Working Women Wednesday: Balance

One of the great questions of women considering becoming working moms is: “How will I balance everything and still be a good mom?” Luckily, there are plenty of tips and tricks to balance work and home life; plus, having a career and a family is perfectly normal! Your kids will turn out great despite a few hours away from them, and will still have a great role model.

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  • Accept that there will be tradeoffs: taking on another job in addition to being a mother pretty much mandates that there will be tradeoffs. Some nights may be pizza or takeout, and you may even have to buy store-bought playdough instead of making your own. Remembering why you agreed to work in the first place and why you are making those sacrifices can make this better and avoid feeling guilty.
  • Schedule Yourself: Similar to how you carve out the time you need for work to be successful at your job, set aside family time, me time, or couple time. Putting things on your calendar will help to make sure you have that time reserved and don’t feel like you are missing out on family time.
  • Be Present: When you come home, turn your devices off or at least put them aside. Make time for family time either during dinner or during a TV show that you all enjoy watching together. You will have plenty of time to catch up on work and answer emails when the kids go to bed, in the mornings, or during the day.
  • Accept help: As much as we all want to be, nobody is supermom. Don’t feel bad about accepting your parents offer to take the kids one day a week, or your husbands offer to pick up groceries.

Most of all, remember that if working is best for your family and self, then don’t feel guilty!

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We Love… CDP!

As parents and caregivers, we all know how fun it is to play with the children we love and care for. Depending on the child, their age and developmental level the way we play will vary. One of my favorite ways to interact, engage and be an active participant when working with children is facilitating Child Direct Play (CDP). CDP can be used with children ages 2-10 years old (will vary with age). Once the grown-up has the basics down you expand on this and use this as a foundation piece when interacting and wanting to play with your kids. This approach truly eliminates power struggles, empowers the child to choose and direct, builds self-esteem and confidence, creates positive time with the caregiver and child, promotes self-regulation, foster independence, & increases creativity.

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Here is the Who, What, When, Where, Why & How:

Who: Parents, Caregivers and Teachers- (Grown-ups)

What: Child Directed Play- CDP

When: Anytime that you (Grown-up) can focus your undivided attention on the child/charge/student for a 10-15 minute duration.

Where: Distraction free environment with a variety of safe, age appropriate toys, crafts, instruments etc. Typically done where your children play in your home.

Why:

  • Build language and fine motor skills
  • Practice parenting skills
  • Share time and space with your child/charge
  • Child gets your undivided attention with positive interaction
  • Builds self-esteem and confidence
  • Increases self-regulation and social awareness

How:

  • Grown-ups- follow the leader- the child is the leader.
  • Move closer to them and get curious about what they are doing.
  • Acknowledge verbally what they are actually doing.  Use as few words as possible, esp. with kids 5 and under.
  • Imitate the child’s play. If the child is building Legos, acknowledge and say, “Wow, good idea, I want to build a house too.”
  • Expand descriptions for more learning and language building (older kids deeper rapport)
  • Notice and praise child’s wanted (good) behavior, “You are so gentle with the baby. What a good mommy you are.”  “You are so careful with the paint, good work.” Be specific.
  • Allow the child to switch gears if need be. They are the leaders. Clean up can happen later. There is no right or wrong way for a child to play with toys. Support imagination.

For more helpful hints and do’s and don’t, click on this link: https://depts.washington.edu/hcsats/PDF/TF-%20CBT/pages/7%20Positive%20Parenting/Client%20Handouts/Parenting%20Skills/Child-Directed%20Interaction%20Skills.pdf

 

-Ali Sheppard, MSW, our in house nanny placement coordinator

Working Woman- Setting Boundaries In Service of Your Well-Being

I’ve been a caregiver the majority of my adult life. Then went on to get my degree in Social Work, a field that lends itself to caring for others. The most challenging part of being a caregiver is remembering to care for yourself. One of the reasons I am drawn to this type of work is because I genuinely like to help others and make their lives easier/ find solutions and resources. I feel good when I am in service of others; I mean I feel worthy and accomplished and loved. It feels good, but the hard part is knowing when to have boundaries and limits.

I have learned that when I am not taking care of my own well-being, I am more likely to be irritable, frustrated, burnt out and get sick. It’s essential for caregivers to take care of their well-being and enjoy the down time they have. Especially in NYC where the majority of full-time nannies work 50-60/hrs per week, plus an hour commute both ways.

