Tag Archives: parents

Meet Michal Berg CEO & President of Spirituality for Kids International, Inc.

We recently had the opportunity to partner with CEO & President of Spirituality for Kids (SFK), Michal Berg, whose nonprofit organization is helping serve children, parents, and professionals all around the world. Learn more about her organization and journey through our Q&A below.

Q: What are you doing differently, or how have you adjusted your program to adapt in the COVID-19 world?

A: SFK courses were always available as online self-paced courses. When quarantine started, many parents that otherwise didn’t feel they had the time, enrolled in the kids’ online courses and our parenting course. We offered a significant discount for all our programs between 35%-75% besides our ongoing scholarship program, where we provide financial assistance to anyone who requires it. We also launched a FREE Daily Tune-In inspirational email and a weekly Family Activity to help parents and caregivers navigate these trying times.

Q: SFK offers online courses for both children and parents to do in their home, which is crucial in today’s environment. What are some courses children and parents can sign-up for, and what can they expect to learn in those courses?

A: Our award-winning online Spiritual Social-Emotional Education Program includes two learning levels: Winning in the Game of Life™ and Exploring the Journey of Life™ are suitable for children 8-12 years old. Children learn how to manage their emotions, boost their confidence, ignite their compassion, and understand cause and effect, the power of their words, among many other concepts through engaging videos and characters, fun activities, art projects, and journaling. 

Our Parenting course, Parenting the soul, takes parents on a personal journey to discover their parenting manual within and offers insights and easy, practical tools on how to best support their children while practicing self-love and self-care. You can learn more about our courses at https://courses.sfk.org/.

Q: What things as a mother to 5 children (hold for applause) have you learned that you have carried over to your SFK work?

A: One of the greatest lessons I learned as a parent to many children is that it is not all up to me. Each child is so different – how they experience life, how they react to situations, what they believe about themselves, and their level of consciousness. And my primary role is to love and support them, to my best ability, on their unique journey. Their successes are not mine, as well as their failures. As parents, we tend to take everything personally, learning to set ourselves free from that mindset, not only makes our lives more peaceful but also giving the necessary space for our children to be and evolve.

Q: For those families who already have busy schedules and are unable to attend courses, how can they still give back and support SFK? (hint: DONATE)

A: SFK is a 501(c)3 educational non for profit organization with an international reach with our outreach initiatives in more than 21 countries outside the US and scholarships. You can help by donating at https://sfk.org/donate/.

Michal Berg, CEO & President, SFK

My Childcare Agency Is Open, Why Are Decision Makers’ Minds Closed?

Care taking has been ingrained in me since I was a child. I became a big sister when I was one and have been a caretaker ever since. From my early teens through my twenties, I babysat for everyone I could – and I loved it. That is why I started my childcare placement agency Bell Family Company, 10 years ago in New York City.

Now, I am a mother of two boys under four years old and run my small business from my home. Like many moms, I am juggling my day-job with ‘daycare and school’ for my children in our “new normal” resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every day there is a new article about how working from home with children is an impossible task. There is, “As Companies Reopen, Employees Scramble to Find Child Care” and “If America Doesn’t Invest in Childcare, Who Will Watch Our Kids When We Go Back to Work?” Reliable and flexible childcare was necessary before this pandemic struck, now it’s proven to be imperative.

While my agency concentrates on the tri-state area, there are agencies all over the United States that can assist employers big and small in referring help. There is not a one-size fits all approach, so a variety of service options must be available to working parents. This is a vital benefit, and employers and the government must step in to help.

In my endless attempts to reach out to employers big and small to educate them on our services and how we can help, the story is the same. I usually speak with a woman in Human Resources and she gets it immediately. Then the conversation begins to breakdown;
“It will be tough to get past the board”, or “There is too much red tape or liability involved”, blah blah blah … nothing gets done. And here we are, amidst a global pandemic in a country that is supposed to thrive on innovation, entrepreneurship and the American dream; and the problem is what do we do with our kids?

