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Your social media feed is full of birth announcements, and you and your spouse are thinking it might be time to have kids of your own. Then the questions start popping up: How will children impact our lives? What do we have to give up? What will having kids do to our marriage? Will kids make us happier? Or will we just be tired and stressed?

So, you do what many of us do… ask Google. You hit enter, and the results are endless. Where do you begin?

Countless people have tackled this question. 

A large body of research shows that parents are indeed less happy and experience more depression and anxiety. 

And often, they have less fulfilling marriages than non-parents. 

One study involving 22 countries found that the emotional and financial costs of having children outweigh the emotional rewards. Ask any parent, and they’ll acknowledge that having kids is expensive and exhausting. Parents never have enough time, lose sleep often, struggle to find quality child care, and constantly battle work-family balance.

That’s heavy, but it’s the reality of parenting. You may be thinking, “Well, that settles it. No kids!” 

Hang with me for the next few minutes, though. I’d like to offer some hope.

Another study found that overall, parents report being happier and more satisfied, and thinking more about meaning in life than non-parents do. 

Parents also reported more positive emotional experiences and meaning from moment to moment. 

Researchers at Santa Clara University discovered that parents become happier over time than non-parents. Parents experience increased social connection and well-being over time. Having kids may keep parents from experiencing disconnectedness over time. 

So the research is mixed on whether kids make us happier. Some say you’ll be stressed and anxious, and the quality of your marriage will decline. Others say you’ll experience more long-term happiness. 

But is happiness the goal of parenting? 

We’re wired from a young age to do what makes us happy. Maybe we’re asking the wrong question. If happiness is the only measure of fulfillment, parenting may not be the answer. But there’s so much more to life than happiness. 

If we focus on joy and finding meaning, life will be more fulfilling. Happiness is a response to what we receive. Joy and meaningfulness come from what we receive and making positive contributions to others.

Here are a few ways you can find joy as a parent:

Be intentional.

Life is busy. Being a parent takes intentionality. Commit to set aside the electronics and be present from day one. 

Play.

Make time to play. Sure, parenting is stressful, but you can still have fun. Being a parent brings out your inner child.

Know what really matters.

As you think about having kids, you may ask yourself, “How can I do this?” The list of things parents have to worry about seems endless. But according to author and psychotherapist Tina Bryson, the most important thing a parent can do is be there for their child. Just show up, physically and emotionally. 

Find joy in the moment.

Parenting is full of tough times, but don’t let the hard stuff consume you. Focus on the joyful moments. Address the challenges and then let them go.

Take time to recharge and refocus.

Don’t let your kids be all-consuming in your life. If you’ve flown before, you know the safety drill: Put your mask on before trying to put someone else’s mask on. The same goes for parenting. How well can you care for your kids if you don’t take care of yourself?

Build a community.

Your parents or grandparents probably said, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well, it’s true. Build a community of family and friends around you. Find a support network that you can lean on when you need help. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Healthy people ask for what they need, so there’s no shame in asking.

Maybe parenting doesn’t make us happier in the short term. It’s a lifelong journey, and there will be peaks and valleys. Choose to focus on the joy of parenthood. After all, you have the privilege of helping your child learn and grow into adulthood.

Sources:

Herbst, C.M., & Ifcher, J. (2016). The Increasing Happiness of US Parents. Review of Economics of the Household, 14(3), 529-551. 

Baumeister, R., Vohs, K., Aaker, J., & Garbinsky, E. (2013). Some Key Differences Between a Happy Life and a Meaningful Life. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 8:6, 505-516. 

Nelson, S., Kushlev, K., English, T., Dunn, E., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2013). In Defense of Parenthood: Children are Associated with More Joy than Misery. Psychological Science, 24:1, 3-10. 

Glass, J., Andersson, M., Simon, R. (2016). Parenthood and Happiness: Effects of Work-Family Reconciliation Policies in 22 OECD Countries. American Journal of Sociology, 122:3, 866-929. 

