Meet the Sitters: Chicago Edition Pt. 2

Today we’d like to introduce another Chicago sitter to our lineup: Alyson!

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Alyson Berget is originally from Minnesota, but she has been in Chicago for five years now. She is a former full-time nanny for a newborn until he was three years old old. Alyson also babysits for a few different families on the weekends during her days off for ages newborn to middle school. She loves children, yoga, pilates, cooking & reading. She is CPR/ First Aid Trained.

 

 

 

Bittersweet Farewell from Chicago

Caring. Trustworthy. Dependable. Creative. All things you want in someone who is going to watch your children. When I became a mother two and a half years ago, I didn’t know where to go to find that special person to watch my son. Well, someone must have been watching over me because they introduced me to Lindsay Bell and Lucky Lil’ Darlings. Grateful doesn’t even begin to express how I feel for being connected to such an amazing company that has provided me with the most wonderful babysitters. I never had to worry if Henry and his brother Bennett would be cared for in a loving way, that they would have fun, and that when I walked in the door, they’d have smiles on their faces. Henry always looked forward to his sitter’s arrival and would give me a gentle shove out the door by smiling and saying, “Bye, Mommy.” That is a mother’s dream come true! Bennett was happy, too, just too young to tell me!

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Our time in Chicago is coming to an end as we relocate to Michigan for a job opportunity. I will miss Lucky Lil Darlings/Bell Family Company tremendously. I’m forever in their debt for all the times the found last minute sitters for us, helped our family while we traveled with the kids, and for all the wonderful sitters they provided for the boys. Those are pretty big shoes to fill!
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It’s not always easy to find sitters who are energetic, dependable, trustworthy, and so connected with children, but with Bell Family Company you can’t go wrong!
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Thanks, Lindsay (and family), for EVERYTHING. We will miss you.
The Kruse Family

Meet the Sitters: Chicago

We’re always excited to share sitter profiles so our member families get the chance to “meet” some of our awesome caregivers. This week we’ll be featuring some of our caregivers from the windy city. Meet Kathleen!

Hanging out with our fearless leader, Lindsay

Hanging out with our fearless leader, Lindsay

Kathleen was born and raised in Chicago, IL. She graduated from Knox College with a BA in Biology and minor in English Literature. She has ten years of babysitting experience with children of all ages, infant to teen, and was a former summer nanny for several families where she handled all kinds of duties: meal prep, pick-up/drop-off, play, bathing, and naps. Kathleen works for a nonprofit medical clinic and is applying to medical school this summer. She also continues to volunteer with Kappa Kappa Gamma, the sorority she joined in college as a mentor to her sorority sisters in college now. Kathleen has been with BFC for a year and half now & all of our families just adore her. She is CPR/First Aid trained for both adults and pediatrics.

 

Father’s Day – Part 2

“My dad is the person I feel the closest to in the whole world, who gets me more than anyone else. He’s who I always turn to for advice, where I can count on him to be objective and honest. He encourages me to be adventurous, to be emotionally open, and to have faith. With his support, I feel strong and capable enough to take risks and succeed. Happy Father’s Day to the greatest dad ever, my mentor, my role model, my friend. I love you!”

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-Aubrie and her Dad (2014)

 

“My dad is my number one supporter and I feel so lucky to have him in my life! Whether it’s teaching me how to golf (or at least trying to), helping me with my wacky DIY projects, or pretending he doesn’t see me stealing chocolate cake off of his plate, I know he always has my back.”

-Lauren

 

Father’s Day – Part 1

With only one week left until Father’s Day, we wanted to feature a few of the special Dads in our office staff members’ lives. We love you, Dads!

“My dad is often called the strong silent type. Rightfully so with 6 girls in our house growing up. He taught me to work hard, to follow the rules & not to put up with bad behavior from others. My dad the high school football coach, teacher & farmer for 35 years, is not a business man, but he always gives me a simple answer to a work problem. Instead of analyzing it, my dad is always supportive & keeps me grounded.”

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-Lindsay & her Dad (Aug 9, 2014)

“My fondest childhood memories of my dad were of us reading books together, specifically The Berenstain Bears (his favorite) and playing the tickle game with my little sister in his blue lazy-boy chair (when all three of us could fit). I believe I have acquired my laid-back personality and sense of humor from him, and often see in myself the silly side of my dad come out when I play and interact with children. I love how my relationship has grown with my dad over the years and can’t wait to see what type of Grandpa he will be to my own children in the future!”

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-Hannah and her Dad

 

 

 

To Tip or Not to Tip?

To tip or not to tip? That’s a question we get from many of our families. Tipping is definitely not required, but our sitters and nannies do appreciate it! Similar to eating out, tipping shows your caregiver that they did a great job. Some instances you might want to consider tipping your caregiver are if they go above and beyond or deal with a situation that is unfamiliar or unexpected. Additionally, when sitters are available at the last minute or during undesirable times such as holidays, it is a nice gesture to show appreciation. The amount tipped is also similar to general etiquette for eating out: 15 to 20 percent.