Self-care is personal and for me it includes, yoga, reading, pampering myself, spending time with friends and being outdoors. In general, we all know how important it is to get  enough sleep, exercise and eat healthy. I know that when I am organized and follow a schedule, I am better at keeping the commitment to my well-being. I was recently asked by a SAHM if nannies really need two days off a week. I reminded the SAHM that the Mon-Fri schedule was already 72 hours a week and working 24/7 could easily lead to burnout! She paused, said, “Well I don’t know, I’m a new mom.” I thought, You’re a first time mom, not a first time human being. But instead, I said, “Mrs. So & So, do you need 2 days off a week?”

Setting limits

  1. Calendar- schedule self-care time
  2. Ask for help
  3. Socialize
  4. Be professional in the work place. Act like a professional & be treated like a professional.
  5. Be honest
  6. Have open communication
  7. Empathy goes BOTH ways
  8. Respect the agreement, be flexible and fair.
  9. Spread harmony
  10. Teach, accept and listen

 

Happy Families=Happy Nannies

Ali Sheppard, MSW
Nanny Placement Coordinator 

How Will We See Our Photographs in 100 Years

With digital it easy to forget that having photographs in frames and on our walls and tabletops has a powerful effect. We see and remember the beauty and joy of our lives.

Dad & Baby

We also forget that the most secure way to have heirlooms is through prints. Whether a print is from a digital image or from film, printing on archival paper will give us memories that we can pass down to our children and even grandchildren.

There are two ways that are readily available to make prints from digital photographs. One type of process, the digital C-print, is the same as that used for color negatives. Your digital file is printed on a continuous tone printer that uses silver-based paper and processes that paper with traditional chemistry. These type of prints can last up to 60 years.

Magnolia Baby

A new form of printing is done with pigment-based inks. This is different than inkjet prints. Pigment based inks are often called archival and are rated to last 100 years depending on the paper used. You must use a paper that is also rated archival for the print to last. I recommend that you work with a trusted professional lab for both the digital C-print and the pigment-based ink print.

It is advised to keep prints away from direct sunlight. If you wish to frame them, using an archival mat to separate the print from the glass or acrylic is a must. Without a mat, the print may stick to the glass and be ruined. The glass and acrylic can also come in UV protective forms.

Albums have been a traditional way to store prints and have the advantage of being able to group prints by event, trip, or keeping track of the growth of your child or children. Look for albums that are archival. For mounting the photos there are a multitude of products from archival corners, tapes and archival glues. Prints can also be stored in archival boxes. There are also archival plastic sleeves. These products are very popular and easy to find. The images I am using as illustrations are prints mounted to an archival paper in an album, one with archival corners and the other with archival glue  tape.

6 Year Old draws card

Although printed books are fun, they are not archival. Do not consider them for heirloom pass alongs.

Canvas prints, on the other hand, can be top coated for longevity to prevent fading from sunlight and scratching or scuffing. There are several top coating options that have UV inhibitors and waterproofing. Have your canvas prints done professionally and ask about the top coating options. These options may also offer you a choice in finishes from matte, satin, semi-gloss, or gloss.

-Alice Garik creates photographs and art for her clients: maternity and families. She works with her clients to uniquely tell their stories. Visit www.alicegarik.com and contact her for a consultation.

Mama of the Bride

I had the extreme honor of being the Mother of the Bride for the third time last weekend. It was a beautiful NYC wedding that took place on a made to order August day.  Prior to the fabulous event, my husband and I drove in from Ohio with our car packed from top to bottom (as usual) delivering pieces and parts to various wedding locations. We did some early morning decorating, had a marvelous bridal lunch thanks to the mother of the groom, and a rehearsal dinner at the Jane that guests raved about as the best they had ever been to.
The rehearsal

The rehearsal

Preparations, which included nails and hair, went without a hitch and the bride appeared on the church steps as beautiful as can be.

 

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The wedding guests were then delivered by bus to the W Loft in Brooklyn after a brief tour of this fantastic city, to a venue that dazzled due to Jacques Catering talents. Food and background views were equally delicious.
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Even though I included many positive synonymous adjectives throughout this blog, nothing makes a wedding great like its guests. The Texan and Ohioan families united well, friends came from near and far to dance the night away. A big thank you to all of you for your time and efforts to make this such a memorable event for Brad and Lindsay.
Love to all,
Mama of the Bride
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The Next Mozart?

