Moms + Yoga – The Perfect Combination

We all know the cold and dreary winter days will soon be upon us, and finding motivation to get out the door gets more and more challenging. Sometimes it’s a matter of finding the right activity to give you that extra push, and for me, that activity is yoga.

Meet Allegra McBane-Sanchez, a certified yoga teacher in the Greenwich, CT area who specializes in prenatal, postpartum and mommy and me yoga, as well as vinyasa and gentle practices for moms and non-moms alike. She teaches group and private sessions at various local studios, and partnered with us to share her yoga-knowledge through the Q&A below.

Q: Yoga is a great resource for moms and soon-to-be moms to stay healthy throughout their pregnancy. What are some benefits of prenatal yoga for soon-to-be moms? 

A: Pre-natal yoga can be a highly beneficial part of pregnancy. The physical benefits of practicing poses that offer a supported way to open up, to stretch, and also to strengthen can help your body more comfortably grow for your developing baby. The mental benefits of connecting deeply to your body and to your breath can help you to more peacefully navigate pregnancy, birth and new motherhood. In prenatal yoga, we focus a lot of awareness on breath work as a tool for expectant mothers to stay present in their bodies throughout their pregnancy and as an integral tool in the labor and birth experience.

Q: Why is it important to continue to practice yoga post-birth? 

A: A postpartum yoga practice can help reconnect new moms to the changes they have experienced in their bodies through pregnancy and birth. A thoughtful postpartum yoga practice can help moms regain strength in their cores, pelvic floors, and throughout their bodies; it can reconnect them to their breath and to their own innate strength; and, it is also an opportunity for a new mom to check in with her body, mind and breath as she adjusts to the demands of new motherhood.

Q: How does mommy and me yoga help bond mom and new baby? 

A: Mommy and me yoga is one of the most rewarding classes to teach. Offering a space for moms to be with their little ones while also caring for themselves is a very beautiful thing to witness. Babies enjoy the touch of their moms as they gently massage and stretch the babies, and moms enjoy incorporating their babies into movement and poses that benefit their physical and mental health. The babies respond positively to calm breath and gentle movements – it brings them a sense of calm as well. It’s also a really nice opportunity to meet other new moms and find a community while doing something good for yourself and your baby.

Q: What are some things you’ve learned from practicing yoga? 

A: This is hard to answer because, really, yoga has changed my life. It has changed the way I view my own body, my own relationship to my child and the way I interact with others. I have had a yoga practice for nearly 20 years but it was only after I gave birth to my son, that yoga became something more than a chance to stretch and strengthen. The challenges that many new mothers face: hormonal changes that impact our mental health, physical changes that impact our ability to do what we previously did, and the profound shift when we become responsible for another person’s life, can take its toll. I turned to yoga as I navigated the transition to new motherhood and not only did it provide me with more physical strength and flexibility than I have ever had before, but the focus on breath work and the practice of being present in my body in the moment that I am experiencing has taught me how to be a more engaged and conscious parent and has taught me how to view my life through a lens of gratitude and patience.

Allegra Sanchez 

Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

Own Unique Artwork With Help From Sugarlift

Looking to jazz up the walls in your home? Imagine having unique and original artwork that no one else has had their hands on. Talk about a conversation topic for your next dinner party!

Our friends at Sugarlift help to find the best emerging artists to fill up those empty walls that have been staring blankly back at you. Read our Q&A below with the Sugarlift team to learn more!

Q: Finding the perfect artwork for your wall can be time-consuming and challenging. How does Sugarlift help simplify the process?

A: Finding the perfect art is actually much more complicated than it used to be. Collecting art was once done by a smaller group of connoisseurs who were spending much more on acquiring art from galleries or auction houses. The rest of us were living with framed posters (think Martini and Rossi or Dark Side of the Moon) or paintings done by our friend’s cousin.

Today, a myriad of online options bring art to a wider audience. But endlessly browsing online presents its own challenges. Our clients come to us after spending hours and hours scrolling through websites and still not finding something they love. Or they find an artist they like but don’t see any pieces that fit their space. In addition to that, framing and hanging art can be difficult if you don’t work as a part-time art-handler.

