My name is Mica. I am a certified sleep consultant and founder of Rested Mama, Happy Baby. I help families on their journey to establish healthy sleep habits and get the whole family sleeping again!
Halloween has always been such an exciting time of the year for a lot of other reasons, other than costumes. It meant that there were activities, games, and events to look forward to and that the holidays were about to kick off. When I had my first daughter, I had these grand thoughts about Halloween trick or treating, until I realized that an early bedtime was so not conducive to a happy child or retaining her sleep schedule. It is so different managing a holiday with a baby than it is with a child, and there are a few things that I learned we needed to incorporate so we could all enjoy while she “grows” into the holiday.
Before I go into the 4 tips I have, the very first thing I had to change was my own expectations about what Halloween would look like, and redefine that based on my child. After doing this, we got in a great habit of really enjoying the festivities of Halloween, while still retaining her sleep.
4 Tips to Enjoy Halloween
1. Start Early:
Halloween is typically a "later in the evening" thing. My child, personally, went to bed at 6 pm, which made it hard to take her trick or treating because many times the sun was just about to set. In the first year, it didn’t matter too much, but between 2 and 4, we had to start earlier to help her feel like she was still able to do all the things that her older neighborhood friends were doing. Sometimes, starting early also meant starting the Holiday early in the month by setting aside some activities during the day and events prior to Halloween.
This did wonders for helping her feel like she really got the most of Halloween and also filled my own “bucket.” Since then, we always made it a point to set aside 2 weekends for pumpkin patches, pumpkin, and cookie decorating, and allowed her to wear her costume twice. She’s now 5 years old, and we have much more leniency on bedtime, but with our new bundle of joy, only 7 months old, we will be incorporating much of these same traditions.
2. Simple and Flexible:
Another great tip, while you have littles, is to keep the night simple. I was always the mom who wanted to throw the party, or group trick or treat. I wanted to meet the neighbors, and be around people, but one thing I learned with having smaller kids is to avoid making commitments. It’s hard to manage your baby’s temperament, especially when dealing with the peak of crying. Keep it simple, flexible, and know that you will have many years ahead for the Halloween of your dreams.
3. Stay Consistent:
Don’t skip your normal Bedtime Routine. It can be really distracting if you are with others, or managing the festivities of the day to allow your child a bit more time to play and shorten the bedtime routine. My biggest advice, if you can stick to any of the above is to keep your bedtime routine as much as possible. Much of what I teach with my families is that the bedtime routine is much more than just a gateway to bedtime, it’s a communication tool, that provides the structure that drives security and expectation setting with your little one before it’s time to go to sleep. It’s that one last opportunity to wind down, especially from a day of full stimulation. Keeping a bedtime routine will help your children wind down and sleep better!
4. Limit Sugar Before Bed:
Allow a piece or two OR Witch Switch! (The idea of your children giving their candy to a toy witch or pumpkin who will then turn the candy into a surprise gift.) We always had a different approach at home for sugar. My husband and I, while we certainly have our soft spots for Kit Kat bars and Sour Patch Kids, usually aren’t much help with decreasing the amount of candy my child has in her trick or treat bag. However, we know firsthand how much sugar totally has impacted our child’s sleep for the day.
The first thing we do is offer her a really large dinner. She’s less likely to want to eat a ton of sweets if she’s full. I am not saying this works for every child, but it certainly works for ours! It’s easy in the festivity of it all to grab something fast like a hot dog or ‘larger snack’ but try to invest in getting a larger meal in place before heading out. Our rule is always that she’s able to eat a couple of pieces before bed as a treat and we give her a choice. She can either save some candy for the next day or leave out her entire candy bag in order to make a swap with the Great Pumpkin who comes to visit and exchanges candy for a gift. She has so far, every year, chosen the gift. It gives her something to look forward to the next morning, while also getting her excited to go to sleep so she can enjoy what might be waiting for her!
To close it out, it’s all about being flexible, while controlling what you can. At the end of the day, if you need or want to be out, GO OUT! Control what you can. Keep your bedtime routine in place, keep your schedule flexible, and tomorrow is always a new day!
Rested Mama, Happy Baby Founder
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