“Is Halloween real?” my three-year-old asked last night. We’ve been talking about real and imaginary a lot lately, so with pumpkins appearing everywhere, I wasn’t surprised by the question. A holiday built around dressing up and eating candy doesn’t seem like it should be real. Truthfully, when I first became a mother, I didn’t know if Halloween would be real for us.
At one time, I struggled to reconcile my commitment to real food with a holiday built around processed sugar.
I considered being the mom who banned candy just as I had banned juice for my baby. I could easily have made “healthy” sweet snacks, stuck to fruit, or just said no, but I realized that’s not the mom I wanted to be.
Like most kids, I was a kid who loved candy.
Unlike most kids, I grew up in a house with nearly unlimited treats. It was all soda, all ice cream, all cookies all the time. My friends now, even in our 30s, wax poetic about coming over to my house and eating all the things their parents wouldn’t allow.
Despite having open access to treats, Halloween was still special to me. I loved dressing up. I loved wondering what the next house would have. I loved my bag getting heavier and heavier until I went home and dumped out my haul on the floor and began sorting the goods. Remembering how much I loved it. There’s no way I could keep it from my kids, and I don’t want to.
While on the surface it seems healthier for my kids to never have candy, I won’t run an abstinence-only policy on candy.
Candy exists. My kids are going to eat it whether it’s in my house or not. I don’t want it to be taboo. I want it to be enjoyed but with limits. My goal in all things parenting is balance. I had way too much access as a child, which taught me the dangers of a poor diet the hard way. I want to educate my kids about what makes a food healthy and how much is a reasonable amount. I want them to see how they don’t have to choose between being healthy and having food that is unhealthy sometimes because that’s a standard of health I can’t even commit to.
Most of all, I want to empower my kids to make good choices when I’m not there.
To do that, I give them candy with limits, so yes, despite my original reservations, Halloween is most definitely real here, though it’s different than how I had it.
With a friend’s suggestion, I started a bag in the freezer for the excess treats. After events like trick or treating, birthday parties, and parades, I portion an amount of candy to be enjoyed at the moment, then the rest goes in the freezer, in the treat bag, to be given out throughout the rest of the year.
Most of the candy is given out after nap. Yep, I am that mom who will trade two Tootsie Rolls for two hours of quiet. I regret nothing. For a kid growing up in a crunchy house, two small pieces of candy have amazing bargaining power. My kid gets sugar, and I get to not feel like I’m being too rigid with my own agenda. We both come out feeling like winners.
I understand why some moms are more strict and won’t even let their kids eat Goldfish, but that’s not me. Sure, we eat a ridiculous amount of healthy, fresh, local, organic food, but we also eat candy. I’m fine with that.