Ok, as you know, I am all about perspective, positivity and all, but… I am about to reveal a shadow side of me. I am not a fan of Halloween! I cringe as October rolls around anticipating, (not being mindful in the least), the battle starting to ensue with my kids over costumes, candy and trick or treat plans.
Last week, I finally agreed to take my three younger guys to get costumes, (after trying to convince them to be creative and use something we have in our dress up bin). Now, my 2nd son has a lot of difficulty with making decisions when there are lots of choices and he can be obsessive, irrational and gets easily frustrated and overwhelmed. He needs boundaries set and clear guidelines, so he can be successful at decision making. We looked online to get ideas and to focus on what he wants for his look. We set limits on cost and look: nothing too gruesome or scary.
We enter the Halloween store and he beelines to the wall of masks. My two younger kids find costumes they like within 10 min. My older guy has a pile of masks at his feet, trying on one gruesome mask after another. How about the wizard? No. How about the ape? No. Can I get the flesh eater? No. How about the demon? No. After 40 minutes of Halloween store hell and sensory overload with sounds and lights flashing, he goes back to a mask of a man, chubby, whiskers, hat, droopy eyes and cigarette dangling from lips. Ok, fine, let’s go!
We get home and I notice the label on the mask….”Stoner”. My son is 12! My husband flips- “What were you thinking!” I was thinking I had to get out of the store and the mask seemed benign! You take him back to get another one- tag, you are it. He and my son go back the next day. I get a text from my hubby- “So we exchanged it for one with a bong….JK, OMG this is a nightmare!” Hello!
Next battle….candy, dye free or dye full… My son has ADHD and sugar and dye make him CRAZY! Sugar, research has shown, is as addictive as drugs.
So, how can we help make Halloween happy and healthy vs a living hell? Here are some tips from me, KidsHealth.org and the CDC:
- Plan, research costumes ahead with limits, boundaries.
- Careful with masks and weapons as they may seem cool, but very impractical and sometimes dangerous at night as they can limit sight.
- Don’t buy candy too soon. Buy ones that are bite size/ fun size, ideally dye free, maybe even get some non-food items like little toys for kids with food allergies.
- Serve a healthy dinner before trick or treating with veggies and/or soups to fill up bellies.
- Limit the number of houses you go to so the candy bag is not overflowing!
- Make plans with friends so it is social fun, not just about the candy. Older kids- set boundaries on where they can go and check in points. It can get crazy with teen/tween groups! Help them be successful.
- Allow kids to have some candy when they get back, maybe even trade each other. But then put the candy in sealable bag and put it away! Maybe even do a candy exchange for another non-food treat/ money…whatever you think appropriate.
- Have a specific parent controlled spot to put all the candy that is out of site, away from easy access to prevent constant snacking.
- Allow for a few pieces at set points of the day- (so it doesn’t interfere with focus, school performance or sleep.)
- Take a deep breath, let go of some control, embrace a bit of chaos and relax in knowing you have a year before doing it all over again!