All posts by Lindsay Bell

BFL – Lyft

Ride-sharing and on-demand ride services have been all the rage lately, especially for city-dwellers without cars. One of our favorite new services is Lyft.

Lyft gives you the option to ride solo, or to hook up with another group of travelers headed in the same direction for a reduced fare. This is a great mode of transportation for our sitters and families looking for a reliable service.

What we love about Lyft is you can track your drivers. So parents sending kids to soccer practice with a BFC sitter can see when the ride is scheduled to arrive at the house, the route the car is taking, and get notified when they are dropped off.

Tried Lyft before? We’d love to hear what you thought of it!

WWW – Sheryl Sandberg and “Leaning In”

Sheryl Sandberg has been in the news a lot this week, showing her incredible strength and drive as not only an executive, but a woman as well. We wanted to honor one of the world’s most visible  working women by highlighting some of her infamous “Lean In” tips.

Sandberg’s notes in her best-seller, Lean In, that it is difficult to manage both career and motherhood even before giving birth (something many women can relate to as they head to work in the same flats they wore before their feet ballooned up a size!).

Sandberg believes despite obstacles many women face in the workplace (discrimination, lower compensation, etc), it is possible to still “lean in” with careful planning and a supportive partner. Forbes notes that the five best pieces of advice Sandberg offers are as follows:

  1. Be more open to taking career risks
  2. Skip the people pleasing
  3. Visualize your career as a jungle gym, not a ladder
  4. Allow yourself to fantasize about your career
  5. Start a Lean-In circle or peer group of women you can talk to monthly

 

Do you agree with Sandberg’s tips? Leave a comment below about your experience with working and motherhood!

BFL – Emily Always Cooks

Fun enough for the kids. Just grown up enough for the adult palate as well. So simple to make. Ready for it?  Sure you are.

I’m Emily, the gal behind Emily Always Cooks.  Most of my time is spent in my small Chicago apartment kitchen, whipping up simple, tasty, family friendly recipes. The kind that make your friends jealous.  Seasonal ingredients and whole foods are my staple. Healthy, with just the right amount of indulgent comfort food.  Follow my blog to see what I’ve been cooking up lately. The pictures are pretty. The food is delicious.

This is a fun twist on macaroni and cheese. I like creating an opportunity to introduce children to new foods and expand their palates, while simultaneously eating something with a sense of familiarity.  Stove-top Gnocchi (not Mac) and Cheese with Peas … does just that.  It’s a rich, decadent cheese sauce. Move over kiddies, I’m diving in too.

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If you’ve never cooked gnocchi (small potato dumplings) before, the time is now. Your family will love these little potato pillows.  Just bring a big pot of salted water to a boil (as you would for pasta).  Then add the gnocchi, give it a stir, and wait until they rise to the surface. About 3-ish minutes.  Once they’ve floated to the top, just strain out the water and you’re ready to go!  Easy peasy!

Prepare your ingredients ahead of time. Shred your cheeses and have your milk and seasonings out and ready.  The thing about cheese sauce is that things happen fast. Because you’re working with milk, butter, cheese and heat – this sauce can burn easily if you’re not careful.  By getting everything prepared ahead of time, you can focus on the cooking.

This dish comes together in under 30 minutes. Being prepared in one pot means minimal clean up. (We love that!) Happy family. Easy clean up. Delicious meal for the whole crew.

Stove-top Gnocchi (not mac) and Cheese with Peas

Ingredients:

2 17.5 ounce boxes potato gnocchi
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp flour
2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
2 cups freshly shredded cheddar cheese
1 cups freshly shredded fontina cheese
1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
(Optional toppings: chopped fresh basil, extra Parmesan cheese)

Directions:

Bring a large heavy-bottomed stock pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the gnocchi and cook according to package directions. Drain, set aside, and reserve.  Make sure to toss the cooked gnocchi frequently so they do not stick together when preparing the cheese sauce.

Next, make the béchamel sauce.  In the same pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in the flour and cook the mixture, stirring constantly until light brown in color with a slightly toasted aroma, about 3 minutes. Add the milk slowly into the flour and butter mixture, whisking constantly so you get all the lumps out.  Bring sauce to a low boil, whisking constantly, then simmer,  still whisking occasionally, for 3 minutes to thicken.  The sauce should thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Stir in cheeses, mustard powder, salt and pepper until smooth.  Note: Do not add your cheese too fast or too soon as this could result in clumpy, greasy chaos instead of creamy, cheesy deliciousness.  Instead, wait for your béchamel to reach the right thickness.  Then, add the cheese in three batches, making sure each batch is completely melted before adding more cheese.

Add the gnocchi and peas, stirring to combine, and cook over low heat just until warmed throughout. Serve immediately with fresh basil and additional parmesan cheese.

Note: It will originally seem that there is too much cheese sauce for the amount of gnocchi. Trust me – the sauce will continue to thicken and you will be happy with the extra creamy, cheesy deliciousness.

Servings: 6
Cook time: 30 minutes

The finished product...yum!

The finished product…yum!

BFF – Finding a Nanny

Finding a nanny to join your family can be a long process; lucky BFC is here to help. We’ve pulled together a list of guidelines for families seeking nannies to help manage everyones expectations and ensure the process goes smoothly!

  1. Think through your family’s situation before looking for a nanny. Consider the following things when you’re searching for a nanny:
    -Do you want someone to live in-house or commute?
    - How many hours a week would you like your nanny to be with your children? After school, full-time, weekends?
    -Will you require overtime hours ever? Travel with the family?  Babysitting for nights out? Holiday coverage?
    -Will you require your nanny to run errands? Drive the kids anywhere?

