Beyond the warm smiles and cherished memories of nannying can lie a darker reality. From controlling and coldhearted parents to meddling and misbehaving children, these nannies share their awful moments on the job. All content has been edited for clarity.
The Maddening Mother
“I was a nanny in college. I was employed by a service that contracted us out to families, so I never interviewed with my first family. Big mistake.
On the surface, they were the perfect family. They had a gorgeous house in an amazing neighborhood, a perfect lawn, and a garden with beautiful flowers. The husband was an executive somewhere. He was handsome, funny, and charming. The wife was very pretty, fit, and extremely put together. She had the most amazing clothes money could buy. Even the kids were perfect. They had a boy and a girl. Both children were well-mannered and went to fancy private schools.
It took about two minutes to realize the family was an absolute freak show – and it was driven almost entirely by the wife. She was a total control freak and narcissistic about everything. When I walked into her house for the first time, she handed me ‘the book.’ The book was 40 some odd pages of rules, time schedules down to the minute, pictures of sample approved outfits by occasion, and a menu of approved foods.
She had an eight-page ‘schedule’ for the kids, down to the minute. For example, they were on summer vacation, but they had to be up at 6:45 every morning, and I was to wake them up by ringing a little handbell. Breakfast was to be ‘available’ for 15 minutes only, and it had to be from the approved list. Lunch was the same. A little extra crazy, all of their foods had to be weighed to an exact amount before they could be eaten, and I had to take a picture of everything they ate. As a ‘treat,’ the kids were allowed a small portion of almonds. The kids were starving all the time. Any fast food, ice cream, granola bars, cookies, and even extra pieces of fruit, were banned. Allowing them to have extra food was listed under ‘Fire-able Offenses,’ in my contract.
When they were getting dressed, the wife had a colored tag system for coordinated outfits. Any clothes with rips or stains had to be disposed of ‘immediately.’ The book listed everything from approved volume levels for the TVs in the house, how long they could play outside, what routes were okay for riding their bikes, and an approved ‘friends list’ and so on.
And, oh man, the poor husband. I wasn’t around them together much, but when I was, I could tell he was utterly broken inside from his life with this woman. She didn’t allow him to keep his ‘disgusting beer’ inside the house, so he kept it in a fridge in the garage. Usually, he would just sit out there alone when he got home after she did.
I eventually left because she was so crazy. I felt so bad for the husband and kids. About a year later, I saw the husband and the kids eating at a fast food place, laughing, having the time of their lives, with the wife nowhere in sight. I had no idea if they split or what, but it made me feel so good!”
“It Put Me Off Of Babysitting For A Bit”
“I babysat for a family from 7:30 in the morning until 5:30 in the evening every weekday. The mom tried to get me to do it for $100 a week, but I countered with $125 and she begrudgingly agreed.
Mind you, this was nearly 25 years ago, but the rate was still awful.
The kids were a 6-year-old boy and his sisters, who were 8 and 12 years old. The girls were great. The twelve-year-old could come and go as she pleased. The six-year-old boy was a nightmare who was ‘mommy’s little darling.’ Mommy was a piece of work, too.
The mom berated me one day because I didn’t make the kids’ beds.
She told me, ‘You will never be able to hold down a real job!’
She didn’t even pay me enough to keep them alive, let alone for extras. I didn’t receive thanks for the meals I cooked, or for all of the laundry I washed, folded, and put away. Or all the times I vacuumed, swept, and mopped the entire house.
One day, the little boy came home with like eight other boys from the neighborhood and ordered me to make them lunch like I was his servant.
I told him, ‘No, I’m not doing it. I will feed you and your sisters, but we aren’t feeding the whole neighborhood.’
He looked me dead in the eye and said with a smirk, ‘If you don’t do it, I will tell my mom you hit me.’
My heart went into my throat. I was only 16 years old and had never had a job before. The family were friends of my aunt and uncle. I couldn’t let this little brat win. So, I called his bluff.
I picked up the phone, called his mom, and said, ‘Hi, your son has something he wants to tell you.’
He didn’t say anything.
Later, I overheard his 12-year-old sister pull him aside and say, ‘I heard what you said to our sitter earlier. She’s the best babysitter we have ever had. If you tell Mom lies and get her fired, I will make your life miserable. Understand?’
The kid looked terrified.
So for the whole summer, this kid did stuff like this. I’d tell his mom, and she would have me put him on the phone. I knew the mom wouldn’t do anything, so I eventually broke down and talked to the dad about it.
I don’t know what his dad said to him, but the kid was an angel for the rest of the summer. It put me off of babysitting for a bit, though.”
The Sneaky 6-Year-Old
“It was my first time nannying for this family. They had three children, ages 9, 6, and 1. Their house was nice, and they had a fenced-in backyard with a pool.
When I arrived, I was told about how the 6-year-old is currently grounded from video games. Additionally, the parents informed me about how no one was allowed in the pool because only the oldest could swim on her own. I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal.
Things were going fine until I started making dinner and realized the 6-year-old wasn’t in the living room anymore. I found him upstairs playing video games. I took away his controller and sent him downstairs to play with his sisters in the playroom while I cooked.
Only minutes later, I heard his older sister yell, ‘He’s playing video games again!’
There was a PlayStation in the basement! I put him in a timeout in the living room, which luckily, I could see from the kitchen. Then, he opened up the TV cabinet to reveal ANOTHER VIDEO GAME SYSTEM.
So I put him in one room of the house without a TV or gaming system for another timeout. This time, I scoured the place. Not a game in sight. He was crying and extremely angry at me. I was upset because his parents didn’t bother to put away all of the game systems.
I walked back into the kitchen to find the mac and cheese burning on the stove because the oldest thought it wasn’t cooking fast enough, so she turned the stove to the highest heat. The baby was screaming because she needed a diaper change. I feel like a superwoman swooping in to fix everything in a flash. Then, I saw something streak across the backyard.
Running full speed across the pool deck was a tiny blond boy looking a lot like the 6-year-old I JUST put in a timeout.
I opened the patio door and he disappeared around the corner of the house. I ran to the front door to catch him outside, but a movement to my left catches my eye.
HE WAS CLIMBING THROUGH A WINDOW.
He saw me, fell into the room, sat on the couch where he was supposed to be in timeout, and proceeded to claim he never left.
“I Ended Up Feeling Worse For Her”
“In college, I had an advisor who was a wonderful woman. She was a single mom of twin boys who had some behavioral and mental health issues. She had been abandoned by the children’s father at nine months pregnant. Her life was pretty tough. Since she helped me with my career so much, I wanted to help as much as possible. So, I started babysitting for her. She could barely hold on to a sitter.
Most of the time wasn’t too bad. They were good-hearted kids who just had some issues. They would fight a lot, but I eventually learned how to handle it.
However, one time when they were 8 years old, the one with more difficulties was out of control. He began yelling at and hitting me. He tried to lunge at me, and he ended up biting me and kept trying to hurt me. When he bit me, I felt a sharp pain shoot through my arm. Then, he tried to get his brother to attack me with a lamp. Eventually, I just bear-hugged the first brother to stop him from trying to hurt me. I know this could have made it worse, but I didn’t know what else to do. I knew from previous experience how he would wear himself out soon enough.
It was a very tense 10 minutes. He ended up bursting into tears and hugging me while apologizing for his behavior profusely. His brother followed suit. I cried a little bit too. They both fell asleep within minutes afterward.
For some reason, I downplayed the whole event a lot to the mom and didn’t tell her he had bitten me. I don’t know, I just ended up feeling worse for her than myself given she had to deal with it every day.”