insufficient), the interview also resonated with many commenters, who related to her struggle as a single parent and working mom. The ad, many have noted, lists tasks that make up much of the unpaid labor mothers especially are expected to perform — for free.

The childcare role, incidentally, remains open; interested candidates can apply here.

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