Posts Categorized: Julie Cole

Surviving the kids’ birthday party.

March is birthday month in my life. March brings birthdays for both me and Mabel’s Labels. I also have a daughter with a birthday this month.

I recently had a parent ask if I had any birthday party activity suggestions. Just thinking about the question exhausted me. In my 15 years of parenthood, I have had countless birthday parties. Actually, it’s not countless – just adding up my children’s ages tells me that by the end of March, I will have hosted 63 children’s birthday parties. It’s no wonder I suffer from a bit of birthday party fatigue.

We’ve done it all – bowling, indoor playgrounds, parks, magicians, reptile guys, musical chairs and the list goes on. Any way you slice it, at this point in my birthday party throwing career, the novelty has long worn off.

This can help you appreciate that six birthday parties a year is a big ask for someone who does not get inspired by Pinterest and has never baked a cake. Birthday party fatigue started kicking in seven years ago after my fifth child was born. Since then I have simplified things.

Here’s my survival strategy:

  • If I have the party at my house, I do not stress about the state of the place. It’s only going to get trashed anyways. But what will the parents doing the drop off think? Yeah, not really caring.
  • No birthday presents. Guests are instructed that no presents or gift cards are allowed. I make it very clear on the invitation and people respect my request. One mother always brings me a bottle of wine. That, I accept.
  • No loot bags. In return for not bringing my kid stuff they don’t need, I refrain from giving our little guests junk too. The result: less going into the landfill and fewer sugar bugs on the teeth. I might chuck a little something at them by the door as a way to notify our friends that it’s time to hit the road and avoid tears.
  • Birthday party timing is key. Book it for the 2:00pm – 4:00pm time slot, which gets you off the hook for having to provide a proper meal. Get some cake and juice in their gobs, and your work is done!

Go on – do the math. How many birthday parties have you hosted? Some mamas LOVE kids’ birthday parties and some are “meh”. Where do you fall on the birthday fatigue spectrum?

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

Parenting Teens & Tweens: Tips & Tricks

 

Last week I was picking up my daughters from dance class, and was greeted by some stressed out mothers who had recently been experiencing a bit of “tween girl hormonal rage”. Considering my girls are ages 9, 12 and 13, they figured I might have some experiences and advice to share. While I think I’ve gotten off pretty easily in the hormonal attitude department, I do have a few teen girl advice tricks up my sleeve that are worth sharing:

1) Make sure they get sleep. Big kids may resent little kid bedtimes, but they need them. Kiddo bedtime at my house is 8:30pm, and that applies to everyone from toddler to teen. I don’t like kid meltdowns at any age and sleep is a good way to prevent them.

2) Don’t stoop to their level. Take a deep breath and stop yourself from getting into a screaming match and door slamming competition with your moody teens and tweens. Keep your cool and never let them see you sweat. You will only escalate the situation by getting sucked into it.

3) Don’t take their crap. Just because they have raging hormones and may lack some self-control, it doesn’t mean you have to take their verbal abuse. Expect to be spoken to with respect. Mouthy kids should be sent to their rooms or somewhere quiet to cool off.

4) Talk to them. Once they’ve chilled out a bit, you can have a productive chat and explain why the way they acted is not acceptable in the family. Chances are they feel bad for how they behaved even if they are stubborn in admitting it.

5) Keep talking to them. Was there a trigger? There might be some bigger issues going on. Did they get in a fight with a friend at school? Are they worried about a math test? Provide many opportunities throughout the day for open conversations. You never know what little tidbits might get leaked!

The most important thing I tell myself is to NEVER TAKE ANYTHING THEY SAY PERSONALLY! Remember your own experience – that moment in your early twenties you realized your parents are HUMAN and have these things called FEELINGS and they actually did so much for you? Yeah, it’ll happen. You just have a decade of exercising extreme patience ahead of you before it does.

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

 

What I Learned About My Kids on Instagram

For all you social media types, I have to admit I was a little late to the party when it came to Instagram. For those who don’t know what Instagram is, it’s basically like Twitter but with photos – and it’s a favourite social networking site for teens and tweens. Think “selfies” – there is no lack of them on Instagram.

My biggie kids have had Instagram for a while, and although I’d pop on their accounts occasionally and make sure everything they were posting was above board, I mostly left them to their own devices. They’re pretty sensible kids and if something even a little bit sketchy went down, I’m the first person they would tell.

Last week I joined Instagram and learned a few interesting things about my biggie-sized kiddos:

They do weird things together and take pictures of it. In this picture on one of my kiddo’s accounts, I discovered that they like to cover their brother with nuts and let chipmunks eat off his face.

They love their siblings. One daughter posted this photo of her brother when he was on TV sharing his experience with autism. Her comment “awesome job Mack!”

And just when you think they only see their little brothers as annoyances, you find this picture on Instagram with the caption “my brothers are the cutest hockey players ever”.

As much as they love each other, they may love the dog more. One kid has about 60 posts. I’d say about 55 of them are of the dog. Not a human in sight.

They like their parents too, and aren’t afraid to share that with their friends. In this post, my daughter wrote “mommy and me time”.

And this post I found speaks for itself:

Do you have any kiddos on social media?  Have you discovered any surprises – good or bad, when you connected with them online?

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

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