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Move over, Mary Poppins. Fellas like Shaun Sturz are taking care of little charges
» “Whenever I say, ‘I’m a ‘manny,’ people perk up. Not everyone has to be a middle-aged woman to be a nanny.”
» According to a 2011 survey conducted by the International Nanny Association (INA), the profession seems nearly recession proof. Of the 528 respondents, 92 percent were employed.
» Raised in Bakersfield, Sturz, 29, baby-sat a boy and a girl while he was in high school, and he continued taking baby-sitting jobs while he majored in art at Westmont College in Montecito. “I stayed in Santa Barbara two to three years after graduation. I was a women’s shoe salesman—I wasn’t very good at it. I knew that L.A. was a very creative environment. I didn’t want to be an actor or producer, but I wanted to use my talents. That is why I moved here.”
» Sturz has worked at the Malibu home of a prominent jazz musician for five years (a family friend referred him despite his limited experience). He walks the family’s English bulldog, prepares meals, and looks after and ensures the safety of the household’s two sons, ages 14 and 17. He drives them to school and to friends’ homes and supervises slumber parties. “They are like the little brothers I never had,” Sturz says.
» Traditionally, in-home child care has been a woman’s job. Westside Nannies in Beverly Hills reports that in the past about 95 percent of its working recruits were women and 5 percent were men, but recently it has been fielding more requests for male nannies.
» For Sturz, who lives in Hollywood, the hardest part of the job is the schedule—and the commute. “I have given up my weekends for five years. I’ll leave my house at noon and sometimes won’t get home until midnight.”
» The hourly rate for a nanny in Los Angeles, according to the INA, ranges from $18 to $25.
» When Sturz isn’t watching over parents’ precious cargo, he blogs on nanny Web sites and is in the process of filming a nanny reality show.
» Sturz’s employer insists on sit-down family dinners, just as Sturz’s parents did, and there are other customs he observes that remind him of his own upbringing. In certain areas, however, a childhood in Malibu is quite a bit different from one in Kern County. “Kids here go with their friends to a movie premiere or get to fly on a jet somewhere. That doesn’t happen in Bakersfield.”
» Mrs. Doubtfire, starring Robin Williams, is the highest-grossing male nanny movie of all time, having reached $441 million at the box office worldwide. Vin Diesel’s The Pacifier comes in second, with a take of $199 million.
» Sturz has had a lifelong fascination with tree houses. “My dream one day would be to get some land in Costa Rica, or somewhere like that, and build my own tree house and live up there and write and illustrate kids’ books.”
Photograph by Ethan Pines