Lauren Mansell is founder and CEO of Hello Sitter and mother to four year old Ady. Lauren was inspired to start Hello Sitter from her own experience sourcing childcare in New York, and is deeply involved in every aspect of the company--from fielding customer service inquiries to writing the company blog to using the app to book sitters for her daughter Ady. Prior to founding Hello Sitter, Lauren worked in the fashion industry, and her eye for style is apparent in the simple but beautiful design of Hello Sitter’s app and website. Lauren holds a degree in English and Linguistics from Queen Mary University in London. She is a firm believer in the importance of me-time and spontaneity for parents and families, and aims to bring flexibility and comfort to parents across New York City with Hello Sitter.
One of the reasons we adore Hello Sitter is because it gives parents the gift of time, and helps them to be both parents and their own person. Tell us more about turning your dream into a reality.
Hello Sitter came from a personal need. Prior to Hello Sitter I worked in fashion but I found it difficult, as my daughter was so young and I felt I was missing out on her growing up. I decided I would pursue a business of my own so I would be creating something and also have the ability to schedule it around my family. Whilst exploring different business ideas I had terrible trouble finding sitters in general and then even when I did find them I did not feel that they were engaging with Ady in the way I wanted. As a result, Hello Sitter was born.
My dream was to not only eliminate the stress that came with trying to find a sitter but also the ‘parent guilt’ we get when we leave our children.
I couldn’t understand why there wasn’t an on-demand app that lets you instantly book fully vetted sitters that are matched to your children so I set about building it! Safety was one of the most important aspects to me, which is why each of our sitters go through a rigorous application, including an in-person interview, extensive background check, providing 3 references and a social media sweep. I am really proud that we went down this route and it is what differentiates us from the other offerings in the market.
Describe the Hello Sitter community.
Our parents believe in last minute invitations and impromptu plans. In me-time and we-time. They are parents but they are people too with jobs and responsibilities and friends and hobbies.
They believe in spontaneity and in saying YES. Yes to being present in whatever they are doing - whether that’s being at home, at work, on the go or on the town.
Our sitters all adore children and whether it is their full time job, the focus of their studies or in addition to their career they do it because they love it. They give our families the freedom to be the best parent and their own person at the same time by being respectful and understanding, encouraging you to let go with the knowledge that everything will be just fine.
Are there any parenting clichés that you wish we, as a culture, would let go of?
“It’s just a phase” Doesn’t help in the moment even if it is true. Plus they go through ‘phases’ every year so you are perpetually in a phase - parenting can just be hard sometimes so let’s just accept that.
What were you like as a kid?
I have a terrible memory (and I’m old sooo) so I enlisted help from my mama. She has always been my biggest supporter so she is a good person to turn to for compliments!
“You were very clever and eager to learn - asking questions or researching until you understood. You gave 100% at all times and would make your own decision regardless of what the people around you were doing. You had vision and knew what you wanted to achieve and would strive to reach it. You saw making a mistake as a way to learn”
Isn’t my mom the cutest?
I definitely like to feel as if I am succeeding and my way of dealing with this is to study hard. In secondary school (the English version of high school) I remember telling all my friends that I could no longer sit with them unless they were going to pay attention to the teacher. I spent lunch breaks in the lead up to exams with the teachers and arranged study groups outside of class. I used to stick up flash cards all over my parents house so I was learning something wherever I walked.
What role did play have in your childhood? Were there any games that you made up, stories you’d tell, or favorite stuffed pals that you loved.
I had a favorite stuffed animal (that I still have - sshhh!) that I could not sleep without - she came everywhere with me. I loved imaginary play, which Ady does too and I remember playing Mommies and Daddies a lot- there were a lot less tears when it was make-believe!
Let’s talk about raising your lovely daughter Adrienne for a second. What have been the surprises—both terrific and trying—about parenting?
Adrienne is the sweetest and most caring little girl but she is also incredibly independent and strong-minded. Her personality is a real mix of both me and my husband but my husband's traits are much more prominent and so that is trying in itself - I have them both to deal with now!
The most surprising aspect of parenting is the overwhelming emotions that come with it, you try to imagine the love you will feel but you never quite understand until it is real. Plus the other feelings that come along - how proud you are of this little person (sometimes I just want to squeeze her!), how frustrated I can sometimes feel, fear of them getting hurt (emotionally and psychically), how angry I can sometimes feel (she is an expert at pushing my buttons!) and a whole array that often change day to day.
What are your favorite Rose & Rex toys?
Everything - seriously I want it all. If we have to choose I will let Adrienne do the talking - “mouse, people, carrot”. Translation = Ady’s favorite toys are the Maileg mouses - she just loves them and the Pebble people who she spends hours making up imaginary stories with in her apple house. She also adores the vegetable rattles (in particular the carrot!) even though they are meant for babies!
If you had an additional day between Saturday and Sunday, how would you spend it?
I would want to use it to do all the things I don’t have time to do - boring things like taking the dry cleaning and finally cleaning out my closet.
However, reality is this would not happen and instead I would use it with Ady strolling around the city and eating out and then complain the weekend goes too quickly and I get nothing done!
Okay, lightening-speed round! Ready, set go:
Chocolate or vanilla ice cream? Chocolate.
Early bird or night owl? Neither (yet I am up incredibly early and go to bed far too late - go figure!)
Heels or sneakers? Sneakers.
Books or movies? Books (I wish I had time to read them!)
Favorite color? Black.
Plate of French fries or slice of cake? Cake.
The super power you would want to have is? Invisibility.
You have an open plane ticket—where will you go? All around the world.