My family loves Halloween, or to further clarify, my children and my husband adore Halloween. As for me? I get a little stressed around any holiday, especially one that calls for costumes, face paint, sugar highs, late bedtimes, and a clean entry way so trick-or-treaters are not scared away by my dust bunnies.
Our neighborhood is a great place for trick-or-treating. All of the houses are so generous, as we see our fair share of king-size candy bars and large containers of Pringles. Last year we deviated from our typical routine of neighborhood trick-or-treating because my husband signed up to run a half-marathon that took us out of town. We packed our costumes and the kiddos got to stay in a hotel, jump on beds, swim in a pool, and trick-or-treat in a lovely outdoor mall area. It was a great time, however we are still paying the ultimate parenting price for changing up our Halloween tradition.
My eight-year-old constantly reminds us that even though going out of town was fun, it did not compare to our own ‘hood. And when I say she CONSTANTLY reminds us, I do mean in the most literal sense. Her opinion on this matter comes up about twice-a-month in casual conversation. Therefore, it has been set in stone by me, that we will never again deviate from our usual neighborhood Halloween pilgrimage for treats.
My oldest daughter’s borderline psychotic emphasis on how fun traditional trick-or-treating is for her, got me to wondering: How do parents and children dealing with food allergies, diabetes, autism, A.D.H.D., A.D.D., sensory issues, etc. handle trick-or-treating.? Do they dread it? Do they embrace it? Do they walk a fine line just to get through the night?
I don’t have definitive answers to all of these questions, but I did get great feedback from some wonderful mothers who were kind enough to answer my very general questions. Hopefully their insights can help us all be a bit more aware when it comes to welcoming trick-or-treaters.
Food allergies are such a big concern for today’s society, and trick-or-treating can cause some serious worry for kids who are allergic to tree nuts, soy, wheat, etc. I have written about having empathy for those with nut allergies before on Family Footnote, but it really is a never-ending topic. That is why my family is participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project this year. It is a program designed to make trick-or-treating safer for children who suffer from any type of food allergy.
All a person has to do to participate is display a teal pumpkin on their doorstep and hand-out non-food treats to the numerous super heroes and Disney characters that will come stomping to the front door on Halloween night. I bought a teal pumpkin from Target and plan to hand-out pencil sharpeners that I bought in bulk on Amazon.
If a person can’t break away from handing out candy, maybe consider going nut-free and gluten-free. Most Target stores have a list currently on display that names a bunch of candies that are safe for kids with food allergies. Amazon also has great bulk items for those with food allergies.
A friend of mine, who has a daughter with severe nut allergies, recommended the following sweets to me: Smarties, Dum dums, Charms suckers, Skittles, Starbursts, Twizzlers, Fruit Snacks, and Bubble Gum.
For more snack safe options, please visit this website: www.snacksafely.com.
I really feel for the individuals who have to live with Type I Diabetes every single day. I had gestational diabetes with all of my pregnancies and found the counting and monitoring of carbohydrates to be not only tedious, but stressful.
I figured parents of diabetic children would detest Halloween. But, when I spoke with a few moms who are actually living this life, they set me straight. They said that their diabetic kiddos enjoy trick-or-treating despite the volcanic sugar eruption on the last day of October. For these families, it all comes down to taking care and being aware.
I know a mom, named Courtney, who has a nine-year-old son with diabetes. He is very responsible when it comes to counting his carbs and measuring his insulin. Some Halloweens Courtney hands out candy, and some years she does not. She was able to offer a short list of yummy treats, that can make for happy diabetics. They are:
- Sugar Free Gum
- Sugar Free Juices
- Cuties (the small oranges)
- Cheese Ball Puffs (*Courtney is handing these out this year, and one serving equals four grams of carbohydrates, which makes for a yummy and healthier snack for all!)
- Bottled Water with Sugar Free Kool-Aid Packets (*I love this idea and may steal it to add with my colorful pencil sharpeners.)
- Cheese Sticks
- Meat Sticks
Probably one of the best ways to be diabetic friendly with trick-or-treating is to hand-out treats with a nutrition label. That way the guesswork is eliminated for children who need to make insulin adjustments before eating something from their Halloween stash.
No trick-or-treater is the same, and there is a good chance that some of the kids visiting my doorstep for Halloween may have a diagnosis of ADD, ADHD, Autism, or Asperger’s Syndrome. Therefore my bright porch lights, decorative fall tables, and large bowl of treats may look like obstacles instead of enjoyments.
So I wondered…how can I be more mindful and considerate so that these youngsters feel comfortable when trick-or-treating at my home?
Jennifer Lovy had some good answers, in the article she wrote for Scary Mommy. Her advice was, “Be aware, be understanding and be accepting.”
Her article and specifically the quote above was good for me, because I am that person who rushes too much and can be a tad bit impatient. Therefore, I am going to work hard this Halloween to speak softer, not be so demanding of pleases and thank-you’s, and also let a child take his or her sweet time when it comes to picking out a favorite colored pencil sharpener from my treat basket. I mean really what is the rush?
By being more patient and more understanding, it will make for a better Halloween evening for everyone (my “Type A” self included). I just need the reminder every now and then to not rush kiddos off my doorstep and also to be a good listener should a child want to discuss the rug on my floor, rather than his or her costume.
Non-neurotypical children can be very blunt. This straight talk may catch a person off-guard, but it is good to remember there is also a nice honesty factor in bluntness, so I am going to try to embrace that as well on October 31st. The website, Autism Speaks, talks about this better than I could ever write about it. They had a great article regarding Halloween tips, that is a good read for parents and families, as well as neighbors and friends.
Halloween is a lot of fun, but it can also be a time to be more mindful of others. Happy Halloween preparation to all of our readers, and thanks to the great mommy sources who helped me with this article. By being more aware and tapping into the deep seeded empathy we all possess, trick-or-treating can be more fun for everyone!
Do you have any good non-edible trick-or-treat recommendations? Let us know by leaving a comment or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org