Let’s Talk about Candy

Child dressed in Halloween costume eating cupcake

For parents who prefer that their children not eat everlasting gobs of sugar every Halloween, the holiday becomes a time to take a deep breath and figure out how we will navigate the choices this year. To candy or not to candy?

Switch to Better Alternatives

Within the dominant structure of treat or treat and begging for candy, or truck or treat, or school parties, or whatever is popular in your area, most options include a lot of candy.

One option is to participate but contribute better alternatives. Better alternatives to WHAT depends on your priorities. Is your family completely sugar free? Then maybe you look for sugar-free treats or natural sweets. Are you open to candy, but you don’t want to eat conventional chocolate? Then you might want to find bite-size fair trade chocolate. Organic? Plenty of that. Local? My grocery store has a dozen local chocolate choices, some organic and some fair trade.

So, the first question is: what part of the dominant celebration are you trying to avoid? Then ask how you can do that and still participate.

Or, Limit the Candy

Some parents who generally avoid sugar or chocolate or a list of other candy issues, relax the rules on Halloween. This approach avoids creating candy as the desired thing for a child, the thing they must have at all costs as soon as you aren’t looking.

The Switch Witch and the Magic Pumpkin are two ideas you can read more about in “Halloween Treat Alternatives.” The child chooses a few candies to keep then leaves the rest out for the Switch Witch or the Magic Pumpkin, who leaves a different gift.

I just said NO to candy when my children were small, perhaps less than 5-years old. Once my children were older, I let them keep what they gathered, but I limited them to one piece per day each. I don’t love this solution, but it worked those years when we participated in trick or treating with friends and neighbors.

Or, Switch Structure

Rather than accept the dominant idea that Halloween must involve candy, switch to another structure entirely. Have a costume dinner party for adults and children. Go to a maize maze in costume. Find a fun activity that celebrates the season without focusing on candy.

This is the option we choose most years. I like that this doesn’t put our choices as an alternative to candy but just removes thinking about the candy altogether.

Resources: Thinking about Candy for Children

We’ve collected a few of our past posts that you may find helpful.

Halloween Treat Alternatives

Four ways to shift focus from “Gimme Candy” to sweet memories, weird science, social activism, or community.

Sugar: 7 Reasons to Break the Addiction

Baby eating a sugar lollipopNot sure whether there is a good enough reason to skip the sugary candy altogether this year? Read through our seven reasons to avoid sugar and the studies that back up the reasons. Sugar is addictive, toxic, leads to disease, saps energy, shortens your life, and can make you stupid. How is that for reason enough?

How Are Families Going Sugar Free?

A spiral of sugarThese are baby steps to break the sugar addiction for a whole family. It isn’t holiday focused, but there are good and important steps you can incorporate into a changed holiday if you are ready to make the break.

Dark Side of Chocolate

The Dark Side of Chocolate is a documentary about child labor and slavery in the cocoa industry. Fair trade or skip it. You won’t find chocolate so sweet when you see this story.

Chocolate — It’s About Dignity and Sustainability

Child with Chocolate

I wrote this post about the good reasons to choose fair trade, sustainable chocolate a few years ago. There are so many more choices now. If you want to make change, you do have options.

My Conscious Choices, Your Conscious Choices

Reasons to create your own candy-free Halloween traditions vary: health, social justice, environmental sustainability, and so on. Not all of us make the same choices, and that’s OK. If you want help thinking through whether now is the time to make those changes, ask yourself the five questions in this post. There are no right answers. You are the only one who knows if now is the time for change.

Image © Poznyakov | Dreamstime.com

Thanksgiving Stories with Children

Dad reading to children

If you are gathering with family this weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving, giving thanks for the year’s harvest, we wish you the best.

In those quiet moments, you might want to share stories of thanksgiving with your children. I find that my children become more aware of themselves and their surroundings when faced with a cultural or historical contrasts. Both of these stories will help bring up such contrasts.

A Pioneer Thanksgiving

Barabara Greenwood, A Pioneer Thanksgiving: A Story of Harvest Celebrations in 1841 (Kids Can Press: 1999).

This story of a Canadian pioneer family, the Robertsons, combines their preparations for their harvest festival with activities and historical information for children.

Goodreads gives you many sources for A Pioneer ThanksgivingYou can also get a better look on Google Books

Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address

Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World (Six Nations Museum: 1993).

This traditional address of thanksgiving for Haudensosaunee (Iroquois) acknowledges the ever-widening circles of concern, beginning with the People then the Earth and so on. Each section of the address is punctuated with a version of “Now our minds are one.”

This version of the address in English is available through the Smithsonian Institution Museum of the American Indian. This is a contemporary address still given among Haudeosaunee (Six Nations).

