Being in charge of children that aren't even your own can be difficult. But the parents of the children really make or break being a family's caretaker. And sometimes you find out more than you wanted to know about how a family truly operates, behind the scenes.
"I was an au pair for a crazy wealthy family in D.C. They were so oddly frugal with some things and with other things it's like they didn't have any logic.
The strangest was probably hiring a 'pet sitter' while they went on holidays, while I was living there with no holiday plans.
They paid me for the two weeks they were on holiday and also paid the pet sitter $50 a day for 5 minutes of work."
"I was a former nanny for a very wealthy Silicon Valley family.
The mom had recently married her new husband when I was hired. The husband was an older, wealthy lawyer and wife was in tech consulting. They were always really kind to me and the kids were good despite having insane privilege.
Honestly, the only weird thing was that the parents were addicted to Five Hour Energy and Coke Zero (I assume because they were total workaholics and needed the caffeine).
I'd get texts at random hours just begging me to bring over Coke Zero and Five Hour Energy. I'd purchase cases at a time and it would all be gone by the end of the week.
The kids didn't touch the stuff, they made sure of it, so I know it was pretty much all the mom and step dad."
"The most bizarre stories come from the newly rich young family in Vienna.
The bedtime routine for the kids (aged 3 and 7) included basically a spa treatment for both. I haven't seen that amount of products in a child's bathroom (they each had their own) in my life. The poor 7-year-old girl had next to no hair on her head but I was required to slather her in the most expensive adult shampoo, conditioner, hair mask, hair oil, and some other things I didn't recognize - every night.
They only had one tiny box of toys and time spent playing was set up for 30 minutes after they brushed their teeth. Dinner was normally a bland fish fillet and a ton of salad. Not a grain of sugar anywhere in the house. Hot cocoa was made with skim milk and pure high-quality cocoa - no sweetness to it whatsoever, it tasted awful.
They had time to explain EVERYTHING to me the first time I was there and I received an inch thick file with lists and procedures to follow. What they didn't mention was that the older girl was still wearing diapers at night. It made for a very awkward conversation with the child and I only hope I was sensitive enough to not cause her any future trauma.
Very, VERY weird."
"The wife was driving through the home improvement part of the city and saw a sale on bathtubs. So she popped in and bought three. As she was leaving, she saw another tub she liked and simply had to get that one too. She wasn't even renovating a house at the time.
They refuse to throw away food. Used by and best before dates are completely ignored, to the point where I found a tin of seafood marinara which was 15 years out of date.
They have a holiday home in the South Pacific and have a housekeeper clean it three times a week yet they only visit 3-4 times a year. When they're not visiting, no one lives there.
When the family goes out for dinner, the father will happily pay for the expensive meals but not the drinks. The kids (who are all teens or older) have to pay him back for the drinks and he will send reminder messages about the amount. Yet when any of the kids offer to pay for the meal, he won't accept.
The wife is a hoarder and will often take way more samples than any normal person. She always makes sure to take all the shampoo/soap etc from hotel rooms and if she passes the housekeeping trolley, will grab as many as she can from there too. Yet she never uses them. They have a whole bathroom cupboard dedicated to samples."
"I once worked for a billionaire family.
The Mrs. could no longer have children biologically and had used donor eggs for her youngest. She cornered me one day and said, 'I've always wanted Eurasian children. I think they're the most beautiful people.' She goes on and on about wanting them and thinking about finding an egg donor. I'm Asian American. She has a staff of 20+ people at her house. Why did she feel the need to corner me to tell me this? It was one of the most uncomfortable 15 minutes of my life.
In her spare time (which was all the time), she studied many subjects. One of them was gemology. One day, while on a trip to a poor country rich in gems and minerals, she decided she to go shopping for gems. The pricing for these gems would have been a fraction of retail. The Mr. gave her a budget of $50K. Immediately, she tells him that she did NOT go to gemology school for just $50K. Immediately, he upped her budget to $120K.
Also, $8,000 was spent on ONE order for solid white playtime t-shirts for her toddlers.
That being said, they compensated their staff quite well. I received a decent salary, medical/vision/dental insurance, a 401K, and a clothing allowance in case I needed anything for work."
