Tag Archives: BFL

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!

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!

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!

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/ 

BFL – Sleep Training

Did anyone read the NY Times article on March 26th about Sleep Training at 8 weeks: Do you have the Guts? Tribeca Pediatrics, one of the largest pediatric practices in NYC, swears by it. They started the sleep training concept at 4 months, then 3, then again at 2 months to prove the theory. Obviously just because one way works for one family, doesn’t mean it works as well for the next. Do keep that in mind!

I’m not sure if I think I will take the plunge at 8 weeks. From my experience as a childcare provider & running a sitter and nanny placement service for nearly 10 years, I believe there is a fourth trimester for both the mother & baby. I’ve interviewed countless mothers during that period, which if you’re lucky is 3 months after the baby’s birth. From the mothers that I have spoke to, they are not ready to let go & it doesn’t seem like the babies are either. I do think the babies sense their mother’s anxiety, so if the mother is upset or nervous or simply not ready, the baby will sense that & react in the same manner.

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However, there is this thing called sleep that we all need. So I completely understand wanting to start at 8 weeks if the parents need sleep as they may have to get back to work and cannot function without it. Talk with your partner on what you are ready for, and then try it out. Just be ready when its go time!

-Lindsay Bell

BFL – Baby Bumps

It’s no secret that my husband and I are trying to get pregnant. This has been my master plan since I realized I could have my own baby. It is definitely an inexplicable feeling once you are ready…really ready!

Even though I already feel immersed in the mommy/baby world, I am still constantly learning new things. There are so many resources out there, but one convenient spot I like to get new information from is The Bump. They do a good job of informing, and I like how the content is non-judgmental, just recommendations.Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 12.03.40 AM

Every woman’s body and life is so different between different stress levels, financial means, hours worked, etc.; I think its fair to say that each woman makes the best decisions for her body and should follow her gut. However, there are some generally accepted practices surrounding pregnancy. I knew when a woman is trying to conceive that she should start taking prenatal vitamins, have one glass of wine instead of two, not smoke, lay off tuna, etc.

Here is a shortened list (because I know you don’t have time to read an epic article, nor do I have time to write it!) of what The Bump recommends paying attention to  as you prepare:

  1. Caffeine in moderation
  2. Don’t smoke. (I don’t know anyone that does anymore anyway…)
  3. Repeat: have one glass of wine instead of two
  4. Keep your weight stable
  5. Did you know there are foods that make you most fertile? This one was my favorite
    -Men: eat ketchup, lycopene is your friend!
    -Ladies: eat spinach, you want lots of folic acid
  6. Make a dentist appointment and keep it!
  7. Be active, but don’t overdo it. Try 5-10 minutes of yoga every morning; even something small helps!
  8. Don’t drink out of plastic bottles (as I have a plastic bottle in front of me)…I just threw it away.
  9. DON’T STRESS!! I have not figured out this solution yet, but I’ll get back to you
  10. High mercury fish-just say no!

 

-Lindsay Bell Wallace is Bell Family Company’s fearless leader. Lindsay has been a mom-in-the-making since childhood, where she was charged with babysitting her four younger sisters. Lindsay and husband Brad are hoping to add a new member to the Bell Family soon! 

BFL – Annie Riley Fashion

Sometimes being a mom can be equated with less than glamorous looks (think: diaper bags, sweatpants, and sneakers), but we say it doesn’t have to be that way! One of our Chicago sitters, Annie Riley, shares some awesome fashion for moms. Annie has been featured on WGN Chicago, Fox News Chicago, and Fox Magazine addressing “how to make the most of your wardrobe” and “what styles to look for when shopping.” Annie popped in to style five weekday looks for moms:

Day 1: Toss on your favorite dress with a blazer, patterned scarf with a heel or bootie.

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Day 2: This is a fun way to layer with a short-sleeved sweater, your favorite blouse, a patterned scarf (pattern on pattern is OK), a skirt with heels or booties.

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Day 3: This is a great way to be warm enough with the transition into Spring – pairing a patterned top under a tweed blazer, camel colored pants with a heel or flat.

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Day 4: Now that Spring is nearing, you can try this look without tights and just your favorite tall boot or bootie – go monochromatic with an oversized top and pencil skirt.

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Day 5: A patterned blouse adds a funky flair with a textured pant and a blazer-pair with a fun earring or necklace, roll up the sleeves a bit with a heel, bootie, or oxford.

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-Annie credits her love of fashion and the arts to her Great Grandma Breed. She has carried “Grandma Breed’s” vibrant spirit and passion from her days after school with her grandma into her adult life and career. While obtaining her BA in Psychology at Loyola University, she worked for Anthropologie and the Chicago based Julie Rowland Showroom.  During her studies obtaining her MA in Counseling; Art therapy, she worked at J Crew for 6 years both in Chicago and New York City. While in New York, she styled for J Crew’s Blog and was featured in J-Crew training videos to demonstrate styling tips for other associates. Annie has also worked as a stylist on commercials for Verizon, Yoplait, Mercedes, John Varvatos, and others.  

BFL – St. Patrick’s Day in the City

St. Patrick’s Day is a fun holiday celebrated around the world. Everyone loves leprechaun coloring books, green top hats, Lucky Charms, and of course, green food coloring in everything!

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The big to-do in NYC is the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, but there are plenty of other activities as well if you can’t make that!

When in doubt, green food coloring can be added to almost anything to make a festive treat! Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day week!  

BFL – Sugarfina

This week, we are all expecting some spring-like temperatures, which only makes us dream of warm summer days and, of course, the sound of ice cream trucks driving around.

We may not be able to make summer come any faster, but we can recommend an awesome way to quench your adult sweet tooth without chasing down the truck for two blocks before it stops.

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Sugarfina is a chocolate-making company based in California (don’t worry, they ship). They carry treats everyone big and small will enjoy. We’re impressed with the wide array of treats they offer; from chocolates to champagne gummy bears to custom treats, Sugarfina seems to have something for every occasion.

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What we love most though, is the personal touch they add to every package. Each package that gets shipped out includes a hand written note; receipts and shipping labels are emailed separately, so all that’s left is a personalized package for you or a friend.

Check them out if you’re in need of a gift idea, personalized treats, or just want a sweet snack!