We designed Sugarlift to simplify the whole process. Clients who are looking for art are connected with a human art advisor who helps them navigate all of the options and decisions along the way through a free and fun service. We not only recommend hand-selected artists to fit your aesthetic tastes, we consult on the appropriate size, hanging, and even help with executing custom commissions. It’s our mission to help more people live with great art!

Q: What are a couple unique options for artwork in a child’s bedroom for someone looking for something a bit different?

A: The most important thing to know about the process of finding the right art is that it’s very subjective. What you like may be the opposite of someone else, and that’s okay!

When I think of children’s rooms, the go-to artwork seen across the Instagram universe often features photos of baby animals or illustrated prints. These can be fun, cute and playful, which is usually the feel people are going for in kids’ rooms—so they work!

We’ve had clients who want to replace pieces like these as their kids grow up. For example, we had a client replace baby animal photos with a large crashing wave taken by Brooklyn-based surf photographer Matthew Clark. Her nine-year-old picked it out himself! Another fun idea is creating a gallery wall of both contemporary artists and works made by the kids. Art doesn’t have to be so serious, and whose children aren’t making amazing abstract paintings?

Q: The playroom is an essential and frequently used space in a family’s home. What types of artwork would look or work best in that room?

A: This is definitely a question for someone not New York-based! In our apartment, the playroom doubles as the living room, dining room and part of the kitchen. And I thought we have a pretty comfortable apartment!

In a dedicated playroom, it’s fun to think about uplifting artwork. It’s an art and a science to determine which artwork will be energizing, but you can typically count on bright colors and dynamic compositions to achieve this goal.

Some unique options would be to include art by street artists like Eelco van den Berg or fun prints by collaborative artists such as Chiaozza or Gentleman’s Game. These artists incorporate play into the process of making the art, and why shouldn’t that idea translate into the space?

Q: Some people have a clear idea of the artwork they want and others need a lot of direction. How do you guide customers to find the perfect piece(s)?

A: This is very true. Some of our clients start without any idea of what they want. It’s our job to show them options and listen to their feedback. We don’t all have the vocabulary of an Art History PhD, so it’s important for us to listen and continue to refine the options we are showing.

What is also true is that when you find the right art for you, you don’t need an art history degree to know it. Living with art you love is an uplifting experience and should be accessible to all!

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Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

Holiday Survival 101: How Acupuncture Can Reduce Stress

While the holiday season can be a joyous and exciting time of the year, it can also be a time of added stress and anxiety. Holiday parties and holiday shopping all require extra time and energy, as we continue to meet the demands of our daily responsibilities. Family gatherings have also been known to ramp up stress and anxiety during the holiday period for many. Though holiday stress may feel challenging to address, there are ways to minimize its impact. Getting enough sleep, regular exercise, being mindful of nutrition and not indulging to excess, can all be helpful in keeping stress at bay.

Acupuncture can also be an effective way to relieve and reduce stress and anxiety during the holidays and throughout the year.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a branch of Chinese medicine that is more than 2,000 years old. Acupuncture, a natural therapy that works with the body’s own energy and healing capacity, is a noninvasive way to address many conditions, including emotional issues, and has little to no side effects. It is based on a meridian system of energy in the body. The 12 primary meridians correspond to certain organs and run throughout the body. Energy or qi (pronounced “chi” as it is called in Chinese medicine) and blood move through these meridians bringing nourishment to all aspects of the body. An individual remains healthy when qi and blood are moving freely and uninhibited. Disease such as pain and stress occurs when qi and blood become stagnant or blocked. Blockage can be a result of various reasons.

Points on these meridians have specific functions such as clearing heat, strengthening the immune system, and calming the mind. Once a diagnosis is reached, hair thin needles are inserted on specific meridians at specific points to treat a particular issue. While the needles are in place the patient has an opportunity to relax as the needles are balancing the body’s energy and unblocking areas where energy and blood have become stuck.

