All posts by Lindsay Bell

BFC – Adventure in Gettysburg

I took a weekend getaway with my husband to Gettysburg. Talk about a taking a trip back in time. We stayed at The Swope Manor, which is one of the oldest homes in Gettysburg. They have a few different room sizes, some big enough to fit a family of 4 or 5.

Swope Manor


We also took a tour of the Eisenhower property while we were there, a huge farm just south of the town that has been preserved since it was last inhabited in the 1960’s. There is a car tour where you can drive on your own throughout the property. You are given a map & drive from point A to B & read off the significance of the area. For kids, you can pass along the map & take turns reading to the family. They also offer kid-specific tours through the park service.

eisenhower map

There are a lot of adorable bakeries and lunch spots in the area that are family friendly with high chairs and kid friendly menus. For dinner with went to the Dobbin House, which was my favorite part of the trip. They had one of those old huge fire places (the kind you imagine Santa coming down) with a big burning fire. Don’t let the kids near, but it is a sight to see & sure keeps that old house warm.



WWW -Just Do It

Now that the holidays are behind us, I’ve had some time to reflect upon coping with the juggle of increased social commitments, shopping, and travel.  Though it was hard and I was often sleep deprived, I am happy I pushed myself to finish the holiday projects.  In the end, I was happy to create memories with Kermit.


Timing of the holiday demands was not ideal.  Kermit started solid feeds right before Thanksgiving and so did his teething.  He would not tolerate anything near his gums and went on a hunger strike from Thanksgiving to Christmas, resulting in a decrease in his growth development and a stern talk from the pediatrician to double his milk volume and increase solid feeds to three times daily.  In her exact words, “make a valiant effort.”

I attempted to feed him every 2-3 hours throughout the day and night.  Kermit was not happy with the early morning feeds because he would always rather sleep.  At one point, to my dog’s dismay, he learned that screaming his high pitch cries was most effective.  During this time, Kermit was evaluated for the Early Intervention Program in New York which comprised of a series of 3 scheduled meetings with a service coordinator, developmental and occupational therapist, and a physical therapist.  On top of these activities, I needed to plan a 3 month move to the west coast and pack up our New York home by early January.  When time was a valuable commodity, I found myself wishing there were more hours in the day.

To accommodate all the meetings and holiday dinners, I learned to schedule Kermit’s meetings (doctor’s visits, evaluations, and play visits) in the morning.  Social dinners were scheduled early so I could return home to Kermit and administer his feeds when he was more amenable to eat.  Solid feedings were given routinely after he woke up and diligently every 3-4 hours afterwards.  All shopping, holiday gifts and grocery, was done online.  Organizing and packing was completed when everybody else in the house slept.

I remember making the conscious decision sometime in early December to forego the Christmas tree and holiday cards.  I was too exhausted.  I thought I was at peace with this decision but was haunted by the nagging thought, “Kermit’s First Christmas.”  The voice in my head got louder and louder every time I went to the mailbox filled with holiday cards or opened my email and received discounts from online card makers.

By mid- December,  I resolved to pull a few all-nighters to get what needed to be done.  I kept telling myself, “I can do this.”   The holiday card including a series of 12 photos was completed in one night and it took another 3 nights of compiling everybody’s current addresses.  Decorations were purchased online.  I broke my personal vow not to pay for express shipping.  Thank goodness I did or else everybody would have received a card in mid January instead of December 26.

It makes me smile when I go to a friend’s house/ apartment and see our card hanging on their wall or when we receive compliments from our friends.  I feel like our card served as a conversation starter among our peripheral friends, too.  It was so nice to catch up with them.  Mostly, I am so glad I have something to show Kermit when he gets older.

A little bit of effort goes a long way.

-Jeanne Oh 

BFL – Bradley Wisk

We sat down with Bradley Wisk, a vocal consultant offering services throughout the nation and via Skype for students of all ages and abilities.

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Q: How did you get your start in music?
A: I was in my senior year of high school and needed an extra credit. My advisor suggested I take choir. At that point, I decided to audition nationally for undergrad, thus starting my life in music.

Q: What kind of experience do you have?
A: I have my undergrad in music from Indiana University and my Master’s of Music from Manhattan School of Music. I have studied with the top vocal teachers in the country and have had the opportunity to perform in various venues all over the world. I’ve performed for tens of thousands of people as well as for small, intimate productions. I also have experience with professional studio work, live television, and reality tv.

