Posts Categorized: Julie Cole

My Santa is better than your Santa.

What's on your kids' list?

There is one big problem with the awesome and much adored Santa. Mainly, that he is fictional. This becomes problematic because it means every family has a different Santa, which causes consistency issues.

We’ve all run into this problem with the Tooth Fairy as well. I know a kid who gets $20.00 for every lost tooth. Short of banning said kid from my home, I had to do some expectation management with my little tooth losers. Unlike their friend, they would not be able to save enough Tooth Fairy money to buy a laptop. With six kids, dishing out that kind of coin for pearly whites would require a house remortgage. I tell them that I’ve got a deal with the Tooth Fairy – she knows I don’t think it’s appropriate to deliver more than a few coins so she honors and respects that.

The same can be said for Santa.

Did the kids down the street get a puppy from Santa last year? Did the cousins all find laptops and iPads under the tree? And lucky you – now some of these big ticket items have turned up on your kids’ lists, too.

Around here, my kids know that mama has final approval on all lists before they go off to the jolly guy. Kids may attempt to sneak a secret list past me, but I’ve got that system beat.  My kiddos know that I always consult with Santa before present delivery day and Santa always respects a parent’s wishes.

So, if you don’t think electronics, live animals, or trips to Disney are appropriate gifts from Santa for your little ones, tell them so. Remind them about the Christmas spirit and help them form a list that is more reasonable and affordable. I’d avoid telling them that the elves don’t make electronics or other items because undoubtedly they’ll have a friend who gets the very thing you say the elves don’t make.

Have you had some unreasonable requests from your kids or perhaps some unfortunate Santa precedent set by other families? How have you dealt 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!

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!

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