It is the end of October as I write this and parents inclined toward healthy living are in a conundrum. You don't want to be a wet blanket about one of the most beloved kid-centered events of the year, but your kids are going to be a wreck if you just let them eat all the crap they are going to bring home in a pillowcase. What to do?
Here are some suggestions:
- Minimize the amount of candy that comes back into your house. How can you do that? Knock on fewer doors. Go out with them. Make it a family event (although somebody has to stay home to hand out stuff at your house!). They will be more likely to feel satisfied with their trick-or-treat experience if Mom or Dad is looking on as your neighbours congratulate the kids on their clever costumes, and as they amass their loot.
- Decide beforehand what to accept or reject in the way of treats. Your kids can learn to say "no thank you" to some things! Make sure you are there when they lay out their loot so you can get rid of some of the worst offenders.
- Older kids can do a food drive instead of collecting candy for themselves
- If you have allergies or sensitivities in your household, you can pass a treat over to the homeowner that they can then pop into the child's treat basket. I have also had parents come by earlier in the day to give me a special treat to offer when their child arrives at my door.
- Get a small treat basket. Let them be happy that the little pumpkin bucket is full. Don't let them really go out with a green garbage bag or a pillowcase (like my little brother and I used to do!)
- Encourage your kids to ask only for UNICEF money instead of treats - they will probably collect way more of that because the homeowners will be so proud of them!
- Be the house that gives out alternative treats like stickers, little booklets, funny pens, drinking straws, mini racecars, anything that's not candy.
The sugar aftermath: most parents fall into the "Eat-it-all-and-get-it-over-with" camp, or the "One-treat-a-day" camp as they try in vain to manage how their kids gorge on their unhealthy loot. Some kids have an especially hard time managing loads of sugar and it will affect their behaviour in a very marked way. It's really OK for you as a parent to put limits on how much they eat or how long the orgy of sugar goes on, but do try to come to a decision together with your child about what is reasonable. This can even be a good preparation for learning about responsible drinking as young adults!
One final word of advice. Go ahead and increase your kids' intake of probiotics and other immune enhancing supplements for a few weeks. Sugar is a killer for the immune system and it is very common to see a spike in viral infections in the weeks after Hallowe'en.