"I was an au pair for a British-Spanish couple in London. They raised their daughter trilingual and even sent her to a German school. BUT because the school finished 2-3 hours before British schools, the mom thought it was ok to make little Helena study at home. So each day, I would have to take a sheet of paper and document the times and how well Helena did at the following tasks:
Lunch - what she ate, how she behaved
Once I was finished with her, it was bed time and mom would take her to her room and make her read in Spanish. Her weekends were filled with acting school, ballet and so on.
Her parents planned to send her off to a private school in Germany within 1-2 years and the mom told me she plans to send Helena to Oxford University.
Helena was never allowed around a friend's house but she was allowed to have a friend over on a Friday for a few hours. Aside from this playtime, her whole life revolved around getting good grades.
We lived in Putney which is just a bus ride away from all the famous museums. Yet, Helena was not allowed on public transport.
The worst part was:
The parents would literally not acknowledge her until she had finished all her tasks. Several times, the mom worked from home and would - I AM NOT EXAGGERATING - push Helena away if Helena wanted a hug!!! Why? Well, because we were in the middle of one of her many tasks.
One day, mom wanted me to teach Helena how to write essays. Helena was freaking 7 years old.
She had difficulty integrating into the school because she was quite literally the only non-German pupil as far as I knew. She had no sense of identity and was just a little psycho who was so attached to anybody who gave her attention (me), that I would have to tell her off and get her parents involved because she wouldn't let me go to the toilet! Like a puppy, she would wait outside the door (once we had managed to get her to let go off my leg).
It was an absolute freak show. I lasted 4 months before I gave up (Helena had a big mental breakdown when she saw her mom at home and mom didn't acknowledge her). So I went up to her bedroom /office and told her I quit.
Then I texted my PREVIOUS au pair mom and she came to pick me up within 3 hours. This previous au pair mom is still my close friend, 10 years on.
Helena should be 18 now and I really wonder how she has turned out."
"I worked as a live-in nanny for a young couple and their two kids. The father was 28 and owned his own record label for Mexican artists and easily made $3-4 million per year. The mother was 26 and was famous on Instagram for flaunting their lavish lifestyle. They lived in a huge house in the middle of the desert probably 30 minutes outside of the city they designed themselves and it was honestly ridiculous. Each bedroom was so big it echoed and had its own private walk-in closet and ensuite bathroom as well as access to a wrap-around balcony that overlooked the courtyard, it was shaped like a hacienda. It had glass elevators, an indoor koi pond in the entryway, and in the courtyard, they literally had a stage for the live music to perform when they had parties and a covered sitting area big enough to accommodate 30 tables. Their kitchen had a walk-in refrigerator and enough ovens/stoves to run a restaurant. On the roof, they had a helipad and the guy owned like 4 helicopters. He had a Maserati, 2 Ferraris (one for his wife and one for him), and a rose-gold Range Rover.
They had parties every weekend. And not just cute cozy dinner parties - I'm talking 200-300 person parties. Live 'banda' (Mexican music genre) so loud you can't hear yourself think, men in little groups taking strange pills, women all screaming and laughing gossiping at the table as they bounced babies on their knees, etc. There was one party where the father decided to challenge 3 of his guests to a race behind his house in the desert with his Ferrari and it flipped, but he was fine and was just mad his car was damaged. There was another where people started jumping from the 2nd story balcony to the pool/fountain in the middle of the courtyard and a guy broke his foot. I always had to attend these parties to watch the kids, get them juice when they said they were thirsty, supervise when they played with other kids, tuck them into bed when it got late and the adults were getting too wild for the kids to see. Every single weekend, the mother and father would fight and get into screaming matches, usually the mother was mad he was making stupid decisions while under the influence (usually correct) and he would insist he was fine and she needed to stop trying to control him. She would go to bed mad, he'd stay up until 6 AM and finally crash then, and the next day they'd be fine like nothing happened.
