If you’ve got little ones at home, a fun alternative to trick-or-treating is a Halloween party. You don’t have to worry about the weather, too-spooky scares, and buckets and buckets of sugar. You can still make the night a memorable and festive affair with fun games, snacks, and of course, some activities that get them up, moving, and burning off some of that energy. Here are some of our favourite ways to get goblins up and moving.
Monster freeze dance
Put on ‘Monster Mash’ and other seasonal tunes. Have kids show off their silliest monster dance moves, but they must freeze in place when the tunes turn off!
Choose smallish pumpkins with short stems (depending on the ages of your party guests). Set up 1- or 2-liter plastic bottles and tape off a starting line for an instant bowling alley. Fill the bottles with a bit of sand or rice if they topple over too easily. You can also have kids decorate the bottles with stickers, markers, and other art materials.
Cut pumpkin shapes from construction paper and arrange them on the floor; kids must move from pumpkin to pumpkin while music plays, just like in musical chairs. To keep kids from being excluded, allow them to share pumpkins as you remove a pumpkin for each round. By the end of the game, all the kids have to squeeze onto one spot. For variety, you could also use spider webs, tombstones, or witchy cauldrons for targets.
This goofy race requires kids to work together (and stick together) as a team. Divide the group into two equal teams. Teams must line up and form a ‘worm’. The person at the front of the line reaches his left hand between his legs; the player behind him grabs it with her right hand; and so on all the way to the end of the line. When you say ‘Go’ (or ‘Boo!’), each team must run to a goal line and back. Whichever team gets back first is the winner—but only if their worm is still intact!
Image of Halloween Dance from Shutterstock.
Before you have a child, you think you know what kind of parent you’re going to be. I thought I’d be relaxed and go with the flow—turned out my daughter thrived on structure. I imagined we’d spend hours playing with each other’s hair. Nuh-uh. That kid even looks at a brush and she screams.
Here’s where I really went wrong though: I thought I was going to let her be a blank slate, let her fall and fail and make mistakes and learn from them. But from the moment she was born, without really realizing it, I’ve been inadvertently preventing her from hearing her own inner voice that tells her to, ‘Go for it’.
Every time she tried to take a bigger step in the playground, my frown deepened in fear. Every time she got innocently curious and ran off to see something, I’d yell, ‘Watch out,’ ‘Slow down,’ or ‘Be careful.’
Much as I hate parenting terms, I see now that I’ve been a helicopter parent. Since my hovering has been mostly around sports and physical challenges, maybe I don’t quite fit the stereotype. But in at least one area, the propeller blades on my helicopter are working overtime.
There’s a running joke among my friends that I never have to worry about the dreaded mid-day call from school. You know, that one where they’re calling to say your child fell doing something crazy in the playground? My daughter is so cautious she won’t attempt more than the first two monkey bars. And I’ve secretly been thrilled. So long as her timidity never held her back socially, I’ve been quite content not to have that extra worry on top of the usual ordinary parenting concerns.
But the more I started watching her at play, the more I started to hear my words echoing back at me: ‘Watch out, slow down, be careful.’
When my husband taught her to ride a bike, he said, ‘Stay straight, look ahead, you can do it.’ It suddenly hit me that I was always telling her what not to do. I’m not saying I didn’t offer encouragement, or appreciate her success, but I may have reduced the accomplishment’s validation because I was too busy worrying to enjoy the moment and celebrate it with her.
I really became aware of all this recently during a hike with friends and their particularly adventurous sons. The kids were practically flying down the trail and I felt myself start to warn her to slow down. They were running down hills, and my mouth opened to caution her again. It was like an out of body experience—or a really bad after-school special—and I suddenly just got it. She was listening to her voice, trusting herself to take a chance, and I was about to ruin it. I braced myself, smiled, and watched with pride as she began to really explore her surroundings, climbing and moving with ease and certainty.
Since that day, I’ve been watching my beautiful, independent child really take chances, and while I may occasionally tense up when she decides to scale the playground wall, goes a little fast on her scooter, or finally, confidently reaches for that third monkey bar, I will force myself not to stand in her way.
I may never stop being a helicopter parent, but I will do everything I can to make sure she’s in the pilot seat.
Image of monkey bars from Shutterstock.