You may tip your sitter in cash or tell them to add it to their checkout at the end of their BFC appointment. The sitter will then add the tip to the miscellaneous section of the checkout.

Just Say No!

I was born in the late 70’s and recall family member’s saying, “Children should be seen and not heard” or “…because I said so” or my all-time favorite, spoken in a whisper through clenched teeth, “When I get you home…” Thirty plus years later, parenting protocol and limit setting has changed drastically. Punitive punishment is unacceptable in mainstream society, and words like: “NO” became taboo when speaking to children. However, setting limits and boundaries for our youth is important for their growth and development as they move through childhood and adolescents into adults.

Our world has changed in many ways since I was a kid, and so have the parenting styles and approaches. In our society we have limits, we have stop signs, red lights, late fees, sorry we are closed signs etc. As parents and caregivers, it is our job to teach children about so many things and often times we have to say NO! Safety is always the most important limit we have to distinguish to young children, but we also show our kids how to have nice manners, good listening ears, inside voices, kind words, gentle hands, regular bedtime and screen limits.

Bottom line:  Children will push the limits and disregard your boundaries! It is their job to do this! It’s actually a good sign and shows they are seeking independence and understanding how they relate to their external environments.

Stay calm, consistent and creative…  There are many creative ways to say no or distract unwanted behavior. The most important piece is to be consistent. If you say “NO”- It has to mean “NO”… (no matter what), no matter how much crying, screaming or tantrums ensue… Keep your word. If not, you are only reinforcing that when you (adult, grown-up, parent, teacher, or caregiver) say no… it really means to the child: Show me enough negative reaction and wear me down (preferably in public) until I say YES…! Don’t fall for the trap! Just say No in a calm and confident voice, mean it and move on. Another great trick I learned is to really keep the adult emotion neutral. Children are very emotional and when parents or grown-ups react with an emotional response it feeds into the child’s tantrum and upset. Find your inner calm voice and be matter of fact!

 Example: Creative way to set a limit, without actually using the word NO. Parents/Caregivers- Make good eye contact and get on your child’s level.

Child: “Mom, can I have a play date with Jack, today?”

Mom: “Oh, You want to have a play date with Jack?” (when you mimic or mirror your child’s request, they feel heard- Empathy)

Child: “Yes!”

Mom: “Ok, I think a play date with Jack sounds fun. Let’s talk to his mom and see when we can arrange it.” (Shows you care and want to arrange it)

Child: “But I want to have a play date TODAY!!!! PLEASE. PLEASE. PLEASE.”

Mom: “Oh, Sweetie, I know you want to, but we have to plan a play date. We already have plans, but why don’t I send a message to Jack’s mom and we will see when we can do it this week. Who did you sit next to at lunch today” (Change the subject)

Child: “I sat next to Sarah.”

(Now if the child protested and starts to react negatively, the parent’s job is to stay calm and remind the child that that response is unacceptable and if he wants a play date with his friend he has to have… nice manner etc.)

 

For more information on saying no or setting limits, please feel free to email Ali with questions at ali@bellfamilycompany.com!

Summer Travel With Kids

Traveling with kids can be quite the handful! Luckily, we have plenty of sitters on staff who are seasoned pros. Whether or not you’re bringing a sitter or nanny along with you this summer, we wanted to share some of our favorite tips for keeping lil’ ones entertained during your trip. Do you have any additional favorites? We’d love to hear them below!

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1. Make sure to pay attention to the two “B’s” first and foremost: bathroom and belly. If you’re in the car, plan to take regular breaks at rest stops to let the family stretch, use the bathroom, and grab a bite. If you’re on a train, bus, or plane, make sure to scout out the bathroom early on and find the food options or pack plenty of snacks.

2. Bring plenty of entertainment. Here are some of our favorite in-car /transit entertainment options for lil’ ones:
-Coloring books
-Mad Libs for older kids
-Car games (i.e. find a license plate from each state, one child chooses one color cars and one chooses a second color; see who can get to 20 first).
-Movies or shows pre-downloaded to a phone or iPad.
-Books or books on tape to listen to as a family or individual child

3. Engage your child. It doesn’t matter whether its teaching them how to read a map, allowing them to be the in-car navigator and read off the GPS directions, or showing them the map of where your flight or train will be traveling. This will help keep them up to speed with where they are on the trip (No more “Are We There Yet?”) and will keep them from getting too bored while waiting.

4. One of our favorite ideas we’ve heard (this one requires a bit more planning) is to buy a few toys for each child from the dollar store. Wrap them up or hide them and hand one over every 30 minutes or hour depending on how long your trip is. This will keep them occupied and excited for what comes next!

