The Gerber Life Parenting Blog

Parenting Tips

Advice for raising well-balanced children

When you left the hospital to take your newborn home for the first time, you may have hoped that the baby bag contained some kind of manual giving parental advice on how to handle the next 18-plus years. Then you remembered that babies don't come with a set of instructions for parents on how to teach a child values, resolve a conflict with a sibling or help a child study for an upcoming test. Our tips for parents can help prepare you for various situations, as well as provide ideas for activities that you can enjoy as a family.

  1. Family-Friendly Summer Activities on a Budget

    June 4, 2021

    Summer is time for stepping outside, getting away and having fun. But keeping the entertainment budget under control can be a challenge. There’s a good chance your children’s wish list includes trips to pricy theme parks or destinations that’ll involve hotel stays and travel expenses.

     

    So many summer amusements come with a hefty price tag. What’s a parent on a budget to do? First, maintain the healthy mindset that summer family fun doesn’t have to be expensive. Next, look around your neck of the woods for activities and events that are free or low cost. These summertime ideas encourage family fun without a budget blow-out.

     

    1. Visit the library for fun and games

    Local libraries have always been a terrific source of free summer entertainment. The children’s section may feature age-appropriate books, CDs, and DVDs, as well as puzzles, board games and computer games. You can also find activities geared to kids like storytime, arts and crafts, sing-alongs and puppet shows. After a fun day with your children at the library, you may be able to use your library card to take home a free or low-cost movie that the whole family can enjoy.

     

    2. Make a picnic or go to an outdoor event

    Picnics in the park have been a summer mainstay for generations of families. Free or low-cost activities may feature summer plays, including Shakespeare productions in some communities, movies under the stars or other free amenities such as playgrounds, ball fields and community pools. If your little ones are competitive, you can hold mini-Olympic-style games at the park. Let your child run, jump and throw and award medals to celebrate. You can use items around the house like hula hoops and pool noodles to mark boundaries.

     

    3. Learn about hometown history

    Many cities and towns have small museums celebrating local history that are free or low cost. They may honor statesmen, war heroes, writers, film stars, other notables, an event in local history or a specific topic like lighthouses or toys. Children can get a history lesson and be entertained, while parents enjoy the nostalgia or expand their community knowledge. Before you head out, be sure to check the days and hours of operation.

     

    4. Take a family bike ride

    Another idea for family fun on a budget is to take a ride together along a bicycle path free of motor traffic. Whether paved, gravel or dirt, these paths offer a way to get outside and experience your surroundings from something other than your car window. Be sure to stay safe by wearing helmets, observing the rules of the road, and being mindful of others on the trail.

     

    5. Make your own scavenger hunt

    Create your own adventure and bring out the explorer in your child. Make a checklist of things to look for — plants, bugs, rocks, whatever you like — and set a time limit. You can do it at the park, backyard, or your neighborhood. Be sure to remind the little ones to respect private property, stay on marked trails and point, but not touch the items they find.

     

    6. Build a backyard obstacle course

    Kids love watching “ninja” shows on TV. Why not let them get in on the fun by building their own obstacle course with household items like cardboard boxes? Be sure to double check obstacles to make sure they’re safe and all activities are supervised to avoid serious injury.

     

    7. Grow your own garden

    Celebrate the summer by enjoying the season’s most colorful fruits and vegetables—right in your backyard! Don’t have the space? Head over to a local farm and spend an afternoon picking from an assortment of fresh options. Though be careful how much you pick because you might end up with an expensive haul. Avoid the sticker shock by setting limits on how much you’ll take home before you start picking.

     

    8. Rainy day activities

    You’re going to get your share of summer storms, but a rainy day doesn’t have to be a downer if you’re prepared. You can find simple but fun craft ideas like paper airplanes, homemade kites like this one or bird feeders. When it’s nice outside again, your little ones can take their creations outside. And what child doesn’t love building a pillow fort? It takes creativity plus some pillows, bedsheets, and couch cushions to create a whole new world in your living room. Once complete, the fort is a great space for games and storytime. Just make sure to stress to your children the importance of cleaning up!