Employers and/or the government need to build a committee or board full of employees that are parents. The committee needs to come up with a list of agencies and other resources to refer to their families. Employers and the government need to then build a benefits program or package including ways that the company will help the parent (i.e., provide reimbursement on childcare hours).

The business community and government must work together to put forth viable solutions that support American families. If employers truly care about their employees and want to retain top talent, then they must offer modern-day caretaker policies that are flexible, reliable and affordable. If governments want thriving families and a strong economy, they must act as well.

The time for change is now and I am here to help. Please contact me  if I can be of service in anyway.

Written by Lindsay Bell, Small Business Owner & Working Mom

From Toddlers to Teens: Parenting Advice for Every Stage of Life

We recently teamed up with Kristin Louis, writer and researcher of all things parenthood on parentingwithkris.com. Over the years, Kristin has done A LOT of late-night Google searching trying to figure out how to be a better parent. Not all of the resources she found were useful; most consisted of the same things people read everywhere. So, she decided to compile a list of parenting resources that offer real, useful advice for raising children well through every age and stage. Read below for the advice she provided our Bell Family readers.

Becoming a parent is often one of the most rewarding and challenging decisions in a person’s life. Raising children is never easy, but it is undeniably fulfilling. From your child’s first steps to the day they get their driver’s license, watching them grow up is a beautiful journey unlike any other. There is no handbook for parenting — every child is a little different, and no two families are exactly alike. However, there are a few general suggestions that are applicable to most children. These essential parenting tips can help you guide your child through each stage of life.

Infancy

During the baby years, your child needs an established routine — and according to Nanit, sticking to a specific bedtime routine is especially crucial. A daily routine will help you both sleep through the night, get your baby used to eating at the same times each day and help them feel more comfortable around other people with regular social outings. It will also make planning your week much simpler and less stressful.

As a new parent, getting into a routine will make navigating this stage of life much easier — yes, life with a baby will always be somewhat unpredictable, but a baby with a settled routine will be much happier and healthier than a child whose day-to-day life is relatively unstable.

Toddlers

Toddlers are often strong-willed and mischievous. The phrases “the terrible twos” and “three-nager” can certainly worry parents! When your child is a toddler, it’s important to stick with consistent and effective disciplinary habits.

This is the stage when children begin to learn a sense of morality and distinguish right from wrong. They will often try to push boundaries to see how much they can get away with. As a parent, it’s important to teach them that these actions have consequences, without being too strict and harsh. Remember, it’s not about taking out your frustration or merely punishing your toddler — it’s also about helping them learn important lessons and showing them that we need to treat people the way we would want to be treated. It’s a balancing act.

Teenagers

Teenagers have a reputation for being rebellious — it’s a natural part of growing up. However, youthful recklessness can also lead to negative outcomes. As a parent, you may be concerned about your teen’s safety. You can take steps to safeguard your house by locking up the liquor and medicine cabinets. If you’re not particularly tech-savvy, you can hire a professional to set up parental controls and other security measures on your home computer.

Worried about where your teen is running off to at night? Installing motion-activated security cameras can give you peace of mind (hiring installers costs $1,473 on average in NYC). Yes, these actions may sound a bit extreme, but you can decide what is necessary to ensure your child’s safety (and your home’s security).   

Leaving the Nest

When your child gets older, they might leave for college, but they still need your love and advice. According to Grown and Flown, scheduling weekly phone calls will help you stay in touch while allowing your child to have their own space. As your child grows up and enters adulthood, you can cultivate a friendship based on mutual respect. And as they move through life and achieve their dreams, you can look back on their childhood with pride.

Parenting is always an adventure, and some days you’ll feel like your family is on an emotional rollercoaster. No parent ever has all of the answers, but understanding your child’s changing needs through every phase of life will help you raise them with confidence and compassion. 

