Inside: The Switch Witch can be a fun Halloween tradition for your kids. Here are the dos and don’ts to make it work.
Years ago I was chatting with a neighbor about Halloween and the mountain of candy that enters our lives every year after Trick or Treat.
“The Switch Witch comes and you accept some of our sweets,” he said mischievously.
What is the switch witch?
I learned that Switch Witch is a mysterious sorceress who arrives on Halloween night after going to bed.
The children left some of his sweets for her at the end of the night. She takes the candies and places something special in her place.
The annual onslaught of fun-sized suckers and Butterfingers stresses out many parents. So, is Switch Witch the answer?
What The Switch Witch can teach children
In addition to being a fun tradition, the Switch Witch concept has a useful life lesson that many adults could use too: how to put value in what In fact you like and don’t waste time on things you don’t like.
How often have you been handed a big slice of mediocre store-bought birthday cake and simply eaten it because it was there? Or devour a second slice of pizza even if it wasn’t very good?
Prioritizing our favorite foods, and not wasting time on what we don’t, is a skill we need in a world where food is everywhere.
It’s also a good way for kids with life-threatening food allergies to swap out what they can’t eat for a special surprise.
Should you do the Switch Witch?
Personally, my kids loved Switch Witch. They loved the mystery it contained. They loved waking up the next morning to see what she brought.
They loved dividing their trick-or-treat stash into piles: Keep. Trade. Change witch.
In the end, they still had a considerable pile left, which they ate little by little over many weeks.
Some years, our own Switch Witch would bring a fun toy, a book, or a five-dollar bill. More often than she likes to admit, she ran to Target on Halloween night before she closed because she forgot to plan ahead. Ahem.
If you’re also thinking about doing Switch Witch with your kids, here are some do’s and don’ts:
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MAKE Switch Witch optional
Switch Witch is supposed to be a fun tradition in the spirit of the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny. She is a good witch, not a punishment; There is no shame in the fact that she likes and desires sweets.
DON’T do candy the enemy
Yes, Trick of Treating can bring a lot of candy to your house. And yes, a lot of sugar is consumed on Halloween night. Candy is a big part of Halloween, and that’s okay. It is natural and normal to celebrate some occasions with food. And of course, it’s nice to hand out glow sticks and plastic spider rings for trick-or-treating. But there’s no doubt that for most kids, candy is the main event.
So whether you demonize Halloween candy or ask your child to give it all away, it’s confusing. His son worked hard running from house to house to earn his loot. Wasn’t that the point of dressing up and going from house to house, examining the pile and exchanging his favorites with friends? Isn’t that what you’ve been waiting for all month?
LET your kids decide what they give Switch Witch
In our house, my children left him things that seemed “normal” to them: what they could eat if he were there but that they did not prefer. In other words, our Switch Witch’s broom was largely made of Mounds, Good & Plenty, and Necco Wafers. My kids often add leftovers too.
DON’T steal your children’s candy without asking.
Parents stealing their children’s Halloween candy is a long-running joke, but I encourage you to ask first so your child doesn’t have to feel obsessive or protective of their stash. Children who fear their parents will take their stash may end up hiding and hiding candy, or believing the message that they can’t be trusted when it comes to candy or other sweets. And asking your child for candy first gives them more practice sharing, and you’ll end up with something delicious!
CONSIDER letting your child enjoy Trick or Treating without interference
I have seen many parents argue with their children during trick-or-treating about how much candy they can eat. You should do what works best for your family, but personally, I always let my kids have whatever they want on Halloween night. If they were feeling sick, we talked about how overeating can cause stomach pains.
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Questions about Switch Witch
What happens if your children are not on board?
If your kids don’t want to give away some of their candy, don’t force the issue. It is important trust our children and that our children trust us. Otherwise, he may end up with a child who steals candy and other “forbidden” foods and feels ashamed for wanting them.
How many candy should Switch Witch take?
That depends on you and your children. Remember: we don’t want our kids to feel cheated or robbed of the candy they worked for.
Can’t I just throw away my kids’ candy?
My vote is no. Hey, I get it, that’s a lot of candy! And you just want that pile missing So there will be no pleading or negotiations in the next few days, right? So you wait a day until the sugar hangover wears off, let them eat a few pieces, and then take the rest to the office or throw it in the trash.
I definitely understand the inclination. When my kids were younger, I did a stealth “candy relocation” myself. But since then I changed my tune. Because that won’t teach your kids anything except not to trust mom and dad!
Taking away your child’s Halloween candy sends a clear message: I don’t trust you with this.
So How do I handle the pile of candy left?
Here are some ideas:
- Make a plan together. The day after trick-or-treating, talk about what you think is a reasonable way to handle the rest of the stash. Does one or two pieces a day seem feasible to you? Would your child prefer to keep them in their lunchbox or enjoy them at home? My two sons’ Halloween candy was kept in separate bags in a closet they could access. We decided together what a reasonable portion was. When they were little, it was one piece a day, which worked most of the time. They could have their treat whenever they wanted: in their lunchbox, after school, after dinner, even WITH dinner. As they grew, they managed their own stashes.
- Take away some power. Candy is not the end all be all if it is available. Two strategies you might consider trying: Serving candy along with dinner (yes, your kids can eat the fun-sized Snickers bar, then move on to the rest of the meal and it’s okay!) and occasionally offering everything they want at snack time. Those approaches come from food experts and dieticians. Ellyn Satter. I tried both and although they are scary at first, I found them very useful (and effective).
- Bake cookies! If your kids are okay with it, bake this skillet cookie together with some of the extra sweets.
Switch Witch can be a fun tradition for your kids and teach them lessons about prioritizing their favorites. But Switch Witch should be something your kids WANT to do, not a sneaky way to get rid of extra candy.