Aims To examine the dual caregiving and nursing responsibilities of nurses in New Zealand with a view to identifying potential strategies, policies and employment practices that may help to retain nurses with caregiving responsibilities in the workplace. Background As the nursing workforce ages, child-bearing is delayed and older family members are living longer, family caregiving responsibilities are impacting more on the working life of nurses. This may complicate accurate workforce planning assumptions. Method An explorative, descriptive design using interviews and focus groups with 28 registered nurses with family caregiving responsibilities. Results A depth of (largely hidden) experience was exposed revealing considerable guilt, physical, emotional and financial hardship. Regardless of whether the nurse chose to work or had to for financial reasons, family always came first. Conclusions Demographic and societal changes related to caregiving may have profound implications for nursing. Workplace support is essential to ensure that nurses are able to continue to work. Implications for nursing management Increased awareness, support, flexibility and specific planning are required to retain nurses with family caregiving responsibilities.