Halloween night, Tess and her best buddy (aka the spider and the witch) went trick-or-treating in a cold rain, returning with a modest array of candy and snacks that they dumped on the carpet and fanned out like peacocks. The No. 1 thing they were hunting down: the popcorn (homemade, plain) that a neighbor had tossed in their bags.
When they moved on to the candy, reaching for the Reese’s peanut butter cups, I asked if they wanted those or the Newman’s Own organic peanut butter cups I’d bought. Their choice. Both picked the dark-chocolate Newman’s. (Even Newman’s is more processed than I like, and it’s still a whole lot of sugar. But, hey, at least it doesn’t have non-organic soy or the controversial preservative TBHQ, like Reese’s.)
From there it was all about the mini Play-Doh tubs leftover from our treat basket. And that’s how they spent most of Halloween night, rolling snails from clay and leaving popcorn crumbs on the couch, candy bags ignored on the floor.
The next day, Monday, Tess had off from school for parent-teacher conferences. Same with yesterday. I put her candy bag in the kitchen and figured we’d at some point do our annual sort-and-toss (or sort-and-save for gingerbread houses). Monday I worked while Tess amused herself. She stayed in her pajamas and basically owned the place. Books, TV, important writings on her trusty clipboard, Play-Doh cookies made with Play-Doh sprinkles, a fort constructed with blankets and couch cushions. Happy kid.
Her Halloween bag sat on the counter, next to the paper bag of candy one of the grandmas brought to Sunday brunch (including a candy bracelet that Tess had worn and nibbled post-brunch). Twice Tess raided the stash. First to get a flashing magic wand (also from grandma) for her fort. Then to get a plastic pinball game a neighbor had given her.
She didn’t touch the candy. She didn’t even mention the candy. Except to point to the four giant gumballs in the handle of the pinball game and ask: “Didn’t you say we were going to do experiments with these?” (Which I did. And which we will. I especially want to do this with the gumballs and this with the Skittles.)
Tuesday we were gone most of the day. Today she went back to school. And still the candy hasn’t been touched.
My point? Well, I guess it’s this: Kids can enjoy Halloween without stuffing their faces or making it all about the candy. Their childhood won’t be ruined. They won’t turn all binge-y and weird and scarf every multicolored sugar nugget the minute they get the chance. Heck, you can even limit the candy, and talk about why you limit the candy, then leave the whole shebang on the counter and it might just attract zero interest.
We’ll still do our sort-and-save. But I’ll probably wait until Tess asks about or goes for the candy. Because at this point, it’s become a candy experiment of a different kind.
What was your Halloween like? And for the teachers out there: How has school been this week? Turns out that teachers dread the day after Halloween. (As do school nurses.) Makes perfect sense now that I think about it, what with all those little chemical time bombs walking around. But I didn’t see the light until I told a friend — a middle-school teacher — that my daughter’s school was closed for conferences. She looked at me like that was the most genius idea she’d ever heard. Then she shook her head sadly and braced for the day after.
Now the recalls: Five are for findings of lead and metal particles. But one — Nestle Raisinets — is for possible unlabeled peanuts.
My family believes I am robbing my children of their childhood by feeding them good foods instead of candy and cookies with every meal. I am thrilled to read of your daughter’s reaction (or non-reaction) to the candy she brought home. It solidifies my belief that what I’m choosing to do is the right thing.
Our Halloween, like yours, was cut short because of the rain. We went trick-or-treating at family members’ houses on Saturday, where my kids (especially my 4-year-old) were given enough candy to bathe in. Fortunately, my MIL asked my husband what to get the kids beforehand. She gave them their absolute favorite snack-the CocoPop Rice Cakes from Wegmans.
On Sunday, we went to a Halloween party, and then came home, stuck the babies in bed, and my four-year-old and I went out. We went to 5 houses. She wanted a lollypop from her stash when we got home, which I let her have.
She has not asked for the candy since.
I’ll end this long comment with this point: Despite being exposed to some not-so-healthy snacks at preschool (parents bring in snacks), each time I ask her what she would like to bring in when it’s our turn she surprises me by listing the things she eats every day. She wants to bring in carrots and hummus, rice cakes, and fruit. This makes me believe that I’m doing something right, even though I’m told constantly that I’m not.
And that is also why I love your blog so much. You get it.
My daughter had strep throat, so all we could do was take her on a cold, wet, short walk around to see decorations, as she was still in the contagious period. But she could not have had much of the candy anyway – she has a dairy sensitivity, which means most if not all of the chocolate-based candies are out of her reach anyway, and she is not allowed to have candy with artificial colors, Trans fats, etc. (and she doesn’t want to eat it, either). That wouldn’t leave much available to her, would it? She’s OK with that – it was missing out on the activity of trick-or-treating with her friends that upset her.
