This post is part of the 2012 Green Halloween® Blogfest. If you would like more information about how to have a greener and healthier Halloween, please check out the posts linked up to this Green Halloween page.
There are a lot of things to scare us this year on Halloween. For starters, there are the typical threats of razor blades in apples, errant drivers, boogey men and mean-spirited teenagers. Then, add in the new threats of lead-tainted face paints, lead, phthalates, and cadmium in a wide assortment of Halloween decorations, toys and accessories. On top of that, we can add in the fears over the abundance of sugar treats made from GMOs and laden with High Fructose Corn syrup which has proven high in mercury and our every day fears and anxieties balloon into monstrous proportions!
Do you cringe when you see your child pop a Tootsie Roll in their mouth? I know I have. I immediately think “cavities! sugar! GMOs! Oh my!”
Then I look at their costumes, store-bought, flimsy, probably toxic, definitely too expensive and I feel like banning all future Halloween celebrations. And while I’m at it, let’s cancel the Easter Egg hunt and Birthday Parties. Let’s just hide in the house with the windows open to improve the air quality, or wait, leave them closed to improve the air quality? Every direction I turn in I’m bombarded with a new toxic threat from the air, the water, my couch, my fridge. And now I’m stressing and stress is bad! GAHH!!
And this leads me to the scariest thing about Halloween: We might forget to have fun. These seasonal celebrations are some of the best parts of childhood and even parenthood. Holidays bring us together, they help mark the years and seal our memories in our mind in a regular pattern that we can call upon in sweet moments of reflection or laugh out loud sessions of remember when with friends. On top of that, Halloween is the silliest holiday of them all and are a perfect opportunity for you to gain a little ground on the cool factor with your kids. (or lose a lot if you have teenagers, but teenagers need to be humbled, so … win win.)
I am doing my best to reduce my kids candy intake this year as I have in the past. I have more available to me this year than last year as I have a handy list of non-GMO candy I can use to “swap” with my kids. I’ve also been through the experience of removing the candy from the house a couple of days after Halloween enough times that it is no longer a battle as my kids know this is part of the process in my house. (I usually take the candy to work for the break room). I love the idea of the Switch Witch and wish I’d heard of it a couple of years ago when I could have used this cute story to remove the candy instead of the story I’ve used: “Because I said so.”
I am inspired by stories of parents reducing waste on this holiday filled with what seems like endless, bite sized wrapper trash waste. One mother I know has decorated a bag of clementines to hand out to the ghouls and goblins who come to her door. Another friend is handing out spooky stickers and glow in the dark bracelets and necklaces.
I applaud the parents doing their best to reduce their kids toxic exposure to Halloween costumes by making their own. If I had a shred of crafting creativity and if I had some more time to devote to costume making, I would love to be that mom with the one of a kind costume hand crafted for her child. I’m not that mom. Incidentally, I met that mom (or one of them) last night at a very creative Halloween party. Her daughter was running around in a too small Tinkerbelle costume after flatly refusing to wear the creative, time-consuming, brow wrinkling, sleep losing masterpiece costume her mother had worked on for the bulk of the month. That made me feel better. It did. But I still applaud that mother’s efforts. She is fighting the good fight. But she is also doing something else that I admire, she is not letting her daughter’s rejection of the costume ruin her fun.
The truth is there comes a time when trick or treating is upon us, the sun starts to set, excited kids are running around disguised as dogs and princesses and Ninjas and football players and trains and Elmo and everything else under the sun that captivates them. Eventually, all the wigs have been placed, the flashlights are on, the doorsteps are lit and we need to let go of our worries and embrace the fun! There is only so much we can do. If we have made our best effort, we have done our best, and now we need to stop cringing and researching and worrying and start enjoying the silliness of Halloween.
The scariest thing about Halloween is that all our worrying and preparing and researching will make us forget to have fun on the silliest holiday of the year!
My top 5 tips for getting your Spook on this year.
1. Let them eat Candy!
Whether you are lucky or determined enough to have found non-gmo, organic, waste-free treats and convinced all your neighbors to do the same or if your kids bags will be filled with junk, let them gorge their silly sugar high selves on it on Halloween night. Dentists agree that the day-to-day sugar indulgence does far more harm to teeth and bodies than the occasional night of gluttony. We need to fight the everyday onslaught of sugar, candy, empty calories, but when it comes to the big Holidays, we need to let our utopian dreams take a back burner for one night. Let them eat Candy! Then on November 1, get rid of it. Hopefully they feel sick enough from the candy they don’t put up much of a fight.
2. Throw a Party!
Don’t count on your friends to go the extra mile to make their party green and don’t judge them if they don’t. Hey, at one point we were all new to this. Let’s be good to each other! A great way to introduce your friends and neighbors to your passion for a Green Halloween is to throw a party yourself and use it as an opportunity to casually talk about why you made your food choices or costume choices. Set up a craft table to let kids and parents make their own face paint. Offer Unreal foods or other Non-GMO treats. This is a great way to control your environment while also spreading the word in a non-threatening way.
3.Seize the opportunity
While I love the idea of the Switch Witch and while the “Because I said” so line has worked for me, don’t let these flourishes or dogmas let you miss an opportunity to have a frank conversation with your kids about brushing. If your kids have teeth, you or they need to be brushing them. Take this candy fest and use it as an opportunity to talk about or remind your kids about why brushing is important, how to brush their teeth and for how long. It might also be a good opportunity to swap their toothbrush for a new one from the Switch Witch.
4. Dress up!
If you think your kids love seeing their friends dressed up in fuzzy outfits or decked out in fake muscles or long hair, just imagine their glee when serious Mom and Mr. Rules Dad break out the Cindi Lauper wig and neon stockings or the Superman leotard. Yes, it is our job to teach our kids the rules and enforce the rules and instill healthy habits and discipline. But it’s also our job to teach our kids to enjoy the moment, not take themselves too seriously, enjoy the community of friends, laugh play and live with abundant joy. You can’t really show them how to do that lurking in the shadows in your blue jeans and winter coat checking emails on your iPhone, can you? No. Don’t be a party pooper.
5. Keep up your new exercise routine!
What? You didn’t realize you just went out and got your needed 30 minutes of exercise? It’s true! Tricked you!! If you went house to house with your kids, chances are you got at least 30 minutes of intermittent walking into your day. Good for you! Wasn’t it fun? Now, you don’t need to dress up or knock on all your neighbors doors this time. And you don’t have to stay out as long, but do take a walk with your kids after or before dinner. Then do it again and again. It’s a great way to get ready for the next to gorge fests this season while getting a jump-start on your New Years Resolutions! Don’t give up on November 1. You already started! And you didn’t even know it!