Looking to hire a babysitter or nanny in NYC? Bell Family Company provides fully vetted on-demand babysitting, including childcare for when a child is sick, full and part time nannies, baby nurses, temporary care and more! Learn why BFC is the best NY Childcare Agency servicing the tri-state area. BFC is the best in the business! Contact us today to hire a nanny in NYC or to book the best babysitters in NYC!

The Best Gift for Moms & Dads!

Want a holiday, birthday, baby shower or just a friendly “I care” gift idea for your spouse, mom and dad friends or family member?  What do parents need and want most of all … time off! Put money towards a Bell Family Gift Certificate to help with membership fees, a full or part time nanny placement, baby or night nurse placement or hours towards babysitting.

“I’m a new mom. Two of my friends were members of BFC, and each of them gifted me gift cards – it was amazing. I’m now a member myself!”

Of course the Bell Family team fully supports parent-time! The same old gifts can become rather dull, and if you’re anything like our mom team members, you want to pick out those things yourself. That’s part of the fun, right? We can make all arrangements for your friend or family member – no stress!

“One of my mom friends was struggling and needed a break. I sent her a $75 BFC gift card and she appreciated it so much!”

Simply contact us to purchase a gift certificate and indicate the amount you’d like to purchase. We will provide you with an e-card to print or email to the recipient. Happy gifting, readers!

Written by Taylor Bell, Marketing & Social Media

Connect With Local Moms and Dads Through The Parent Collective

Expecting moms and dads often need one common thing – support. The Parent Collective provides just that by helping to establish connections with other expecting parents through classes that minimize stress, and ultimately, make people feel like they are in this together.
We had the opportunity to partner with Jessica Hill, one of the Co-Founders of The Parent Collective, to learn a little bit more about her, her company, and what makes TPC so special.
Q: What inspired or influenced you to create The Parent Collective? 
A: I decided to start TPC back in 2016 after hearing from countless friends that they spent their early months and years with their baby feeling lonely and isolated. Because I was lucky enough to have my boys in the UK and benefit from the NCT, my experience was wildly different, and I wanted to give a similar feeling of support through education to others. Quite simply – I don’t know how I would have gotten through the early months of my first baby without my village of NCT moms who got me out of the house, listened to me vent when I was struggling, swap strategies for dealing with the latest feeding/sleeping/illness issues that crop up, and filled countless afternoons with conversation and companionship. Everyone needs that support and I hope that TPC will fill this need.
Q: What are the variety of classes that you offer and what can parents expect to learn in each of them? 
A: We offer a prenatal class series for expectant parents and after babies arrive, we offer CPR & First Aid classes, postpartum support groups as well as a wide range of workshops and online content developed in response to participant questions.
Our prenatal class, which is our core offering, is a 4-week series and in it, participants will discuss:

  • Session 1: What to expect in labor and delivery
  • Session 2: Relaxation techniques to help you through the early stages of labor, options for pain management and C-sections
  • Session 3: Breastfeeding and bottle-feeding information and advice, including latching on, pumping, milk storage, getting on a feeding schedule, and how to manage problems that may arise
  • Session 4: Newborn care