We are big fans of enrichment classes for kids here at Bell Family.  In NYC there are an overwhelming amount of choices and it is time consuming to narrow the field down.  So we are bringing some mama reviews to your inbox to help the navigation process!

First up our friend Isobella Jade,  who tried a Making Melodies class on the UES – a Kindermusik International formatted class.

At the start of our Kindermusik class an assortment of baby and toddler size instruments are displayed for play and practice. Phoenix immediately sits down on the special circular Kindermusik carpet and starts playing the xylophone, and then curiously bangs the xylophone sticks against the big drum that was nearby. Although the drum, we are told by the teacher, is only for hands, and I tell this to Phoenix too, and we bang on the drum loudly with our hands instead.

As a parent or caretaker, be ready for a hands-on experience for your child to truly get the most out of a music class. Classes like Kindermusik are best with adult involvement to guide and nurture the little ones to create their own rhythm, use their creative energy and feel the beat.

This week the theme of the class was “going to the zoo.”

After the Hello song and using mini cymbals and clam-shaped clicker-clappers to the beat of Hickory Dickory Dock, we read a lovely book called Zoo Train.

Focusing on the cover of the book which had an elephant on it, we first listened to elephant sounds on the teacher’s tablet.

After the fantastic book we got busy dangling our bodies and walking like giraffes and ran like zebras in a stop-and-go type of rhythm.

Then sitting down we played with different tones, each child received a shaker and a bell and we did fast and slow rhythms and focused on the different pitches. Using these perfect baby and toddler size instruments are great for their fine-motor skills too. (We’ve loved music classes so much that we bought our own musical instruments to play with at home too.)

There was also a parachute portion of the class, little ones absolutely love the colorful parachute, and the children were able to be on top and under it while the teacher sang a couple nursery rhymes and a song about colors.

The class we attended ranged from babies—nine months old, to toddlers—two years old. It was a younger group and Phoenix was one of the oldest there but our schedule didn’t allow us to attend the older group that week to try it out, but be sure to pick a class that fits your child’s schedule and when they will be most alert and ready to play.

Trying out a trial class and finding the right class that fits what you find interesting and engaging for your child is important. You have to sit through the class too, and music class can take more energy than you think since many classes are also about movement and following direction and listening and the adult assisting the child during class. Kindermusik is perfect for parents or caregivers looking for a first-time music class.

Basic Music Class Etiquette:

Music class isn’t sit and be quiet, it’s a “let’s try this!” experience.

It’s hard to text and play an instrument. Put away your phone unless you’re taking a photo of your child or the child in your care. It’s extremely rude toward your child, other children and the teacher when you are texting during a hands-on environment activity.

Watch that drum stick! Music class can be dangerous with instruments being banged and flung around in excitement so it’s your job to be cautious of your child and keep an eye on little ones really getting down with the beat. (Depending on how active your child is you may need to remind your child this is not the place to run around so fast, they will be excited and want to move around though, especially if they love it which is a good thing.)

That’s my drum! Music class is a great place to teach sharing and waiting your turn, since all the little ones want the loudest instrument at the same time.

Kids love to clean up. Music class can teach the importance of contributing and cleaning up together. The teacher should not have to pry the instrument out of the child’s hand. Before a meltdown, help your child understand that this part of the class is all done and it’s time to say goodbye to the instrument. Bye-bye instrument, see you next time.

I’ve also made some great mom-friends during our music classes and when you are a new parent it’s a wonderful way to get out and bond with your baby.

We’ve been attending music classes since Phoenix was six months old and music can indeed slip into the souls of our little ones and inspire them and you’ll see it fast, when they’re doing their own little groove.

For more info on Making Melodies and their class schedule  check out their website – www.makingmelodiesnyc.com.  More info on Kindermusik and their curriculum and philosophy can be found here - http://www.kindermusik.com/

Isobella Jade is an author and mom based in New York City, you can find her and her son Phoenix at the Central Park Zoo, the American Museum of Natural History, the Children’s Museum and at many toddler time enrichment classes and destinations in the Upper East Side, she believes New York City is the best city to raise kids.

Bell Family Loves… WEDDINGS!

Bell Family Loves… Weddings!

Especially when they’re part of the Bell Family! This weekend our very own BFC President, Lindsay Bell got married to another of our very own, BFC Investor, Brad Wallace.

