The Gerber Life Parenting Blog

Checklist

Use these checklists to make life easier, not harder

In today's high-speed world, there are so many things to remember. For example, what should you look for when purchasing a car seat for your child? What does each member of your family need to remember to pack for that summer vacation? Rather than trying to answer these questions without any extra assistance, turn to a tried-and-true method that's been helping parents for decades: the checklist. We'll be compiling our favorite and most useful checklists here, as a way to help you keep track of those easy-to-forget details.

  1. Simple Ways to Start Budgeting In 2022

    December 20, 2021

     

    “I don’t want to be better with money,” said no one ever. Whether you consider yourself a spender or a saver or somewhere in between, the odds are, you’d like to have money left over at the end of the day. Sixty-five percent of Americans are considering a financial goal for the new year, with forty-four percent saying that saving money is their number one financial resolution (and speaking of New Year’s resolutions, we have a few tips for making them stick).

     

    You might be thinking, “How does anyone get started with a budget? How do I save without giving up everything I like? How much should I be spending each month?” We’ll answer these questions in five steps.

     

    1. Define your saving goal.

    Are you planning a big purchase? Building an emergency fund? Paying down a credit card? Pick something you want to achieve in the next three months as a short-term goal, with a long-term objective. Knowing why you’re saving helps you strategize and stay motivated.

     

    2. Track your income and expenses.

    Look at your finances over the last three months and compare your take-home pay against your spending. Now separate your expenses between what’s fixed like rent and loan payments and what’s flexible, like food and clothing. The flexible expenses are where you’ll find opportunities to save. For more on how to save, check out our blog post on quick ways to cut back your budget.

     

    3. Set priorities to cut back on spending.

    If you’re a foodie, you may not want to give up dining out. If you’re training for a marathon, a gym membership might be a must-have. But you may be willing to cut back on subscriptions or new clothes. Moderation is key to living within your means without getting stressed.

     

    4. Pick a budgeting strategy.

    There’s more than one way to do it. You might have read about the 50/30/20 budget: 50% of our take-home income goes to “needs” like rent, gas, and groceries, 30% to savings and 20% to “wants” like new clothes or dinners out. Some people might consider the envelope system such as putting cash in envelopes marked “groceries,” “clothing,” “bills,” etc., and that’s all the entire budget for the month. There’s no set system that works for everyone so search around to find what’s best for you.

     

    5. Watch your spending and stay accountable.

    Using a budgeting website or app can help you stay organized by linking to your bank and credit card accounts, generating spending charts, and sending customized alerts. You could also enlist friends or family to help you stay accountable (and they’ll understand when you must decline dinner invites). Look for reputable websites, social media accounts and podcasts that specialize in personal finances. Finally, don’t forget to sign up for the Gerber Life Family Times Newsletter for money tips delivered to your inbox monthly.

     

    Ultimately, these are five ideas to help you get to a budget that works. It‘s about recognizing what you really need and putting your money towards what truly makes you happy. Best of luck in the New Year and keep checking this blog for more money tips!!

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    Categories: Helpful Checklist
  2. 10 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

    October 1, 2020

    If you’re like most people, you probably have a lot on your mind. From your daily responsibilities to everything that is happening in the world. That’s tough on your mental health. With World Mental Health Day on October 10th, this is as good a time as any to give yourself an emotional wellness check. Follow these 10 simple ways to make sure you and your loved ones are in a good place.

     

    1. Take a walk

    Be sure to take regular breaks and step outside, especially if you’re spending a lot of time on screens. Walking can help you feel more relaxed, confident and energetic. Moving around is great for both body and mind. Just remember to follow local public health regulations when you’re out.

     

    2. Eat well, sleep well

    Keeping up your physical health is important to your mental health and vice versa. Make it a point to eat fruits, vegetables, proteins rich in omega-3 fatty acids and challenge yourself to get to bed 30 minutes earlier than you normally do.

     

    3. Stay in touch with friends and family

    Are you talking with friends and family regularly? We can’t overstate the importance of having a support system, especially if you’re isolated from your loved ones. Simply having someone to listen to you can be incredibly empowering!

