|Halloween is a fun and exciting holiday for children, but the late night trick-or-treating, massive amounts of sugar, and excitement can throw a wrench into even the best sleeper’s patterns.
For new parents, you may be surprised at how busy the evening is around your neighborhood and how hard it is to maintain bedtime with dogs and doorbells.
If your children are older, managing the excitement, the candy, and encouraging sleep all in the same night can be challenging but there is hope. No matter how old your child is, these tips can help you and your child survive Halloween highs and hopefully avoid early morning struggles.
1. BE PREPARED
Try to avoid letting your child become over-tired or overstimulated before bedtime on Halloween night. This is especially important if you have little ones. The sights and sounds of Halloween are new and exciting, so consider starting your Halloween rituals early. If you are friendly with your neighbors, consider pre-arranging an early time for your child’s Halloween experience. This ensures that they can show off their cool costumes before dark.
2. KEEP THE BEDTIME ROUTINE
Once your children are done examining their spoils, you need to start the bedtime routine. Make sure that you turn off all the lights in the front of your house, cover your doorbell with a note saying “children sleeping, please do not ring bell,” and you may even want to put a bowl of candy out for the later trick-or-treaters. This will ensure that any kids out after dark can help themselves without disturbing your sleep routine.
3. LIMIT SUGAR
If you are concerned about the amount of sugar that your child may consume, consider providing your neighbors with a fun healthier snack or even a small toy to give your child when they come around, so that the holiday is not all about candy. Make sure that you start your Hallowed Eve with an early meal before all the excitement starts. Focus on balanced choices so that your children have enough “fuel” to make it through the night.
4. CONTROL THE CHAOS
If your child is interested in raiding their loot when they get home from trick or treating, you can handle it two ways:
- Allow them to have all they want once you arrive home. Some parents find that keeping the treats from their children will only make them want it more. You can encourage them to eat some less sweet treats, such as chips and gum if they have it
- Try to save the sugary snacks and chocolate treats for the next day, and perhaps allow a set number of pieces on Halloween night
If you are opposed to your child consuming all of their candy, have some toys or special healthier treats on hand for them to ‘trade in’ their candy for something even better. In some areas, local dentist offices also do a “candy buy” and provide children with a special reward in exchange for their loot.
In the spirit of the holiday, you can even do your bedtime routine by flashlight, which would be fun and a little different for your children. Additionally, turning the overhead lights off in the house will encourage the release of melatonin, which will help them to feel sleepy.
5. CONSIDER HANDING OUT ALTERNATIVES
You don't necessarily have to hand out candy at the door. In the 70's you may remember being given apples, Rice Krispie squares and sunflower seeds while trick or treating. Dr. Lipinski of Trillium Dental recommends giving out some alternatives :
- glow sticks
- temporary tattoos
- bouncy balls
Even if everything goes wrong on Halloween night, remember that it is only one night of the year. Return to your regular routine on November 1st and everything will return to normal within a few nights.
P.S. Next week watch for an new post soon on dealing with the time change that happens November 4.
Andrea Strang is a Gentle Sleep Coach and Postpartum Doula with over 15 years of sleep consulting experience working with adults, babies, and children up to 6 years of age.
Photo credit: Lesli Harker