The list goes on, and we can provide a full list of considerations when working together to find a nanny; the most important thing is to think through daily, weekly, and monthly routines and make sure you are asking for the right type of coverage for your family!

2. Discuss and write down expectations for benefits, salary, vacation time, and sick leave. Your nanny may fit in just like a family member, but remember this is her job! Having a written contract with all of this information makes sure there’s no room for confusion down the line.

3. Make sure your nanny and children get along. Even dynamo nannies sometimes aren’t the right fit for certain kid personalities. It’s a good idea to meet the nanny in person while interviewing (if possible) and also do a test day or event where you can watch your children interact with the potential nanny.

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4. Stay flexible! Expectations may change if your family grows, moves, changes schedule, or your nanny’s life situation changes. Make sure communication remains open, whether that’s through regular performance reviews, check-in calls, or meetings for big life changes.

BFL – Nanny Whisperers

I had a chance to talk with Nanny Whisperer Tammy Gold, LCSW, MSW, CEC, whose book was reviewed recently on these pages. As founder of Gold Parent Coaching, Gold is one of the most sought-after parenting and childcare experts in the country, and is a frequent guest on TV’s Good Morning America and Today.

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From your background in child development, what have you discovered about the importance of quality childcare?

As a therapist who worked with children, and a supporter of Attachment Psychology, I knew that quality childcare is critical to a child’s well-being. Two things occur: First, as a child’s brain is growing and developing (90 percent of brain development occurs by age 3), caregivers can have a large effect on cognitive development. By talking, laughing, engaging with and simply responding to a child’s needs, caregivers literally help create neural pathways in the child’s brain.

Second, according to Attachment Psychology (Dr. John Bowlby) and Psychosocial Development (Dr. Erik Erikson), caregivers literally shape who children become. During infancy and the early years, having a loving, responsive, regular group of caregivers allows babies to become attached to others and feel secure. Erikson describes this as learning “trust versus mistrust.”

Babies who have an uninvolved, unresponsive caregiver lose trust and cannot move through each developmental stage. Every developmental stage requires a devoted and loving caregiver who can stimulate and support the child’s developmental milestones. If the caregivers are not paying attention-often on their phone, unsupportive, or not fostering a child’s ability to play, explore and learn-they hinder developmental advancement.

What are some of the common pitfalls parents fall into when they look for a caregiver?

Parents often rush to hire a caregiver and fail to zero in on the important items. Whether it’s choosing a daycare center, a nanny or a babysitter, parents need to allow themselves plenty of time (ideally 3-4 weeks) so they can outline their needs and make good choices.

Studies show that stress interferes with clear thinking, so if parents are stressed and pressed for time they can overlook qualities they are uncomfortable with-such as a nanny who may be too quiet or a daycare center with not enough staff-because they feel pressure to choose.

Parents also tend to look first and figure out later what they need in a caregiver, which wastes time and causes stress. Parents also tend to push themselves to make their hiring decision during the interview phase, but decisions are best made after conducting daycare trials or nanny trials to really assess if the child and caregiver are a match.

Finally, parents often choose a friend’s or relative’s nanny. But just because a nanny was great with another family does not mean that person-or a daycare location-will be right for their own needs.

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What would an ideal nanny look like?

The ideal nanny is someone who loves children, has a positive and happy attitude, and is receptive and attentive. Parents tend to focus on a candidate’s education (which can be a plus), but a nanny can have little education and still possess the essential skills to promote cognitive development-such as engaging with children, having the patience to handle and support tantrums and disappointments, and most of all, having a flexible and devoted attitude toward the entire family unit. An ideal nanny is never cranky or snappy; as a paid caregiver, nannies must maintain a personal and professional demeanor for a child’s continued well-being.

If a babysitter comes only occasionally to care for children during hours when they are mostly sleeping, parents need not be as discerning about the babysitter’s manner or level of interaction. However, a nanny who comes regularly from week to week must be warm, upbeat, loving and receptive so that the child feels safe, loved and stimulated.

In my book, Secrets of the Nanny Whisperer, I present a detailed, step-by-step process parents can follow to find, interview, hire, and manage a caregiver who is ideally suited to their child and to the family’s needs.

BFL – Womentrepreneurs

The Bell Family Company brand is built on the leadership of our fearless leader, Lindsay. But we’re not the only ones who like hearing from Lindsay!

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Check out this awesome feature on Business Buff to hear Lindsay’s thoughts on being fearless and aggressive in order to grow the brand, building a family care business, and providing value to an ever growing market: http://www.businessbuff.com/buff-014-lindsay-bell-founder-president-of-bell-family-company/ 

Meet Our New NJ Nanny Coordinator, Paige!

Paige has been working with kids for as long as she can remember. She got her start in childcare working as a summer camp counselor in her hometown of Rockland County, New York, but has been a resident of Hoboken for the past 4 years where she continues to babysit.

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She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut with degrees in English and Human Development/Family Sciences. During her time in college she mentored middle school students as well as incoming freshman.  She also had numerous leadership roles within the Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority, which is an exciting connection, that Paige and BFC President, Lindsay, discovered when Paige began sitting for Bell Family in 2012.

After college, Paige continued her education earning a Masters Degree in Secondary English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. This launched her career in education, as she is currently a 7th grade Language Arts Teacher in Cranford, NJ. She is so excited to become a member of the Bell Family as the Nanny Placement Coordinator in New Jersey!