I hate Halloween. I always have, and I'm pretty sure I always will. Despite my love of chocolate and the thrill of being scared, something about the spooky, sugary holiday has always rubbed me the wrong way.
As a child, the pressure to find a great costume consumed me. Year after year, I found myself fighting off jealousy toward those whose costumes were so much better than mine — creative, cute and homemade — while I walked around in footsie pajamas and called myself a "baby." There were so many questions: With whom was I trick-or-treating? And decisions: In which neighborhood would we go door-to-door?
Halloween has always left me feeling just a little ... less-than.
Now that I'm a mom, my feelings about the holiday have only intensified. My kids start talking about their costumes in July. Come October, they struggle to secure their group of friends and plans for the big event. And, without a doubt, one comes home in tears every single year.
For years, I tried to mask my disdain for the holiday because I wanted to be the best mom, the one who makes the holiday fabulous for her kids. But somewhere between the tricking and the treating, the witch in me always came out. My huffing, puffing and are-we-done-yets were ruining the holiday for my kids.
Eventually, I threw my hands in the air and said no more. I killed the mom-guilt, too, finding comfort in knowing I'm not alone — lots of parents loathe Oct. 31.
Dani Davidson, a mom of three, doesn't hide the fact that she is "not on team Halloween." She says the holiday has become "so commercialized [that] the meaning behind the day has been lost." She also struggles to accept the message of the holiday: "…give me candy or I'll do something you don't like."
"I'm trying to raise kids that respond with understanding, kindness and fairness," she tells Yahoo Life. "Trick-or-treat is not a message I am going to advocate for."
Kathleen Fletcher, also a mom of three and a "self-confessed Halloween-hater" attributes her disdain toward the holiday to a traumatizing experience as a child, when she unexpectedly came face-to-face with a trick-or-treater covered in fake blood and was terrified.
Fletcher struggled with "mom guilt" when she let her husband, "carry the burden of making Halloween fun for the kids." She says she, "would make excuses to go out, or squirrel [herself] away in the home office doing work."
So, what's a parent who hates Halloween to do? Sue English, a family therapist and owner of English Meadows Counseling says there are surprisingly easy-to-execute solutions for Halloween-hating parents.
Before you can determine the best anti-Halloween solution for your family, answer one question: Why do you hate Halloween? Is it the fear-factor or the sugar binge? Perhaps it's a spiritual or religious conflict? English says parents must, "understand [their] non-negotiables, as they pertain to the holiday."
Then, make a list of traditions you are comfortable participating in — handing out candy instead of trick-or-treating, perhaps — and invite your kids into the conversation. "Talk to your kids about their hopes for the day and see if you can come to a compromise, meeting each person's needs," she suggests.
Davidson has done just that. "I speak openly about this with my children," she says. "While they understand I am not a Halloween fan, we still get dressed up and attend a local [Halloween] event at a house in our community."
Now is not the time to feel tied to tradition. Instead, spend a night with your kids brainstorming ideas that honor the parts of the holiday you both enjoy (or can tolerate) and create new traditions that are all yours.
Fletcher has mastered this method with her family. "I started to realize there is more to Halloween than just the silly costumes, fake blood and fake spider webs," she says, adding that she's drawn upon her love of arts and crafts to connect with her kids. "Halloween is just about the only time of year my children will actively want to sit down and craft something with me, so why not make the most of the opportunity?"
Together, they carve intricate pumpkins and sometimes make Halloween decorations — sans fake blood, of course.
Handle the guilt
"Send the guilt out the front door with your costumed kids and the chaperoning neighbor," says English. "If you truly hate the holiday, your kids will sense your discomfort and end up internalizing your feelings."
Contrary to popular belief, kids survive and thrive, even when parents miss an event or two. English assures parents they need not be part of every experience their kids have. "Think of the excitement they will have when they relive their Halloween experience, retelling you the best parts of their night," she says.
Guilt is what kept me in the Halloween game far longer than I needed to stay. Intuition was screaming at me: Stay home, you hate trick-or-treating. You are only going to make the experience less enjoyable for your kids.
But guilt said: What kind of a mother doesn't beam with joy and pride as her princess and ninja walk up to random houses and screech in delight at the candy they receive?
After enough failed attempts to be that mom, I accept myself for the mom that I am — one who is better left at home on Halloween. And when I accepted that, I was finally free.
I've been staying home on Oct. 31 ever since — lights off, door locked, just me and my adult pajamas in a nice, warm bed.
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