Q: What style of music do you find your students are most interested in?
A: Because each student has their own unique interest, I provide vocal guidance for multiple genres of music. However, I do believe that vocal technique comes from a classical foundation.

Q: What does a typical session look like?
A: I first focus on breathing techniques, which helps to calm and relax the student. Then we move to a series of vocal exercises to gain flexibility and range. We work through their repertoire, focusing on difficult and problematic areas. We also talk through their personal performance goals and make a plan to achieve them.

Q: How do you help your students get over any insecurities about their vocals?
A: I tell my students that they must trust what they’ve prepared, and that in the moment, they must let it all go. Through their hard work and technique, success will come.

Q: What does it feel like to see a student have a breakthrough moment?
A: It’s thrilling for me as an instructor, but what’s more important is watching the students reaction as they have their own “ah-ha” moment.

Q: Anything else you want us to know?
A: What’s amazing about teaching, is truly understanding the learning experience and knowing that the experience is never over.

Want to learn more? Visit Bradley’s website or shoot him a quick email!

BFF – When to Give Your Nanny a Raise?

There are so  many factors that go into setting a nanny salary, and each nanny/family pair is truly different.  However, we’ve compiled some industry standards to help you make your decision.

Nannies are an integral part of your family’s life. A great time to discuss raises is during your nanny’s yearly review, when you get the chance to talk about any changes, feedback as well as rewarding your nanny for her hard work.

Mary Poppins

Generally speaking, most families reward their nannies with a raise each year. Your nanny may seem like a member of the family, but remember she is also a professional. Typically, a recommended salary increase is the rate of inflation plus anywhere from 0-3% depending on performance. If your nanny is now taking care of an extra baby, a pet, or changed her list of duties, make sure to take that into consideration as well.


Another good time to discuss a raise is if your nanny received additional education or certifications from her initial hire. This will make her more attractive to other families and more valuable to yours, so make sure you are compensating her accordingly.

The thought of spending more money each year for your nanny can be daunting, especially if it’s not in your budget. But remember, your nanny has expenses too and inflation and the economy do affect her. Sometimes families elect to give the nanny a bigger bonus at the end of a year, increase her vacation days, or pay more into her health insurance. The important thing is having a frank conversation with your nanny and being upfront about what your family can offer her.

-Lindsay Bell Wallace, President and Founder, and Lauren DiRuggiero

WWW – Calling Out Sick

I am not sure what feels worse being sick or calling out sick. It is that time of year and colds, flu and illness will happen! The weather is changing and the heat is on whether you want it or not. No one likes being sick, but it is inevitable. Being sick as a nanny can be emotionally and financial stressful too.

Childcare providers know their families depend on them to be at work and when they cannot make it due to an unexpected illness it can cause havoc on the family finding last minute coverage. It is a hardship for everyone. How can childcare providers and families work together to make sure the nanny can take time off for illness without the emotional or financial stress? How can families get the coverage they need? There is a solution!!!

Bell Family Company offers on demand, last minute sitters for many reasons, but in particular when a family needs a sitter fast. It is easy to register and get linked with a variety of experienced vetted sitters. Every BFC sitter is hand-selected, college-educated and undergoes a rigorous interview and background check process.


I am grateful for the amazing families I have worked with over the years that understood the importance of health and overall well-being. In a standard US work week an employee works 40 hours. A typical full-time NYC nanny works 50-60 hours a week (10-12 hour days) plus the commute home. Does your nanny’s compensation package include, paid sick days, personal days, holiday’s etc. vacation? I know that not all childcare providers are afforded these benefits, but it definitely creates positive morale in the workplace/home. Have a conversation with your nanny/sitter and set up some healthy boundaries and strategies so families can have enough time to line up alternative coverage and providers can take the time they need to rest and get better without the stress of missing work and possible financial burden it may cause. It will make a huge difference in the long run if everyone feels valued!


 -Ali Sheppard, MSW 

BFL – ELF Tennis

ElfTennis was founded by native New Yorker, Esther Forrester.  She has been teaching tennis for more than 15 years and holds PTR certifications.  All of ElfTennis’s instructors are former collegiate tennis players, who are also certified.  Check out our Q&A session with Esther and learn more about ElfTennis:

What made your decision to coach/teach children?

