My thanks to Kristin Little for being back on the blog to share her thoughts on c0-parenting on Halloween. – Karen

I am not a fan of fall. As much as I love the idea of the trees painted with color, the sweaters, and the hot cocoa, the truth is that I nervously anticipate the onslaught of complications that the holidays bring.

Holidays are like muddy leaves that fill the gutter to overflowing, and the season begins with Halloween.

For parents in two-home families Halloween can require a lot of behind the scenes coordination. Who is going to buy the costume, can you get your child to decide what they want to be and will it change from parent to parent or day to day? Who will have the pleasure of coordinating the haunted neighborhood walk? If you’re newly divorced do you even know your neighborhood and neighbors?

It’s at this point that I give myself a little pep talk. To gather my enthusiasm I just have to look at my son’s absolute giddy, shaking excitement when simply mentioning Halloween. I imagine my younger self clutching my pillowcase weighty with the most delicious loot—and it is all mine.

Halloween to a kid is awesome:

  • Imagine a day that you actually get to knock on your neighbor’s door and ask for CANDY.
  • You get to walk around pretending to be anything you want and no one thinks you’re weird.
  • Older kids get to roam around in packs, and experience a bit of freedom and adventure…in the dark… and with parent’s permission, no less.
  • You get to eat ALL your candy because it’s a CANDY holiday.

As a parent there are some perks as well:

  • You actually have an excuse to meet your neighbors—and you can even wear a costume as a conversation starter
  • You get to say YES to indulgence for your child instead of NO, and without any of the guilt
  • If you don’t have the pleasure of your child’s company, you can still enjoy the neighborhood kids
  • Even the older sullen teens will be nice to you since you have CANDY

So maybe it’s not such a bad holiday.

Here are some ideas that can help both parents share in the fun and keep the holiday fun (and safe) for kids:

  • Rotate the “project manager” for costumes each year or tie it to the on-duty parent for the holiday—communicate in order to avoid costume competitions or duplications
  • If you’re the parent “on-duty” consider sending a picture of the little goblin to their co-parent or better yet if you feel good doing so, invite the other parent for pictures before trick or treating.
  • If you have an older and younger set, consider dividing and conquering—each take a different direction to help kids enjoy their different activities
  • Ensure older children don’t have inappropriate independence and are appropriately supervised—it’s a good idea to communicate the basic plan for older kids with your co-parent to make sure everyone’s idea of safe is shared
  • Share in advance with children the rules for safety:
    • For little ones this might mean reminding them to how to wait before moving on, where/how to cross the street, what to do and where to go if they get lost, and to keep their safety light on
    • For big ones, remind them of as well of where is “in” and “out” of limits, who you expect them to be with at all times and the expected time to be home or ready for pick up.

The most important thing is remembering how carefree Halloween is for kids. Make sure the focus is on them. Enjoy their imaginations, their daring and the taste for a little too much than is good for them—and find a bit of your own, because it’s a long way ’til January…