Posts Categorized: Julie Cole

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!

Tips for Hockey Moms: Surviving Hockey Season with Kids

Last winter I had five of my six kids playing hockey. Madness, I know.

Many have asked how I survive the driving, the expense, the equipment and – let’s face it – the hockey smell that consumes my home.

Other than using a lot of Febreze, here are my hockey season survival tips for busy moms and families:

1)      Put kids close in age on the same hockey team. I had one daughter play in a boy’s league and another daughter play up a league. This meant I had five kids in hockey but only on three teams. There are only so many hours one mother can spend in a cold arena.

2)      Play with a friend. My son was on the same team as his cousin, who happens to also be our neighbor. My sister also has half as many kids as me, so she was quite generous when it came to driving.

3)      Buy a mini-van. I know, I know. Some of you with only a couple of kids are hesitant to drive around in a mini-van, but it’s your ticket to effective car-pooling. You can fit in loads of team-mates and hockey bags. Sharing the driving is a sanity saver for busy families.

4)      Think twice about rep hockey. My kids are good hockey players but I have no NHL or Olympic hockey aspirations for them. They are well suited to play against kids in our very own town. Rep is fun, but it’s also expensive and takes families out of town for most weekends. If you go into it, have your eyes wide open. Hockey will be the number one priority for your family.

5)      Do a price analysis on kids hockey equipment. Looking at mid-range gear including sticks and skates, you’re looking at about $700.00. With so many kids playing hockey, it’s essential that we not lose equipment so I can hand it down to the next kid in line. I’m proud to say I’ve only bought one set of hockey gear a year and have not lost any equipment to date. My six year-old is wearing the same gear his 4 older siblings did when they were his size.

I don’t want you losing expensive hockey equipment either. So we’re giving away a set of our NEW Hockey Equipment Labels to one lucky person! Leave a comment letting us know what sports your kiddos are going to be participating in this fall season for a chance to win!

***Thanks for all your comments! This giveaway is now closed! Stay tuned for more!***

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. Back to school is around the corner – have you got your school labels yet? The Ultimate Back-to-School Combo is here! – See more at:

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