Q: How are your classes unique to the classes at my local hospital?
A: The Parent Collective offers a new style of prenatal class which is designed to provide evidence-based information, foster open, judgment-free discussion and establish friendships among couples living in close proximity and due at the same time. We see ourselves as an alternative to other childbirth education classes and hope that couples taking the series will develop a social network through participation, gather playmates for the little ones on the way and of course, provide that crucial support system that parents so need.
I am always banging on about how important it is to have friends with babies the same age as yours. I absolutely realize that it is hard to make friends as adults but with pregnancy as the common thread, it can sometimes be easier. Mom and dad friends at every stage of the parenthood journey are super helpful, but friends who have kids the same age as yours are essential. No one can fully appreciate the daily trials of a newborn like your friend who is also navigating life with a newborn. From spilling preciously pumped milk to dealing with an explosive poo in-transit. When you are in it, these feel like total disasters. However, these stories will not elicit a visceral “gasp!” from a new parent, but rather a breath of relief as you realize another real person has experienced something similar – like, yesterday.
Parents need this camaraderie so you can enjoy/survive the early days (and hopefully beyond) together. Our classes allow parents to solidify these relationships before babies arrive, so you don’t have to work so hard once they do. You can already be texting from the hospital about the terrible food and a love you never thought possible.
Q: Who are some of the facilitators that women can expect to meet in your classes (background, experience, mission etc.)?
A: All of our facilitators are nurses and midwives who can offer our expectant parents an accurate picture of what to expect in the hospital. Most are also mothers who can provide that additional layer of support having experienced first-hand what a world-rocking experience having a baby can be. Here is the background of one of our facilitators as an example but you can view all of them here.
Allegra Gatti Zemel, RN, IBCLC
Allegra is a registered nurse, Internationally Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), and mother of three. She holds a BA in English from UC Berkeley in California as well as a BS in Nursing from Columbia University in New York City. Allegra has 13 years of experience in hospitals, classrooms, and in-home care and instruction around Maternal/Child Health and specifically breastfeeding. Allegra works to help each person feel equipped and ready for the wonder, transitions, and joy of a new baby with special attention to feeding and bonding.
Q: Where are your locations and how can someone sign-up to learn more about The Parent Collective or join a class? 
A: We currently host regular classes in Fairfield County, CT, Manhattan, Long Island, NY, Bergen County, NJ and we will very soon be launching in Westchester NY.
TPC will also soon be launching our prenatal series as a webinar. Watch this space!
To learn more, visit our website and sign-up for our newsletter, which offers information for expectant and new parents, as well as the opportunity to connect with parents who live local to you and have kids the same age.
Jessica Hill
Jessica Hill, Co-Founder of The Parent Collective
Written by Taylor Bell, Marketing & Social Media

Live Your Healthiest Lifestyle Through Chitta Wellness

We recently had the opportunity to partner with Roma van der Walt, Owner of Chitta Wellness, a personal and group training program that provides transformative tools to achieve your ideal body. Read our Q&A below to learn about her impressive journey, and how you can be on your way to living your healthiest lifestyle.

Q: What has your experience been in fitness and wellness, and what inspired you to start Chitta Wellness? 

A: My own experience in fitness has been as an athlete from a very young age. I started with horseback riding and track and field before I went to elementary school, by the end of fourth grade, I was competing and by 6th grade I took up the Modern Pentathlon. Modern Pentathlon is a beautiful sport because it combines some very technical sports like fencing, shooting and show jumping (horses) with very linear sports like swimming and running. I think being a multi-sport athlete is what I still use in my work with Chitta Wellness to make sure people don’t get bored in their training. You would be surprised how many non runners I was able to start running a bit and now they love it and send me photos from their holiday running trails. Just as one example.
I started Chitta Wellness because after almost a decade of sitting at a desk, I realized that it wasn’t for me and it was actually making me sicker. I developed anxiety and back issues. Now that I make my own schedule and work with people, I’m much happier and much more efficient when I do work on the computer.
I want to help people be happy and healthy and make wellness and fitness an integral part of their life, especially parents because children learn from experience from a very young age.

Q: Talk about the “three Ps” Chitta Wellness focuses on. What do each of these mean and what can someone expect to learn in each of these focus areas?

A: The three p’s are pre-conception, prenatal and postpartum fitness. Each of these phases is a special one in a woman’s and in a couple’s life. When a couple decides to conceive, there’s often a moment of “OH!”, our life is about to change. Parents strive to be healthier whether it’s the woman carrying the child or her partner. During pregnancy, the general advice from the medical field is limited to not doing too much but women aren’t sick, they are “just” pregnant and working out has proven to be very beneficial to both the mother and the baby. I think my son really liked it when I ran with him in utero. Postpartum is usually when parents run into a whole new set of problems. Personal time and fitness are a rare commodity and have to be juggled with childcare, so offering them workouts 1:1 and in groups that are at convenient times or where they can bring their children has always been something that I offer. Babies and children are welcome in my workouts and you would be surprised how well it works out (pun intended).