     

    4. Do something you’re good at

    Everyone needs a confidence boost now and then. Doing something that’s in your wheelhouse can give you a sense of achievement and remind you how much you contribute to the world.

     

    5. Do something nice for someone else

    When things are tough, every bit of positivity helps. Performing a good deed like helping a neighbor, supporting a worthy cause or even something as small as complimenting a stranger, can give you a sense of purpose.

     

    6. Focus on things in your control

    When you receive bad news in the headlines or your personal life, it’s important to separate things that you can control from the things you can’t. You can’t change what’s already happened but starting a petition or learning a new skill might help in the future.

    You might not solve every problem but taking positive action beats feeling helpless.

     

    7. Write down what you’re thankful for

    Use a pen and paper to avoid fixating on the negative. Take a few minutes each day and jot down all the things that made you happy. Chances are, you’re overlooking some good things happening in your life.

     

    8. Assess your feelings

    You might have been taught to “be strong,” and to keep a positive attitude. You may not want to feel like a burden. But describing how you feel is the first step to taking charge of your emotional well-being. Simply opening up can feel like a huge weight off your shoulders and encourage people around you to do the same.

     

    9. Ask for help

    Asking for help doesn’t come naturally to everyone. But speaking to a professional can make a world of difference. And you don’t have to feel alone: 20 million adults receive counseling and other mental health services each year in the United Statesand you can reach many great therapists online.

     

    10. Be kind to yourself and others

    One of the most important steps you can take is accepting that you won’t do everything right every time. This goes for everyone else in your life — they might need a pick-me-up, too. When you’re more forgiving, everyone benefits. We’re all in this together!

     

    1National Institute of Health

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  3. 5 Ways Parents Can Help Their Kids Confidently Embrace Discomfort

    August 27, 2020

    September can be an anxious time for kids. Going back to school, starting in a new school or having a new teacher may make them uncomfortable. And your little one might be feeling especially stressed and uneasy amid the current pandemic affecting our country. But we can help kids learn to manage discomfort and parents can play a huge role in instilling confidence and resilience traits that’ll serve them well throughout life. 

    Here are 5 things parents can do to help children feel empowered in unfamiliar situations, get out of their comfort zones and overcome challenges. 

     

    1. Validate feelings 

    Any conversation about discomfort should start with acknowledging how kids feel. It’s important to let your child express their thoughts and feelings without judgment. Their emotions are real, even when their behavior might be out of place. Try saying, “I can see you’re frustrated,or “A lot of people feel anxious. It’s okay if you feel that way too.” 

     

    2. Be honest about challenges 

    Parents can encourage children to be more open about their emotions by sharing their own emotions and how they plan to deal with them. When you tell your child, “I’m frustrated, but I’m focusing on just doing the best I can do,” they see that hard times don’t have to stop them from achieving their goals. 

     

    3. Praise effort, not results 

    Things don’t always work out, even when we do everything right. We can only control our effort, not the outcome. Congratulate or commiserate with them, but no matter the result, make sure to also acknowledge the process with “I’m impressed with how hard you studied,” or “I know how much you practiced.” 

     

    4. Give them the freedom to fail 

    You might think of success and failure as opposites, but successful people often say they wouldn’t be where they are without overcoming failure. When kids don’t fear failure, they’re more likely to try things and stick it out when things get tough. Try saying, “I can tell you’re disappointed, but I’m proud of how you didn’t give up.” 

     

    5. Be present 

    The most important thing parents can do to help children be more comfortable is simply being there. There are few things more powerful than knowing they have their parents’ unconditional love and support. When children hear “I’m here for you” and “I love you and I want to give you the attention you need” from their mom or dad that means a lot to them. 

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  4. 5 Ways to Reduce Food Waste at Home

    July 28, 2020

     

    Did you know that the average American family throws out an estimated 31.9% of its food? That adds up to $1,866 in wasted grocery expenses each year for every household.[1] Some families are more careful, but even the most frugal ones throw out 8.7% of their food, so there’s room for improvement for everyone. Here are 5 ways you can make the most of your grocery budget.

