Mother Hen Nanny Agency – an interview with Phoebe Attfield, the founder
Mums In The Wood recently interviewed the very lovely Phoebe Attfield. We have known Phoebe for a very long time and are fully aware of how wonderful she is. She was loved by all the children she worked with and very much a part of the families. She really does understand what parents are looking for and when she was working, always was an exceptional example of what a great nanny should be. Now a mother, starting out with her own venture, there is little doubt that she will be as meticulous in her placements, as she was when she herself was a nanny.
Explaining what she does in her own words, “Every parent knows how difficult raising a child can be, knowing that your child is treated with love and care when you can’t be with him or her is as important to us as it is to you. We place high quality, experienced, caring nannies weather you need help long term or just for a while.”
What was the inspiration behind the Motherhen Nanny Agency?
There were a few things that inspired me to start a nanny agency. When I was nannying I met a lot of unhappy nannies and equally parents would always be asking if I wanted more hours or if knew a nanny looking for a job. I also like to think I’ve always put the children I work with needs first but after becoming a Mother I understood even more just how important good quality, child care is.
What makes you different from other baby sitting/nanny agency services?
The difference is I do not keep nannies on my books. I aim to match personalities, requirements, wants and needs for long lasting working relationships.
My focus is on understanding the job, to the best of my ability.
I draw on my experience as a nanny and parent and look at every new job search from both sides.
I have a friendly, welcoming approach and understand that it can be difficult and time consuming for parents to find the right person to care for their children.
Once my search has started we stay in constant communication.
What is the main criteria a nanny should fulfil before they come on your books?
Although I don’t keep nannies on my books – I start a new personal and bespoke search for every family. The main criteria I look for before putting a nanny forward for a job is them wanting to be a nanny. Sounds simple, but so important.
What has been your experience with parents who are looking to hire a nanny for the first time?
In the initial free phone consultation we talk about the job, if you know what you want or if you are not sure I will talk through options, hours, rates, responsibilities. I offer advice, information and strive to answer all questions, as well as reassure and support. I am happy to provide information on all aspects of hiring a nanny. I’m aware it can be overwhelming so I always follow up with a detailed email and I am around to contact for any questions, at any time.
What would you say are the most important qualifications and characterstics a nanny should have?
Qualifications are dependant on family preferences however organisational skills are a must. Whether you are going to be in charge of one child or more you must be able to organise yourself, as well as the children!
Time keeping of course comes in to the job running smoothly. Loving, caring, nurturing and being trustworthy go without saying.
What do you feel are the most important questions parents should ask a nanny when they first meet?
My top tip is save the formal questions for half way through the meeting. Chat first, calm your nerves and the nanny’s! That way you should get a feel for the person and that is the really important part.
Questions such as; ‘Why does the nanny want your job ?’, ‘What previous experiences will help in this role ?’ Open ended questions mean you can get a bigger idea of the nanny and their nannying technique.
Could you describe the structure and services Motherhen Nanny Agency offers?
Once a parent has contacted me I try to do a phone consultation at the next available time.
This is a free one to one chat with me and the parent where we discuss the job in great detail covering all the families wants and needs.
After this I begin my search! I have a few places I call to first, putting ads out there and reaching out to my resources.
I then interview all possible candidates before reference checking, checking all original documents, DBS check and anything else that the family may require me to.
If I feel someone, or a few people, may be suited for the role I send a profile of each candidate, along with their CV.
If the family are interested I set up an interview for a time that suits both parties.
If we have a match – fantastic! If not, my search continues until we do.
Motherhen Agency will help find families the help they need. I am open minded and believe a lot of roles cross ‘boundaries’ but I’ve outlined the main positions that families are normally looking for:
Live in nannies – A nanny who lives in your house.
Live out nannies – A nanny that comes to your house daily for full time or part time charge of your children.
– Nannies often do all child related duties including cooking, laundry, tidying.
Nanny / house keeper roles – A nanny that is also in charge of running the house.
Mothers’ help – Someone to be an extra pair of hands whilst you are at home.
Baby sitters – normally for a few hours in the evening. We offer a quick baby sitting service.
You can contact us to get a few baby sitters for you to call when you need them or we can arrange a one off, or on going, baby sitter for you.
Here may be a good place to say all our nannies and babysitters are reference checked, vetted and DBS checked.
In your opinion, what are the main reasons for a breakdown in relationships between parents and nannies?
Communication is the number one reason that relationships break down. Sometimes over the smallest of things; working 20 minutes late every day or forgetting to write in the homework book a few times. Most of the time the working relationship can be saved but no one wants to address these problems. I’m happy to be that middle person, to save the breakdown from happening which leads us to our next question!
What does the Motherhen Agency do to manage and balance expectations of parents and of nannies?
From the very first phone consultation I talk through all aspects of the job, I get a feel for the family and their wants. Drawing on my experience as a nanny I try to understand the job as if I was going to do it. I think it is really important that everyone is honest and as open as can be from the start, so no one is going to be expecting something different once the job starts. For the first four weeks of employment I stay around to contact if any issues arise — for nanny or family. I aim to sort these problems out. If it is something that I cannot help with then I will find the family a new nanny, no extra charge (although this has never been the case!) I rely a lot on the gut feeling I get when interviewing a nanny, which to me, is about trust. If I wouldn’t trust the nanny with my own daughter then I wouldn’t be happy putting them forward for the job.
For more information, Phoebe can be contacted via her website: https://www.motherhenagency.com/