Ahhh, Halloween. Some parents love it. Others hate it. Me? I fall somewhere in between, really enjoying parts of it, but often finding myself waiting for the whole thing to be over. Regardless of how you view this pagan holiday, most can not argue that the Halloween path is fraught with obstacles and the danger looms large for, at minimum, one huge freak out from at least one of your children along the way. I mean c’mon, the combination of being totally strung out on candy corn and staying up way past bedtime is a recipe for disaster – and I’m just talking about the adults.

What I have learned during the past 11 years in Mommyville is the following: To survive Halloween, parents must view themselves not as participants in — but as facilitators of — fun. This mentality requires a relaxation of the regular rules, a huge increase in flexibility, and several glasses of red wine.

So here are my personal Top 10 Halloween behaviors that should be avoided by parentswho don’t want their children to melt down like Reeses Peanut Butter cup left in a jeans pocket and run through the clothes dryer:

On Halloween, DO NOT:

  1. Ask for input from more than one child on how to carve the single pumpkin. There are no winners here and sharp tools involved.
  2. Give out bad candy to neighborhood kids, or worse…no candy. I am told that Jolly Ranchers and Dum-Dum lollipops are bad, anything chocolate is good, and whatever you do, do not give out tooth brushes instead.
  3. Force your need for originality and creativity onto your child. We know you want your kid to go as a blackberry or global warming but if they want to be a ninja or a witch for the third year in a row….for God’s sake, let them.
  4. Succumb to parental instincts for health and safety. If you child does not want to wear a coat over his or her costume, bulk up underneath and secretly smile when they shiver. But do not say “I told you so.”
  5. Over embrace the fun. Grown-ups who get waaaay into Halloween are, for lack of a better term, a little creepy. While some kids love it when their parents join in the revelry, others are justifiably mortified. If they wince at you in the French Maid outfit, put on a sweater and jeans and go as a compliant adult.
  6. Enforce the “you may only eat one thing rule” on Halloween night. In the words of my eight year old, that’s just wrong.
  7. Assume the dinner time is “business as usual”. Everyone eats standing up, in 5 minutes, if at all. Utensils and chewing are optional.
  8. Travel in large packs comprised of multi-aged kids. The little ones fall behind, fall down, and cry while the older kids never look back. Your choice is to scold the older sibling and make them wait begrudgingly for the younger one or pick up your puddle of a little child and try to heal their hurt feelings. Who you choose depends on which hissy fit you are best suited to handle that night.
  9. Expect child to utilize every costume accoutrement you shelled out big bucks for. They will not be able to see out of their rubber masks, those creepy hands are no good for picking out the Fun Size 3 Musketeers from the candy bin, and they will tire of holding the fairy wand or large scythe after the second house. Be prepared to carry everything they shed along the way.
  10. Allow for side-by-side inventory comparison at night’s end. It doesn’t matter that they went to identical houses, one sibling will always come out ahead. Trading may seem like a good idea, but it NEVER ends well. Don’t go there. Erect a Chinese Wall when inventory begins and – if needed — threaten to combine (YIKES) everyone’s stash into a giant bowl to take to the office the next day. Works every time.

Be safe MoB readers. Thanks for reading.

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