Benefits of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is most often associated with pain management, for which it is extremely effective, but it also treats a wide range of  non-emergency conditions, including insomnia, painful periods, fatigue, and menopause symptoms.

Some benefits of acupuncture include:

  • Supports the immune system
  • Speeds up recovery after an injury
  • Decreases muscle and joint pain
  • Improves blood flow and circulation
  • Decreases stress and anxiety by regulating the nervous system
  • Increases energy
  • Improves sleep

Acupuncture may not be the first thing that comes to mind when dealing with seasonal stress. But it has proven to be helpful in managing and reducing stress during the holiday season, and throughout the year. If you find yourself experiencing increased stress and anxiety during the holidays, acupuncture could be just what the doctor ordered!

Annora Cheng

Written by our contributing partner, Annora Cheng, L.Ac., at Internal Harmony Acupuncture in NYC

Home Life in Greenwich, Connecticut

Have you been thinking more and more about moving outside the hustle and bustle of the big city? How does Greenwich, CT sound?

In our final week of talking all things real estate, we partnered up with Margaret Vorder Bruegge and Sharon Kinney, our experts of real estate in the Greenwich, CT area (don’t worry, Bell Family has sitters in Greenwich)! Read below for our Q&A, and then find yourself browsing their listings like I did.

Q: What are some common requests that families make when looking for a home?

A: When looking for a new home, families prioritize neighborhoods, school districts and extra curricular activities available to their children. Greenwich has an abundance of sports, social and education resources for all ages. Parents who work in the city ask about access to the train and highways, and about services that make their lives manageable – references for nannys, dogwalkers and doctors and dentists.

Q: When working with a family to find a new home do they come with a clear idea what they are looking for or do you steer them to a home best suited for family?

A: Today’s buyers are smart and have a list of features that they are looking for in their new home.  They know how many bedrooms and bathrooms they want, they have an idea of what size home and property they desire. When buyers don’t know the town well, we help them pinpoint which of the many areas of Greenwich – each with its own lifestyle – meets their desired location needs, which is information not available on the internet.

Q: What are some tips you give to families looking for a new home?

A: We have each lived in Greenwich for over 30 years and raised our own families here. We share resources about schools – public and private, extracurricular sports programs and the fabulous Greenwich public parks, which include a golf course, three local beaches, marinas, a town pool, paddle and tennis courts and hiking trails.

Q: Life with kiddo’s can get hectic and spare time can be limited.  What are some good ways to go about home searching if someone has little extra time in their day.

A: We make the homebuying experience very efficient by understanding our buyers wants and needs and price range. Together we develop a finely tuned profile of the “perfect” home. We then preview homes on the market on their behalf and call them to see the right one when it becomes available. We can add the most value when our clients trust us to be their eyes, ears and advocates.

Learn more about Margi Vorder Bruegge and Sharon Kinney, and be on your way to calling Greenwich, CT home.

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Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

 

Tips and Time Savers for Home Buyers

We continue with our real estate topic this week through a Q&A with Mary Kirby, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson at Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Learn great tips about home searching, buying, and how to make it a stress free process.

Q:  What are some important rooms for a growing household(s)? 

A:
1. Open concept den, kitchens with an island and stools
2. Bathtub
3. Bedrooms on the same floor
4. Quiet street
5. Close proximity to parks, library, eateries, school

Q: When working with a Buyer with children to find a new home, do they come to you with a clear idea on what they are looking for?

A: Generally they have an idea of specific criteria. We then pass along information to the buyer on finding the ideal town or neighborhood by asking questions such as: private school vs public school, public transportation or dependence on car, commute time to work, budget, forever home vs starter home.

Q: What are some tips you give to Buyers with children looking for a new home? 

A: Get to know the neighborhoods. Go out to lunch, stop in the stores, and visit playgrounds to get a feel of the different neighborhood vibes. A lot of times, prospective buyers end up in a completely different neighborhood than they had originally shown interest in.

