Growing up in rural South Africa, we had so much family around us that I never once thought about the dynamics of community and raising a family. There was always someone there; an aunt, an older cousin, a doting grandparent. Someone was always stepping in to make balancing the demands of modern life and raising a family work. When I found myself in England, without family, and with child, the practicality of being a working parent and having someone I trust look after my child felt crippling. I spent months agonising over what the best arrangement for looking after my son would be, and of course balancing that with the rather sobering consideration of how much it would all cost.
I have often shared my frustrations with this in the past, and when I recently had the pleasure to meet Simone from Guardian Angels Childcare, I couldn’t resist having her share her wisdom with us on how to navigate this. I hope you’ll enjoy this interview.
Hi Simone, thank you for joining us at Coeur et Maman today. We are so excited to learn about you, Guardian Angels Childcare, and why you are so passionate about it. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Simone Cowley, Founder of Guardian Angels Childcare. I love children! I have 23 years experience and I have worked as and enjoyed various roles including a Nanny, Foster Carer and Teaching Assistant. I have also sat on an Adoption Panel for a London Borough.
I have fostered many young children and I am very proud to have taken care of them at the time in their lives when it was most needed. I am also the mother of one grown up and married daughter.
The idea of starting Guardian Angels Childcare took shape as I felt that I had time on my hands during the day and a child orientated business which worked around my family’s schedule was ideal. I also understand the need for another pair of safe hands when you have children.
There are a myriad of childcare options parents can consider for their families. What do you consider to be the relative merits between a nanny and a nursery?
Possibly the most worthy of note is knowing that your child will feel secure in their own surroundings and that they are receiving individual attention. In addition to taking care of your children, professional nannies have a standard set of duties to carry out. These nursery duties comprise preparing healthy meals, bathing and dressing the children, tidying and cleaning their bedroom, bathroom and playroom. Children’s laundry is also included.
A nanny will also organise stimulating activities for your children and ensure that they get plenty of exercise and fresh air. They will create a happy and relaxed environment so that their charges feel safe at all times.
It is also a very flexible option as you determine the working hours which is especially helpful if you do not work 9-5.
What advice would you give parents looking to hire a nanny? What questions should they be asking the potential candidates?
My advice to parents looking for a nanny would be to go through an agency as they will find the ideal nanny for the family and ensure that they are fully vetted.
We have a list of questions for parents to ask prospective nannies including their views on childcare, nutrition and of course, screen time!
Parents are often worried about the capabilities of the person looking after their children. Hiring someone who is well-trained can help. What kind of qualifications would you expect a prospective nanny to have?
A professional nanny has Paediatric First Aid training, an Enhanced DBS certificate, a childcare qualification such as a Diploma in Early Years and of course childcare references. We suggest a trial period before a formal job offer is made so that both parties can make sure that they are happy with the job. (The children too!).
What are the typical costs parents can expect when hiring a nanny? How is this affected by the live-in/live out dynamic?
The cost of employing a permanent nanny depends of course on the contracted hours. The gross hourly rate starts at £13. Employing a nanny means that parents are responsible for all the deductions, i.e tax, nic and pension contributions. The nanny is then paid the net amount. We are happy to give parents the costs and then we suggest a nanny payroll agency going forward.
Having a live in nanny costs less than a live out nanny as their accommodation is factored in as well as their food.
Is it necessary for a nanny to be Ofstead-registered? What is involved in securing this registration for one's nanny if they don't currently have one, and what are the benefits of having it?
A nanny is not required to be Ofsted registered. However, it benefits the family if she is. It means that they are then eligible for Tax-Free childcare up to a maximum of £2,000 per child per year. Quite often, the family will ask the nanny to become registered if she isn't and they will cover the cost of the application, the new Enhanced DBS and Paediatric First Aid training.
The nanny option can oftentimes feel daunting for parents who are worried about managing to register their nanny as an employee. How can the Guardian Angels Childcare model help with this?
Guardian Angels Childcare will make the nanny introduction then during the interview/trial days process, we suggest that families contact a nanny payroll agency. We work with a leading agency, Nannytax, who will take care of every aspect of employing a nanny from a bespoke contract to weekly/monthly payslips. Nannytax’s service ensures that all the hassles are taken away from the parents and it is stress free getting the nanny set up as an employee.
Let's talk about after-school nannies - why is it typically harder to secure an after-school nanny? What kind of circumstances are best suited for hiring an after-school nanny?
In our experience, an after school nanny is the most difficult position to fill as it is for approximately 3/4 hours a day and tends to be term time only and nannies need another part time role to fit alongside. They often have their own children to collect from school too.
Parents working later than an after school club or a childminder finishes, favour this option. We will always do our best to accommodate this but cannot guarantee it.
What kind of vetting support can parents expect from working with Guardian Angels Childcare? Do you provide any after-placement support?
Guardian Angels Childcare has a stringent screening process for all prospective childcarers. It is imperative that they have an Enhanced DBS, preferably on the Update Service, Paediatric First Aid, an accredited childcare qualification, the relevant experience and references that can be verified.
Lastly, what is the best way for parents to get in touch with you to seek out your services? What services do you offer for different parts of the country?
We offer nanny & babysitting services in Milton Keynes, Bedford, Northampton and surrounding areas. For permanent nanny positions of 3 days a week and upwards, we can source a nanny further afield into the Home Counties.
Our contact details are :
☎️ 01908 233 969
📱07400 588 188
We love to chat so give us a call!
Thank you so much Simone for joining us; how wonderful to learn about Guardian Angels Childcare!