“Halloween is just finals week for parents.” – Comedian Jim Gaffigan.
Isn’t it? As kids, it’s the best day: You get to dress up like a superhero, go around with a giant pillowcase, and collect free candy! As adults, though, we just see this add up:
Sugar + kids = Craziness
While I don’t have kids of my own, I do see the effects of Halloween in my middle school students for a week (usually longer) after the big candy day. As a health and physical education teacher, I brainstormed ways that this Halloween could be used positively in homes to teach students about nutrition, encourage children to be charitable citizens, help rid houses of a candy surplus and still have happy kids.
Three Simple Tricks to Get Rid of Treats
1. Candy/Money Exchange
Have your kids add up the calories in the candy, and allow them to exchange the calories for an equal amount of money that they can spend on a new toy or pair of shoes or clothes. For example, a fun size York Peppermint Patty is 70 Calories, which could be equivalent to $0.70 towards a different prize that they have been asking for or saving up for.
2. Snack Swap
Keep their candy in a dish/bowl in the refrigerator (or freezer) near an assortment of healthy snacks like these from Gina Aliotti, or fresh fruit and vegetables. When they ask for a snack (candy), allow your kids to trade in 1 bigger candy or 2 smaller candies from their bowl for a healthy snack instead.
3. Charitable Candy
Take a moment to explain to your child(ren) about those who are less fortunate and those who are giving up their lives to fight for our country. You can show them the sites below to help. Ask them if they would like to donate any of their candy. You might be surprised by how generous kids are! You can also collect the candy that is traded-in (if you use idea 1 or 2) and allow your children to mail their donation.
• Operation Shoebox takes donations all year to send to troops. And your child(ren) can also include a picture or note to send along with it – https://operationshoebox.com/how-you-can-help/candy-donations/ There is also a testimonial slideshow at the bottom of the FAQ page where you can read through some of the thank you notes that military personnel write in.
• Operation Gratitude sends care packages for U.S. Troops, Veterans, New Recruits, Wounded Warriors and Military Children —https://opgrat.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/halloween-candy-for-the-troops/
• Ronald McDonald House provides homes-away-from-home for families who are dealing with a medical crisis – http://rmhc.org/
• Also check with your local dentist offices, churches and charity organizations. Many of them collect candy on site to donate!
Have A Happy, Healthy Halloween!