Another Hallowe’en has come and gone. Isn’t it fun? Driving through the downtown of Barrie yesterday was awesome as I watched fully grown men and women walking around in full costume. And then later that evening, helping my kids get into their own costumes, as they could barely contain their excitement made me so happy. Leading up to the big night, they both had Hallowe’en parties in their classrooms, so the fervour that was in the Ryan home was at an all time high. It even seemed to rub off on Maggie. She would squeal with delight as her brother and sister ran around the living room dressed as a Spanish Dancer and a Minion.
As much as I love the fun of dressing up, I find that the onslaught of Hallowe’en candy can be totally over the top. Hallowe’en night and parties aside, as I ran errands yesterday every single location I went into had free candy to give out to people. Had I eaten them, it would have been the equivalent of two large chocolate bars by the time I got back to our office.
I can hear the protests now, “But it’s Hallowe’en! It happens just once a year!” Yes, yes it does. But the treats we are exposed to are out year round. A while back I wrote a blog post about how it’s not just one treat. As our kids get older, I am more and more aware of how much sugar and junk food they are exposed to on a daily basis. It really isn’t just one night a year. It’s every day of the year.
So, we took some proactive steps this year and made some agreements with our kids to cut down on the amount of pure sugar, corn syrup, modified milk ingredients, and other nasty things that they were going to be ingesting over the next few days.
At school our contributions to the parties were little clementines that we drew on to make look like jack ‘o lanterns. Very cute. Very tasty. Very healthy. I was really happy to see other parents thinking the same – the kids brought home some treats but also had bubbles, pencils, tattoos, stickers, and little toys in their loot bags. Glad to see I’m not the only parent feeling the candy craze out there!
On Hallowe’en night, after our kids had done the rounds of our neighbourhood, they amassed a huge amount of candy, chocolate and chips. They dumped them out on the floor and we agreed they could have two of something – whatever they wanted. When Caleigh grabbed a full-size chocolate bar, we brought that number down to just one. I honestly don’t know if she’s ever eaten a full-size chocolate bar before.
Then we reminded them of an agreement we had made in the days leading up to Hallowe’en. For each piece of candy they decided they didn’t want, they could give it to us and we would pay them for it. They could in turn decide what they wanted to do with the money. As I was going over the rules with them, I was interested to see if they would take us up on the offer. Caleigh (7 years old) has been saving for an iPod for the last six weeks so this was a good opportunity to get some more easy money in her piggy bank. Blake (4 years old) wasn’t really saving for anything particular but he is always willing to do big chores around the house for some coin. It’s one thing to agree to sell some candy before Hallowe’en is here. It’s an entirely different agreement when you have a pile of treats sitting in front of you that are now yours.
Caleigh started the ball rolling. She doesn’t like chips so that was easy for her. Ten bags of chips at 50 cents each and she had $5. Her eyes widened and she kept bringing more and more of the junk into her sell pile. Mini chocolate bars sold back garnered a quarter. Little random candies were a dime. The monster chocolate bars we agreed at $1. It may seem like a lot but for me, I was totally okay with the exchange. It was worth it for me to not have that candy eaten over the next month.
By the time she was done, she had forked over all but 10 treats, all by her own choice. And she had pocketed $33.50. (Do the math, she had a HUGE amount of loot). Blake was less willing to part with his candy but he still gave us a lot and ended up with $13.50. He was pretty excited about the pile of treats that was still his – his eyes got wide as he looked at his loot and I believe he might have murmured “candyyyyyyyyyy” a few times under his breath.
This was the first year we did something like this. In the past, the kids were not really aware of what treats they had amassed. Tom and I would agree to letting them have two treats a day but we would take away more than that and toss them as the days went on. Eventually the kids forgot they had candy to begin with. But with them being older, I wanted them to take on the responsibility for their candy and the impacts it can have. I’ve heard of the Switch Witch which is another great idea on how to eliminate the candy in the house. However having just come off birthday parties, and knowing how much Caleigh wants her iPod, the money exchange works better for us.
At the end of it all, it was interesting to hear what Caleigh had to say. Not only did she say that she thought that the candy from Hallowe’en was a lot but she understood why it wasn’t good for her. Then, what I thought was a brilliant revelation, she said “Mama, I know I won’t get the iPod right away, but when I save up enough to buy an iPod, it will last forever. Candy can be gone tomorrow.”
Pretty smart kid.