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Now we can officially call that keeping it in the family!

The Bridal party

The Bridal party

The wedding was located at Church of St. Joseph in Greenwich Village, followed by a NYC reception. Everyone had a wonderful time. More pictures and stories to come!

Congratulations to our fearless leader, Lindsay Bell Wallace!

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Hamptons Family Concierge

Today on Bell Family Loves, we’d like to introduce you to a great service in the Hamptons! Enjoy this go-to guide for summer fun:

The Hamptons are world renowned for the beautiful beaches, celebrities, and gala fundraising events.  But what can you do when vacationing in the Hamptons with your kids?  As a local mom, and co-founder of Hamptons Family Concierge, I am willing to share a few secret spots that I’m sure your whole family will love.

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1) Elizabeth Morton Wildlife Preserve – Sag Harbor
All year round, Morton’s is a wonderful outing for all ages.  The most important thing to remember – bring birdseed!  During most of our visits (time of year and time of day vary), the chickadees and other birds will come and eat out of your hand.(even my 4 year old!)  There are also turkeys, chipmunks, and other local wildlife, that you may observe as you walk through a scenic, shaded wood.  One trail leads you to a lovely bay beach where you can take a break and have a picnic!  Cost: Free (but donations appreciated)

2) Free concerts in the Park – Sag Harbor, Southampton, Easthampton, Montauk
During the summer months, each of the above towns has a weekly outdoor concert in their park.  It is perfect to bring a picnic or pizza, and let the kids play and dance while enjoying various types of music.  Cost: Free (but donations appreciated)

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3) Seven Ponds Farm – Southampton
This Farm is not as well known as some of the other Hamptons farms, but it is my favorite.  In the summer, my kids pick raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, while in the fall you can pick your own apples and pumpkins.  There are also other vegetables you can pick yourself, as well as gorgeous flowers.  There is a playground for the kids, hay rides, and a small corn maze in the fall.  The farm stand is fantastic.  After we gather all that fruit, if we have the energy, we go home and make a pie!

4) Whale’s Tale Miniature Golf & Ice Cream Parlor – Shelter Island
It is a nice day trip to hop on the Shelter Island Ferry and spend the afternoon.  There are several wonderful family friendly restaurants, and then after lunch, you can go play mini golf.  It is an old fashioned place, but the kids love it, and they love the ice cream afterwards even more.  This is only open seasonally.

My beautiful picture

5) Blockspot – SYS, Southampton
This creative, fun filled center is brand new, and has a variety of classes, and activities for age 2-10 years.  Blocks and building materials of all shapes and sizes abound.  View the schedule to see when you would like to drop in.  Great for birthday parties as well.

There are so many factors involved when planning your weekend or vacation activities: the season, the weather, your children’s ages and interests, your location, and so on.  Hamptons Family Concierge was developed to assist families in creating the perfect Hamptons experience.  We can customize itineraries, plan amazing events, schedule quality services and activities (even at your home), so you can relax and enjoy your trip.

-Hamptons Family Concierge

Guilt: Working Women

Over the past month I have met a number of different women, all with fascinating backgrounds, for coffee to talk business, share ideas, seek mentorship, and discuss triumphs and struggles. 

Despite the different stages in life each are in (20s, 30s, 40s & 50s) there seems to be the general over harking struggle with guilt.

I don’t have enough time for my friends, boyfriend, partner, fiancé, or husband.

I never feel like I get ahead.

Me time does not exist.

Taking some time out for some "me time" with my sister

Taking some time out for some “me time” with my sister

I work too much. I am home too little.

I should go to the gym more.

I didn’t eat all day or I have been over eating.

I don’t get to see my family enough, I can’t keep up with everyone’s birthdays, celebrations, etc.

Even though this sounds like complaining, it was actually a relief to hear that all these women are feeling the same types of pressure.

Sheryl Sandberg wrote a lot about guilt in her book Lean In. Even as successful as she is now, she still struggles with balancing work with personal, while trying not to feel bad all the time.

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I think making small adjustments such as no phones at the table with your fiancé or setting call dates with mom every other day is the step in the right direction of balance, but I am still trying to figure out what works for me.