Other resources:

10 Questions Couples Should Ask Each Other Before Having a Baby

PARENTING COURSE | Oh, Baby!

Relationships are Key to Happiness

Ways To Make Thanksgiving Fun

Fun things will help you make lifelong memories.

When the calendar turns to November, I start to feel the pressure of what’s to come: Thanksgiving. (Dun-duh-daahhh!) Although Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, I begin to dread the day instead of celebrating it. My mind starts to focus on all I need to do to make Thanksgiving “Thanksgiving.” Making travel plans, finding a kennel for our furry baby, and creating a menu for Thanksgiving for the two meals we have, not even to mention washing clothes, packing… The list never ends. In all this hubbub, I usually forget that Thanksgiving can actually be fun.

To have the “perfect” Thanksgiving, you may be running down your own mile-long to-do list. It probably includes getting the turkey (talk about supply chain issues), cleaning the house, or decorating either your home or wherever you’ll eat dinner. It might include washing the “special” dishes, so on and so on. You get so preoccupied that you can forget that this is a time for family and friends. If you don’t read anything else in this blog, read this: Friends and family don’t expect things to be perfect; they just want to be present with you.

Here are some ways to celebrate and embrace the meaning of Thanksgiving, let go of the stress that to-do list brings, and add a little more fun into your time together.

1. Keep the focus on thankfulness.

I mean… It’s… Thanksgiving. The whole point is to keep thankfulness front and center. So take time each day during (and after!) November to practice some gratitude. Thanksgiving, more than most holidays, is about traditions. 

But a lot of times, traditions can take priority over being thankful. It’s ok to be mindful of your family’s traditions, but try not to let them stress you out so much that you neglect being grateful! Add some fun into your traditions. For example, have everyone name some funny things that have happened this year that you’re thankful for. Give a prize for the funniest story.

2. Participate in activities that encourage you to think of others.

Have a neighbor or friend you know won’t have family in town? Share the fun by inviting them to celebrate with you or taking them a plate of goodies from your gathering! 

Brainstorm with your family on ways you can be a friendly face to people who may not get to celebrate with their loved ones this year!

3. Be intentional about spending quality time together.

Making the most of your time with family and friends requires you to place your attention on the people around you, not your devices (phone or tablet).

You can try things like this:

  • Look at old photos with family. 
  • Play games like charades.
  • Take a walk after dinner or have a scavenger hunt. 
  • Have the younger guests teach the older guests one of the latest popular dances.
  • Watch old family movies of vacations and birthdays.

And you know what can make it more fun (for you, at least!) and give you more time to visit? Split your list. Let everyone take part, and complete that to-do list together. Maybe even turn it into a new tradition! Uncle Joe and cousin Kristen clear the table, Grandma J and Aunt Tammie tag-team the dishes… So on and so forth!

4. Try new things.

I know, I know, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Right? I have definitely been stuck in the tradition-turmoil. You have turkey the same way. Everyone makes their “special dish.” You use the same decor. Why not shake up this year?

You could:

  • Try a new recipe or have an “easiest dish” contest.
  • Let the kids participate (make dessert or appetizers).
  • Use what’s in your yard for decor (leaves, pine cones, flowers).
  • Create a buffet instead of a sit-down meal.
  • Change the time of the meal from noon to 3PM.
  • Establish a new tradition the whole family would enjoy.

Thanksgiving, for many, is about food, family, and of course, fun! Adjusting your personal expectations can help you focus on spending time with family and enjoying each other. This year, try focusing less on the food and let family and fun be the reason you gather. Holidays are a time for us to enjoy and be grateful for the people in our lives. It’s about presence, not perfection when you gather. Making your time together more fun will increase your chances of making memories that will last a lifetime.

Other blogs:

6 Ways to Keep a Conversation From Getting Derailed

10 Sanity-Saving Tips for Holiday Gatherings

6 Tips For Healthy Relationships During The Holidays

6 Ways to Keep a Conversation From Getting Derailed

Deepen your relationships by how you handle conversations.