The mother was a very beautiful, mostly sweet though kind of air-headed girl who had gotten together with the father in high school and loved to talk about how she went through highs and lows with him, even when they lived with his parents. She had an affinity for drama and if there was a problem, she was all up in it. She pretended to hate the constant parties but also seemed to love the drama that came with them. She was absurdly glamorous and a had a private makeup artist who did her makeup every day for Instagram and she took him with her on vacations and everything. She had a ridiculous amount of clothes and shoes and would spend easily over $5k maybe every two weeks on shopping. She was SUPER attached to her mom and her mom visited every day as well as her 6 sisters - in fact, the both of them were attached to their families, the father also had his brother, sister, mother and all of his cousins he grew up with at the house daily, they practically lived there. Overall a very ditzy but well-meaning person. The father? Not so much. Apparently, he was a jerk, even before the money, but after it only got worse. Loves partying, loves showing off materialistic things, doing dangerous things (i.e. drag racing), and had no real regard for the well-being of his wife or kids because he assumed they'd be fine with his antics as long as he flung money at them.
The guy wasted an excess amount of money fully staffing his house so he wouldn't have to do anything himself. He claimed it was because he was very busy with work running his label - he'd relax for 2 weeks straight, fly out to Mexico for 2 days, then repeat. Not a very demanding schedule. His staff included 2 cooks, 3 housekeepers, an assistant for the mother and an assistant for him, a nanny (that was me), a planner (the lady that makes their parties happen and plans their vacations and other stuff), and 4 security guards to watch his house. Seriously, he was super paranoid somebody was going to attack his house. Had a full-on security system with intricate locks to every door leading to the outside and security cameras and beefy, burly armed guards walking back and forth around his property.
I worked for them for around 2 1/2 years. It was an easy enough job taking care of the kids as they were both under the age of 6 and were actually pretty well-behaved despite the environment they were growing up in (easy for a child to get spoiled and bratty), just a little girl and boy. Watching all the antics unfold was pretty entertaining, it was like having a front row seat to a real-life soap opera. But in the end, it turned out the security guards were for good reason, because the house ended up getting raided by the police twice on suspicion he was a dealer but never found any evidence, and some men tried breaking into the house and sent death threats. I really don't think he himself was a dealer, he made so much money from his legal business that he didn't need to and he was probably too much of a wuss to do that anyway, but he definitely causally hung out with them and I'm positive they were guests at his parties, and mixing with that just brings problems. I quit after the death threats fiasco because I feared for my own safety. I feel bad for the kids."
"I've only babysat one time and it was for a friend of my grandparents. All I really had to do was hang out with their 8-year-old grandson for a night. Overall it was a pretty cool night. All we did was play 2K and Madden all night so it wasn't bad.
But anyway, this family wasn't like billionaire wealthy, but wealthy enough to where they left me an envelope with $500 in it and told me whatever I don't spend on food, I can keep. Wealthy enough to have sped off in a Maserati for the dinner they were at. Wealthy enough to have a pool, jacuzzi, and nice BBQ built into the backyard out back. You get the idea, they were just an old couple with some money, and they were taking their grandson's parents out to dinner one particular night. Leave me with $500, so I think to myself, I might as well splurge like 30 or 40 bucks on a meal for 2 and pocket the rest. I was like 17 or 18 at the time so I can't say it was a negligible amount of money. Anyway, I take the kid outside to my car across the street, which, at the time, was my older brother's 2005 Toyota Corolla.
He gets in, takes a look around, and goes,'Where's the button that moves the roof back?' Sorry kid, no convertible here. He tells me that his parents only have convertible cars and that he's only been in one other car that isn't a convertible, and that 'he isn't my friend anymore.'
I thought that was pretty weird. Throughout the night, he did also make some interesting 'rich kid' comments, such as asking if we could go to a restaurant that had steak on the menu. He revealed an interesting bit about his parents, saying that they keep talking about bringing him a sister when 'the time is right.' Apparently, the kid asked the dad when the right time was and he said when 'mommy stops being afraid.'
I then learned that the kid's mom and dad divorced about a year later. Felt bad. He was a cool kid, didn't really have that extremely spoiled vibe. More like an innocent, curious, steered wrong by his parent's vibe."
