Posts Categorized: Julie Cole

Birthday Party Politics – How to Avoid That “Left Out” Feeling.

Sass birthday party

Kiddo birthday parties are a landmine.

Throwing a kids’ birthday party is high-risk behavior in the department of offending or excluding people. Clearly, no one intends to exclude kids from birthday party fun, but unless your party planning involves inviting every cousin, classmate and neighbour, there is no way around it.

If you are looking for ways to avoid that sinking feeling you get from leaving a child out, here are a few easy ways to try to prevent it:

  • Don’t send paper invitations to class. I e-mail the parents of the children coming to my kids’ birthday parties. If I don’t have an e-mail address, I send a note into the school to go home with the child simply asking the parent to contact me.
  • Back-up plan: Invite everyone. If you want to send paper invitations, probably best you plan for a big party and invite the whole crew.
  • Have a talk about not talking. Talk to your children about not discussing their birthday party outside of the actual party. No child wants to go to school on Monday to hear all the kids talking about a party that they were not at. It’s fine to have this discussion with little party-goers as well.  Remind them how they would feel – it’s a good lesson in empathy.
  • Help your kids understand. Let your children know that not everyone can go to every party. This helps them realize that it’s not personal if/when they end up as the excluded kid. Not getting an invitation doesn’t necessarily reflect the friendship – it most likely has to do with the size of party the parent has planned. Often when one of my kids is invited to a party, the parents feel obliged to invite some siblings as well. I remind the parent (and my kids) that it’s not necessary – everyone gets their turn in their own time. It’s a good lesson to learn early in life.
  • Mind the Facebook sharing. If you’re going to post birthday party pictures on Facebook, remember that some of your Facebook friends may have children who didn’t get invited to that party. While the rational mind knows that it’s no big deal, it can sting a Mama’s heart to think her little darling was not taking part in the celebration.

Keeping the politics out of parties helps to make the day a success for parents as well as kids. Have you encountered any birthday party politics since becoming a parent?  How did you deal with it?


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. Happy Hockey season – grab your Hockey Label Combo today!

Parenting Advice: Managing Screen Time For Kids

Screen Time – a Family Friend or Foe?

Oh “screen time”. Every family has a love/hate relationship with you. Sometimes you provide my kids with age-appropriate activity, fun and learning. And sometimes you hold them hostage.

Managing the amount of time kids spend on the computer and in front of the TV is an on-going issue for most families. My strategies have changed over the years. When the children were small, we had “Screenless Sundays”. When they got older and screen obsessed, I banned screens during the week entirely. I didn’t find that arrangement worked very well for us. By the time the weekend rolled around, they would screen binge. They were like those kids who are never given candy, so they sneak away and stuff their faces. Mine were stuffing their virtual faces with Minecraft.

I started the new school year with a new plan, and I have to say – it’s working! It’s really working!

Here’s the deal in our house:

  • A child can earn up to one hour of screen time a day that can be cashed in between 6:00pm and 8:00pm.
  • They earn screen time by doing the following activities: homework, reading, walking the dog, practicing an instrument, playing outside.
  • Earned time and screen time match. So if a child wants a full hour of screen time, they will have walked the dog for 15 minutes, practiced piano for 15 minutes and spent a half an hour reading. If they only do one of these activities for 10 minutes, they get 10 minutes of screen time.
  • Screen time must be “meaningful”. What is meaningful? I decide that. For my kids, it means using the computer to play Minecraft, Spore or Animal Jam. I don’t count watching YouTube videos of other people playing Minecraft as meaningful. Each parent can define “meaningful” as they see fit.
  • I don’t include TV as “screen time”, but TV can only be watched if homework is done. Since TV is not an activity that earns them screen time, it’s not very attractive.
  • Children must self-monitor their time. If I catch them cheating, the privilege is pulled and they lose screens for the week.
  • If they have hockey or another activity during the 6:00pm – 8:00pm screen cash in time, they don’t get screens that day.


So far, so good.  How do you manage the beast at your home? Got any great tips you can share?


About the Author:

Julie Cole

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six. Happy Hockey season – grab your Hockey Label Combo today!

Name Ownership – Can you own a name?

From popular baby names to unique baby names – names are always a hot topic around Mabel’s Labels. What is the etiquette around “stealing” baby names?

We all know about the whole “you stole my name” phenomenon. Think back to that episode of Friends where Monica accuses Rachel of stealing her girl name, Emma. (Also note that Monica didn’t have a baby at the time.)

I have six children with fairly unusual names. Not one of them would be on a top 100 baby names list anywhere. My youngest son’s name is Finian, which is perhaps the most common of the lot. I’ve had a couple of friends express that they liked the name and have asked me how I would feel if they used it. I appreciated the gesture of checking in and of course told them to use the name with all of my blessings.

The funniest “name borrowing” moment for me was when our friends recently got a puppy and gave him the name of my son, Clancy. I had to admit, Clancy is a great name for a dog or a kid. Now the on-going joke is that we named our son after their dog.

We recently had a family member name their new baby son Clancy. My Clancy was delighted to have a little namesake and feels quite special about it all. The parents didn’t mention they were going to use the name, so I was a bit surprised since it’s such an unusual name. But, I wasn’t bothered and was delighted someone else thought it was a cool enough name to use.

The thing with asking “permission” is that it can be risky business – if you ask the question, you better be prepared to respect the answer. What if you ask to use a name and someone says no? Maybe when it comes to naming children, you’re better off sticking to the mantra “it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission.”

So what is your name story and what’s the etiquette? Can you use a name that your friend has either used or claimed for future children? Is it a courtesy to run it past them?


About the Author:

Julie Cole

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six. Happy Hockey season – grab your Hockey Label Combo today!

Related Posts with Thumbnails