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The one thing you must do when choosing a babysitter

The founder of Curated Care shares her secrets to finding the right fit.

The one thing you must do when choosing a babysitter

Marlene Veloso is an award-winning writer and founder of the non-profit, Kids Research Center, a children's literacy non-profit. More recently, she launched Curated Care, an online marketplace that connects families with charismatic and skilled Kid Experts who care for and engage young children with unique activities. She lives in New York with her husband and three-year old daughter, Holland, and is expecting her second little girl in August.


This interview is part of our new new weekly series, MotherlyMakers, highlighting the inspiring women who are remaking our world.

Motherly: Was there a moment when you realized that you needed to start Curated Care?

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I was looking for a babysitter and wanted to find someone who would engage my daughter with activities. Nothing too serious—just some fun and unique activities that would captivate her young mind. Our kids spend a lot of time with babysitters, nannies, and teachers and I think, as parents, we feel better if we know that time is filled with quality experiences.

So I asked Holland’s teacher, Erin, if she knew anyone who did activities and babysat. It turns out that she got this request all the time. We realized there was a need—families wanted to incorporate activities like Spanish and music into regular babysitting time. So Erin and I teamed up and spent the next 10 months building Curated Care.

Motherly: What is the most important advice you would give another family when interviewing a caregiver for your child?

I would tell them to “trust their gut.” After an interview, I usually take a minute and ask myself what I feel about the person I just met. I ask myself is this someone I want my child spending time with? Is this person a good role model for my child? Did they give off a good vibe, look me in the eye and smile? Is this someone I want to interact with on a regular basis?

If I’m not close to 100% comfortable (can you ever be 100% comfortable as a parent?), I interview another person. It might take time but it also saves time. Because if I find the right person now, I won’t be starting a new search in six months.

Motherly: How has motherhood transformed your career?

Motherhood has broadened my view of the world and allowed me to see what’s really important to me. Work and career have always been important parts of my life. I strive for big things, but after I became a mom I realized that my career didn’t provide me with the same joy or bliss as motherhood. I still love my career and have the drive to succeed but I don’t take the “ups and downs” as seriously as I once did.

Motherly: What’s your secret to integrating work and family?

The most effective tool I’ve found to integrating work and family is to start my day with a list of priorities. There might be some minor tasks that I have to complete too but for the most part, I focus on two or three major priorities. Some days, it’s going with my mother to the doctor or prepping for my husband’s birthday party. Other days, it’s moving forward two or three projects at work. But stopping for a few minutes and asking myself what’s most important helps me feel like I accomplished something each day.

Motherly: What keeps you inspired and excited every day?

Oh, I like this question! For me, the answer is other people. When people around me are doing interesting things, it inspires me to do more. Actually, that’s been one of the benefits of working on Curated Care. Every day, I’m surrounded by Kid Experts who have a real passion for their work and area of expertise. Whether they’re coming up with creative titles, like “Spanish-Speaking Cupcake Master” or “I Heart Music and Kids,” or developing activities that will excite little ones, they inspire me to be more creative, more innovative, and think outside the box.

Motherly: What are your words of wisdom for other mothers wanting to turn their passion into a business?

Curated Care is my third entrepreneurial venture so I’ve gathered a lot of tips throughout the years. My favorite is “collaboration makes ideas better.”

I gained a lot of knowledge early on by talking to other moms about Curated Care. I learned what part of the business resonated with them, where we needed to refine our message, where we had gaps—yikes! I also found people to help me build the company and learned to be flexible with the original idea. When we start a business, we usually have a specific goal or vision in mind. But as entrepreneurs we need to be flexible, listen to our customers, and pivot to meet their needs. You know, Curated Care started off with a traditional subscription model but after talking to families we learned that they didn’t want to be locked into a monthly or annual subscription. They also wanted an easy way to pay for child care sessions online so we changed our business model. It was scary! It meant more money and a later launch date, but we really believe in the product and the feedback we were getting from families so we went for it.

Motherly: What are your big dreams for Curated Care?

I want to take Curated Care nationwide. I want to share what we started in New York with families and kid experts across the country and offer better child care options to families everywhere.

Motherly: Who is your #momcrush?

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of articles about The Honest Company and I’m impressed by what Jessica Alba has built. She has always represented a strong, fierce woman—that’s the type of character she plays. But now, we’re seeing her as a strong, fierce leader and mother. Her company has given parents more time and more peace of mind by being a one-stop shop for healthy living. She’s personally made it easier for me to find products that are safe for my family.

I also like that she gives back to the community. It’s something that we talk a lot about at Curated Care—we plan to develop a social responsibility program that helps families and gives all children access to great programs and activities.

Motherly: What does “Motherly” mean to you?

To me, “Motherly” means much more than taking care of your own children. It means being “Motherly” to the world, to someone else’s children, to your family and friends, to a perfect stranger. It also (and probably more importantly) means being “Motherly” to yourself, being that voice that says you did great, I’m proud of you, or this too shall pass. It means going to a yoga class, reading a book, or getting a manicure because it makes you feel good. The feeling of contentment is contagious. If you’re happy, your whole family is happy, too.

By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.

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Hands-Free Pumping Bra

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Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!

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Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.

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Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌

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Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.

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Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.

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Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.

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Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.

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Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

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