For parents, Halloween can seem more like the horror movie with the same name, especially if it falls on a school night. Sure, maybe you're not being slowly stalked by Michael Meyers, but between the kids' excessive enthusiasm, sugar highs and subsequent crashes, a little piece of your sanity can die with every All Hallows' Eve.
But if you follow these simple tips, you can make this year's Halloween manageable and even work in some positive life lessons for your kids.
Set Expectations the Night Before1 of 8
If you think school night Halloweens are tough for parents, you should see what teachers have to deal with every year. Not only are all 20 kids wired with excitement the day of, but the morning after they're either exhausted from staying out too late or even more wired from binging on candy all night and into the wee hours of the morning.
Start by informing your child they need to behave as if this were any other school week. They need to be on their best behavior at school, and they won't get a free pass to skip class the next morning. And make sure they know what consequences they'll face if they come home with a report of bad behavior.
You don't have to threaten to take away the celebration altogether, but you can limit how much time they can spend trick-or-treating or fine them a certain amount of candy based on the offense.
Get Homework Done ASAP2 of 8
Make one simple rule: No trick-or-treating until all your homework is finished. You'll be amazed at how quickly all the homework gets done. Just make sure they're actually doing the homework and not just phoning it in so they can get out the door quicker.
Fuel Up Before Leaving3 of 8
Whether it's a hearty snack or an early dinner, make sure the kids have some proper nutritious fuel before they head out the door. This will help discourage them from snacking on and finishing their loot before they get home.
Get an Early Start4 of 8
Avoid a late night of trick-or-treating by getting an early start. This way your kids get worn out faster, and you can have them home in time to go through the normal bedtime routine. If they need some incentive to get started before dark, tell them all the best candy gets handed out first.
No Shortcuts5 of 8
This means no hopping in the car to get from house to house and no getting pulled in a wagon by mom or dad. Scooters and bikes are fine as long as the kids are using their own energy to earn that candy.
Kids don't get enough physical activity as it is, so use this opportunity to incentivize them to get up and get moving.
Negotiate Terms of Candy Consumptions Ahead of Time6 of 8
Kids are animals. Leave them alone with a pillowcase full of candy, and all you'll come back to is an empty pillowcase, a lot of trash and a potentially sick kid.
We recommend no candy snacking until you get home and setting a limit on how many pieces they are allowed to have that night. If they made it through school with good behavior, consider rewarding them with a (that's singular) piece of candy to go with their lunch the next day.
But don't think just because you made it to November 1 you're in the clear; be sure to set restrictions for the rest of their loot, too. Explain to them that the fun of Halloween will last longer if they spread their candy out longer.
Reward Them for Donating Candy to Their Classroom7 of 8
Let's be honest, no matter how many days or weeks you spread it across, you don't really want your kid eating an entire pillowcase full of candy.
See if your child's teacher would like donations to the classroom treasure box. Or find out the teacher's favorite candy and reward them for dealing with all those maniac children.
Offer your child a reward, too, for donating their candy, such as a new toy or a trip to the park.