How can we teach our children to be thankful? I share how I have tried to model thanks with my family in “Raising Thankful Children.”

Image © Wavebreakmedia Ltd | Dreamstime.com

Start Your Year Clean

Woman cleaning a mirror

Hogmanay in Scotland is more than just singing a Robert Burns song, taking a shot of whiskey, and dancing around. It can be that as well, but in Scotland New Year involves clearing out the old year and welcoming the new, which means house cleaning.

When I lived in Scotland, I found that this obsession with New Year cleaning extended to having not even a teaspoon in the sink at the stroke of midnight. The New Year offers you the possibility of a clean slate.

The focus on cleaning is less about fetishizing cleanliness and more about removing obstacles to real action. As long as you have that nagging sink full of dishes, you have an excuse not to focus on what you really want. So, let’s focus on clearing out the baggage, then we can turn our minds to what the new year might bring.


CHAOS

Is the house out of control? It’s easy for everything to slip into chaos when you have little kids. One of the most effective systems I’ve seen for gaining control is the Fly Lady. Years ago, when the Fly Lady was just a Yahoo group, I followed this system daily to dig out from under physical and other garbage holding me back. Fly Lady calls this CHAOS, Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome.

First step? Reclaim one small space every day. Shine your sink. It’s not about your sink; it’s about a guaranteed success, an area of calm within the chaos.

If the state of your house is holding you back, I recommend Fly Lady in any format as the cheerleader who can help you take back control.


What Are You Tolerating?

What holds you back from doing everything you want to do with your family, your children, and just for yourself? Maybe your house is sparkly and you still feel like something is holding you back. You have a few days to figure it out and clear it out so you can face the new year ready to roar.

What are you tolerating around you? Make a list. I love this exercise to bring all of those tiny issues into consciousness. Get a big piece of paper and start listing all of the little things you are putting up with. The tap leaks, the dog’s hair is too long, my son’s shoes are too small, not enough hangers, too-small kids cloths are piling up, and so on. You know how it goes. Start with the obvious that you see around you then move on to the less obvious. Haven’t gone out with my husband for weeks, tired of the foods we eat regularly, haven’t taken my new yarn out of the bag. Keep digging. When I go through this process with friends, I tell them to number every item and don’t stop until at least 50. If you create enough calm around you to think clearly, you can probably get to 100 without much problem.

Then, look at the list for three things you can knock off immediately. Then, three more. Don’t let these ridiculously tiny things hold you back from big dreams.

Time to clean up!

Image © Iakov Filimonov | Dreamstime.com

Last-Minute Gift for Yourself?

Natural buckwheat body pillow

Christmas, birthdays, and other big, gift-giving holidays are a perfect time to ask for those very nice gifts you wouldn’t necessarily buy for yourself every day.

Do you end up buying your own gifts? I do. I ordered mine yesterday, and I don’t mind. I don’t really need much, and I don’t assume my husband can read my mind about what I want. I would be terribly disappointed with jewelry, flowers, chocolates, or any of the gifts I see marketed to men for women. My son wanted to buy the gift himself, but he finally asked me yesterday to help him. He and my husband are both very happy that I’m happy with what I get. Plus, buying for myself makes getting that very nice gift even easier.

So, here is my suggestion for you if you have family members who are still looking around at the last-minute for the right gift for you: a Buckwheat Body Pillow.

Natural buckwheat pregnancy pillow


Buckwheat Body Pillow

If you bought separate pillows for pregnancy comfort, for nursing, and for sleep comfort, you probably wish you could use the same pillow for all three purposes. With the buckwheat body pillow, you can. This pillow is versatile. Lay it out the long way to support your belly during pregnancy; tie the ends together to make the perfect size for nursing; and continue to sleep with the pillow in a variety of shapes long after pregnancy and nursing are over.

This pillow can be used in many ways, and you can keep it clean by removing the buckwheat to wash the cotton cover and even replacing the buckwheat after years of use.

And, this pillow is beautiful! You won’t want to hide these bright cotton prints.

Comes in a child size as well.

Buckwheat pillows made in Canada


A Pillow You Can Feel Good About

There are more reasons to feel good about this pillow.

Your Health. Filled with dust-free, roasted buckwheat hulls which are hypoallergenic & naturally dust mite resistant.

Environmentally Responsible. All the raw materials use in our buckwheat pillows are local, long-lasting, compostable, and renewable.

Made in Canada. Natural buckwheat filling supplied by a Quebecois organic farm.

Socially Responsible. Each buckwheat pillow is handmade by a Montreal-based reintegration company that fights against exclusion and poverty.

Ask for the perfect last-minute gift, or buy it for yourself today. Our store is closed for the holidays, but we are still shipping.