The Season of Candy cometh.
We’ve been quite happily candy-free in our house since about May. That was when I dumped the leftover Easter candy into a bowl and delivered it to the dorm boys at Baylor, the private high school where we live. I have four kids, three of whom acquire candy at school, church events, and seemingly from everyone we meet on the street. (Not really. Although I think they’d happily take candy from strangers.) And although in summer candy is pretty limited to a Dum-Dum after church choir and an occasional treat day at school…now Halloween is looming.
Halloween starts what seems to be a steady stream of holidays that bring treats and candy into our house: Halloween. Thanksgiving (much less so). Christmas. Valentine’s Day. Easter. And I certainly don’t want to be a Grinch, but I really struggle with what to do with all the candy.
I get tired of feeling like I am controlling every aspect of my kids’ lives, including how much sugar they eat. But I’ve also struggled with my weight since I was 10 years old. I desperately don’t want my kids to have to battle food issues the way I have. So to sum up: I have no idea what to do about the influx of candy.
There are a couple schools of thought, according to my very scientific Facebook-poll research:
1. Let ‘Em at It
These parents are willing to let their kids self-regulate sugar intake. They give kids free reign to their candy buckets, sometimes dumping them into a communal bowl so all can partake in the goodies. They trust their kids to be able to not gorge; or, if they do, to learn a lesson and not do it again.
I understand and would love to be this parent, but I still, as an adult, have a hard time passing up a candy dish and eating beyond where I feel full. And the more sugar I eat, the more I want.
2. Celebrate the Season
Let the kids enjoy the candy or treats for a few days surrounding the actual holiday, then dispose/give away/hide/make it into Mommy’s secret stash the rest.
I like this plan, although I feel a lot of whining coming on about how hard my kid worked to get that candy by trick-or-treating (when in reality, I probably had to say the words for them) and how it was THEIR candy. Bring on Mommy Guilt, the never-ending bedfellow.
3. Chuck It All
Convince kids to exchange candy for money or other, better, non-food things from a “Candy Fairy.” (I had never heard of this fairy until my research, but it showed up several times. Since we don’t even do Santa, this is not going to be my method.)
My kids are on the younger side (8, 6, 4, and almost 1), so I am honestly not sure they would be willing to trade candy even for cash. They are still on the instant-gratification side of childhood. But I can see this working for kids who are a little older.
4. Dole It Out Slowly, Forever
So this has been my method, and it’s pretty much all about Parental Control. My kids can ask me for their candy, which is hidden away, whenever they remember it’s there. (Out of sight, out of mind works pretty well for younger kids.) I generally let them have a couple pieces on Halloween night and the next day, and then limit to one piece a day and maybe one more packed in their lunches. Eventually I will get tired of being asked constantly for the sugar fix and will squirrel it away to the dorm kids or just throw it away.
I wish there seemed to be any conclusion here about what you and I should do. But, as with most things in parenting, the only conclusion is you have to do what works the best for you and your family. My husband and I talked about this at length, and he believes maybe we should let our oldest child self-regulate, but the others aren’t old enough to do so. He’s not ready to pass them that power.