It’s the day your little ghosts and goblins have been waiting for, and a day you may have been dreading. Sure, seeing your kids dressed up and excited is fun, but watching their trick-or-treat bags fill higher and heavier isn’t a health-conscious parent’s favorite sight.
You want to manage how much candy your kids receive and devour but don’t want to be known by the whole block as the Wicked Witch of the West who controls her munchkins’ stashes. To avoid this unhealthy sugar insanity without being a mean mom, try one or a combination of these tips to have a happy, healthy Halloween.
1. Let them ration: One simple way to avoid candy craze is to portion your children’s allotment each day, but this may promote the underlying message that you don’t trust them to make their own decisions (and that you should always eat everything you’re given). Instead of taking charge of their stash, agree on the magic number per day in advance, then give them the responsibility of separating their treats into labeled baggies.
2. Bring in the Switch Witch: After allowing them to have candy on Halloween night, let your kids choose 5 to 10 of their favorite pieces to keep. Offer up the rest of the batch to the “Switch Witch” by placing the remaining candy on the kitchen table in exchange for a game or toy they’ve been wanting. In the morning, the witch will have taken the candy and your children will have a fun, non-edible treat! Make it a family tradition by purchasing a Switch Witch doll and book!
3. Binge: This may not be the strictest (or healthiest) option, but you know your kids best. Some parents choose to give their little ones free reign for the night and let the new wear off. Most kids know that too much candy leads to a belly ache, so they may surprise you by stopping once they’ve had enough. One way to secretly control their intake is to feed them a hearty, healthy dinner before trick-or-treating to fill their bellies!
>> Serve up these 16 skinny soups for the fall!
4. Dentist buy-out: Keep your ears open for local dentists’ programs that encourage kids to turn in their candy in exchange for everyone’s favorite: cash. Some dentists pay up to $1 per pound of candy or give our prizes, so if you’ve got a money-loving kid, this is a great option if available in your area. Use this Halloween Candy Buyback site to find participating offices near you! They partner with Operation Gratitude, an organization that sends candy to soldiers overseas. (The Switch Witch is an official partner of these organizations, too!)
5. Keep it out of sight: Controlling the candy may be as simple as keeping it out of sight. It’s fun and festive to display your kids’ treats in candy dishes, bowls or jars, but it reminds your little ones that they’ve got more to eat. Try storing the candy in an opaque container, hidden away in the back of your pantry or in a drawer. It’ll keep candy off the brain and they’ll be tempted to eat less.
>> The same goes for moms, too! Replace your cookie jar with a fruit bowl and unconsciously eat healthier.
6. Edit the stash: Spend Halloween night sorting through the candy with your kids. Have them separate the candy they love from those they don’t, then throw out or donate the candy your kids didn’t choose. It makes the stash look smaller and will allow your kids to ration it themselves so as to not run out too quickly!
7. Donate candy to deployed soldiers: Halloween isn’t typically the season of giving, but it’s never a bad idea to help deserving people in need. Talk to your children and get them on board with donating their candy to deployed soldiers, along with handwritten notes to Operation Shoebox or Operation Gratitude. Volunteers then fill care packages with candy for these brave men and women.