    1. Make a list and shop for meals, not deals

    Sure, that “buy 4 get 1” sale on artichokes might look good in the store, but do you know what you’ll use it for? Will the kids eat it? The first step to reducing kitchen waste is going to the grocery store with a list based on meals you’ll prepare for the week. It’ll take some planning, but the time you spend before heading to the supermarket helps you save big in the long run.

    2. Stock the fridge like a grocery store: First in, first out

    When you come back from the store, stock your fridge like a grocery store clerk: oldest items in the front, newest items in the back. If you’re placing new food in the front, you’re pushing the older items to the back, where it’s out of sight and out of mind. And too often, we discover spoiled food weeks later. Instead, keep a first in, first out system to make sure you’re using everything in the fridge.

    3. Extend the life of your food

    Food might come with a date on the packaging, but may not stick to that defined schedule. Some food spoils before the package date, others may be fine past the date. Your best bet is to learn ways to prolong their life. Popular techniques include wrapping lettuce in paper towel, storing onion and potato separately, and marinating chicken breast before freezing. Oh, and overripe bananas are great for banana bread!

    4. Keep a waste journal

    One great way to reduce waste is by keeping a food waste diary like this one. If you keep track of what’s thrown out and how much, you’ll probably start to see patterns. Use the findings to buy less of what you throw out and adjust your portion sizes.

    5. Prepare a weekly fridge clearance meal

    Do you watch those cooking shows, where the contestants create dishes based on a theme ingredient? That’s the idea behind a weekly “use up” meal around food that needs to be used. It’ll help even more if you set aside an “eat me now” section in your fridge for items that are about to go bad. These meals will help you reduce waste, clear space in your fridge and give you a chance to get creative.

     

    Do you have any tips for reducing food waste? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page!

    [1] Forbes.com, January 2020

  5. 5 Fun and Affordable DIY Father’s Day Gifts

    June 12, 2020

    Did you know that Americans spent an estimated $16 billion(with a b!) on Father’s Day gifts in 2019? We love our dads and they deserve to be recognized. But you don’t have to spend a lot of money to show your appreciation for the special guy. Here are some unique and affordable ways to let the dad in your life know how much he means to you.

     

    1. For the Sporty Dad: Commemorative Basketball

    Or football, baseball or softball — any ball that’s big enough to fit a “Happy Father’s Day!” message works. Here’s the fun part for kids — let them dip their hands in acrylic paint and leave their handprints on the ball. And there you have it, a one-of-a-kind, display-worthy commemorative ball for the superstar of the family.

     

    1. For the Sentimental Dad: Custom T-Shirt Pillow

    Does dad have old t-shirts that have seen better days, but he won’t let go? Are you handy with a sewing machine or needle and thread? Great, because you can transform his shirts into customized throw pillows, so his favorite band or sports team can always be on display.

     

    1. For the Grill Master Dad: Personalized BBQ Platter

    There’s something special about dad’s outdoor cooking, and you can make it even more special for him with a personalized platter. You’ll need a large, white ovenproof plate, ceramic paint and pen. Paint, dry, bake, and the platter’s ready for grilling season.

     

    1. For the Film Buff Dad: Movie Theater Experience

    Even if you love going to the movies, the cost of tickets and refreshments can be a tearjerker. Instead, fire up the popcorn at home, design and print tickets, and dim the lights for a special showing of dad’s favorite flick. Just imagine a theater where he always has the best seat in the house.

     

    1. For the Photogenic Dad: Memory Wall

    Have a lot of great photos of dad? Can’t pick just one to frame? Print all the pictures that show him at his best and hang them on the wall with string lights and clothespins. It’s an easy way to let him relive his favorite fatherhood memories.

     

    1Estimate based on a survey of consumers by the National Retail Federation, conducted May 1–9, 2019. Source: Father’s Day spending expected to reach all-time high of $16 billion, May 30, 2019

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