Halloween used to be my least favorite holiday of all, although I’ve always loved Fall, for some reason whether it be the candy or the scariness, I was not a fan. As a first grade teacher I disliked it even more. My students came back either on sugar highs or in sugar comas. Once I became a Mom, I started to lighten up about the sugar infested holiday, mostly because of ALL the fun that can be had during Fall!
We live in the Midwest where harvest time is HUGE! We go apple picking and come home with freshly picked, local apples. It feels SO important to me that my children grow up knowing that food straight from the earth is the BEST, most delicious food. I want my children especially to know that finding local in season foods is important for our planet. And, during Fall, there are SO many amazing things you can do with apples. We typically come home with 6 dozen apples. We make apple crisp (sans sugar!)- with some frozen to enjoy later in the year, applesauce, apple hash, apple chips, and so much more.
Halloween grew on me when our condo building began a building trick or treat event. How lovely to walk from unit to unit not needing to interact with complete strangers. This idea grew on me, not so fun to encourage your kids to knock on strangers doors, so as we grew out of the condo trick or treating, I began hosting a Trunk or Treat at my church. We knew where the candy was from, my children did not have to knock at strangers doors, and, we encourage people in the neighborhood to join us! Now we head to our neighbor’s houses and the houses of friends in our neighborhood.
Plus, do you know how much fun pumpkin patches are?? My oldest two children are obsessed with farms. I’m not really sure how this obsession began, but they request outings to farms at least one time a week. We indulge this obsession often, but love the opportunity to find a new farm, it’s a bigger win if the farm includes animals. My parents live in the south suburbs of Chicago and we found the COOLEST place to get our pumpkins. The Palos Farm at the Center is a big hit. The farm is a working farm with animals they allow the public to visit and pet for a small fee. In addition to the animal experience they have a corn pit, hay climbing stacks, a corn maze, an organic garden, and best of all, a hayride to the pumpkin patch. We usually pick 2-3 pumpkins. We paint the pumpkins AND carve. It is SO important for children of all ages to have Sensory experiences. The inside of a pumpkin is one of the most interesting sensory experiences our hands can have. We make the pumpkin into a learning experience, cut it open and begin to scoop. Grab a large Tupperware and begin to sort out the seeds, with children who are not going to place the seeds into their mouths, why not begin counting the seeds and teaching them to make rows of 10? Why not create pictures with them. Could you encourage your child to touch the pulp and describe how it feels?
Finally, how could you and your neighbors make Halloween a bit less unhealthy? Could you pass out a non edible? What trend could you and your neighbors begin?
Lauren Brown is a Mother of Three, Certified Health Coach, and Beautycounter Consultant.