Holidays are supposed to be a time of love and joy when you gather and celebrate family, friends, and traditions. Those celebrations can easily be derailed when you find yourself in an uncomfortable or controversial conversation. 

There’s no shortage of hot topics to navigate around if you want to have a peaceful gathering with friends and family. But try as you may, you just might find yourself discussing a divisive issue. You know you and a loved one aren’t on the same page about this topic, and you’re ok with that, but you probably don’t want a conversation to hurt the relationship. So, how do you stop the conversation before it goes too far?

Kathleen Kelley Reardon, a professor at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, notes that “conversations are building blocks of relationships.” They have the power to build up or tear down relationships. 

Here are six of Reardon’s strategies to help you get a negative conversation back on track (just in time for the holidays):

1. Shine a different light on what’s being said.

If the other person says, “I don’t want to fight about this,” you can reply with, “I don’t want to fight either. Let’s have a discussion.” A discussion is seen as more civil. A conversation that evolves into an argument causes both people to put their guard up. A discussion, on the other hand, invites more listening. 

2. Rephrase what’s being said.

Instead of calling someone stubborn, call them persistent or determined. If they say, “You’ve got a lot to say,” you might respond, “I’m passionate about this subject and want to make sure every side is heard.” If offensive words are used, rephrase them positively.

3. Reflect on a positive past experience. 

Relationships are full of positive and negative interactions. A present negative doesn’t have to tear down a mostly positive past. If you need to pump the brakes, you might say, “We’ve had such a good relationship, but something has us out of sync. I know we can work this out in a positive way.”

This shows the other person that you value and want to protect what you have with them.

4. Clarify what you heard by restating what the other person said.

We’re all guilty of speaking faster than our brain can work. I know I’ve said plenty of hurtful things that I wish I could take back. If you think they have mistakenly said something painful, ask them, “Did you mean what I think I heard?” Give them the benefit of reconsidering and rephrasing what they said.

5. Ask a question.

Maybe your friend or family member didn’t mean to intentionally hurt or insult you. Perhaps they chose words too quickly. Ask, “Would you clarify what you just said?” Try not to assume they are determined to cause you harm. Give the relationship the benefit of the doubt.

6. Revisit the conversation at a later time.

There’s nothing wrong with bluntly saying, “I don’t think either of us is at our best right now. Can we pause this conversation and revisit it another day? I don’t want this to hurt our relationship.” Your consideration for the person is more valuable than who wins the discussion. Choose to protect the relationship.

Remember, conversations are building blocks to help us get to know each other better. They are how we deepen and develop relationships. Do what you can to keep one heated exchange from destroying a lifelong relationship. It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to be correct, but do you want to be right, or do you want to be in a relationship? You can’t always have both.

Other blogs:

What To Do When Your Family Disagrees About Politics

What to Do When You Disagree With the Ones You Love

How to Have a Disagreement with a Friend without Ending Your Friendship

Sources:

www.kathleenkelleyreardon.com

7 Things to Say When a Conversation Turns Negative

5 Steps I Took to Be a Better Dad

Becoming a stronger father is possible.

Have you ever wanted to just do better as a dad? I mean mentally, physically, and emotionally? I don’t know your situation, but wanting to do better helped me start to become better. 

Some people think that a father is behind on child support because he doesn’t care or doesn’t want to pay. That may be the case for some people, but it was different for me. 

In my case, I cared very much. I wanted to pay. But I had a tough time. 

I wasn’t balanced, and sometimes I had to choose between paying a bill or paying my child support. I wanted my kids to have nice clothes or shoes when they spent time with me, so I chose to put the payment off. 

Now I see that wasn’t a great idea. But I thought money and buying things was the way to their heart, because one thing I could say about my dad is that he always made sure I had decent clothes and shoes. I thought that was what I was supposed to do. I thought education and having the right credentials, and finding jobs to make money would make me more successful in the eyes of my kids and family. 