Q: Some people thrive with 1:1 training and others in group training. Does Chitta offer both? What kind of atmosphere is best for beginners?

A: Chitta Wellness offers both. Beginners are usually most comfortable 1:1 I have found, especially if they are pregnant or postpartum and then eventually they merge in to a group setting or they choose to work out with their partners. I love working with couples. It’s almost like therapy, just more fun. In my groups, I don’t discourage talking. I try to bop in and out of the workout and partner exercises without interrupting the flow of conversation too much. It’s cathartic, people want to exchange themselves and I have learned a LOT about child rearing, body issues during and post pregnancy and there’s alway a point in every workout where someone either cries or laughs and then gets uplifted by their peers. There’s nothing more beautiful for me than to see people come together that way!

Q: What are some key takeaways you hope to leave your customers with after a class or session?

A: Inclusivity, fun and wanting to come back. I don’t tolerate unfriendly behavior of participants towards each other. We are all busy and stressed and rather than taking that out on someone else (or me) I expect people to discuss it and maybe we can all help find a solution. I also hope to see all genders, ages, colors and denominations in my workouts because again, it teaches me and everyone else a ton to hear diverse viewpoints and it gives so much food for thought. Inclusivity in an age of social media and often upsetting global news day-to-day, that discourse is something we don’t get in too many areas of our lives. Or we simply don’t meet people outside of our immediate circle. In a workout we’re all exposed and have to face some insecurities so it’s very real. Ultimately what I have noticed and people in my workouts, is that most of us really strive for the same values in life for ourselves and our families. So for me, that’s incredibly reassuring to see.

To learn more about Chitta Wellness, visit their website!

Chitta-Wellness

Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

Parents of Newborns Are Exhausted – How Everyone Can Get More Sleep

Moms and dads alike suffer from a lack of sleep with newborns.

A mere 5 percent of parents with babies under six months old get the recommended eight hours of sleep each night. In fact, many aren’t even getting a few hours of uninterrupted sleep at night with 43 percent of new parents only getting an average of one to three hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Nighttime feedings, colic, diaper changes, and other needs can keep parents up at night. Even when the baby is sleeping, parents may lose sleep to other factors, including housework and worrying about providing a good life for their child.

Even for stay at home parents, the age-old advice of sleeping when the baby sleeps doesn’t actually happen: 41 percent say they can’t sleep during their baby’s naptimes.

New parents are so desperate for sleep that half of them would pay $100 or more for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. One in ten says they’d pay $1,000.

Healthy Sleep for the Whole Family

Sleep deprivation is a fact of life when you have a new baby. Sometimes, the only way out is through. Most babies start sleeping through the night by six months, so there is an end in sight. But there are ways to get better rest and improve the quality of your sleep in the early months with your child.

  • Practice healthy baby sleep habits. When your baby sleeps well at night, so can you. Start healthy sleep habits early, maintaining a consistent bedtime and naptime routine. Follow predictable patterns throughout the day, such as wake, eat, play, and sleep, so your baby learns that after playtime comes time to rest. Make bedtime more restful than naptimes, allowing household noise and light to persist during the day to reinforce daytime cues. At night, reinforce nighttime cues by keeping your baby’s nursery cool, dark, and quiet.

  • Say yes to help. Accept offers from friends and family members who want to help. Don’t be too proud to let someone bring dinner, or do your dishes or laundry, or just hold the baby while you take a quick nap or practice self-care.

  • Go to bed early. Don’t feel silly about going to bed when your baby does. Even if it’s 8 or 9 p.m., you may need those hours to fit enough sleep into your night.

  • Take shifts or alternate nights. When both parents can’t sleep through the night, everyone suffers. Uninterrupted sleep is best, so you’re able to get into deep, restorative sleep rather than shallow, choppy sleep that isn’t as restful. Try taking shifts, such as 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., then 2 a.m. to 6 a.m., with one partner on call to get up and tend to the baby’s needs for the entire shift while the other can sleep uninterrupted. Or, take the one night on, one night off approach so you can get a full night of uninterrupted sleep every other night. These approaches work best when the sleeping partner is isolated and able to rest without being disturbed.

