Halloween! And with all the fun it brings, it also brings (sadly) a little danger.
Yes, as parents, we must beware Halloween and make sure our kids stay safe, because though it can "take a village to raise a child"*** sometimes that village has crazy people in it.
**(wish I could remember who said that..I think it is an African Proverb, but I'm not sure....I'll blame mommy brain for my lack of knowledge here)
So, here are my recommended tips for safe Halloween Trick or Treating with your kids:
*Don't use costumes with masks-this hinders your child's ability to see clearly and could cause them to fall, get hurt, not be able to breath well, etc.
*Don't allow children under the age of 18 to go alone. Yes, I know the older kids will fight you on this; HOWEVER, the older kids are also the ones that would be targets of child predators, or more likely to give to peer pressure, prove they "aren't scared" and do something dangerous. Thus, GO WITH THEM.
*Same for Little Kids. NEVER let them go alone, there should be an adult for every 4 little guys 6 and under and add one kid per age group or as you feel comfortable keeping your eyes on
*Don't go to neighborhoods that aren't lit up. My street back home is fully lit, and all the neighbors I know fully participate in fun decorations and lighting to help the kids see clearly. NEVER go up to houses that are hard to walk to, hard to see in, or dark except the one porch light. Though porch lights being on is supposed to be a sign of giving out candy, I would still never go wander to a house where there are not other trick or treaters coming and going or a lot of bright street lights and activity
*Don't go out too late. For little guys, go out right as it is getting dark, make your rounds to 10 houses or less, and then head back so you can let them participate in handing out candy to the older kids. They will get as much fun out of that as they did getting candy-if not more! For older guys, (again, under 18) make them be back by 10pm. As my mom always said, nothing good is going on past 9pm. As much as I hate to say it, she was right. I'm pushing it to 10pm for this holiday, but really, there is no reason for a high schooler to be out past 10pm. Esp since you or hubby or a trusted relative/neighbor will be with them-us parents need our beauty sleep!
*Try hosting a party for the teen children back at your house. Send out invites to the parents to let them know that they can let the kids "stay out" past trick or treating by hosting a sleep over for them. But don't hover too much at the party; try to remember being their age parents=not cool. But do hover a little, that's the point of the party, you know where they are and what they are doing (which will be eating popcorn and watching a non gory scary film. I love the black and white Dracula myself) and keeping the temptation to get into trouble at bay.
*Ration the candy. The kids will hate it, but really, no person needs that much candy in one night. If you don't, you'll never get them to sleep and you'll end up with a huge cavity bill later down the road.
*Find out if there are registered sex offenders in your area. This is huge for me. I know where the registered people are around me, and luckily there are none in my immediate neighborhood. Thus, I just will always avoid the neighborhood where the one I know of lives. Now remember, registered sex offenders could be for any crime,like statutory rape (which even if the girl is consenting but the boy is 3 years older, the parents can file against him, not particularly fair for a young man, just thought I'd throw that out there) not just child molestation, so don't go after that person with torches or anything, BUT I would take care to not allow my children around his/her home PERIOD. Because you don't know, and honestly, to me a little stereotyping in that department for me is worth it since it involves the safety of my children and me. You can search the national sex offender registry to find out what offense they have and where their home is (though please don't go harass them because really, they have to live somewhere-just don't let your children play there)
*CHECK ALL CANDY before letting your children (or yourself) eat it. Like I said above, there are some crazy people in this village of ours! Anything that is opened, might have been opened, has a tear, was homemade -unless I specifically know them and trust them, like from a dear family friend-THROW OUT. This is the one time I say go for the packaged processes stuff and nothing else. Sad, but safe. Besides, you will have so much candy on hand, following this rule will be a great way to downsize.
*Carry flashlights and have reflective tape on the backs of your costumes so cars (and people) can see you. You can find this cheap at wal-mart or even a dollar store.
*Have a charged cell phone with you. 'nuf said.
*Tell other people what route you are taking and stick to it-no deviating-then if something happens, like you sprain your ankle and can't walk AND your cell dies, someone can find you.
*Tell someone what time you will be back, so they know when to start worrying or coming out to find you and your sprained ankle
*That said, wear tennis shoes, even if your costume would look better with high heels, walking in the dark in heels is ASKING for a sprained ankle-wear the tennis shoes and make the kids to so too.
*Make your children wear age appropriate costumes. Since we are going to worry about predators we should also try to not make our children appear "sexy" or "older" than they are. No low cut/short hemmed dresses or over the top makeup for girls, no chest bearing outfits for boys and nothing that sexualizes them, even for those older guys and gals in high school. They will have plenty of college/grown up years to decide if they want to wear such costumes.
*Everything should be fun and enjoyable, so just go out, have fun, relax, and go to a few houses. Then, go back home, enjoy the candy and snuggle as a family (or try to hover over teens without looking like your hovering).