BFL – To Swaddle, or Not To Swaddle

With the end of the year traditionally high season for a deluge of new babies, we wanted to re-post some oldies but goodies.

One thing in particular that I have been obsessed with is swaddling. The twins were literally taken from the womb & placed immediately into a swaddle.

Here is what a swaddle looks like.

This simple technique mastered by many hospitals to comfort a newborns is preached to new moms as they take their lil’ ones home & boy does it work.  The twins stay nestled in a swaddle all day & night. They are completely at ease. It’s when they are taken out of the swaddle for one of their many changes that it gets loud.

Swaddling is quick & easy. Most swaddle blankets even include instruction. Check out these photos to show you how to properly swaddle a baby.

 Why swaddle?
  • Keeps baby cozy and mimics the womb
  • Helps reduce nighttime scratching
  • Helps regulate baby’s temperature until that fully develops
  • Can soothe an overstimulated lil’ one

This technique definitely isn’t a one-size fits all solution for helping a lil’ one sleep, but it sure works on my twin nieces & was highly recommended by the nursing staff at Mount Sinai.

-LB aka Aunt Linny

BFF – Everything has its Place

While in the midst of the holiday season it can seem overwhelming with the abundance of new toys, clothes and other additions to your home. Don’t wait for spring…  Get organized now!

It’s a great time of year to get rid of the old and donate it, sell it or pass it on. Then get the kids involved and identify where the new toys or misc. items will now live (their designated space) in your home, especially the kids’ room. When children understand that jackets are hung up, hats and gloves go in the designated drawer or bin and socks and shoes also have their own home you will be amazed at how much time, frustration and arguments you reduce. With the younger kids I like to make a game out of it and with the older kids, it’s about being responsible for their belongings and taking care of their stuff. This is a great time to allow natural consequences be the lesson.

As parents and caregivers we have to make sure we are modeling that same behavior and respect with our things. If everything has its home and is organized, it becomes a habit and it will drastically improve transitions, playtime, bedtime, homework and leaving the house. I find simple, kid friendly; organization is the foundation of teaching children about personal responsibility, respect, time management and appreciation.

For more information on quick & easy to implement organizing solutions for your family send an email to ali@bellfamilycompany.com.

- Ali , Nanny coordinator BFC

WWW – Mary Poppins comes to life

Bell Family Company has been a wonderful option for my family.  I’m afforded the occasional luncheon with a friend, yoga or spin class, and dinner alone with my husband.  As all moms know, a few hours a week among adults (or simply people who speak) provide respite and recharge from the groundhog day of diapering, feeding, and burping a 7 month old.  Admittedly, it took me over 5 months to separate myself from my newborn because I had such a horrid experience with a different agency.  Who can you trust with your firstborn and much loved child?

The inevitable arrived when I went out to celebrate my anniversary with my husband who was feeling a bit neglected.  A seasoned mother in my building referred me to Bell Family and guaranteed a good experience.  In a leap of faith, I submitted my kid sitter request and hoped for the best.

Guess who arrived?  Mary Poppins!  Ok, it was Alice who played Mary Poppins in the Alabama production but for all intensive identification, it was the ultimate baby sitter in my eyes.  After my two hour dinner, I found Alice cuddling Kermit and providing all the warmth and love I would want for him.  With a short sound-bite of “A Spoonful of Sugar”, she had him from tears to giggles.  She is amazing.

In the subsequent two months, I have met a number of other sitters who have impressed and restored my faith in kid providers.  Not only is Laura a kind and loving person, she graduated from one of my favorite Big 10 schools and promised to teach me their fight song.  Countless others have held my son and provided comfort to him in my absence.

All the sitters shared a common sentiment:  Lindsay Bell is remarkable.  I had to meet her.  And so I did.   She’s a savvy New York entrepreneur with sensible midwestern roots and charm.  Our meeting solidified my trust in Bell Family Company.

I believe in good karma.  I welcome Bell Family’s good energy into my home and am thrilled to meet such fascinating women with incredible New York experiences.  Most important, I am so happy Kermit is exposed to such kindness and love.  And that’s all a mother could ask.

