Halloween is one of my fave’s just because I love a good scare, carving pumpkins, decorating my porch, and, of course, dressing up. It has become even more fun to re-live the holiday through my child’s eyes. His excitement makes everything so much more magical. This year my bug-a-boo is a ghost. Earlier this year he was talking about a zombie (thanks to Daddy for that exposure) but he thankfully changed his mind and went with something super original.
Total DIY costume involving a white sheet, a lighter to burn it up, some gauze, a chain, and awesome hair and make-up (Momma is actually useful for something). He actually won 1st place for Kindergarten in the Costume Contest at his school’s Fall Festival. Go, baby, go!
Anywaaaay, with all the fun Halloween shenanigans comes the sweets overload. Kids can seriously haul in a butt-load of candy while trick-or-treating. Now, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know… candy has ZERO nutrition, LOADS of sugar, and WEIRD colors/additives/preservatives… it’s kinda like bite-size poison. Appropriate for the holiday, heh.
BUT IT’S SO YUMMY! (Actually, I don’t give a crap about candy. Them cookies, though…)
So what do you do? Throw all caution to the wind and let your kids gorge until they’re sick and then deal with their melt-downs as their blood sugar crashes? (And no, it’s not “just one night” because that gigantic bag of candy sticks around forever to taunt everyone in the whole house. Ugh.)
Eh… that’s no fun for anyone (kids can get hyped up, moody, and/or lethargic – they aren’t giving you a hard time, they are HAVING a hard time) and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t teach them anything about self-control and how taking care of their bodies is really important. As a parent, I see this event as an opportunity to teach. I want to be active in teaching my lil’ guy about life… even at a young age… and not just passively “manage” him (even though, yes, sometimes that’s all the energy I can muster). He may not understand everything we explain but if we keep at it and practice what we preach (challenging part!), eventually he will start making connections and getting it. Obviously, that goes for more than just nutrition BUT healthy habits ARE a huge part of life.
With that said, onward with the tips:
1. Give them a heads-up.
At age 2.5, 3.5, 4.5, and now, 5.5, I have explained the rules to my son about the whole thing PRIOR to Oct 31… not when he’s putting his costume on. It usually goes something like this, “Trent, you’re going to go around and get lots of candy. You cannot eat all that candy in one sitting – it will not make your belly happy. You can pick 2-3 pieces then we will put the candy away for another time. Got it?”
2. Explain it again – right before trick-or-treating and again once it’s finished.
You know how kids are… they forget things really quickly. So just run through the rules again and remind them that they agreed… then STICK TO IT.
3. Set the example.
Don’t restrict your kid and then gorge behind his back for him to wonder where all his candy went. They KNOW, believe me. Again, it’s just walking the walk. You can do it!
4. Switch Witch.
This is a new idea we are trying this year. Basically, your kids leave out their candy Halloween night and the Switch Witch switches out the candy for a cool toy. It doesn’t have to be anything major… all at your discretion. They can switch out all their candy or just some. It can be a really big surprise or little trinkets. Whatever you wanna do. Create an awesome back story, if needed, to help convince your kiddos to ditch the sweets. I think this is an awesome idea because it still keeps things fun and festive!
LOOK… there is even an adorable book about it too!
5. Save it for Christmas.
So, you’ve got older kids who don’t “believe” in things like the Switch Witch. Save the candy for awesome Gingerbread Houses at Christmas time! Boom. Now all you need are the grahams and you’re set.
What about handing out candy? I don’t have this problem because we don’t really have a neighborhood to hand candy out in but here are 15 ideas if you want to steer clear of giving kids a bunch of high-fructose corn syrup and/or you want to be kind to kids with allergies:
(Heard of the Teal Pumpkin Project? No? Check it out here.)
- Temporary Tattoos
- Glow in the Dark items
- Mini slinkies
- Pencils and erasers
- Spider rings and bouncy eyeballs
- Mini Crayon packs
- Mini play-doh
- Matchbox cars
- Hair bows
- Vampire fangs
- Whistles, kazoos, noise makers
What do you do to keep things happy and healthy at Halloween? Have any tips not mentioned here?