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.

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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!

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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

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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
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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. 

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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.

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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

 

BFL – Baby To Go – Tips and tricks for winter with the wee ones

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Baby To Go – in the cold!

Do’s & Don’ts for Safe Winter Adventures

The seasons have changed *fast* here in the Northeast, and we are heading into the winter! Just because the temperatures have dropped, that doesn’t mean we all need to stay home, but it’s important to keep our babies safe and warm.

BTG-shower cap car seat

DO – Use layers to bundle.

It is understandable to want to keep our tiny babes as warm as possible when it’s so cold outside, but puffy winter coats can interfere with correct fit of car seat harness straps, and overheating can be more dangerous than a slight chill. Concentrate on the extremities – keep tiny fingers and toes warm with socks and mittens.  Layer a light fleece under a heavier jacket so that the jacket can be removed in the car. A good rule of thumb for babies younger than 12 months is to add one more layer than you are wearing. Be sure to have a warm hat for baby, as most body heat escapes through the head.

DON’T – Use puffy coats or after-market car seat covers that interfere with the harness straps.

Injuries sustained in car accidents are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. With that in mind, it is important to minimize risk by using car seats in the safest way possible. Coats with too much bulk make it difficult or impossible to tighten car seat straps correctly, and can make an accident more dangerous. Car seats are not crash tested or designed to be used with after-market accessories, and anything that interferes with the harness straps can reduce the safety. Instead, tuck a blanket around your little one after the harness is safely fitted or look for shower cap style covers that don’t touch the harness straps.

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DO -Use your body heat.

Babywearing has offers incredible benefits to both the parent and baby. In the winter, wearing keeps both of you warmer. Use a maternity coat or a jacket a size or two too large to zip over baby snuggles. There are also many specialty baby wearing coats and jackets available.

DON’T – Overdo it.

Babies, especially younger infants, lack the ability to regulate their own body temperature. Babywearing can help, but your baby will get colder quicker than you. Limit outdoor activities when the temperature drops too low, and take breaks indoors to warm up. Watch for signals that baby is too cold – blue lips, pale nose or fingertips, fussy or lethargic – or overheating – sweaty, flushed cheeks, bumpy rash.

BTG - skiing

- Sarah Ludwig is a stay at home mom who never stays at home. She loves helping families on their path to parenthood, and works as a childbirth educator, doula, and CPST. She is a Babywearing Educator with the local chapter of Babywearing International, and she blogs about her adventures at lovetheludwigs.com.

BFF – Ahhhh Arbonne

Last weekend I had the pleasure of doing a three day, trial with the Arbonne facial kit. Arbonne is a one of a kind skin care and wellness line for women that provides a chemical free anti-aging kit. In a study conducted by naturalnews.com, they discovered that women apply an average of 515 chemicals a day to their skin. Makeup, perfumes, lotions, mascara, and other beauty products all contribute to the toxic brew that can cause health problems for women.

Arbonne photo

My experience with the Arbonne anti-aging kit was excellent. After the second day of using the product my skin felt fresh and radiant. By the third day I could noticeably tell the difference in my skin, I saw improvement in moisture, clarity, and blotchiness. I enjoyed all of the products in the process which takes less than 3 minutes to complete but my favorite product had to be the Corrective eye Serum, it made my eyes look fresh, and awake. This is a great gift for the holidays, and I recommend this for women of all ages! For more information, please contact Rebecca_Wong@me.com and receive 35% off your first purchase.

- Hannah, BFC Sitter Coordinator and resident beauty guinea pig

WWW – Accidental SAHM

We have a new contributor to the BFC blog – Jeanne Oh, pastry chef extraordinaire at some of NYC’s renowned restaurants, and now SAH Mom of 7 month old Kermit, living in the West Village with her hubby…….

I am an organized planner.  I have a healthy respect for deadlines and guidelines. While I was a student in college and in pursuit of three post graduate degrees, I never missed a class or forgot an assignment.  I assured myself that I could have it all but just not all at the same time.  Just when I thought I had it all figured out, life got in the way and I gained a sense of humor.

My husband, Joe, and I met in August 1997, engaged in December 1999, and married in October 2001.  Today, he shared a quote by Warren Buffett who pontificated that the single most important decision one will make in his life is who he marries.  We both agreed.  For starters, we never knew how difficult and long it would take to have a child and never took conception and pregnancy for granted.  Fortunately, we had each other through the good and bad.

Our little miracle arrived in April 2014.  Kermit is a sweet 7 month old boy whose toothless grin melts our hearts every single time he smiles.  For the first few weeks of his life, I swear I could watch his eyelashes grow for hours on end.  Each day I find the beauty of life’s discovery through his eyes and revel in the goodness of life’s blessing in him.  I cherish every single moment with him.  Our persistence, heartache, and perseverance were a small price to pay in exchange for our son.

kermit

Because we waited 10 years for our privilege to parent, I do not want to relinquish any more time child rearing than necessary.   A lot of my friends who are mothers struggled with their decision to continue working, whether part or full time, but I did not.  I never even considered returning to work because I only want to spend time with Kermit.  I recognize it’s a luxury to exercise this option.  I may have not planned staying at home before I was married but I accidentally found my path in life.