- Accidental SAHM, Jeanne lives with her 7 month old and hubby in NYC

BFL – Care Academy

BFC recently sat down with Helen Adeosun, founder and CEO of CareAcademy, a great online resource for nannies and caregivers for a bevy of certifications and classes to enhance their skills and make them even better.

careacademy

How/why did you start CareAcademyI started CareAcademy after being humbled while working with a family that had two children with autism. I loved working with the family, but there was so much that I did not know and I was shocked that there were so few sources that I could learn how to specifically work with a family, and learn about care without having to get another degree.   Care Academy formerly SitterCycle.com was born out of a deep conviction that caregivers are smart and resourceful people, and that our site can serve as a place to learn and validate care skills online.
What is your personal background?  I have a 10+ year history as a nanny, have taught with Teach for America, and love learning as much as I can about everything which is why we get excited to find the best experts in care.

Favorite City?  Boston has my head, Atlanta has my heart, and DC is my second home.

Favorite nannying moment? I have tons and don’t know where to start. but it’s usually between that last hug or pull on your leg as you’re leaving for the day because your nanny kid had a great day with you or a mom who gushes about how great you are with her family. All reasons why this profession is incredible and the women who choose this path also incredible.

What’s next for CA?  Plenty! 2014 we learned a lot and made great leaps in content and in 2015 it’s about forming and helping caregivers find quality classes to hone their skills, teach skills and much more. We want to explore validation as much as possible including CEU hours for caregivers that take classes. We’d love to include Spanish classes and whatever a 20 hour day will help us build.

What is the scope of course offerings right now and where are you headed?  We started largely in professional development, because many great caregivers struggle with the interview and the presentation as a professional. We moved into skill based classes this year and those have received some amazing feedback, and next year we’re moving to the next step which is building more classes and finding ways to teach critical skills from coast to coast.

How do you pick your contributors/specialists?  We find amazing people first on a professional level that have graduated or have a background of excellence and have the credentials to prove they know their stuff. For instance Kathy Ireland is a registered dietician. Next we also ensure that this person has a background that makes them compatible with working with caregivers. We ask the question how well do you know your stuff, and how what does a nanny or caregiver working with a family need to know to make an the very next day.

 

 

BFF – Dad Poll

In this day in age many families are what they call a “shared family” meaning that both parents work full time and share equal responsibility in caring for their children. Working women with families are frequently asked, “how do you balance family and work” yet rarely are the men asked that same question. At the Elle Women in Hollywood event Jennifer Gardner touched on the subject. She stated that her and her husband (Ben Affleck) “do the same job, a little bit”, while she is asked over and over again how she balances her family and work, Ben has never been asked once. She thinks it is time to change the conversation, and so do we!  Here at Bell Family we are seeing more and more dads take initiative with their families scheduling, and everyday childcare needs. We want to shine the light on the dads who do it all. So we asked them “how do you balance being a husband, dad & working full time”?

And here were some results!

From Dad of 2 (5yrs & 3yrs old), married for 7 years said:

It’s certainly isn’t easy & I haven’t been perfect at it, but I do the best I can. I do what I have to do to provide for my family because that is my #1 responsibility. Having a great support system helps. It’s about being reliable. Time management is important & fortunately I feel that is a strength of mine. I try to savior & enjoy the little things. Going above & beyond goes a long way. Be thoughtful to my wife. Be conscience of other’s wants & needs. I try to take some time to myself to do something I enjoy too.   

From Dad of 1 (6 mo old), married for 2 years said:

I balance being a husband and father, and having a full-time job, by letting go of any kind of fixed routine that I had in my previous life. Being open to spending time with my wife and son as those opportunities present themselves is key – even if those times are when I have a million other things I think I need to do. Having open communications with my employer about outside of work commitments is critical as well.  I find that I sometimes have to catch up on work when everyone else is sleeping, and that is okay, particularly if that means I can spend quality time with the family and not be distracted by work.