Q: Life with kiddos can get hectic and spare time can be limited. What are some good ways to go about home searching if someone has little extra time in their day?

A: Finding and trusting a local market expert realtor is key. In such a fast paced market, we typically preview potential homes for our clients, face-time/take videos, send weekly updates on open houses, new listings etc. Once you have chosen your ideal neighborhoods, you should dedicate about two months towards searching for that perfect home. It is also important to be pre-approved by a mortgage lender prior to searching, so you are ready to submit an offer.

To work with Mary and the Douglas Team, click here for more information.

Mary Kirby

 

Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

Realtor Brings Home-Buying Tips to Families

We recently partnered with Joe Quiros, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson at Compass Real Estate and Co-Founder of The Joe + Kelly Team, to learn more about the home-buying process, and to share tips with families who are out hunting for their next home.

Q: What are some common special requests that family’s make when looking for a home?

A: The most common request is, and always will be, school district. The NYC school system is intricate and presents many challenges, and while some parents will choose to send their children to private school for middle and high school, a great public school for the K-5 years is always highly desirable. Our advice for parents with children is to really do their homework on what school districts they would be happy to live in, and then focusing on properties in those areas. Homes in great school districts can demand a premium, and we want to avoid situations where clients are comparing properties in lesser school districts, conceivably getting more value, but being disappointed in the options that they would actually be comfortable living in.

Q: When working with a family to find a new home, do they come to you with a clear idea on what they are looking for, or do you help steer them towards a home best fit for families? 

A: We always coach our clients that it’s a process of elimination, not a process of selection, and in order to go through that process, it’s best to keep your search as broad as possible in the beginning and then whittle it down as you see more homes. We’ve had clients who completely gut renovate and design their homes to the inch, and even then, there are things they wish they had done differently. So the idea of a ‘perfect home’ doesn’t really exist at any price point. With that, while every client should have their wish list, it’s important to figure out what items on that wish list are most important, and which can be compromised on a bit and the only way to figure that out is by going out and seeing properties. While we’re there to guide and advise against making a bad investment, to point things out that they may not have noticed, and to make sure they’re not missing anything on the market, ultimately the client is the only person who can figure out what’s most important to them and their family.

Q: What are some tips you give to families looking for a new home?

A: One of the things that we always remind our clients is that real estate mirrors life. Marriage and having children are two of the biggest changes in anyone’s life, and making sure that you have a home that you can grow into is vital. While no one can truly predict the market, typically, if you hold an asset for several years, it’s going to appreciate and end up being a great investment. So, one of the things we try to coach our clients on is making sure, to the best of their abilities, that the home will be a place they can grow into and that matches their life plans. That way, they can live there long enough to allow it to appreciate, while being happy and comfortable while they’re there. Aside from that, having a doorman can be great for older children who are traveling to and from school alone; A children’s playroom is a great opportunity to meet other parents of young children within your building; And having local parks makes it easy to get the kids outside and get some of that energy out!

Q: Life with kiddos can get hectic and spare time can be limited. What are some good ways to go about home searching if someone has little extra time in their day?

A: Being prepared as best as possible is one of, if not the most important things for any serious buyer. If they’re taking out a mortgage, the first step is always to get pre-approved by a bank. Pre-approvals are different that pre-qualifications, as a pre-approval takes more time and documentation, but holds more weight when understanding what your purchasing power is and when putting in an offer. Once that’s done, having an open and constant dialogue about what properties you like to see is vital for efficiency. One of the tools the Compass offers called ‘Collections’ allows us to communicate specific properties in real time and is almost like a Pinterest of Real Estate. It’s a great tool for keeping organized and staying focused on which properties you’ve seen, which properties you want to see, and which properties you’re not, or no longer interested in and is so much more efficient than the dozens of email threads that typically are the case when searching for a home. Using that spare time to go through the properties on Collections can take as little as five minutes and once you’ve accumulated an adequate list, it’s a matter of us scheduling as many of those properties within that block of time as possible.

To learn more about The Joe + Kelly Team, click here.