I am thankful my family not only understands but appreciates where we’re coming from at our house when it comes to how we raise our daughter. My in-laws, well, they don’t get it, and don’t want to get it. They think we are too strict when it comes to, well, name it – TV, diet, religion, etc. I have been told by others, as well, that “everything in moderation” is what’s important, and “there is only so much you can control, Judy,” but no, there are some things that need to be completely restricted and controlled: Trans fats, artificial sweeteners and colors, questionable (or downright known-to-be-dangerous) chemicals/preservatives… It’s like saying you’ll take healthy in moderation. Does that make sense? “Yeah, my kid only needs a moderate amount of healthy, thanks.” There is a lot I can’t control – but there is a lot I can control, too, and that’s my job as a parent.
“It’s like saying you’ll take healthy in moderation.”
Spot on, Judy. As I’ve said probably a hundred times at this point, I think “moderation” is a buzzword used by food marketers and industry-funded (or brainwashed) dietitians to make people feel better about eating junk. Hate that word.
Oh, that said, I purchased regular old candy to hand out. I admit it. (OK, so I don’t think it had lead in it – I looked for it, but couldn’t find any.)
i did a sort with the kids after halloween and we put all the food dyed stuff in a garbage sack and put it in the trash can. They didn’t appear to care too much because they still had a GIANT pile and huge variety of chocolate to “save.” Although the food dye toss came back to haunt me yesterday. The school gave out rainbow popsicles at lunch. My youngest ate his at lunch, but for some knuckle head reason my six year old didn’t, packed his unwrapped popsicle in his lunch box . Driving them home from school, I hear from the back “I need to throw something away!” Me “You need to throw something away? Now?” 6yo “My popsicle is dripping.” Me “Why is there a melted popsicle in your lunch box?”
I park, we clean up the mess, assure him everything’s OK (he’s upset that he made a mess in the car) and we head home. He starts crying. “I really wanted that popsicle. You never let us have food coloring. It was one of the only chances I had.” Sigh. My kids aren’t where Tess is right now. They still want access to the stuff they get from friends, family, school, the barber shop. Even offering to trade for “legal” stuff I buy they feel like they are missing out. One day maybe they’ll make the choices I’d like them to make without feeling oppressed, but not yet.
I did not expect my 6 yo to think that saving a popsicle was feasible. He’s a bright kid. I wonder if his lapse in judgement was partially because he really needed access to the forbidden. I’m doing something wrong!
Jenna, Tess is pretty consistent about recognizing and not eating food dyes, but it’s not absolute. That candy bracelet I mentioned above? Colored, of course, and she knew that, but she wanted it anyway. So I let her have it, figuring she’d self-regulate because, let’s face it, that stuff tastes awful when you’re not used to it. Sure enough, after a few beads, it ended up off her wrist and on the floor.
She’ll do the same with M&M’s. She knows they have food coloring, but if they’re in her treat bag, she wants some. (Though no one even gave them out this year, which is kind of weird.) And candies like Skittles and Nerds have never appealed to her. She’s really all about the chocolate. So that helps.
I try to keep it light so she doesn’t feel pressured. And I try to present options so she feels she’s the one making the choice (like with the Reese’s vs. Newman’s). But I also recognize that we’re very fortunate her school encourages healthy birthday treats, requires kids to bring their own snacks and lunches (no sharing or trading allowed), and does not use food rewards.
That’s huge, I think, because we don’t have to battle a lot of the crap you and others do in school. My mind boggles at the thought of a school handing out popsicles at all, much less just days after Halloween. Though I know that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
I kind of laughed when the school nurse called me Monday to tell me my son was in with a headache. She assumed it must have been all the candy… but we don’t celebrate Halloween and he can’t eat food colors so there wasn’t a huge candy binge. She sounded pretty glad when I said just have him drink some water and send him back to class. I bet she had a rough day.
Too funny, Milehimama. When we were at school Tuesday for my daughter’s parent-teacher conference, Tess was a bit cranky. That was because we’d picked an early a.m. time slot and, in Tess’s mind, it was her day off and she shouldn’t have had to leave the house so early. And her teacher knows full well where we stand on food (and in fact lives much the same way herself). So it was highly unlikely she’d think a Halloween binge was the culprit. But the thought still crossed my mind that I might need to defend that assumption.
Fortunately, her teacher is awesome (and has a 6-year-old herself), so it never even came up.
Those recalls are scary! Yipes!
Well, my kids made a good haul. I felt kind of bad taking it away. They got to eat a few pieces and then the next day we did a counting, sorting and graphing exercise with them, and then that night the “switch witch” came and left them money for the rest of their candy and took said bags of candy to work to feed the happy co-workers.
Melodie, nice way to use the candy for good, not evil. Love the homeschool math lesson. (But, wait, weren’t you planning to take your girls to a Waldorf Halloween celebration? I remember that because it sounded so very amazing.)
Use the throw-away candy for gingerbread houses: Brilliant!
My kids got hardly any candy this year, either. Well… they are too young to know any better, actually. I skipped trick-or treating and went to the fall harvest celebration at our CSA farm and went to a church chile cook-off all in our costumes. I was so glad we didn’t go trick-or-treating.
-CK (from breast feeding moms unite carnival)
We went out a wee bit early so we got in 2 really good blocks before the rain started. My girls like to pass out candy too — so it worked out fine.
