I have worked with moms and families for over a decade, and without a doubt one of the most stressful experiences for them is finding new childcare. It’s harrowing to find the right person since there are clearly so many factors involved. Parents need to feel comfortable with that person spending lots of time with their children, and they also need to get along with them as adults. Safety is a huge factor, and it can be difficult to get information on their new person’s history or experiences with previous families.
We don’t necessarily connect with childcare companies as a fitness business, but I realized immediately when I found out about Bell Family Company that they provided a service that’s essential to our clients. They do lots of vetting of their providers, and I found out about them through trusted sources who had great experiences with them. We can’t guarantee every experience of course, but I love passing on information about great people when they can potentially help (and relieve the stress of) a huge group of our clients.
Meet Lindsay Bell below, founder of Bell Family Company – and a sweet person as well! Find out more about her company, some fun and interesting details about her personal history, and get some tips on what to look out for in a great childcare provider. We definitely recommend using her company, and we want to hear about your experiences with childcare in general. (DM us at @bodyconceptions on Instagram!)
Where did you grow up?
I grew up on a small farm outside of Cleveland, OH. My four sisters and I loved imaginative play; always developing towns down in our basement, making forts in the woods behind our home, setting up stores in our bedrooms selling items we crafted. We helped our mom and dad a lot with the home; picking veggies in the garden, feeding the cattle, mowing the lawn (when we were old enough), helping with laundry, etc. My parents taught us the perfect mix of responsibility and fun.
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into childcare.
I am the oldest of 5 girls so babysitting and leadership have been with me since I can remember. I am the product of two educators so I also get my love for caring and teaching children from my parents. I remember pitching my parents on allowing me to babysit my little sisters when I was 12 years old, I was very convincing and they let me! While I was in high school, I continued babysitting for local families on the weekends and after school. I got my first full time summer nanny job when I was 16. I worked 8-5pm M-F and cared for 3 girls 5, 6 and 7 years old. I loved it! Since that I babysat all the time, it must have been hundreds of families over the years and all ages newborn to teenagers.
Why did you decide to start your own company?
As a teenager I religiously read Glamour Magazine; that is how I learned and became obsessed with wanting to move to NYC. It wasn’t my grand plan to start a childcare placement agency, but I guess it was always in the cards for me to care for children. In 2005 I moved to NYC without a job and started babysitting for a few families on the UES. I kept at it adding my friends to babysit when I couldn’t and the families started to tell other families about my babysitters club. In 2008, I realized I had something special with my babysitters club and licensed it.
In my experience, finding the right person to watch their children – especially in a very involved way like nanny – can be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences as a mom. What advice would you give moms on what to look for in a childcare provider? What are the qualities they should find?
Connection between child and nanny is important, but even more so the connection between nanny and parents has to be special. I always advise moms to focus on the connection vs other matters that come secondary. Its like when you are dating and want to find a good match for yourself; you want to have that connection because you are going to work alongside this person for a long time, you are going to raise children with this person, you are going to share a home with this person, etc.
Nannies that report having an excellent connection with their employer tend to stay on longer term and become part of the family.
Every family wants the same basic things in a nanny; loving, caring, nurturing, etc. No one really comes to us and says, I really want to have a great connection with my nanny!
What should parents avoid? Are there any red flags you identify when you are hiring childcare professionals?
-Nannies that don’t respond quickly; just move on. If someone is interested they get back right away.
– The families that come to us all want nannies that are legal to work in the USA. If your family prefers this, be sure to review all documentation carefully.
-If you are a busy working parent and don’t have time to dedicate to a search, go with an agency. It’s so time consuming running a search, so if you have the means outsource it!!
There are other flags, but we have found they are on a case by case basis. For example you may not want to judge someone that doesn’t smile right away in an interview; maybe she is nervous or maybe in her culture she is not taught to do that. When we send a profile to a family we’ll communicate our experience with her thus far and give notes to prep the family on what to expect and ask about to further get to know her.
Could you tell us a little about Bell Family Company? What can parents expect when they want to work with you? What are the kinds of services that you provide?
I think the most special thing we offer is our on-call 24/7 concierge; during off hours a family can come to us anytime with a request! It’s basically a safety net for parents. So if your nanny gets sick or you have a last minute meeting you have to go to at night, families contact us and we get them booked with a sitter.
Our agency is family owned, and ran by mothers, former nannies/sitters and educators. We provide a white glove experience; so families are not just dealing with technology, they are speaking with a member of our team, talking through questions, getting guidance on situations, etc. Our agency provides all family care services; full and part time, baby nurses/night nurses, on-demand sitters (daytime, evening, weekend), Travel Sitters, Family Helpers, you name it we do it.
What’s one of the best pieces of advice you ever received about starting and running your own company?
“Not everyone is going to like you, and you are not going to like everyone.”
“Don’t worry about being loved by others, you want to be respected by them.”
The first quote is from a friend from college and the second is from my dad. Notice they are both focused on pleasing others😊
Is there anything else I haven’t asked that you would like to share? Anything unexpected or interesting about your background?
My husband was my first investor. He and I worked together for a year to take the business to the next level. My mother was my first employee and she is still with the company. I will forever be thankful to her for all her time and devotion to Bell Family Company. Oh last, but not least I’m the mother of two young boys!
More about Lindsay:
Lindsay Bell learned early on about responsibility and leadership as the eldest of five girls she grew up babysitting. After graduating from college in Ohio, Lindsay landed her first job in NYC with the Radio City Rockettes (one BIG family). She most notably executed the production of the 75th Celebration Edition of the Radio City Spectacular Book and coordinated The Rockettes in The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade all while babysitting for a handful of families on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. After three years, the babysitting became more and more demanding, and that is when she saw the opportunity and need for the business. Lindsay officially founded Lucky Lil’ Darlings in 2009, which at the time placed only on-demand evening babysitters, it was later renamed Bell Family Company in 2014 placing all family care needs. In 2013, Lindsay lead the acquisition of NY Nanny Center which merged with Bell Family. Bell Family currently with over 1,000 nannies and sitters, continues to expand and serve as a leader in the family care space. For the last 10 years Lindsay has focused on pursuing her passion for complete, trusted family care, establishing an unmatched network of reliable family care providers, interacting with America’s finest families and aligning herself with the best in family brands.