     

    One last thing: whatever activity you and your family decide on, don’t forget about safety. When you’re headed out, be sure to pack:

    • Sun protection: sunscreen, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses
    • Drinking water
    • First aid kit
  2. 6 Tips for Raising Money-Savvy Kids

    May 4, 2021

     

    As a parent, you want to set your child up for success. And one very important thing you can do is to instill good money habits. Your little one might be years away from handling a household budget, but it doesn’t hurt to get some early practice in with managing their own money. Getting a head start on personal finance is sure to pay off (no pun intended) when they are adults.

    Here are a few simple things you can do to teach financial savviness to children of all ages.

     

    For Younger Children: Start with earning an allowance

    Giving children an allowance is a great way to teach budgeting and saving. Even better? Giving them an opportunity to earn the allowance through chores.

    This will help them learn the value of hard work and they’ll appreciate toys more when they’ve had to save for them. You can also teach them how to stretch their dollars by shopping for used items or waiting for a sale.

    If the lesson sticks, they just might start asking for more chores, so they can earn more.

     

    For Younger Children & Pre-teens: Help them open a savings account

    Many banks offer free savings account for children. You can divide their allowance between money they can spend, and money to set aside for saving.

    If the bank offers paper statements or online banking, they can see how their money grows. They can see that, with interest, the more money they save and the longer they save, the more their money grows.

     

    Teens: Set them up with financial tools

    Once they get into their teenage years, your not-so-little ones may want more spending money or get after-school jobs.

    This is a good opportunity to teach them the difference between credit cards and debit cards, and discuss the importance of establishing good credit for the future. You can also let them use your credit or debit card, which lets them put the money lessons into practice and lets you track their spending. Tread carefully here though: it’s important to discuss what the card should be used for, set spending limits and monitor the accounts regularly. They should know that with great (spending) power comes great responsibilities.

     

    All Ages: Have regular conversations about good money habits

    Life is full of decisions about money, and so are opportunities to talk about them. You can explain why you don’t eat out every day and why you save your leftovers. You can discuss the difference between “I want” and “I need” when they ask for new toys or clothes. And you can talk about the advantages and disadvantages of buying in bulk.

    But it doesn’t have to be all talk. You can make it fun for your little ones by having them help plan meals and trips. Since children are visual thinkers, you can create a chart for how much you need to save for a family trip.

    For teens, ask them to think about a fun expense — maybe a car, a trip with friends or the prom — and help them come up with ways to save up. You can also talk to them about financial lessons you’ve learned — teens tend to appreciate honesty.

     

    All Ages: Teach generosity

    It’s important to know that money isn’t all about buying what you want. It’s also about giving back.

    One fun way to teach the value of generosity is by setting up a “giving” jar, where the family can put loose change and any extra cash. When the jar is full, you can let your kids choose where to donate the money. Help them consider what causes they believe in. Knowing that even a little money can help others is a powerful feeling.

     

    All Ages: Model good financial behavior

    Like with pretty much everything else, children take their cues from their parents. Include your little ones in your coupon cutting routine. Have your older children sit down with you when you set a monthly budget. Include the whole family when planning and saving for a goal.

    Opportunities to teach good money habits come up every day. Your children are more likely to learn if you keep the lessons fun and rewarding.

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  3. 5 Tips for Effective Online Learning and Screen Time Management

    February 22, 2021

    We’re already a year into the pandemic, but many of us are still searching for ways to adjust, especially parents with children who are learning remotely. How strict do we need to be about screen time? How do we set up the most effective online learning environment? While we may not have all the answers, here are 5 tips that can help.

     

    Tip 1: Separate kids’ at home learning space and their sleeping space

    It seems ideal: Wake up, rollover, turn on the computer and log onto class without getting out of bed. We all love the comfort of our beds and our pajamas. The trouble is our brains associate activities with where they happen. For children, it’s hard to focus on school if there’s a bed reminding them of sleep and it’s hard to sleep when there’s a computer reminding them of school. Keeping school, sleep and everything else separate helps their developing brains focus on what’s important at that moment.

     

    Tip 2: Keep pencil and paper in the picture

    Sure, class happens on screen and they turn in assignments online. But your little ones are more likely to retain what they’ve learned with good old-fashioned pencil and paper. So set up your little scholar with their favorite pencil and notepad next to their computer. And if you can, print out reading materials. That has the added benefit of giving their eyes a rest from the screens. Speaking of which…

     

    Tip 3: Schedule screen breaks

    Being online for hours at a time is hard on their young eyes. Staying seated for hours isn’t exactly healthy (or easy) either. Make sure to schedule time between and after classes to get up, get moving and get away from screens. You can set alarms — think of them as school bells — to get the little ones to go out for at-home recess.