I’ve wanted to coach tennis since I first started playing. I would create imaginary teams when I was in high school and make up stories about them.  Tennis made a tremendous impact in my life, it gave me an outlet for using my energy and meeting others and I wanted to be able to provide that means to today’s youth. In addition, I knew I could do it well ( that never hurts).

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What are the positives and negatives about your business?

One positive is that  we are small and accessible, everyone feels like they matter, people are more than just a number and everyone’s concerns are attended to. In addition, we are in many locations and always looking to expand so chances are we are near most places in NYC. Furthermore, all of our instructors are certified and former collegiate players. We offer a junior team for intermediate players.
The negatives are that we don’t have  a permanent home that is our own ( we rent spaces) but we are working on that and looking for a space and an investor. Feel free to email if you are interested in such an endeavor.

What do you find most rewarding about your business?

I really enjoy the fact that I get to implement my own ideas about coaching and see the tangible effects.  I’m always interested in doing things right and take children and tennis seriously, I have some unique ways to teaching such as using songs to teach concepts and motivate and playing fantasy games.

Thanks so much, Esther, for the sneak peak into ElfTennis! For more information, visit the ElfTennis website.

BFF – Welcome to Our Home

2014 brought a lot of new changes to Bell Family — we increased our   set of services to include nanny placement and are expanding not only in NYC, but in other cities as well.  Naturally, we needed a bigger headquarters for our growing business. Since you welcome our sitters, nannies, and caregivers into your homes with open arms, we figured we’d give you a little tour of ours:

The view from our new office window

The view from our new office window

What better place to house us than Grand Central?

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We are so excited to continue growing and have the space to do so. We love when our sitters and families drop in, so feel free to give us a call and stop by! You’ll find us in the middle of an open concept office filled with other tech start ups and right across the hall from Facebook!

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Looking forward to another great year filled with growth!

-The Bell Family

WWW – Snow Days

Snow days are one of kids’ favorite things.  However, they can leave working adults in a panic.  We have a few tips to help your family weather the winter storms.


  • 1. Make a plan with your family:  If the weather forecast calls for snow or bad weather, make a plan on who will stay home with the lil’ ones, if that is an option.  It’s equally important for families who have divorced parents or have multiple homes to make an emergency plan about where kids will go on a snow day. This will ensure that your day goes smoothly.
  • 2. Network:  Kids love playdates, and whats better than a full-day playdate? Network with neighbors or friends who’s parents don’t work or who have a full-time nanny.
  • 3. Talk to HR:  Sometimes, HR departments can be surprisingly flexible if you tell them your situation.  Some companies will let employees telework or come in later to give them time to find a childcare option.
  • 4. Call BFC:  The best back-up plan is to not need one. BFC caregivers are flexible and more than willing to help you out in a pinch.  Most of our sitters are matched up with local families, so even in a snowstorm, they will be able to make it to your house. Plus, BFC sitters will do anything with your kids from sledding to hot cocoa making.

BFL – Shuddle

Services like Lyft and Uber have been in the news a lot lately for their ease and convenience. However, these apps are primarily targeted at adult riders.

In comes Shuddle, a family business that takes kids to and fro with highly trained teachers, nannies, and caregivers behind the wheel. Shuddle is insured to transport minors and boasts around 100 drivers right now, but is planning to expand.

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What we love is you can request Shuddle rides up to weeks ahead, ensuring there will be a driver available to get your child to practice, a piano lesson, or a playdate. The driver and your child both have to know the password you pick out before the ride starts, ensuring it is really your driver picking them up. Also, thanks to a real-time GPS tracker, you can can watch the car move throughout town and both you and Shuddle HQ gets notified once the kids are dropped off.

Look out for this awesome service as it expands to NYC!

WWW – 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. Arbonne also offers a full range of non-toxic baby products for the lil’ ones. A study conducted by 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

As a woman with a full-time job, I don’t have the time to experiment with costly and time-consuming skin care methods to find a product that works and is healthy for my skin.

However, my experience with the Arbonne anti-aging kit was simple and effective. 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 and receive 35% off your first purchase!

-Hannah, BFC’s In-House Coordinator of Sitter Services