But I realized my kids needed more than that. They needed me.

Here are some steps I took to be a better dad:

1. I had to own some things. 

To become a better dad, I had to understand and start with apologizing for what I needed to apologize for. I had to earn trust again, but getting trust back wasn’t easy. My kids needed to know that I would be there and that I was truly sorry for not supporting them or answering phone calls. Or not having the money to give them when they needed just a little extra to have certain things. But most of all, I wanted them to know I was just sorry for not spending time with them. 

2. I had to start listening to the people in my life.   

I listened to my kids and found out that they didn’t just want me for my money; they wanted me to spend more time with them. Also, I had to learn to control my feelings because others in my life have feelings, and they need to be heard. Fathers, listen: Sometimes your kids just want to be around you or be in the same household with you. Most men I know don’t like being told what to do or how to do it. But if you listen, you’ll learn A LOT. I know I did.

3. I had to accept that everything might not go the way I wanted it to go.

Being in and out of your kid’s life won’t make the kids call you “Dad.” So you have to accept it, and you can’t give up; you have to be willing to fight to become what they need. Show them that you will never give up. I’ll always try to become a better dad, no matter what.

4. I had to stay committed to my goals. 

I focused on staying out of jail by keeping a steady job and paying my child support. It was not easy. Still, I was determined to focus and buckle down because my kids needed the better version of me. I was and still am willing to become a strong, loving father.

5. I had to realize that dads make a difference.

For me, First Things First’s Dads Making a Difference class was very important. It taught me so much about life. I thought I was alone (as many men believe they’re alone in certain situations surrounding fatherhood). I had no idea that help was available to help me navigate the roadblocks and teach me to be a better man/father.

Everyone has their own idea for what it takes to become a better dad. It has been a journey that I am willing to take despite criticism and harsh words. I’m determined to become a better father, and these steps are just the beginning. 

Other blogs:

How Kids Benefit from Involved Fathers

Conversation Starters for Kids and Parents

DOWNLOAD: 10 Things All Dads Need To Do To Help Their Child Be Successful

As a proud mom of three sons, I’ve made my home more like a locker room than a designer showcase. I made sure there were couches and carpeting to decrease the likelihood of injuries. Despite all of the rough-housing and teasing, I just expected that they would be kind to each other. I never even thought they would need to “learn” to be kind. Instead, I felt they would catch it by watching me and automatically learn to be kind people. That’s not the case. Kindness is a skill that we must teach our kids, but it will last a lifetime.

Here are seven ways to teach your child kindness:

1. Model kind behavior.

I can’t overstate the fact that YOUR KIDS ARE WATCHING YOU. They are watching and listening to how you talk about your boss after a long day of work. Are you kind even when you are frustrated? It’s hard to tell your child to be friendly and thoughtful while your behavior toward others isn’t nice and kind. 

2. Give them opportunities to be kind.

Kindness begets kindness. Say something like this to your child: Hey, you know it’s trash day. I see that Mr. Smith’s can is still at the curb. Wouldn’t it be kind if we rolled it up for him? 

This may be a small gesture for an elderly neighbor, but you are sowing seeds of kindness in your child’s heart. 

3. Develop your child’s emotional vocabulary.

Just like we teach our children words for body parts, animals, and colors, they need words for emotions so they can express themselves kindly. Include a variety of emotions: sad, happy, angry, hurt, or embarrassed, etc. We also have to teach our children to watch body language and facial expressions. Play Emotions Charades with your child so they can learn different emotions and kind ways to respond or show how they feel.


THE GRATITUDE CHALLENGE

EASY ACTIVITIES FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY TO CULTIVATE A MINDSET OF THANKFULNESS

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MAGIC OF THIS SEASON?

It’s easy to find yourself smack dab in the middle of the holiday season feeling frantic and totally unprepared for the flurry of meals, school programs, family get-togethers, and gift exchanges. It’s really hard to feel grateful when you’re STRESSED to the max. (Shocker, right?)