From Dad of 5 (31, 30, 29, 27 & 23), married for 35 years said:

It’s hard to believe how many less responsibilities I have now. I seem busy 24/7 being 60 years old, I don’t know I managed it when my kids were growing up. A professor of mine once told me ‘You skin your own skunks’. Meaning if you have problems, handle them yourself. Don’t complain about it, just work it out. Nobody wants a whiner. So that’s what I did. It was really hard, but I just took care of it and did what I had to do. My wife and I didn’t have enough time to even think about going out or vacations. When we had a second it was really enjoyable just relaxing at home. I know I had one an advantage, all my family was under the same roof at night and during the day (as my wife and I taught at our kids school). So that made pick-up/drop-offs from school and practices and seeing the kids a lot much easier.

And finally, one of our dad’s provided us with this quote. From Dad of 2 (3yrs & 15 mo), married for 5 years

“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between their work and their play; their labor and their leisure; their mind and their body; their education and their recreation. They hardly know which is which. They simply pursue their vision of excellence through whatever they are doing, and leave others to determine whether they are working or playing. To themselves, they always appear to be doing both.”

Francoise Rene Auguste Chateaubriand

Articles referenced (http://www.citydadsgroup.com/blog/ben-affleck-jennifer-garner-work-life-balance-sexism/)

WWW – Christmas in Edgartown

This is a bit of a public service announcement regarding a wonderful tradition of ours that while I would love to keep it a secret, want to share it with other East Coast families!  My husband spent a summer on Martha’s Vineyard after he graduated college and fell in love with the island; he then took me there for our first trip together as a couple and we have been going every August ever since!  A couple of years ago we learned they have this fun-filled holiday weekend called Christmas in Edgartown.  We have gone a handful of times just the two of us but were so excited to bring our daughter for the first time and to go as a family; it truly was WONDERFUL!  I have such vivid memories of riding the ferry prior to having a child and longingly looking over at the other moms and dads chasing their little ones around the boat and I just could not wait until we were able to do that ourselves, and sure enough, this past Friday on the 12:30 ferry, there we were, chasing Ashton all over the boat!

samferry

While the vineyard in the summer is amazing, it is equally so in December.  It is definitely quieter and cozier so it gives us a whole different perspective of the island. The decorations all over town are just adorable and the stores all have great sales.  There are events all weekend starting with seeing Santa on Friday, horse drawn carriages through the streets, a parade on Saturday, gingerbread making, a chowder fest, and much much more!  This trip was obviously a bit different with a toddler, coordinating naps, being home by 7, lunch with highchairs and sippy cups instead of wine and more wine, but I would not have changed a thing.  I am such a sucker for traditions and still feel very attached to my traditions form growing up but am feeling so excited about the traditions we are starting as our own family and I can’t to return to the island again next December.

- Mom2Sitter Sam Heller and the wee one 

Tech Tuesday – Chipp’d – QR codes (and gifts) for the masses

Chipp'd_Logo_HiRes 

Chipp’d is a new innovative way of storing & sharing your memories using QR code technology.

For those of us who need it simplified – think if you combine Facebook with Instagram and Snapchat, then somehow attached it to a product! The result would be Chipp’d.

CH-HowItWorks_Steps

Super easy steps (even for non techies)

1. Purchase a product, download the free Chipp’d app & sign up for an account.
2. Upload your personal content at chippd.com.
3. Your sweetie scans the QR code on their product using the free Chipp’d app to unlock and view your message
.

What can I buy you ask?  Custom Letterpress Cards, Jewelry and more are all available on the site and ready for personalization.

The best part??? Use code CHIPPDHOLIDAY for 10% off your purchase. 

CH-Baby products

About Chipp’d

Chipp’d is a platform for securely sharing content with people you care about.  They don’t harbor aspirations to embed chips in humans, nor do they yearn for the day when robots and humans become one.  They’re just a little startup based in NYC that wants to make the Internet more fun and personal.

        Socialize with Chipp’d

Tweet with them!

Like THEM

Instagram!

Pin Them!

BFL – Travel Time with Toddlers

Tis the season for travel, whether it is by plane, train or automobile, it can be a harrowing experience, or stupendous….

Check out these articles on tip and tricks to make the holiday so much better all around.  All bets are off if they don’t like their presents though!