Sitter & Kiddie Fun in Tribeca

Start the day at Kitchenette, a cute restaurant on Chambers Street. My recommendation is the Hole in Bread; it’s delicious! 

Make sure you have the stroller with you as the next item on the agenda is walking to the swim class (make sure the tummies are settled first, of course!). Swim class is located at Imagine Swimming. The pool is suited from ages 6 months to five years.

Head home for lunch, maybe a treat & nap time if needed.

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Next up, head to the local park. Pier 25 is a fun area in Tribeca! Make sure to pack some snacks & games for a picnic in the park!

Last head home with a worn out and sleepy kid!!

Disneyland in a Day!

Happiest Place on Earth.  60th Diamond Celebration.  Largest Measles Epidemic in U.S.A.

When I first arrived in Santa Monica with my 8 month old son in January, I resolved that the measles outbreak would deter ANY possibility of visiting the happiest place on earth.  Friends supported my choice claiming most children have their first recollection of visiting and enjoying the park at 4 years old.  A vaccination shot, multiple east coast friends making the pilgrimage, and a dormant need to bring joy to my son dissipated my resolve five months later.

Kermit can officially cross off Disneyland from his bucket list.

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To ensure a positive experience, I pulled an all nighter watching videos online and reading guidebooks to meticulously plan our visit.  Despite an aggressive plan, I lowered any expectation of completing the list and possessed a willingness to abort mission at any sign of a meltdown.  Amazingly, we completed 95% of our list without incident.

We had the BEST time.

We arrived at the parking lot an hour before its opening, took the tram to the gate, crossed security checkpoint and arrived in front of the ticket counter a half hour before the park opening upon the advice from the authors of “The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland”.   Fifteen minutes later, we walked down Main Street and stood in front of Cinderella’s Castle.  As one of the park attendants administered the countdown for the official opening, goosebumps rose on my arms and an entangled knot of excitement grew in my stomach.  Two little children holding hands RAN through the castle doors a few hundred feet before the general public.  I cried.

Kermit’s magical experience was sparked.

We made a beeline to Fantasyland and were able to ride 7 attractions within the first 90 minutes before the crowd arrived:  Dumbo, Alice in Wonderland, King Arthur Carousel, Pinocchio, Casey Jr. Circus Train, Mad Tea Party, and Storybook Land Canal Boats in that order.  Then Kermit guzzled his milk and napped in his stroller while we walked down Main Street and visited Mickey’s Toontown to see Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, and Goofy.  It’s a Small World and Finding Nemo rounded out our adventure in the east side of the park.  After another feeding and during a nap, my husband and I enjoyed lunch in Frontierland.  By this time, the park was really crowded.  When Kermit awoke, we went to New Orleans Square to see the Haunted Mansion and ride Pirates of the Caribbean.  We took a break in Critter Country to visit Tigger, Eeyore, and Winnie the Pooh and ended the day with a ride on Mark Twain’s riverboat in Frontierland.

Obviously we did not experience the most popular attractions such as Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Matterhorn Bobsleds due to height restrictions.  We were also unable to view the Enchanted Tiki Room or Disneyland’s Story presenting Mr. Lincoln due to Kermit’s fatigue.  We missed Peter Pan’s Adventure and the Disneyland Railroad because they were not operational.  This did not mitigate our enjoyment.  Overall, I was genuinely surprised how accessible Disneyland is for infants.

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Disney truly understands the intricacies of fulfilling their visitors’ needs at every age and has thoughtfully provided the necessary amenities to guarantee a return visit.  A baby center centrally located on Main Street and outfitted with a feeding & diapering station, a nursing and pumping room, and infant/ toddler provisions like diapers, formula, bottles, and baby sunscreen are available at a nominal price.  I visited the baby center three times and each time, it was at full capacity.  The Lost and Found unit is also extraordinarily efficient.  One of my friends told me she lost her purse on two separate occasions which was returned to her without anything missing.  Another visitor lost his hat while on a ride and when found, was mailed to his home.  Strollers are available for rental and stroller parking is abundant throughout the park.  Fast passes alleviate the mental stress of waiting in queue and photo passes capture a momento of the whole family.  I read that VIP escorts are available by the hour.

Added measures for improvements keep the park current yet retention of the mainstays spark nostalgia.  For example, one of my favorite childhood memories is holding a mouse-eared shaped balloon while watching the parade on Main Street.  Nearly four decades later, my son was able to enjoy the same experience.  The picture of his very first adventure ride on Dumbo mirrors my own childhood snapshot.  But unlike me who rode 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Kermit experienced Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.  I teared up as I watched him enjoy the updated wonder of “It’s A Small World” while I recollected my own memory of the voyage.

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We will take Kermit to Disneyland this week before we return to New York.  It really is the happiest place on earth.