     

    Tip 4: Set reasonable time limits and reduce screen time after school

    Do your kiddos go from one screen — their classroom — directly to another one, like tablets, phones and video games? We get it, they want to relax and many parents want their children to be occupied while they work from home. Plus, many children stay connected to their friends through online chatting and gaming. Still, it’s worth setting ground rules. For example, you could limit “fun” screen time for after getting their schoolwork done or only in the evening.

     

    Tip 5: Plan off-screen activities for the whole family

    If your kids are learning remotely, there’s a good chance you’re working from home too and you could use a screen break as well. So be sure to schedule some off-screen time; plan outdoor family activities like a hike, or stay inside on a rainy day with board games. It gives you time to unplug, connect with your family, and take a break from screens.

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    Categories: Parenting Tips
  4. Refresh Your Resolutions for 2021

    December 17, 2020

    It’s the New Year and usually that means it’s time to set New Year’s resolutions. This year let’s refresh the idea of resolutions and instead of focusing on intangible goals like “lose weight” or “spend less money,” let’s refocus on what matters most: your family and your health — both physical and mental.

    Here are a few ideas to get you started:

     

    Prioritize Self-care

    When we’re busy with work and family, we often forget to take care of ourselves. Challenge yourself to set aside time for your wellness each day. It can be as little as 15 minutes to meditate, a half-hour walk around your neighborhood, or an hour spent on a hobby or passion project each night. How long you spend isn’t as important as simply making time for yourself.  Quick tip: Set up a calendar reminder in your phone to help you form the habit.

     

    Do it as a Family

    Having someone to hold you accountable makes it easier to stick to your goals and resolutions. What if you turned achieving goals into a family challenge? See who can read the most books in a month, do the most pushups or go the longest without screen time. Whatever you choose, the friendly competition and accountability will help keep you on track. Plus, getting to spend time with family is an added bonus!

     

    Practice Positivity

    In our experience, the best resolutions are less about milestones or achievements and more about forming better habits. One habit we could all benefit from is positive thinking. If you’re like most, you might get stressed out by focusing on the negatives. Instead, what if you made it a goal to train your brain to think more positively?

     

    For example, challenge yourself to think of one reason you’re proud of yourself each day. Or practice finding silver linings when something seemingly negative happens. These small changes can help positively impact your day-to-day.

     

    These are just a few ways you can refresh the way you approach New Year’s resolutions and kick off the year on a positive note. New Year’s resolutions have always been about being our better, happier selves. This year don’t stress over hitting a milestone. Instead, focus on the big picture—yourself and your family.

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  5. 5 Ways to Teach Children Generosity

    November 30, 2020

    The holidays are here! The time of year for family traditions, lights and decorations, yummy cookies and of course gifts. For the kids, getting gifts is probably what they look forward to most, but it’s important to remember that this time of year is also the season for giving and giving back. The holiday season gives parents a great opportunity to teach children the value of generosity.

    Here are a few ways you can show your little one that giving is just as rewarding as receiving:

     

    1. Lead by Example

    The simplest way children learn is through you, their parents. Children see generosity in action when you: make crafts for local seniors, collect food for hungry families, or shovel the sidewalk for a neighbor. If your child is old enough, be sure to get them involved so they can learn that doing good feels good.

     

    2. Lean on Their Expertise

    Not sure what toy to give a child in need? Ask an expert: your own child! When your child makes their holiday wish list have them also request a gift for another child their age who might be less fortunate. The donation will feel more personal knowing that it’s going to another child like them.

     

    3. Let Them Choose a Cause

    You can encourage your child to pick a charity to support with a monetary donation. Maybe your little one likes animals or maybe their current obsession is the ocean. Whatever their passion, they can feel excited about doing their part to help others.

     

    4. Make it Fun

    Plan time for the family to create something together! Turn on some music, put the supplies on the table, and get the whole family involved in hands-on activities like making chew toys for shelter pets or packing nonperishable foods for hungry families.

     

    5. Do Good Year Round

    The decorations come down and festive songs stop playing, but generosity shouldn’t end with the holidays. Once you get the ball rolling and make a habit of giving back, you can instill generosity as a core family value.

    This holiday season take a little time to teach your children about putting kindness and generosity into action. A giving spirit is one gift that will never get old.