October 31st marks the start of the annual six-month war against excessive candy consumption fought by mothers everywhere, marked by the Battles of Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter and of course Halloween, the mac daddy battle of them all.
To help you win the war on candy, we’ve got some management strategies that will ensure your children won’t lose their teeth and you won’t lose your cool by reducing the amount of fighting, negotiation and discussion about just how much candy can be eaten and when.
Failing to Plan Is Planning to Fail
Every kid wants free reign to eat candy at will (go figure), so you need a plan well in advance of the big night to get everyone on the same page about where and when the candy is going to be eaten. Start discussing today, get everyone on board and then make it a family tradition.
Some nutrition and dental-hygiene friendly elements of the plan could include any or all of the following:
- Agree on the number of treats they can have after they get home (a healthy dinner before setting out that night helps keep tummies full and less likely to want to gorge on candy)
- Set a limit on how much candy they can collect on Halloween and provide a bag that accommodates this limit
- Let them keep a pre-established number of pieces of candy or a certain percentage of what they collected and then give the rest away to a food bank or other charity (a useful learning opportunity about charity and sharing)
- Allow them to trade in some of their candy (which can go to charity) for something they have been wanting, like a toy or trip to the movies
- Keep adults in control of where the loot is kept—out of sight is out of mind
- Agree on one time a day that the candy can be brought out—frequency of consumption, not amount, is the cause of tooth decay—and ideally make it after eating a healthy snack or dinner so tummies are already full
- Establish a number of days after which the remaining candy will be given away or thrown out (sending to mom or dad’s office is always a good option). One savvy mom we know has seven days of ‘CandyFest’ where each night after dinner the kids can eat as much as they want and at the end of the week anything left over goes away. It’s surprising how little they end up eating this way.
- Institute an extra tooth-brushing session each day of the post-Halloween battle
The Big Night
When your little ghouls and goblins come home drooling over their loot, engage them in the simple math exercise of sorting. Make little piles of the same type of candy and get the kids to count them up. This will help you with the official role of inspecting for food allergies, choking hazards (depending on your child’s age), unwrapped treats or anything that might have been tampered with and removing those items from the pile.
Faced with the impressive bounty of the night, some kids can even be convinced to give up their less preferred types of candy.
Then implement the pre-arranged candy plan and you’ll be less battle-scarred when it comes to the Great War of Halloween Candy. And as for you, we say stick to the dark chocolate. It’s good for you, after all.