If you are lucky enough to take the kids (and they can withstand the long flight) over the pond to Europe, check out this great article from our friends at Little Passports on traveling abroad. 

littlepassportslogo

If you have not checked out their subscription service, its well worth it.  Even if you are staying stateside the kiddos can learn about other cultures and countries with these superiffic kits monthly.   15% off all kits thru Dec 18 with code CHEER15

USA Today has some great tips as well on the educational value of travel with kids….

- Kelly, resident mom of 2 little ones who have more miles than a lot of her adult friends, Europe is on the list sometime soon!!

 

 

BFF – Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

That’s what little girls (and some boys) are made of.   If you are like me and have had a list of baby names since high school (WELL before a partner was actually in the picture, let alone engagement and marriage), you look forward to the most popular names of the year out of curiosity (and to buck the trend).  So,  it’s here! Bell Family’s STAND OUT names of 2014!

For more intriguing names ascending up the ladder, check out this article from Brit & Co.    Celeb baby names are more popular than ever for us normal people…

Every year we compile a list of our most commonly used children’s & babysitter names. Look how the names have changed for the girls Sophia is top for 2014 children VS Allison for sitters.

KIDDIES:

1.     William (most popular boy name on BFC)

2.     Sophia- Girl (most popular girl name on BFC)

3.     Cora- Girl

4.     Grayson- Boy

5.     Hugh- Boy

6.     Henry- Boy

7.     Callan- Girl

8.     Ella- Girl

9.     Quin- Boy

10.  Caroline- Girl

SITTERS:

1.     Allison

2.     Jessica

3.     Katie

4.     Laura/Lauren

5.     Sarah

6.     Rebecca

7.     Mary

8.     Michelle

9.     Anne

10.  Erin

 

 

WWW – Santa Baby!

It’s a well known fact that I have LOVED Christmas my entire life!  When my baby sister was in grade school she wrote a school poem about me entitled, “Christmas Freak”.  (Yes, even then she had a biting sense of humor.)  I love the cold weather, the lights & decorations, the music (I’m listening to it as I write this), the cards, selecting presents for people & wrapping them creatively, making holiday cookies & crafts and the general feeling of goodwill among people during this time.  It’s just the most wonderful time of the year…made even more magical by our daughter!

It’s always been amazing to watch her little mind develop, but this holiday just puts her into overdrive.  There are lights and colors and new tastes, sounds and textures!  An everyday trip to Target is an adventure when she spots the holiday aisles from across the store.  She tells me “keep going mommy” until I reach the sparkly trees.  When we decorated our own tree, she couldn’t wait to hang ornaments and then examine each one carefully.  Don’t get me wrong, her excitement lasted for about three ornaments…three longer than my husband’s…but she had fun in the moment!  Now she has her favorites that she visits daily, and each morning as we walk downstairs she says, “Lights on!”

We’ve painted paper plate wreaths, made a handprint Christmas tree, cut Play-Doh shapes with cookie cutters, glued puff balls on foam shapes, decorated her own tiny tree in her play room and made daily “peanut butter guys” with our gingerbread man cookie cutter. Every morning she tries to stand higher on her tippy toes than she did the day before to put a new felt ornament on her Advent calendar.  I’m loving it!!!  She’s learning new concepts and I get to indulge my passion for the season.

jolynn1

One concept she’s got down quite well is a fear of strangers….particularly those in big red suits with long white beards.  She loves the guy from afar, can’t wait to yell his name at every opportunity, gets excited when we read about him in books, but the moment we get up close, all bets are off!   Last year’s Santa picture attempt was so traumatic I won’t even show you.  This year we tested the waters at a local party, and in mom’s arms, with fun auntie making faces behind the camera, it wasn’t so bad.

jolynn2

We’re still not going near the mall Santa, but this was progress.  And progress is what it’s all about with a toddler.  It’s also what it’s all about with a first time mom…like the lesson that you don’t take your 11 month old to visit Santa and expect her to smile for the camera.  Parker and I are navigating these waters together and everyday is an adventure.  I agree that her puff ball penguins should have eyes on their tails and she agrees that our craft time together is more important than me cleaning the house….besides it develops her fine motor skills as she picks up and hands dust bunnies to me J

- jolynn