On this day back in 1985 I was working as a nanny in Wellington, New Zealand.
My second nanny job was a total contrast. It was a long weekend with four teenagers, a combined family, all close in age, Susie, Mark, Sara and Nigel. They took themselves to activities over the weekend so we met up for meals, to watch a movie and we enjoyed discussions comparing UK to NZ, tv, pop music, radio, schooling, etc
We had a mini drama when we discovered there was no water in the house. But the eldest boy phoned a neighbour, then the water board and established that water was turned off for the whole street until the next morning due to a burst water main.
I wrote … “It’s very easy looking after teenagers”.
I had one day off before the next job – three weeks with three young kids.
Brooke aged four, Hamish aged two and ten month old Kendyl kept me busy. The younger two were in nappies, proper nappies that needed washing, not disposables. They started their day before six am! They were into everything. I wrote that I needed four pairs of eyes and as many pairs of hands.
The family car was an old 2.8 Jaguar that required a bit of encouragement to get going on the cold mornings.
The day to day details of looking after three kids under five – twenty odd nappies per day so constant washing, hanging out and folding nappies and clothes – getting the kids to eat vegetables – the routine of “kindy” and play dates – bed time stories and kids tv – it was exhausting!
Oh and they had a red setter dog named Cass. One evening I locked myself out of the house because of the dog. The kids were asleep inside with the dog and I was outside with no shoes.
I’d answered the front door. As the dog tried to get out, I stood in the porch and pulled the inside door closed. I heard the click as the latch locked. I wandered around the house in my socks, but all windows and back doors were closed. Fortunately the neighbours were wonderful and helped me break a small pane of glass in the back porch door.
When I’d finished this job I had a night out with friends in Wellington and saw 5.30am from the other end of the day. This was certainly the most memorable of my varied nanny jobs during 1985.
My next job had the most memorable location.
When I’d walked along the beach at Paekakariki a month ago, I had no idea that I’d actually live here for three weeks, whilst looking after three year old Romila and fourteen month old Alexander.
What a wonderful place. I arrived at the house after dark, when the wind was blowing off the sea, rattling the doors and windows and whistling around the wooden home. My room was in an annexe. When I woke the first morning I was amazed at the view I had of the sea and beach not just from my room, but from the bed.
The next night a southerly gale arrived with a magnificent thunder storm, lightening, heavy rain and winds that created wonderful sound effects in this beach house. The following day was clear and calm but still with a rough sea and incredibly huge waves. We could see the South Island and Mount Tapuaenuku. The day ended with a lovely sunset over the sea, directly facing the house.
The parents were around for this job, so I was only required to work on week days while they were out overseeing the building of a new house in Wellington. The family were vegetarian, very relaxed, untidy. Quite a different approach to previous families I’d worked with. I had to follow the family’s routine here, rather than find my own.
This nanny job was a time of contrasts. On one hand there was the wonderful location, walks on the beach with the kids, or alone in the evenings, the constant sound of the waves, beautiful sunsets. On the other hand I was looking after a stroppy three year old that had regular tantrums, played adults off against each other. I preferred jobs where parents were away and I had sole responsibility.
During my weekends off I explored more of Wellington, the houses stacked up on the hillsides, the Beehive parliament building, craft shops, art galleries.
When the job finished I took some time off before the next assignment. I headed back to my NZ home in Auckland with a twelve hour train journey.