Focus on your health. When you have a new baby, self-care can fall by the wayside. But it’s important to keep up with healthy habits including diet and exercise when you’re sleep deprived so you don’t fall into unhealthy patterns. Splurge on a new mattress and enjoy those few hours of sleep all the more. Make time to get exercise, such as walking with your baby in a stroller or carrier, and pay attention to what you’re eating. Casseroles dropped off by friends and family might be delicious, but take a break and have a salad or smoothie now and then so you’re not suffering from sleep deprivation along with poor dietary choices.
Sleep-help
Article written by the team at The Sleep Help Institute.

New York Baby Show Highlights

At the end of last month, the annual New York Baby Show concluded, where our very own, Lindsay Bell, was a guest speaker.
This year, the event racked up its biggest numbers yet with 5,000 families registered! At the two-day event, both expecting and new moms had the opportunity to walk around the show to discover new products, take in seminars on bump and baby, and check out fun attractions such as the Cannon Step-And-Repeat and the respites (like the DK Reading Rest Stop).
This is a great event hosted every year by New York Baby Show. If you haven’t gone yet, next year is your year!
To see additional photos and coverage from the event, check out their Facebook page!
NY Baby Show
Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

Training Thursday Vol. 7 – Swaddling

Welcome to volume seven of Bell Family’s video training series, where each Thursday we release a video to help coach sitters on an array of childcare topics.
This week we are featuring a training video on how to swaddle.
Swaddling is currently coached to new parents in most NYC hospitals. Swaddling starts when a baby is born, till approximately four months old. Swaddling’s purpose is to create a womb like experience for the baby to feel soothed. It’s important to make sure the cloth is not near the baby’s face – the cloth should be wrapped at the baby’s shoulders. Swaddling takes practice, so try it a few times by watching our video until you get it. Many swaddling blankets also have instruction on it. 
In a post published by The Bump, they talk about the best time to stop swaddling your baby.

“Parents and Caregivers should stop swaddling their babies by three or four months. At this time, most full-term infants are acclimated to life outside of the womb and no longer crave the constriction of a swaddle.”

Once the baby has reached the four month milestone, he/she takes to moving around in their sleep. Don’t be alarmed – this is good news, as it gives the baby exercise and helps them develop towards even greater milestones, such as crawling and walking.
For the full article on The Bump website, click here.
These videos are recommended to all BFC childcare providers to view for the latest techniques when caring for children. These videos were designed by our team comprised of long-time babysitters, full-time nannies, mothers, grandmothers, elementary educators, and social workers.
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Note: Always follow the family’s instruction and care methods, and keep the family informed of everything with their baby.  These videos are not required to view, but a simple recommendation. For more information or for questions, please contact our office or read our terms.

To Pacifier or Not to Pacifier

During our recent trip to Cleveland to visit my family, my husband was holding our son when the paci fell to the ground. My husband picked it up, stuck it in his mouth; sucked it and then put it in our baby’s mouth. Gross, I snapped in front of everyone (whoops)!

I know there are articles claiming this is good for the baby, but I just don’t like the idea after my husband throws back a coffee or a beer and then puts those tastes, smells, and germs in our baby’s clean mouth.

When I used to babysit, I remember dads doing this first thing in the morning with their coffee breath, and then it would smell the baby’s mouth.

I’m all about our baby being exposed to society. He’s traveled across five states, been held by friends, and has served as my sidekick to brunches, park visits, and grocery store runs. Somehow, none of these things compare to the exposure of a paci that’s been in mine or my husband’s mouth.

Here’s the article about parent germs providing helpful antibodies to the baby. There are studies to support that babies exposed to these antibodies have less allergies, eczema, etc.

Tell me what you think!

Cuddle
Written by our Founder & CEO, and new mom, Lindsay Bell!