"I was a nanny for about 6 months. Mom had a bad drinking problem and would often come home wasted from nights out with friends. One particular night I was taking a call while the kid was sleeping so I step on the back porch. Didn't realize the door would automatically close and lock behind me. I called her repeatedly trying to tell her I had locked myself out of the house while her child was sleeping inside. She never answered, but I remembered she had introduced me to a neighbor who supposedly had a key. Turned out that he didn't, but he knew another neighbor who did, and he let me back in. She came home, crawled up the stairs reeking of drinks, told me I had to either break up my boyfriend and move in with her or I couldn't work for her anymore, subsequently fired me, and then when I told her I had locked myself out she started cracking up. She called me back the next morning apologizing and begging me to work for her again.
Apparently, I was also her personal chauffeur after she had plastic surgery, and she once rented me out to a friend for a Halloween party in which I was paid $80 to watch 10+ children for 4 hours. On the bright side, she had too much to drink, so I got to drive her new BMW home. Probably the first and last time I'll drive a BMW.
Oh, and I stopped working for her because I had to move to the other side of the state, and she texted me 5 months later trying to get me to do an overnight with her kid while she went out of town for a business trip. I would have spent more on gas and food than I would have gotten paid, plus I had a new job.
Speaking of overnights - When I was first hired on, I was told that I would have to do overnights from time to time while she traveled to Chicago for business meetings. She told me I could just sleep in her bed with her daughter. Found that pretty strange since she didn't even know me. Ended up doing it just because it was what her daughter was used to - Kid was a kicker and total blanket hog.
Needless to say, a lot happened in that 6 months and there's a reason I was never a nanny again."
"I worked as a live-in au pair for two doctors and got less than minimum wage + board. The child was only 8 months old and they both wanted to work full time. We agreed I'd work 30-40 hours a week, but I was pressured to work 60 instead. The parents criticized everything I did, even little things like what time of day I did chores (when they weren't even home).
In public, they looked like a perfect couple. Behind closed doors, they barely talked. There were no conversations except about their work, and the father barely spent any time with the child (he would go so far as to eat meals in his study). Au pairs are supposed to become part of the family but there really wasn't one to become part of.
The end of my employment was after I got a pelvic infection and neither of them believed me even after diagnosis and antibiotics. They expected me to work the day after I was out of the hospital.
It was a real loss because I loved looking after their child."
"I was a nanny for a rich family with 3 kids. I came every Saturday and the parents explained how they did things. They first spoke only in French to the kids. I thought this was weird but also a cool way to teach the kids a second language. But, this was not cool when the kids would just get up and talk to the mom in French and I had no clue what they were saying and about half the time it was a complaint about me!
I was told not to use the word 'no' or 'can't' and if I was to tell the children they couldn't do something I should avoid it at all costs. But if I need to it's got to have a positive spin on it.
These 3 kids all wanted to do opposite things all at the same time and none of them were allowed to hear 'no.'
So when one of the kids wanted to stand on daddy's brand new pool table while the other wanted to play with the stapler I was supposed to have a happy positive spin on it but not say 'no.' These kids never heard of consequences a day in their little life.
One day, the little girl wanted Cheerios and a block of Parmesan cheese for lunch. I tried to suggest mac n cheese the mom corrected me and said she could have what she wanted. But then, when she would take a bite of the parmesan cheese she would also throw a cheerio on the floor and look at me and smile because she knew I had to clean it up. As I swept up, she did it more and more.
The parents would have me over so they could bike for 100+ miles. I get if that's what they want to do but legit they worked all week and had a nanny and housekeepers and Saturday comes and they don't want to sleep in and hang out with Johnny and Suzy and little Tim.
They didn't allow TV, but if on rare occasions they did, it was usually a movie that doesn't have words or old French films. They also were potty training the 9-month-old. Yes, the 9-MONTH-old! And they expected me to run with this kid when he started peeing and sit him or hold him over the toilet. This kid did not wear diapers and was mostly naked all of the time, as he peed on anything as he was 9 MONTHS old! He pooped on the floor often too.
This house was an eye opener! I had never seen such odd people. They also accused the maid of stealing a cup for like 5 hours and had this huge fight about it. The husband threw such a hissy fit but then found the cup in the dishwasher. Just pathetic!"