Do kids REALLY need Halloween parties full of sugar and candy? What if we as parents actually tried to serve more Healthy Halloween School Party Ideas?
(Editorial Note: This post originally ran in 2013 when my oldest son was in 1st grade. I'm thrilled to say that now that my youngest son is in 1st grade, our school party sign up list has improved. Both fresh fruit and veggies were asked for this year, but not in isolation of cupcakes. But hey... #progress. For school parties and kid's celebrations in general, there's still work to be done. My thoughts largely haven't changed when I first wrote this post. So I'm sharing them today as a reminder that we're entering a season of non-stop parties, and we should always ask ourselves -- are candy, chips and cookies the only way to celebrate? I've also included a couple of links at the end of the post to what has to be the most helpful blog on the block for moms like me, interested in fostering a healthier snacking environment for kids -- both at school and otherwise. If you don't read a word I write, do be sure to check out the resources below from Sally at Real Mom Nutrition.)
When I first started writing for Weight Watchers Magazine in 1998, one of the first lessons I learned from my friend and talented writer, Kate Neale Cooper, was to never open a story with a rhetorical question. If people don't answer the way you think they will, you've lost them for the rest of the story. She never said if titles count in that equation. So let me bypass the title of today's post and get straight to the point.
Yes. I believe parents are the problem when it comes to Halloween parties... or at least a huge part of the problem.
I know this based on my experience as the mother of a 1st grader who received a sign up list for today's Halloween party. Here's the list:
Let me be clear that I don't place blame -- for what I view as shortcoming of healthy Halloween school party ideas on this list -- squarely on the shoulders of the class mom. She's just one person, and this list went out to at least 24 other parents. This list was probably developed by some other parent at some point. For all I know, this list has been set for years and it just gets handed down year after year. Afterall, the title of this post isn't "Is the class mom to blame?" You see where I'm going here, right?
When are parents going to speak up? When is someone going to say "You know... these kids are probably going to OD on candy tonight and for days (maybe weeks) to come. Do we really need to dose them up with junk after lunch?"
Parents are scared. Nobody wants to be the unpopular mom who rocks the boat, gets labeled as a pot-stirrer or worse, our kids are known as the kid with the "health nut mom."
But you know what scares me more? That we as parents are imparting our desire for "fun foods" on our kids, when I firmly believe that these kids would be just as happy spending that time at recess, blowing bubbles, playing games and doing the things kids don't have time to do any more because they're always either in school, scheduled for practice or doing homework.
And what about the kid who isn't going to get a piece of fresh fruit today, other than maybe what's offered on the lunch line? Would it be so bad of us to speak up and say "Hey... how about adding fruit to the party list?"
That's the approach I took. When I saw this list, I immediately cringed. Not only because I knew it was just empty calories, but because very honestly, these aren't foods my son likes. Don't get me wrong, he has a sweet tooth to compete with Willy Wonka, but cheese pops and candy corn... not his style. So this is what I volunteered to bring.
Fresh grapes. Nothing fancy. Not expensive. A little bit of labor involved to wash, cut and bag them... but well worth it when I think about what else he'll be served today.
To those critics who say "Lighten up, Regan. It's Halloween. It's a party!" I ask you -- what about this weekend's Birthday party? And what about the snacks after his flag football game? And what about the candy he got at church? And what about the next celebration? And the next? And the Thanksgiving party after that....
The list is ENDLESS with opportunities to feed kids junk. All in the name of "fun?"
And really, who wants the "fun" foods anyway? Them or us?
Following Kate's advice, maybe I shouldn't ask that question. Although I'm pretty sure I know the answer.
Update: Since the time I first wrote this post, I've gotten to know Sally at Real Mom Nutrition. She's helped me gradually get out of my comfort zone of silence and begin the discussion with teachers and school administrators about creating a healthier school party environment.
Do kids REALLY need Halloween parties full of sugar & candy? Check out these Healthy Halloween School Party Ideas! Tweet this