Guest Author - Lisa Polovin Pinkus
Halloween is a holiday enjoyed by children and adults alike. In the weeks prior to Halloween, the excitement builds. The stores fill their shelves with extra candy, costumes, and black and orange decorations. Children begin talking about costumes long before mom even wants to think about it. They see your pre-purchased candy and constantly beg for Ė just one piece. (How many of us end up having to replenish our candy stash before Halloween even arrives?) Below are some tips to help mom get organized, establish trick or treating standards, and keep the day stress-free.
Start thinking early about costumes.
Start thinking early but beware of the child who changes his or her mind. You should know ahead of time whether you prefer to make your own costumes or buy them. Those who prefer to make their own costumes, will need to start earlier in their preparations. For those of you who are last minute planners, it might be reassuring to know that Ė with some creativity Ė you can scrounge around the house for materials and create a pretty good makeshift costume.
Plan ahead. Most children are eager to go trick or treating the second they wake up in the morning. Some families go after school. Others wait until dark. Either way, itís helpful to have your dinner prepared beforehand (something that will balance the sugar nicely). Let your children know what your trick or treating plans will be. For example, if they have to complete their homework before trick or treating, tell them ahead of time.
Establish your candy rules. Your candy rules should also be made clear to your children before they embark on the candy collecting. Are they allowed to eat candy while out trick or treating? Will you allow your children to keep all of their candy? Do your children combine their candy into one big pot upon returning home? Are they allowed to eat one piece a day? Can they eat it whenever they want? Many of us stretch our sugar rules a little bit around Halloween time, but make sure your children know what your familyís candy guidelines are.
Consider alternatives. There are alternatives to trick or treating, and many of them are just as fun as going door to door. Shopping malls have started hosting trick or treating in an attempt to keep the children safe and off the streets. You might also consider hosting a Halloween dinner or a party for your neighborhood friends. These alternatives are especially good for families with young children.
Passing out candy at your house. No one likes to come upon a dark, empty house when they are trick or treating. Most of us donít like leaving the house when we know there will be trick or treaters coming by. One option is to trick or treat in shifts Ė someone stays home to pass out candy, and someone takes the children trick or treating. Older children, who can wait until later to trick or treat, can stay home and help pass out candy during the early shift. You can also consider leaving a bowl of candy outside your house inviting guests to take a piece (or two). The bowl outside may work also well when young children have to go to sleep. Older children tend to trick or treat later at night, and you can provide them with candy without disrupting your young, sleeping children.
Safety. Safety is an issue on many levels during Halloween. You want to ensure the costumes your children wear are safe and not going to cause them harm. If you are going out after dark, youíll want to make sure to carry flashlights with you and have other protective gear (light colored clothing, arm reflectors, etc.) so you can be seen in the dark. Finally, youíll want to take steps to make sure the candy your children are consuming is safe. Go through the stash and remove anything that is opened, that you do not want your children to eat (we have to set our limits somewhere, donít we?), or that your children donít like. Consider bringing the excess candy to your childrenís school to put in the teacherís lounge or to your next meeting. Another option is to mail it to soldiers overseas.
Halloween is a day that brings out the child in everyone. In recent years, parents safety concerns have increased, and families are taking extra precautions when determining how they will honor Halloween. Moms can take some extra steps to safeguard their families from stress, meltdowns, or unmet expectations by following the suggestions above.