Filling up a pillowcase with as much as possible was the goal when I was a kid.
Now that I have kids of my own, my goal is to limit Halloween candy as much as possible… without being a witch about it.
My how the tables have turned!
Teaching my kids about what real food is and what real food isn’t is a daily lesson. It’s important to me for my kids to know that sweets and candy in general is a huge treat that doesn’t happen that often. The fact that there’s one holiday in particular that’s rooted in all things sugar makes this pretty darn difficult.
And somehow, the battle has increased since the kids started school.
The last time I addressed candy and sweets from a personal level was two years ago. In those days, my kids were 4 and 6 and we homeschooled. Controlling the candy was pretty easy back then. They were allowed one piece of candy each day, but only AFTER they ate a full breakfast and a whole piece of fruit.
Nowadays though, candy is much more prevalent outside of our house too. It’s a reward for good behavior and meeting classroom goals at school, for taking dinner to the elderly neighbor next door and part of the celebration at birthday parties.
Literally, for two weeks last month, my kids were bringing home candy every single day. And I was NOT happy about it.
I had set ground rules a few years ago that worked pretty well. But with a new season of life comes a new set of rules.
Limiting Halloween Candy (without being a witch about it)
(1) Realize that we don’t eat like everyone else.
I can’t expect other families to NOT offer candy when society as a whole deems it okay, which means I can’t get mad about it either.
But I can change my attitude about it, continue to teach my kids healthy eating habits and make sure that I offer healthy choices when it’s my turn to bring snacks.
(2) Be proactive when I can.
Knowing the possible inundation of sugar at a recent birthday party, I made sure there was good food in my daughter’s belly before we left. I filled her up with toast (homemade man bread) and fresh fruit for breakfast, plus a smoothie right before we left.
Then at the party when candy started spilling out of the pinata, I pulled her aside and told her she could have one piece of candy with her friends. Everything else was to come home.
(3) Set boundaries.
We’ve also ruled out certain types of candy in the past, like jawbreakers (too hard), pixie sticks (pure sugar) and caramels (too sticky in the teeth).
(4) Everything else in moderation.
We have a “one treat per week” rule. That means my son choosing between a sucker in class or ice cream on Fridays. That means my daughter choosing between homemade cookies in her lunch for dessert or half a doughnut at church on Sunday.
Halloween candy comes into play here too. If they want a piece, they have to bring home their uneaten dessert in their lunchbox. I also control when they can have a piece (before 3:30pm).
(5) Do something with what comes in the house.
Buy Back Halloween Candy
My husband and I have been buying back candy at 25¢ per item, but we also haven’t had a ton of candy coming in the house (until recently). Come Halloween, we’ll be paying less and it will likely depend on what the candy item is. For example, a sucker might be worth 5¢ and a big candy bar is worth 25¢.
Dentist Buy Back
Many local dentists buy back candy too, which is a great option if your finances are tight. Here’s one database you can search using your zipcode to see if a dentist in your area is participating. If you don’t see one listed, start by calling your own dentist!
Reader Heidi passed on the Switch Witch idea, where the kids give all their candy to the Switch Witch in exchange for some sort of age-appropriate gift. It could be LEGO’s or an iTunes gift card, so long as it’s more appealing than candy!
Send it Overseas
Heidi (who’s a veteran) also mentioned sending candy overseas. Although I prefer to keep candy out of kids hands across the board, she makes a good point that candy bars aren’t as easy to get in some parts of the world, and it’s a small reminder of home that’s greatly appreciated. Learn more about sending candy to troops through Operation Gratitude.
Limiting Halloween candy doesn’t make you a mean mom or a bad dad – it shows you care about your child’s health. Besides, there are so many other fun ways to enjoy a special treat than with overly processed sugar!
How do you limit Halloween candy in your home?
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. By making a purchase through those links, I will earn commission that helps to keep the lights on in the Crumbs house – with no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Crumbs in this way. Read my full disclosure statement here.