I have a secret. A secret not even my own children know.
I’m not a fan of Halloween.
There are many reasons for my hesitancy to embrace this holiday, the pinnacle being I have three children with type 1 diabetes.
Yet the fact remains, I am the mother to four Halloween loving boys. There is no getting around it…I must embrace the holiday as if it were my own birthday. Quelling their excitement is not an option. In this case our family motto takes full effect: “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”
I often get asked how I manage Halloween. Parents of children with diabetes, especially the newbies, want to know the right way to handle it, as if I might have the elusive rule book sitting on my dining room table.
Alas…there are no rules. Halloween, like everything else in conjunction with diabetes, is personal. Each family has a different way to navigate it, and in this case, the right way for us might not be the right way for you.
What your Halloween will look like all depends on what your child needs. Like an insulin sliding scale, we need to measure the sensitivity of our child and start from there. From a parental standpoint, I’ve always held the belief we need to get away with what we can. i.e. if your child forgets about the candy in three days…throw it away, donate it, or trade it in for a new car. It doesn’t matter, as long as it’s gone.
Unfortunately, in our home…that isn’t an option. Getting away with anything these days hinges completely on negotiation.
“If I let you eat 5 pieces of candy tonight, you need to give me 50.”
“NO WAY! I’ll give you 20.”
For many years my boys made a big deal about the candy, when in reality all they really cared about was the trick or treating itself. Getting a big haul for a little boy is like a pirate discovering the city of gold. “More is better,” is part of their genetic makeup. So these days we map out miles of time on the pavement, returning home with sacs that overfloweth.
Separating the fast acting sugary candy has been a “Hail Mary” in our household. For my boys, it is more fun to treat a low with skittles rather than glucose tabs. The snack sized candies generally come in an uber convenient size, sporting around 15g of carb. Separating those and putting them in a container for later use has decreased our stacks by a good 50%.
Another major win in our household comes from negotiating the parties. Let’s face it, our kids go to almost 5 different Halloween/Harvest parties in a two week period. A nightmare for any parent, not only those of us who have insulin dependent children. Last year I cut out the Church Trunk or Treat, and a Harvest Fair. Not only was the missing candy a win, but I was calmer on the actual Halloween day. All the parties leading up to the big day only water down the anticipation and excitement that’s supposed to come from Halloween night itself.
More than anything, being sensitive to our children’s needs comes first and foremost. Yes I have a secret distaste for the holiday, but I decorate anyway, because that is what Halloween is all about for my youngest. I volunteer at school, because for my middle guy, eating the school candy buffet is an important boost towards the “normalcy” he yearns for. I make chili and eagerly invite friends over, because the atmosphere is what’s most important to my older boys.
I don’t want you to think I’m the perfect mom…I’m far from it. I’ve made my mistakes, though I try hard to learn from them. For example, one year I surprised the boys with a Price is Right spectacular after they returned with their candy.
“If you give me 20 pieces of candy, you can have this itunes gift card!”
I thought it was brilliant. Unfortunately, my boys held onto their candy like it was a wayward child returned home. They didn’t give up one piece, and I was stuck with small toys, gift cards, and Pokemon cards I really didn’t need. It was a good lesson for me…being upfront with our kids is better.
Instead of worrying about Halloween and the logistics of it all, we should sit down with our kids and map out and negotiate the ground rules. It will relax us a bit, and help us find joy in the holiday as well.
More than anything, our children want us to delight in the Halloween experience alongside them. In my case I have to fake it till I make it…which works for me, because eventually I always end up enjoying myself too.
Your Halloween may vary. Enjoy it while you can!
Tags: diabetes management