And you better believe your kids are picking up what you’re putting down. So if you want them to have a little gratitude for all that they have, a good place to start is intentionally expressing gratitude yourself.

This guide will help you and your whole family do just that. Download these free activities for all ages and start cultivating some gratitude magic!


4. Make kindness a habit.

Research has shown that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Create a list with your child of small things that you can do to be kind. Start the conversation with: I know this month we are trying to be kind to others. What is something that you can do daily? Examples include:

  • Smiling when you see someone.
  • Complimenting someone.
  • Saying please and thank you.
  • Creating a Family Kindness month. where your family performs acts of kindness.
  • Organizing a Kindness Club in your neighborhood.

5. Remember that kindness begins at home.

Home is the first place for our kids to learn about kindness. Your children must learn how to interact with parents, siblings, extended family, and family pets. Having specific expectations like not hitting and not yelling at others are ways to start the process. 

6. Recognize when your child is being kind.

Try to “catch” your child in the act of being kind. Maybe they fed the pet when it wasn’t their turn. Perhaps they picked up something they didn’t drop. Acknowledge their kindness by saying, Thank you so much. I appreciate that you ______________.

7. Encourage kindness – even when it’s hard.

It’s easy to be kind to someone you know and like. But how do you encourage your child to be kind if they don’t like someone? Or if that someone has been unkind to them? That’s tough. But you get to set the standard for kindness in any situation. 

You may have to have a conversation with your child to acknowledge that it may not seem fair or right. It might also be helpful to explore what that unkind child may be feeling or experiencing in their lives which may cause them to act unkindly. Lastly, praise your child for trying. 

One of my proudest moments as a parent came when my youngest son was in the 4th grade. His teacher texted me to say that he chose to sit with a new student at lunch instead of his regular friends. She said this student was having some trouble fitting in and the class knew and recognized it. However, the new student immediately became a part of the group through that one act of kindness. 

When we teach our children to be kind, we teach them to see the best in others. It also brings out the best in them.

15 New Thanksgiving Traditions for the Family

Celebrate the holiday with these fresh takes.

For many, Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family, make memories, and eat a lot. Some of us have traditions that trace back generations. What about you? Perhaps you look forward to your aunt’s sweet potato pie or anticipate what everyone will say they’re thankful for. 

It’s also fun to start some new traditions that may become part of your family’s fabric. Your kids can look forward to them, play a part in making it better every year, and remember the first time you did it together. Who knows? They may pass it on to their children one day because they helped start the tradition.

Thinking about starting some new Thanksgiving family traditions? Check out these ideas.

1. Do a morning Turkey Trot.

Participate in a charity walk/run/race as a family. My city has one to benefit a local family shelter. No need to be a stellar athlete. Get active while helping a charity. This link lists Thanksgiving Day charity runs throughout the U.S.

2. Share words that will leave imprints on hearts forever.

a) Draw names in your family the week before Thanksgiving. 

b) Write a handwritten note of gratitude to that person. 

c) Stick it in an envelope.

4) Read the notes on Thanksgiving.

3. Facetime/Zoom family and friends who can’t join you. 

Schedule the Zoom ahead of time and see how many extended family members you can get on one call. Be sure to screenshot all the faces. Doesn’t have to last long. You’ll have different homes with Thanksgiving parties linking up for a Zoom party.

4. Deliver treats to local public servants: police officers, firefighters, convenience store workers, etc. 

Bake some cookies or homemade brownies to thank them for their service. Individually wrap them and include a note of thanksgiving and the recipe. This will help your kids learn to think of others.

5. Create a family Thanksgiving music playlist full of seasonal songs. 

Music has a way of keeping the mood just right.

6. After the meal, take a walk and play kickball, wiffle ball, or football. 

Make it a family or neighborhood event.

7. Get to know your family with a game of “Would You Rather?” or “2 Truths and a Lie.” 

You can do this on your family Zoom, around the dinner table, or during the post-meal walk.

