Halloween night is an exciting time for kids. There’s the anticipation, fun of costumes, energy of trekking from house to house, and of course, the candy…all of which have the potential to push bedtime later than we’d like. So, what’s a parent to do? While we certainly want kids to have fun and enjoy the evening, there are things you can do to make Halloween bedtime a success and still help them good a good night’s rest when the trick or treating is all said and done.
Managing Halloween Bedtime
Start Trick-or-Treating Early
Obvious, I know, but don’t resist the urge to get out there as early as humanly possible. Yes, it might mean that you are catching a few candy givers off-guard, but for the sake of protecting the timing of bedtime as best you can, start early. You’ll feel less pressure to keep the door-knocking to a minimum and your little ones won’t be engulfed in your sense of urgency either. Win-win.
Get Ahead of the Game
Taking out a child who has had a nice restorative nap earlier in the day or who had some quiet time carved out for them paves the way for a happier evening for all. Make day sleep/rest a priority that day, ensure that the previous night’s bedtime was on the earlier side and don’t pack the day with too many festivities.
Have a Sleep Chat Prior to Trick-or-Treating
Have a plan. Start time, end time, distance covered, etc. And then share or discuss this with your little one so that they will know what to expect and that when you call an end to the evening, it is fair and anticipated. Of course this will be an age-related strategy, but even our toddlers can appreciate that there will be a start and an end and mum/dad will be giving them plenty of notice as the fun draws to a close. (Think “3 more houses and then it’s time to go home”).
For our older ones it’s appropriate to come up with a game plan earlier in the day that involves their feedback. It’s not a case of handing over control, but allowing them some say to help them feel involved and valued. This can go a long way in reducing the potential for a mid-evening battle and it also gives you something to fall back on when you feel as though you’re being the bad guy. Once you’ve got your plan, stick to it.
Modify Their Bedtime Routine
This might mean skipping bath time. Have pj’s all ready and waiting. Their two book bedtime routine should be pre-negotiated down to one. Curtains already drawn. You get the idea. Basically their sleeping environment is as dialed in as possible so that when you walk in the door you can expedite the process without feeling rushed or stressed. We still want to make time for a calming and comforting bedtime routine, but we want to keep the fuss and length to a minimum.
Anticipate Stalling Tactics
For all of the reasons I detailed above, it’s fair to expect that energized kids might just pull out the stalling cards on this of all nights. And that’s okay. But what’s also okay is for you to hold your bedtime routine and settling into sleep expectations firm. Kind but firm.
Explore the possibility of staggering the trick-or-treating so that your youngest can be dropped at home with one parent/care-giver and the older ones can continue on. Pushing bedtime for a toddler who is used to the predictability of their routine by 15-30 minutes is doable, pushing that out even further is possible, but extending bedtime beyond an hour of what they are used to can be really tough on them. Even with the best laid plans above, young children or sleep-sensitive children can only be expected to go so far past their norm before things go quite wrong. And who can blame them?
Take a Deep Breath
While this is a super fun night for kids, it can be draining for parents. Little ones thrive on the predictability of routine because they know it’s something that they can rely on and therefore feel comforted by. So even though this is a one-off night and one that certainly falls into the 80/20 rule of sleep, it can still be challenging. Take comfort in the fact that tomorrow is a new day and you can get right back on track with naps/quiet time and an earlier bedtime. And don’t forget, once you’ve conquered that Halloween bedtime, it’s the ideal opportunity to help make their candy bags a little bit lighter. You deserve at least one. Maybe two.
Written by Good Night Sleep Site Consultant.
Good Night Sleep Site provides free child and family sleep support through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We invite you to join our sleep community as we work towards Good Night Sleep Site’s mission of a healthier rested family unit. For more sleep tips, subscribe to our newsletter and visit Good Night Sleep Site.