The first thing my oldest did was to “organize” her candy — 2 piles: things she can eat, things she can’t eat. Admittedly, the things they can’t eat isn’t based on much other than what mommy (and the girls now) thinks is gross, and what is really bad for their teeth (too sticky or too hard) – which doesn’t leave much else. Since then, they’ve taken their pumpkin buckets out a couple times to organize them by type, or color or whatever — they like to just look at the packages — it’s really funny! I’d say since Sunday they’ve had . . . 3 pieces of candy — some type of mini-chocolate something. Which I’m fine with. As far as what’s given out — I will say, the neighborhood kids this year literally cheered when they got pencils from one of the houses — pencils = big hit.
So the fun-dip, skittles, twizzlers, sourheads, tootsie rolls and swedishfish hit the garbage. After a while, the other not-as-bad stuff will too — after I sneak my fair share ; )
Alisa, I hear you on the packages. Maybe it’s the artistry or the art of the conquest, who knows? But Tess is the same way. She finally went for the candy one day after school this week (chocolate, natch, and one Skittle — yes, one). Then she lost interest again. Of course, she then ate a nice fat piece of birthday cake at a party this afternoon, so that took care of the bouncing-off-the-walls for the week.
I didn’t have a plan for how to handle Halloween candy this year. I thought I would see how it went & then go from there. I took Evan (3) out to trick or treat. We did the loop we live on which is about 15 houses. Only about 12 were giving out candy. Evan ended up with a modest amount of candy & he was good with stopping there. When we got home he dumped out his candy and wanted to eat some. He ended up eating a twizzler, some Cheetos and some Pringles. Great? No but not horrible either. He then went to bed and I packed up his candy and our leftover candy from the handout bowl and put them away in the pantry. Since Halloween he’s had about 3 pieces of candy.
I have definitely figured out with Evan that out of sight is out of mind. Now if I could just throw it away so I would quit eating it. 🙂
I took my 4-year-old son trick or treating for the first time this year and he was more excited about spending time with his friends than anything else – after getting about fifteen pieces of candy, he stopped going up to the houses, saying he was “full”. What a relief! That attitude is definitely something I’m going to try to encourage, especially since I saw the other end of the spectrum in the other children who were racing from house to house at top speed – their focus was scary 🙂
Thor had 2 pieces of candy the night of Halloween and has subsequently eaten 3 of his Milky Ways. He hasn’t even asked for anymore. I feel that one you’ve learned the art of no as a parent (saying no like you really mean instead of aw well, maybe), the kids get it.
Melissa, I also really believe that kids raised to appreciate real food just don’t develop the same taste for pseudo-food.
Wow! You are all inspiring me. I consider myself fairly good with nutrition and always trying to teach my kids to make good choices. But I have to say I never even considered much changes with candy – other than to limit the amount. I can’t even imagine my child not wanting their halloween candy. Glad I found this blog.
I think I let my kids do too much trick-or-treating this year, more than the previous year. I have to get it out of my head that what I was allowed to do as a child – focused on getting as much as possible, is not necessarily what I need to encourage in my kids. I need to create a different focus for the activities on Halloween.
Alicia, so much of what we did as kids seems so innocent now, doesn’t it? Back then, Halloween really was a special occasion (and the candy wasn’t as chemicalized, either). So a big haul under those conditions seems downright quaint. Not so much now.
Last year my kids collected all their candy, sorted it for candy experiments, started experimenting, and didn’t ask to eat any until Wednesday. And that was just because my daughter wanted to taste the gum before she kneaded it with her hands.
If you want to teach your kids about artificial colors in candy, try chromatography. Brown M&Ms work especially well because they have about four different dyes mixed together, and the chromatography separates them so you can see them. Might make an impression.
Loralee, so nice to see you here. Love your site. We haven’t done our candy experiments yet, but I’ll probably post about them when we do. Thanks for the tip on the brown M&Ms. But Tess didn’t get any M&Ms this year, so we’ll try the chromatography with gumballs and the other colored bits we got. (I’ve also used Easter eggs to demonstrate the difference between fake and natural food dyes. Wrote about that here.)
There has got to be something wrong with me. I was literally tearing up over your Halloween triumphs. :0) Our post-mortem link is here. http://littleladieswholunch.com/post/12202486133/best-halloween-ever
Not nearly as well written as yours, but it’ll have to do.
Susan: Love your “hydration station” and the idea of handing out clementines. I actually thought of you last night while we were out trick-or-treating in a friend’s neighborhood, far from our house (and my water bottle). I would have killed for a drink of water. Brilliant idea.
Just wanted to share my own Halloween post-mortem. The 4-year-old who last year asked for a lollypop when she came home from trick-or-treating and then never again asked for another piece of candy this year is a 5-year-old who asked for a chocolate bar Halloween night and another the next day (both of which I gave her), and who has not asked for a single piece of candy since. My twin three-year-olds haven’t asked for even one piece.
And then there’s this, which I’m sure you’ve seen:
The little kids? Kind of funny. The older kids screaming and punching walls over lost candy? Scary.