8. Teach your kids how to make a family favorite Thanksgiving dish. 

It’s never too early to start passing down traditions to the next generation.

9. Visit a nursing home, foster home, etc.

Spend time with people who may not have family members around. Call ahead and schedule. Workers at the facilities can often direct you to those who will most appreciate your visit.

10. Invite a neighbor or someone who doesn’t have family near to share your Thanksgiving. 

11. Have kids make the appetizer (with your assistance, of course). 

You may not want them in on the main feast quite yet. The kiddos will be beaming with pride when they see everyone eating what they made for the festive occasion. If the appetizer isn’t good, everyone will forget once the turkey, ham, and pies hit the table.

12. Ask lots of questions.

Set questions out for families to discuss while eating. Make it fun and informative. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn about each other.

13. Have a post-meal family game time.

Play a good group game like Spoons, Mafia, Taboo, or Uno. (Note: Use different Uno versions: Uno Attack, Uno Triple Play, or Uno Flip.) Everyone will be talking about the good times and laughs until next Thanksgiving.

14. Get outdoors for a Friday morning hike.

Leaves are colorful. Depending on where you live, the weather may be delightful, with a slight bit of chill. Spend time hiking with the people you love. Bonus: You’ll see plenty to be thankful for.

15. Volunteer.

Serve at a community kitchen, homeless shelter, or any number of places. Call ahead to save your spot, because lots of people volunteer during the holiday season. 

Don’t get discouraged if some new ideas miss the mark. Sometimes the joy is in the attempt. But if you hit on a new tradition or two, you’ll add even more joy to the idea of spending Thanksgiving with the ones you love.

How to Stay Motivated as a Parent

Here are 6 things to help you keep your motivation game strong.

As a parent, it can be tough to feel motivated when there’s so much to do: for your family, work, home, yourself – you name it. It doesn’t really matter what time of year it is – it’s always something. Fall can be a hectic season for moms and dads with all the festivals, gatherings with family and friends, and the holidays looming large. Maybe you’re overwhelmed with everything on your to-do list, or you just feel like you lack enthusiasm right now. 

If that’s where you find yourself as a parent, here are some ways to ignite your motivation as you and your family make the most of this time of year.

1. Remember that it starts with you.

It’s often easier for parents to live out Newton’s First Law of Motion, which states that an object in motion stays in motion. It’s hard to stop when you are overrun with things to do. The thought of slowing down is overwhelming. So we put on a happy and excited face when in reality, we lack energy and motivation. 

You’ve probably heard that “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” It’s true! You have to find things that provide energy for you. It’s essential to understand that taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. Actually, it allows you to be a better parent.

2. Find ways to have child-free times.

Make time in your schedule to enjoy being alone. You may have to get up early or stay up late. You may have to resort to using the bathroom as an escape. Sometimes I find myself sitting on my back porch enjoying the sound of crickets and cicadas and watching the sun go down. Whatever you have to do, make space for yourself. 

3. Remember your why.

Most parents work hard to raise their children to become productive adults in society. Raising kids is a marathon, not a sprint. There will be times that you are tired. You may feel like nothing is going the way you planned or thought. In those moments, remember your reason. 

4. Find ways to enjoy your parenting journey.

When things are challenging, take time to reminisce. Look through old pictures and videos. Then, create new memories. Work together to find a new favorite dessert recipe and cook it together. Have an impromptu photo shoot. Go for a scenic drive and enjoy nature. Be creative and make it fun.

5. Live in gratitude.

Being a parent is one of the greatest gifts through the big things, little things, easy things, or hard things. An attitude of gratitude demonstrates that we are fortunate to have the opportunity to parent our children. (Not trying to give you anything else on your to-do list, but keeping track of your blessings and expressing thankfulness is actually good for you in so many ways!)

6. Find parenting mentors.

One way to stay motivated is by finding parenting mentors. Think about the people you know who have raised their children and exhibit the attributes you want for your children. Once you identify them, invite them out for coffee and ask them, “How did you do it?” Listen for tips that you can incorporate into your parenting. 

