Have a laugh on me

We're not all in the same boat, some of us struggle to even get in the boat!

Who’d be a nanny in New York? – me.


Being a nanny isn’t an easy gig, but the best part about it is you can give the kids back at the end of the day.

Last week’s report of the woman who killed two of the three children she was ”mummy” to have instilled fear in the hearts of all those who have a nanny, particularly those in New York.

When I was 20 I boarded a big jet plane to work as a nanny in New York. It was before, during and after the Sept 11 attacks so the immigrations laws weren’t so restrictive back then. I was allowed to stay for 3 months legally – but ended up living there on and off for three or so years.

As a nanny you are an instant mother to kids you’ve never meet before. And not having a background in childcare or teaching (I studied media, communications and journalism in fact) I found it quite challenging at times.

I managed to get the first two kids I cared for onside reasonably quickly by acting funny and making them laugh, but from memory it was bloody hard work trying to negotiate with a 2 and 4-year-old.

But I knew that at 6.45pm I would be relinquished of my duties and then I was out the door, to the gym, visits friends, shopping or hiding out in my room, hoping they wouldn’t come and find me.

Don’t get me wrong I loved those kids but it’s only now as a mother that I can see the HUGE responsibility bestowed upon me.

I had a fantastic network of friends who were nannies nearby, mostly other Kiwis, we had a reputation in the US for being some of the best workers and carers.

We also knew how to party hard and as often as we could. We were in New York and the world was our oyster!


That’s me on the left in a little red racy number – and two of my high school friends, who were also nannies in NY.  They stayed and worked there for much longer, found gorgeous Irish men and married them and now have children of their own!

Life was just one big party really, but I still had to be mindful that Monday morning I was ”mum” again – and being a mum with a hangover ain’t pretty. ( I can speak from experience, in fact right now I’m suffering from a sore head after more than few reds with my BFF, totally worth it!).

The second family I worked for were just awesome, they had met late in life and left it too late to have children so they adopted Zachary. They loved him so much and wanted to spend every second they weren’t working with him.

As soon as they got home from work I was off duty no matter the time, this was not like my first nanny job where I was a mum from 6.45am to 6.46pm – regardless of who was home.

Everyone parents differently but I found it heartbreaking trying to explain to young kids they couldn’t go play with mummy because she was having ‘mummy time’.

But I bonded with Zack and Angel, the gorgeous golden retriever, and she pretty much became the other child I cared for and loved. Another very important life lesson learned here, owning a dog is pretty much the same as having a child, well responsibility wise.


Because he was an only child I played with him a lot when he wasn’t at school. But not because I was paid (very well) to – but because he was a smart cookie, cute and very loving.

I also cried for him when kids were mean to him at school because he was slightly eccentric, highly intelligent and never stopped talking about dinosaurs, of which he knew every one of their names and how to pronounce them at just 7 years old.

I started to realise what being a nanny was all about, I was partying less (no hang on that’s not true) – but I felt more connected to Zack and would have done anything for him.

And that is what being a nanny is all about.

Being there to protect a small, innocent, defenseless child – and I get the goosebumps when I even start to think about those poor babies that were hurt by the person they trusted the most after their parents, their nanny.

As a person I pride myself on being able to put myself in other people’s shoes, I think it makes me a better person.

However, since becoming a mother I make a point of NOT putting myself in the shoes of mums who have had something horrific happen to their children. I consider myself a pretty strong person but it’s not something I even want to fathom.

This is not to say my heart doesn’t break for them – it does – but I can’t take it on board, call it my coping mechanism.

As for all those nannies in New York, I really feel for them. Life’s about to get much harder for them, and for some maybe it should.

Then again I also feel for the mums who have to leave their babies with someone they think they know and hope they’ll be loved, cared for and made to laugh every day.

But how well can you really know someone?



Author: Have A Laugh On Me

I'm a mum to three, write from home and I rarely cook, craft or clean but admire those who do. I try to live by the mantra that there's no point in worrying about something that might not happen! Be warned this is not a fluffy, sweet mummy blog, rather a place where you can cringe, laugh and be shocked at my brutally honest take on my life.

28 thoughts on “Who’d be a nanny in New York? – me.

  1. Loving tbe photos! Keep them coming x

    • Thats why you are such a good Mum…..you had practice….lol. New York what an experience for you. Loving the reads. Keep them coming. You are a very talented women….xx

  2. Pingback: In order to survive as parents we must have no shame and turn a blind eye | Have a laugh on me

  3. Great to learn all this about you, Em. What a fabulous experience. I’d love to find out more – did you have to do housework like washing up and laundry or is it all about keeping the child/ren amused? After you clocked off – did you really hide in your room or did hangout with the family in front of the TV? Was it difficult for the kids to understand when you were ‘off duty’? Sorry, too many questions – I just find it fascinating .

    • Yes I did the laundry, washing up – for the kids, but they had a cleaner for the rest! I spent most of my time making sure their babies were happy! I did hide in my room when I clocked off, BUT I usually went to the gym or walk, I wish I had done more exploring now I come to think of it, but I was so young I don’t think I had the confidence to do so!! The kids saw me always on duty , and I didn’t mind it really, they were very sweet really!!! Em xx

  4. Great pic of you in the red dress – but how come you’re the only one without demon eyes?

  5. did you keep in touch with the family?

    • Yes I am FB friends with my first family and my second family I have brief contact with, but that’s my fault for being slack!! Looking back I really love the time I had with them all, they taught, and gave, me SO much 🙂

  6. Wow – its so great to hear about your life before marriage and kids! What an experience you had as a nanny in New York! Zach sounds very much like my Twin1. Twin1 knew all the names of dinosaurs at a young age too. He also knew the names of all countries, rivers and capital cities. His favourite possession was a globe of the world along with his miniature dinosaurs. Zach was very lucky to have you as a nanny and your kids are very lucky to have you as a mummy! That mother whose twin babies died…I cannot fathom such a thing. Like you, I need to block thoughts of it as a coping mechanism. xo

    • I really loved Zach and I hope one day we can meet, and that he remembers me!! It was an amazing learning experience that’s for sure Min, if only I had the courage to do more when I was over there! I often look back and think – what if? Em xx

  7. Maybe there’s a blog out there about a young American who grew up with the best red-dressed nanny ever. You’ve looked, surely?

  8. Phwor that red dress is hawt woman! I’m like you and can’t even begin to imagine losing my child. He drives me up the wall but I would move mountains to keep him safe.


  10. Peeps talking about the red dress almost bout as much as Monica and THAT blue dress! Nannying… Thought about it but there’s no way I could do it. You’re a spesh gal!

  11. What an amazing time. Did it prepare you at all for your own kids, or is it just totally different?

  12. Ohhhhh New York. How fabulous. Great post, and what an amazing experience. I want to go to there. Xx

  13. I have a few friends who nannied (nanny’d??) overseas and some of them are still in touch with the families. They’ve had visits from the kids, who are now backpackers themselves all these years later. I did the pub-work-in-London rite of passage rather than nannying, but I’m sure it’s similar in the sense of the adventures and friendships and special experiences that you can only have when your young and fancy-free. Great photos!

  14. I’m with you Em – if I start thinking about all the things that COULD happen then before I know it I’m in a thought spiral that’s headed no-where good. I’d rather just lurch about fending off the threats that I can actually see!
    Gorgeous pics – I bet you painted the town on more than one occasion x

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