Monday, November 2, 2015

Tips for After Halloween!

Another Halloween down.

The girls were definitely cute this year. Although we're now past the point where I get to choose their costumes (where they are coordinated and adorable), I still can wield a pretty strong influence. Madison has been dead set on Belle ever since she realized that you don't have to wear old dance costumes. Reagan was trickier. Because, well, three. Just when I thought she was finally settled on a princess, she'd change her mind and start telling people she was going to be something else. On the very last day of a Halloween sale, I finally had her settled on Aurora, so I bought the costume. I monitored her Halloween conversations for the full thirty days we had to return it, and although she did bounce around from Captain Jake to Snow White to Elsa, we got enough Aurora confirmation that we kept the costume, we brought up the fact that she was going to be Aurora frequently enough that she accepted it, and she looked adorable.

Now that we've officially arrived in November, when the stores are pushing Christmas but most of us aren't quite there yet, I want to share my "week after Halloween tips".

1. Stalk the Clearance Bins.

This is key for two reasons. First, you can nail some Christmas gifts for your dress up bins at bargain prices. Every November 1st, I hit Target, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, and wherever else I can find costumes. Most costumes drop to at least 50%, and you can fill a dress up bin with these deals. Most of the princess dresses, character costumes, and headpieces in our bin came from post-Halloween sales. Last year the girls were thrilled to get costumes from Santa, and I loved that I snagged these at such a discount.

Second, although most of what you'll find in the Halloween clearance area is candy (which, although awesome and tempting, you probably have plenty of), there's other stuff there too. I found snack sized bags of Pirate Booty, kids' Clif bars, pretzels, Chex Mix, Annie's snacks and Goldfish, which are perfect for our lunch boxes or car snacks. Sure, there's a pumpkin or ghost on the package, but the actual snack is the same. Between all the packages, I got over 200 bags in a combination of crunchy snacks for under $10. And if you're a good guesser and don't lose stuff that you buy ahead, you can snag Halloween shirts for next year at huge discounts. I also found Halloween themed craft kits for 70% off, and I stashed those away for next year.

2. Avoiding the Candy Binge

First of all, I should say that we don't do the Switch Witch, or any sort of official Halloween trickery. My kids are kids. They like candy, they know they're getting candy, and I'm ok with that. On Halloween night, after we've gone through the bags, they get to choose three things to eat before bedtime (I should add that poor Reagan was so pooped from trick or treating that she chose two, ate half of one, and asked to go to bed). After that, the candy moves to an out of reach location.

She chose one Starburst and her Goldfish. Seriously. 

Every day, you get to choose two treats, which you can have at any time, except for right before meals. If you choose to have both right after breakfast, that's fine. If you want to have them for dessert, that's fine too. The catch? I don't remind them.

The first year I did this, I was certain that they would never forget. My kids have excellent memories with absolutely everything, which is a wonderful trait and a horrible curse. However, it's November 2nd. Madison remembered to ask for her second only right before bed, and Reagan didn't ask for her second at all. This is with both orange pumpkins sitting right on the counter. Not only that...

3. Make the Candy Work For You

My girls love to collect and sort and count and compare. It's one of the reasons that they are so into Blind Bags right now (this phase is NOT going away). Yesterday they both asked for their pumpkins, dumped them, and began sorting, counting, comparing, lining name it. When they got bored and started to wander off, I asked them to clean up, and they did. Everything went back into the pumpkins. Madison remembered just as she was walking off that she could ask to eat one, and that jogged Reagan's memory.

Today, Madison and I put her candy to work during school time. We sorted the candy and classified it in different ways. Chocolate and non chocolate. Sizes. Colors. Letters. Varieties. We compared numbers. We made a bar graph. We did some work on alphabetical order. Finally, we opened a fun size pack of Skittles and worked some math facts. We both had a great time. For me, it was like a trip back to my childhood, when I loved the sorting and trading and rationing of my favorites, and for Madison, it was getting to play with candy during school. Total win.

4. Find a Way to Pay it Forward

Like I said, we don't do Switch Witch. And I'm definitely not someone who would say "wow, my kids don't even want candy! I gave it all away!" But we do talk about ways to use a something that's a treat for us to spread some kindness. We've been assembling our box for Operation Christmas Child, and we checked out what kind of candy is permitted to be included in our box. Options are pretty limited because of customs, so we picked out what fit the guidelines, and the girls wanted to include all of what was permitted. We've been talking about compassion lately, and the tug to do something nice for someone who needs it. Is candy a basic human need? Of course not. It's a treat. But the ability to help someone get a treat who normally couldn't even dream of one is something Madison is beginning to understand.

We also found several places where you can send candy to servicemen.  Again, I didn't ask the girls for any specific amount, but Madison chose some pieces to include. Reagan's a little young for this, but following big sister's lead is still something she likes to do.

It's a great month to transition from one period of child anticipation and excitement to the next, and hopefully these tips help that transition go smoothly!    photo mediumsignature_zpsbff01a79.png
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