Allow me to wax nostalgic for a few sentences here, about what Halloween was like when I was a kid in the 80s. First, it was a MAJOR deal, we all got to wear our costumes to school, there was a school costume parade, and I'm pretty sure we actually got candy in school. Then we would rove through the neighborhood for hours upon hours in a gang of kids (I do remember some adults there at some point when we were littler), eventually weighed down by a massive bag of candy. Once back at home we would upend our bags and sort out the gross ones (Mary Janes, Bit O'Honeys) and then would gorge ourselves on candy until we didn't want to see another fun sized Mr. Goodbar for a VERY LONG time (aka one day).
that's me as Charlie Chaplin. I know, Charlie Chaplin, super normal kids Halloween costume, right?!
The details become hazy when I try to remember how long the candy would last, but what I do remember is that my parents didn't take any of it away. I'm sure they definitely sampled, but there was no cutoff to us enjoying the candy.
Now let's jump ahead to my own children's Halloween experience. Google "Halloween candy" and parenting articles abound (like the ones I've written about here and here) that give you tips on how to use up Halloween leftovers, how to donate Halloween leftovers, and how to "switch" them out. At first I was like, Halloween leftovers? What's that? There is candy leftover from the big Halloween candy binge?!
The idea at first sort of bugged me. I didn't want to be a Halloween Grinch, I wanted to let the kids have their fun, I mean, it's only one day, right? I got to do it as a child, and I turned out fine, is it really necessary to suck all the fun out of Halloween by taking away the main part, the candy booty they worked so hard and walked so far for? Some people think we should just let kids be kids, stop the helicopter-parenting-style worrying about a little candy interfere with the kids having some good old fashioned fun.
And then I jumped on the bandwagon, because, let's face it, it IS a lot of candy. Especially with two or more children, the candy haul becomes quite massive. Would I, as a responsible parent who strives to get at least one or two vegetables inside of them on a regular basis, be able to let them just go crazy on this candy?
The answer I finally arrived at was yes and no. The night of trick or treating, there are no holds barred. They can eat whatever candy they want (hopefully after I've been successful at getting them to eat a normal meal first and have weeded out anything gross/potentially a choking hazard, of course). They can dump it all out and pore over it and swap it with their siblings and just generally revel in the gloriousness that is the childhood tradition of getting free candy from your neighbors while dressed in costume. Since Halloween falls on a Saturday this year, the free for all might have to linger through Sunday. We'll see.
If they choose to swap some of it out, we'll do that, but if not, we're going to just model responsible eating habits and show the kids that while candy can be fun and taste amazing and yes I want a Twix right now just writing this, healthy eating habits are what we should strive for, but having some fun once in a while is okay. They're going to brush their teeth before they go to bed, and we are going to call it a day.
So what's our Halloween plan? Do you let them keep it or do you have a strategy to make it disappear?