-Lindsay Bell is the President of Bell Family Company

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Snack Happy From Happy Family Brands

One of our favorite toddler food companies has shared some of their pointers from HAPPYFAMILY Nutrition Advisor Amy Marlow.  Amy shares some common questions from parents.  There’s no doubt that young children need snacks. Figuring out what to serve at snack time (and when, and how much) is the million dollar question.  According to her, healthy and wholesome snacks don’t have to be a puzzle.  Check out her Q & A below…

1.     What are the most common challenges you hear from parents  about  getting children to eat healthy snacks?  Parents of school-aged children often complain about the difficulty in finding healthy snacks that can compete with the junky snacks their kids see at school, on TV, at the store, and at friends’ homes. They often worry about repetition and wonder if it’s “bad” to let their child have the same snacks day after day.  Many parents are also concerned that their child seems to be “hungry” for snacks all the time.

2.     What are your best snacking strategies for addressing these challenges? One strategy is good role modeling. Select healthy snacks and enjoy them in front of your children. It’s also important to set boundaries with snacks. Don’t allow the child to make the selections at the grocery store, instead, give them healthy options to choose from.

To avoid over-snacking, set a snack-time just as you set meal times and then stick to it. Allowing your child to snack all the time will only ruin their appetite for meals and start a vicious cycle of filling up on snacks at the expense of healthy meals.

3.    What are your best recommendations for nutritious snack options that kids will love, and why?

  • Great snack products / standbys to rely on. Fresh fruit of course – keep carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, jicama, and other vegetables sliced in a container in the refrigerator. This is especially good for after school/before dinner when kids are hungriest.
  • More go-to snacks
    • Happy Squeeze smoothies (organic fruit combinations – some with vegetables, Salba® the Super chia, coconut milk or Greek yogurt – in convenient portable pouches from Happy Family)
    • Whole wheat pretzels, organic cheese sticks and slices
    • Unsweetened dry cereal, unsalted nuts and dried fruit – try combining all three to make a healthy trail-mix!
    • Homemade whole grain pancakes which can be easily kept on-hand in the freezer
  • Sweet Treats. Sweets have their place, and in my opinion, many children will just get obsessed with them if over-restricted. Give your children healthy sweets such as frozen grapes and homemade fruit popsicles, as well as the occasional ice cream, all-natural or homemade cookies, fruit leathers or fruit snacks. Don’t make every evening snack a sweet, but if you have a sweet treat in the house every so often, and control the portion size, this is a healthy way to teach moderation.
  • Snacks that get kids involved in the prep
    Two great snacks to make with your children are muffins and smoothies.  There are plenty of muffin recipes made with nutrient-packed ingredients like fruit purees, oats, wheat germ, whole grain flours, and dried or fresh fruit. You can even sneak in some veggies. Let young kids mix the ingredients, and older children can measure the ingredients and pour the mixture into the muffin tins. To control portion size, use mini-muffin tins instead of full size. Don’t forget to make extra – they freeze well and are a quick snack anytime!Smoothies can easily be made at home with yogurt, fresh and frozen fruit, milk and ice. Kids can get involved by choosing the ingredients, putting them in the blender, and turning it on. Another tip is to freeze smoothies in popsicle molds for a healthy frozen dessert.
  • Other snacking ideas. Parents should think about “real” food as being great potential for snacks, like sandwiches, quesadillas, pancakes and pizza bagels. Turn snack-time into a mini-meal instead of relying on less nutrient dense snack foods. This is a good strategy for two types of snackers – the active tween or teen who is truly ravenous all the time and the young child who tends not to eat enough at meal times

4.     Please explain why it’s so important to get children to adopt healthy eating habits early in life and the possible future implications.
Eating habits are just that – habits. The best way to set up a child for a lifetime of healthy eating is to get them into the habit early through offering healthy foods in and out of the home. Physiologically, a key time for developing healthy food preferences is before age three, as that’s when the child’s taste buds are learning to accept and enjoy flavors.

Amy Marlow is a registered dietitian (RD) and New York State certified nutritionist. In addition to her work with Happy Family, Amy helps manage a Fortune 100 company’s employee wellness program and sits on the board of the New York State Dietetic Association. Amy is the proud mother of three.

HAPPYFAMILY is a leading premium organic food brand delivering nutritious meals and snacks for babies, toddlers and beyond.  The company supports Project Peanut Butter, a nonprofit that feeds starving children Africa.  Since its launch Happy Family has underwritten more than 1 million meals through PPB.  For more information, visit www.happyfamilybrands.com