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Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

Ways Your Organization Can Help Support Working Parents

A great article, as originally published by Harvard Business Review, shares ways on how the workplace can support working parents and help offer what employees everywhere search for; a work-life balance. 

Below are a handful of approaches pulled from the full article that are said to be some of the most effective in getting results.

  1. Start with the facts: Before launching any support programs for working parents, gather the relevant data: Where do parents sit within the organization? What are their attrition patterns? What information can you gather from annual performance reviews or culture-survey data — or simply from informal conversations?
  2. Define the demographic: Most companies concentrate their efforts on “visible working parents” — e.g., new biological mothers — focusing all programming on lactation rooms and other relevant supports. While these are positive, laudable steps, they address the problem too narrowly. Working parenthood is an 18-year job, and it is done by both men and women, biological and adoptive, gay and straight, in all kinds of family structures. Aligning your organization’s programs to this reality better targets the issue.
  3. Acknowledge and foster peer-to-peer learning: Providing basic guidance, even simple talking points, to these internal “peer coaches” enables them to deliver the right messages when it matters.
  4. Become a market maker: Leverage your organization’s existing infrastructure to connect working parents and to make practical aspects of parenting easier. Goldman Sachs’s “Help at Home” intranet bulletin board allows any employee to trade tips and leads on child care.
  5. Focus the resources you do have on key transition points: Coming back from leave, welcoming a second or third child, or accepting a change in role or schedule are just a few of the transition points that can derail or strain the most competent working parent employee. That’s why concentrating benefits and programming on these critical points can yield significant return on investment.

 

Read up on the few additional ways your organization can help support working parents, by reading the full article here.

The Best Baby Shower Gift

As a woman, it’s inevitable that you will host, attend, or somehow be apart of a baby shower in your lifetime. There’s often the usual suspects when it comes to gifts: diapers, clothes, stroller, bassinet. The same old gifts can become rather dull, and if you’re anything like me, you kind of want to pick out those things yourself. That’s part of the fun, right?

What if we told you that we have the new and improved best baby shower gift? After talking to local expecting moms about what is on their baby shower registry, we found that it’s not your typical ask. No more monogrammed blankets or boxes of diapers, what moms really want as a gift is childcare relief!

Moms are asking for funds to go towards babysitters, nannies, and baby or night nurses. Think of it as a GoFundMe for all things childcare.

Of course the Bell Family team fully supports this idea! If you’re looking to be apart of this one-of-a-kind gift, contact us. We can make all arrangements for your friend or family member – no stress! You can purchase a gift card, buy babysitting hours, or put money towards the mom’s future childcare provider. Email us at info@bellfamilycompany.com for more information.

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Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

A Story About the Evolving Nursery

It was verging on wintertime in Ohio, and my husband and I were in the process of building a new home. The home buying process is a full-time worry within itself, but what added an interesting twist was the fact that I was six months pregnant … with my fifth child. Talk about an exciting time in the Bell household!

Since we were building the home from scratch, we had a lot of decisions to make. My husband focused on all of the practicalities (of course), while I was deep into the interior design and how I wanted all of the rooms to look. The time came around to when we needed to decide how the fifth bedroom should look, and given that my new bundle was soon to arrive, the room was dedicated to become the nursery.

The nursery was brightly decorated in pink bunny wallpaper with pink accents to match – a perfect color for a baby girl’s room. The room would stay designed this way for a handful of years, and then the bunnies turned into flowers as the baby grew.

About five years later, my oldest daughter was off to college and the room arrangements changed a bit. After she left, an opening for that special pink room occurred, and my brain churned with all of the ideas of what the room could become. I landed on transforming the what will always be called “the baby room” in our house into a guest room.

With the shift into a guest room, the walls found a change in color and went from pink to gender neutral. The floors were changed from carpet to wood, and the little tike bed graduated into an adult size one. Next, it was so long to the toy box and pink girly accents, and hello to a night stand and decor that didn’t involve Spongebob Squarepants.

