Tips for Co-Parenting on Halloween

divorce and halloween

For parents who are struggling to peacefully co-parent may find Halloween is just another occasion where problems can arise. While some parents happily sacrifice any adult Halloween plans to be with their children, others resent this annual obligation and would either prefer to celebrate it kid-free…or not at all. Co-parenting can intensify these feelings, leaving some parents with FOMO while others feel serious resentment for having to be “stuck” with the children. When it comes to parenting time arrangements for Halloween, it isn’t “one size fits all”. The most successful parenting arrangements consider both parents’ preferences for celebrating Halloween, but show great deference to the happiness and well-being of the children on this uniquely kid-centric holiday.

Plan Ahead

Parenting Plans are usually either silent on Halloween or just designate which parent has physical custody/parenting time with the child on the day. However, while Halloween lacks the complexity of Christmas, there are a number of pieces that need to be in place to pull it off. Below are items to hammer out in advance so everyone knows what to expect.

1. Costumes

Doing the costume shopping with the children can help make the parent who isn’t in charge of trick or treating for that year feel included. It also helps distribute the responsibilities and enjoyment to the benefit of everyone. Depending on your arrangement, it may help to agree in advance on any requirements for the costume including being warm enough (depending on where you live), not too revealing and most of all, that the costume is something the child likes and feels good wearing.

2. Schedule Trick or Treating and Related Activities

For holiday schedules, while alternating holidays is most common, parents shouldn’t feel like it is a requirement, especially when parents value holidays differently. For example, if one parent is a Halloween lover and the other considers it a chore, it might work best for all involved trick or treating responsibilities remain with one parent each year. In the alternative, the relaxed nature of Halloween makes it a great holiday for parents to enjoy the evening with their children together. Joint or shared trick or treating is no longer unusual and may be a good sign of a successful co-parening arrangement. That being said, no good will usually come of forcing parents to trick or treat together if the relationship isn't in a good place so depending on your circumstances, celebrating separately may be the best option. If you prefer a more traditional arrangement where the holiday is alternated annually, sending a photo or two to the non-attending parent is a nice way to include them.

Also keep in mind that Halloween doesn’t have to be celebrated all in one night. You can celebrate Halloween season with your children through a variety of activities including a trip to a pumpkin patch. Depending on what day Halloween falls on for the year, activities such as trunk or treating can be spread over multiple nights. Hosting a party at your own home is also an option.

3. Engage in Healthy Habits

In a healthy co-parenting arrangement, each parent respects the danger threshhold of the other parent when it comes to the safety of the children. COVID-19 has only complicated matters. Foruntately, Halloween has the unique advantage of being a predominately outdoor activity, which can help allay fears about COVID transmission. On that subject, keep in mind that the increases in sugar consumption can weaken immune responses so ideally parents would agree in advance to limit candy to a reasonable amount. Sugar rushes and the excitement of trick or treating can also make it difficult for children to get adequate sleep on Halloween night, but every effort should be made to make that happen. Last, but not least, Halloween is the wrong night to skip the bedtime teeth brushing so the parent who puts the children to bed should oversee that activity, at least for younger children.

Don’t Forget What’s Important

Co-parents need to show maturity and flexibility so that their children can enjoy Halloween the fullest. Agreeing in advance about costumes, trick or treating, and healthy habits when Halloween night comes to an end can really help. If your circumstances allow for joint activities, that's great. However, keeping things separate may be the best way to keep tension and stress to a minimum for everyone involved.