I used to love Halloween. It was one of my top three holidays each year. It wasn’t about dressing up or haunted houses. I loved it because I loved passing out candy. You see, our neighborhood is a prime trick-or-treating spot for the town and we would see hundreds of kids each year. Sure, we spent a lot of money on candy, but it was worth it.
Then we got kids.
We got five all at once (they are adopted through the foster system), and they were all the perfect ages for trick-or-treating. I thought, “this is going to be my dream come true!” Someone else to enjoy Halloween with.
That first year we went all out. We decided as a family our theme would be Despicable Me. It is one of our favorite movies of all time and quite appropriate to our situation. So, of course, the girls were Margo, Edith, and Agnes. The boys got their pick from the rest of the characters and chose to be Minions. We spent a ton of money on their costumes and I was stressed to the max. By the time Halloween was over, I was exhausted and disappointed. The kids had fun but I was miserable.
So the next year, we made a change. Each kid was given $10 to spend on their costumes. They could pocket the money and find something to wear at home, or a combination of the two. This was perhaps our greatest parenting idea. It not only relieved my stress and misery, it was fun to watch them shop for and decide on their own costumes. That first year we hit up all of the thrift stores and resale shops in our area. My youngest girl chose a pink tutu and hair bow, she wanted to be Pinkalicious, and she ended up pocketing around $7. My oldest girl saved all $10, and the oldest boy chose to purchase his costume. The little guy put his $10 in the bank and we found one of daddy’s construction vests and hard hats for him. Sold. New Halloween tradition!
Last year we were crunched for time but still handed out the $10 apiece and visited a few stores. We sat back and watched to see what would happen. The older girls immediately chose a costume they already had at home. My boys purchased their costumes, a ninja and an Iron Man (of sorts). They even pooled their money to purchase the Iron Man costume because little guy was a few cents short. Teamwork and the value of money … win and win. My little girl was unfortunately in trouble (as I recall…she was in a “not safe with scissors” phase), so her money went into her bank account.
Are my kids “Pinterest worthy” at Halloween? No. But, I noticed that while they had fun that first year, their happiness with the freedom they have received since is so much greater. It is a different type of fun but one that is way more important and memorable for all of us.
And … Momma loves Halloween again.