Several years later when the first child became a mother, the guest room made its way back into a nursery. It was this same time when I wished I had kept some of the items from my own children’s nursery from back in the day. The adult size bed shrunk back into a crib again, and out went the night stand and back came the toy box and baby accents. The bedroom went through a complete 360 – I always favored it as a nursery anyway.

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Written by our Recruiting and Retention Coordinator, Christine Bell

Ask Dr. Jen … We Did!

We recently had the opportunity to partner with Pediatrician Jen Trachtenberg, MD, to get some of our Pediatrician questions answered and to learn more about her latest ventures, which include great tools for parents!

Take a read through our Q&A below, and then visit her website to learn more. You’ll soon find that you are on your way to a more comfortable and confident parenting experience (it exists!).

Q: Finding the right Pediatrician can be a big decision for new parents. How early would you suggest new moms and dads to find one? And what are some good questions for parents to ask the Pediatrician when trying to decide if he/she is a good  fit?

A: Finding the right pediatrician for your family is an important task because having a physician that makes you feel confident as well as comfortable asking questions to, is essential to getting the best care possible for your baby. I recommend starting early – in the last trimester of pregnancy – to begin finding a pediatrician. Ask family and friends, as well as your OB/Gyn for recommendations. You can easily search the doctor’s credentials on the internet, but I highly recommend going for a “meet and greet” or prenatal appointment in their office so you can ask questions directly and see how the office operates. You can also come a bit early and speak with other parents in the waiting room for their opinions as well. Make sure to bring a list and ask your questions to the doctor. Here are a few important ones:

  • - Are they board certified and continue with ongoing medical education?
  • - Will the pediatrician see the newborn in the hospital?
  • - What are the office hours and who do I contact in case of an evening emergency?
  • - Do you use email or phone to return messages?
  • - What are your views on vaccines and breast and formula feeding?

Listen for how the doctor responds and see if you feel you have a connection, and your questions are answered adequately. As a new parent, there are no silly questions, just ones you need the answers to. By finding a pediatrician who listens and understands your concerns and fears as new parents, you can ensure safety and better health and wellness for your new bundle of joy.

Q: You have two published books on the shelf, 1) The Smart Parent’s Guide to Getting Your Kids through Check Ups, Illnesses and Accidents and 2) Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children. What can readers expect to learn in each of these books. 

A: I have written two parenting books to help decrease parents’ fears and anxiety that often comes with raising a child. By giving easy to understand information, it helps to build healthy habits and also empowers parents to advocate for their child’s health. Good Kids Bad Habits: The Real Age Guide to Raising Healthy Children, breaks down habits into small easy steps and demonstrates how making even a few changes in nutrition, exercise, stress, and safety can have a huge positive impact on your child’s long term health and wellness. My second book, The Smart Parent’s Guide to Getting Your Kids through Checkups, Illnesses and Accidents, is all about empowering parents to speak up and how to get the information you need to make the right decisions regarding your child’s health in the ER, during a hospital stay or dealing with a routine well visit.

Q: You provide a great video series called, Pediatrician in Your Pocket, offering parents a one-stop learning experience on all things childcare. What are some essential items new parents will takeaway from these videos, and how can people access them to view? 

A: My latest venture is my new comprehensive video guide manual Pediatrician in Your Pocket for parents that gives you all the answers you need about caring for your baby from newborn through age 2 years. It’s the only science based, mom tested, no judgement video guide for new parents.  The ultimate video cheat sheet, stacked with information new parents need to feel more confident during their first parenting journey. The bite size five minute videos are comprehensive, reassuring and easy to understand, and available to you 24/7 whenever you have a question or need answers. I am a virtual doctor-on-demand, delivering medical tips backed up by the American Academy of Pediatrics. I discuss sleeping, eating, peeing, pooping, vaccines, common illness, developmental milestones, what to do for fever, baby proofing, temper tantrums and so much more. When you know the answer to your question, it’s as simple as one click and a video clip. New parents can take a deep breath and know someone has their back any time day or night.

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Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell