It’s Halloween again, and a scary time of year for parents. The high expectations for award-winning costumes and large chocolate hauls are just the start to this harrowing holiday.
“Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.” – Shawshank Redemption
Whether this is your first Halloween as a parent, or you are a veteran, here are a few helpful hints to help you survive this spine-tingling season.
1. Be prepared.
Are you afraid you’ll be up at all hours of the night with small children traumatized by the Reese’s PB Cup advertisement? You should be. Small kids, in particular, have difficulty differentiating between fantasy and reality, and they will be bombarded with gory, ghostly ghouls on a daily basis. Take heart. They will outgrow it, right about the time they are ready to go to trick-or-treating alone with their friends, or worse, to an unchaperoned party. Stock up on caffeinated beverages to help you stay awake. Wear your running shoes so you can run down the culprits egging your house (even if you fail to catch them, you’ll make a point: I’m old but don’t mess with me!) Keep your cell phone charged and your hamstrings stretched. Your fantasy of a great night’s sleep on Halloween night will one day be a reality, and your children will be living this ordeal instead.
2. Accept the things you cannot change.
When it comes to costumes, try to relax. Just because you spent $50 on an adorable Disney costume and your child adamantly refuses to wear is no reflection on your success or failure as a parent. Your kids will find multiple ways to blame you for their emotional scars, regardless of how hard you tried to make a Barney costume that wasn’t frigtening (there’s no such thing by the way – Barney is and will forever be kinda’ scary)! Just “let it go, let it go…rise like the break of dawn”.
3. Be Courageous
Perhaps whoever started the tradition of gutting and carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns was an idiot. Hmm…let’s combine knives, fire and eager little fingers, said no responsible parent ever. But at some point, kids get big enough they won’t be satisfied just scooping goo and drawing the face. They want to wield the knives themselves. At some point, you’ll have to cut the apron strings and relinquish the blade. The first cut is the deepest, but if you stay confident and talk them through it, they will succeed with a great sense of pride…and all their digits!
4. It’s Ok to Eat Your Kids’ Candy.
Snag a piece or 2 discreetly from your kids’ candy while they’re in bed. You’ll need the energy when they wake you from a dead sleep at 2 a.m. (Plus, you burned it off walking around the neighbourhood in the rain). Finally, as much as they declare their love for you, they probably won’t share their mini chocolate bars. Instead, you will be showered with cast-off candies like rock-hard candy corn and those weird caramels that come in the orange & black wax-paper wrappers (i.e., the same stuff we cast-off and our parents ate). Don’t feel guilty – it’s the Circle of Life.
5. If You Can’t Beat Them…Frighten them!
Little ones think it’s cool when parents dress up too. But eventually, they reach an age when being in public with you on any given day is positively terrifying…for them! These are the “fun” years…for you. Funnel all the merciless humiliation you endure by simply “being” on the other 364 days of the year into this one day. Don’t be afraid to let out your inner princess or Rock Star! Hide in their closet. Threaten to post their first bath photos on the internet. Why? Because you are an adult, and sometimes your inner child needs to come out and play.
Remember – You are not alone. There are others like you. The person standing in line behind you at the grocery store, the one who looks like the walking dead, that is probably a frightened parent too. Like you, they have spent the last 4 weeks gearing up for Halloween. They will likely spend the next 3 weeks sleep-deprived and strung out on their children’s cast-off candy. Their bodies are enduring long hours hunched up over sewing machines and standing in long lines to buy glitter. Their fingers are scarred by pumpkin cutters and glue guns. They are walking the floors at night comforting their trembling babes and worrying about real monsters prowling the streets at night.Their ears are deafened by screams of terror and delight. Tonight, we will walk miles in the bone-aching evening chill, dutifully clutching pillow cases of loot that will never touch our lips. Do it for your kids but don’t be afraid!
“Nothing spreads like fear” – Contagion