“Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and caldron bubble.” Halloween will be here soon, and if you are like me, you are busy trying to get everything in order for a night of fun and festivities (if not a whole week of them since Halloween falls on a school night this year).
Fall and Halloween have always been favorites of mine. There’s such a wonderful bunch of stuff we can do with our kids! As a pediatrician, I like to keep in mind a few things while preparing for this time of year.
Decorating for Halloween traditionally includes hollowing out a pumpkin and placing candles inside. Now-a-days, we try to be a little more mindful of potential hazards. There are many pumpkin carving kits available this time of year. If you look closely, you’ll notice some have blunt-tipped carvers compared to others. These may be a little safer than knives, and some older kids may be ok to use them with supervision. If you have smaller kids, (or don’t trust the older ones to not poke each other with carving utensils) it is a good idea to let your child draw a design on the pumpkin and have the adult do the carving. Some kits have scrapers, paint or stickers you could use for your decorating if you are still leery of the utensils.
When illuminating the jack-o-lantern, consider using flameless LED lights or glowsticks. If you wish to use candles, use the smaller tealight versions and make sure the pumpkin is set away from other flammable décor.
As you search for costumes, try to locate ones that are fire resistant. Make sure outfits aren’t too baggy to trip little ones, and that masks aren’t too bulky to block your child’s vision. One option is to use face paint/makeup, although it is wise to test a small area on your child first (a week or so ahead of time) to ensure he/she doesn’t break out in a rash. Reflective tape is a great idea to increase visibility of your child to drivers. Teens are often interested in different eye lenses, however, the over-the-counter brands are not the best option. If your teen wants to experiment with different decorative contact lenses, it is best to get them from your optometrist.
Once the time arrives to go trick-or-treating, make sure young kids are accompanied by an adult. As we’ve all learned, only go to porches that are well-lit, and teach kids not to go inside houses for treats. It’s best to go treat-hunting in familiar neighborhoods. Use the sidewalks at all times. If that’s not possible walk in the street facing traffic in order to see oncoming cars. Have kids carry flashlights to help them see where they are going as well as increase their visibility to others. Finally, make sure they carry a cell phone and review with them how to call 911 if needed.
Once you arrive home with a bag of goodies, remember too many of these yummy treats can wreak havoc on tummies. Maybe you can time your outing for after supper in an attempt to decrease munching. Remind your kids you’d like to check treats before they eat any and discard any unwrapped items or ones that seem to have been tampered with. Make a family plan to ration the goodies out over a longer period of time instead of gorging on them all in a day or two. Believe it or not, even non-food treats have become more popular (pencils, stickers, grippers for pencils, erasers, etc) and are great alternatives for giving and receiving.
I also love all the entertainment options for families this time of year. From events at the zoo, to pumpkin patches, orchards and corn mazes. Be thoughtful when it comes to scary trails/hay rack rides, etc. For some kids, even mildly scary décor or costumes may lead to sleepless nights and nightmares. The older kids usually love going to haunted houses and costume parties. Try to reiterate with them the importance of watching their own food/drink so no one tries to tamper with it. Remind them to make sure their driver isn’t impaired traveling from one event to the next. If you talk about a plan ahead of time, it can help avoid indecision if they get in a sticky situation.
Hopefully these tips will ensure you have a wonderful, safe and fun fall and Halloween season!