Parenting is easy. (Said no one EVER.) HAA! Parenting is one of the hardest things you will ever do. There will be times when you feel like you have nothing to give. Many of us have felt the same way, so believe me when I say you are not alone. Feel. What. You. Feel. Then find that drive from deep inside to help you get back on track so you can be a motivated parent. You are exactly what your children need.

Tips for a Stress-Free Halloween

You don't have to let Halloween drive you crazy!

Halloween stress got you downright scared? Does the thought of taking your little monsters trick-or-treating give you nightmares and send shivers down your spine? Does the sugarfest at the end of the evening just make you want to screeaammm?? 

We all know that kids can sense the stress that we feel, which affects their stress levels.1 And that can make for a harrowing, horror-ific Halloween night. 

But there’s no need for the stress of Halloween to drive you batty. Instead, try using these spooktacular tips below for a stress-free Halloween with your kiddos. 

  • Scare up an easy dinner before you go out. Full tummies make for happier trick-or-treaters. Don’t make it complicated for yourself. Shoot for frozen pizzas, chicken nuggets, or easy grilled-cheese sand-witches. And save a few leftovers for when you get back home. 
  • Join forces with other families. The candy-hunting trip can be much more fun and manageable when you’re together with friends. Adults can help look out for each other’s kids. A long night of trick-or-treating can feel shorter (not to mention more relaxed) when you have other parents to share the experience with. 
  • Hit the restroom before candy-sniping. Ok, you probably know this if you’re a veteran parent. But it’s a good reminder. Bladders are small, and frustrations can arise when you’re across the neighborhood and one of them “has to go…reeeaal bad…
  • Pack for the road. Tote along a backpack with extra jackets, water bottles, an umbrella, and a plastic shopping bag (either for candy wrappers from “on-the-spot” taste tests, or in case the plastic pumpkin bucket snaps a handle). Your kid may insist on wearing their sparkly cowboy boots or dinosaur feet, so carry along an extra pair of sneakers in case they get tired, achy feet later in the trip. (A stroller or wagon is a good idea, too!)
  • Plan for the cold. If possible, have the rugrats wear PJs or sweats under their costumes. It adds an extra layer to cut off the chill, and they can easily peel their costumes off when they’re ready to sift through the spoils when they get back home. 
  • When it’s time, kill the porch light. You and the family may like to hand out candy to other little witches and ghouls once you get home from your own trick-or-treat trip. But don’t forget to take the opportunity to spend some alone time together as a family. Close the door, turn the porch light out, brew up some hot chocolate, and cue up a kid-friendly Halloween flick until it’s time for lights out. 
  • Relocate for trick-or-treating. Is your neighborhood not the most lucrative on Halloween night? Is the candy supply in short supply on All Hallow’s Eve? Trying to avoid taking your kid by Old Farmer Johnson’s abandoned shack to see who has a pack of licorice to offer? Find out who in your town is offering treating opportunities. Sometimes the stores in the mall will hand out candy. Churches, community centers, and other organizations will often host Halloween festivals or “trunk-or-treat” nights. This keeps the candy-hunting in one spot, facilities are close and convenient, and high-grade candy is usually abundant. 
  • Offer candy credit. Before the little monsters start goblin up all the processed sugar, make a deal with them that they can trade in a portion of their loot for other incentives. Maybe they give you 80% of their lot for a trip to buy a $10 toy. Or for half their chocolate, you’ll take them to see a movie at the theater. Donate their trade-in candy to a good cause

When it’s all said and done, Halloween should be an opportunity for families to draw closer and share a fun experience together. And being stress-free doesn’t have to be just witchful thinking. Trick-or-treat yourself (and your kids) to a stress-free Halloween night!  

Source

1Laurent, H. K. (2014). Clarifying the Contours of Emotion Regulation: Insights From Parent-Child Stress Research. Child Development Perspectives, 8(1), 30–35. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdep.12058