All posts by Lindsay Bell

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.

BFL – Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

With the end of school approaching fast, it’s hard to find time to cook (or have sit down meals for that matter). One reason why we love Mel’s Kitchen Cafe blog so much is because she’s a mom of 5; simply put, she gets it.

The blog focuses on creating great family-friendly recipes, but also includes some decadent treats and recipes worthy of family parties or visits from the in-laws.

Check out some of our favorite recipes from this mommy blogger such as this simple after school snack, peanut butter caramel chocolate chip cookie bars for dessert, and easy dinner ideas like stuffed shells, grilled greek chicken kebabs, and more! Remember, don’t be scared off by one ingredient your little one doesn’t like; it’s easy to tweak recipes to suit little taste buds or picky eaters.

Have another favorite kid-friendly recipe blog? Share with us in the comments below!

Nanny Know-How with Lindsay

Finding the right nanny for your family is essential! We work with both caregivers and nannies to pair up the best match for both our member families and caregivers. However, maintaining a great nanny-client relationship is equally important.

Lindsay sat down with Leigh Goldman, a Gymtime Mom, to share some strategies.

Some of the key points are:

  1. Outline expectations
  2. Clarify your policy on days off
  3. Spread good karma
  4. Talk the talk
  5. Avoid being over friendly
  6. Exercise common courtesy

Check out the full article here to learn more about each of those bullet points and get the full run-down on Lindsay’s nanny know-how!

BFL – City Treehouse

With summer just around the corner, Spring is getting in its last few showers. With a few rainy weeks ahead, we wanted to share one of our favorite indoor play spaces in the city:  City Treehouse.

City Treehouse offers a really cute treehouse-themed indoor play area with an interactive water play area, a treehouse to climb and slide from, classes, storytelling, and child-directed activities throughout. Learn more about how your child can dip, dunk, and pour at the interactive area here.

If you are looking for a little more of a hands-on activity, register your child for one of the classes at City Treehouse. Classes are offered in subjects such as dancing, yoga, arts & crafts, baby playgroup, new moms support group, and music. Another great feature is City Treehouse can custom-design a class for your little ones, as long as there are six or more interested children.

Make sure you call ahead, as the facility is reservation based!

MDW: Red, White, & Bell

Memorial Day is a federal holiday for remembering the people who died while serving in our armed forces. The weekend is also the much-anticipated start to the summer season. We’re excited for another summer of adventuring, camps, family vacations, beach time, relaxation, and more!

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Check out some of our favorite memorial day activities for little ones below:

1) Celebrate all of the solider and veterans in your life by attending your local parade. Also check out fun events such as the Grand Procession at the Green-Wood Cemetery, which will be transformed into a Civil War-era commemoration and festival on Saturday.

2) If you’re looking to get out of the city, but don’t want to hit a lot of traffic, Governor’s Island.

3) Head to the beach, and take a BFC sitter if you need an extra hand! Beaches like Coney Island, Jones Beach, Brighton Beach, Orchard Beach, and Rockaway Beach are all easy commutes from the city and boast plenty of sand and sun-filled fun!

4) We also love heading to museums and the zoo on weekends like this! Since so many people are headed out to the beach, attractions like this usually have shorter lines.

5) As the sun heats up on Monday, you might want to bring the kids to some water attractions. Mommy Poppins created a great list of water parks in the area here.

Overall, enjoy spending time with your family and celebrating

VMV Hypoallergenics

We’re excited to be working more with one of our great partners, VMV Hypoallergenics! VMV Hypoallergenics is a fantastic skincare company that offers safe, proven effective, and clinically-published products and services.

We’re also excited about their Grandma Minnie line, which is specifically designed for expecting moms!

VMV is proud of six core characteristics that make VMV so unique:

1) Proven Hypoallergenic

2) Published Studies

3) Created + formulated by a world-renowned dermatologists

4) Each product tested to within an inch of its life

5) Regularly Updated Formulations

6) Head-to-Toe Care from Diapers to Dermabrasion

Check out VMV Hypoallergenics for all of your summer skincare needs; we know we will be!

BFL – Pager

Bell Family Company is excited to announce a new partnership with Pager!

Pager is an on-demand medical services company that offers doctors visits to your NYC home, hotel, or office. Pager doctors can evaluate patients for illness, injury, minor skin conditions, school and employment physicals, and much more.

We love the concept of Pager’s on-demand model, and we’ve seen how effective it is for families in need of services! Pager says, “Waiting rooms aren’t kid-friendly. Pager sends board-certified doctors to you within two hours — so your child doesn’t have to leave home when sick or injured.”

Between BFC and Pager, all of your on-demand family needs are covered!

BFF – How we Keep the Family

Company culture is something that’s important everywhere, and we agree! The BFC culture and amazing staff are what keeps our member families and sitters coming back year after year. Ever wonder what the special sauce is?

We recently came across this great article on former start-up Airbnb and how they handle bureaucracy and maintaining the close-knit feel.  CEO Mike Curtis noted: “the antidote to unproductive bureaucracy is good old-fashioned judgment — having it, hiring for it, and creating conditions that allow people to exercise it.” He also noted that one of the most crucial elements of this is building a trustworthy team filled with trustworthy people.

As many of you know, our hiring process is intensive and thorough. We make sure that our people are coming in with the right attitude and “special stuff” to fit in with the company goals. We support and trust all of our sitters and staff, and as a result, so do our member families!

Check out the rest of the Airbnb article here for some more interesting tidbits!