Halloween is a big day for many families – decorations, costumes, parties, trick or treating and family and friend gatherings now hallmark the day! Halloween, however, is often a bit scary for families with kids with chronic illnesses, including mitochondrial disease. The germ exposure, the cold (or sometimes hot) temperatures, energy demands of parties, social interactions, and even walking door to door, mobility issues, and treats that kids with GI issues cannot tolerate can all add to the stress of what is typically a fun day.
We’d like to share these tips to keep Halloween safe for your family and to keep all the scary goblins away!
Be creative, but sometimes keeping it simple is the way to go! Think about ease of getting in and out of the costume and if the costume will make mobility more difficult. Bright and reflective material may be best for door to door trick-or-treating. Think about layering clothes under a costume for additional warmth or ways to keep a child cooler if in a heavier costume and indoors or in warm temperatures. Allow the child to help make or pick out the costume can be fun adventure in itself!
Use flashlights so small hazards can be seen so to prevent falls and injuries. Face masks decrease vision and may add to falls and bumps! Keeps feet and legs free from bulky costumes to help prevent falls. Use sidewalks when possible. Use mobility aids, such as wheelchairs, walkers, canes when needed. Some find creative ways to incorporate mobility aids into the costume.
Energy – Make It Last
Most with mito have to work at energy conservation energy expenditure. Coming up with plan before the big day can help. Getting rest and eating and drinking well the day before can help start the day will a full battery. Picking and choosing which Halloween events are more important may keep energy levels higher and yield happier kids. Ask yourself – can my child be at school at all, walk in the school’s Halloween parade, ride the crazy bus home, and still have the energy to go hit every house in the neighborhood? After school naps, using a stroller, wagon, wheelchair, or taking the car house to house may save that battery from hitting red! Some choose fun at home activities instead of going house to house. Monitor your child’s battery and be prepared to head home or offer a place to rest when needed. Keep in mind that many kids will need a few days to recharge their mito batteries after the big day!
GI Issues -What to Do With All of Those Treats
Many kids with mito cannot eat candy but want the thrill of going door to door in search of tricks and treats! Some parents have suggested dropping off safe treats at neighborhood houses a few days prior to Halloween. Small toys, books, coins, tickets, handmade coupons, safe foods, and other treats can easily replace candy! Allowing your child to be the one to HAND OUT candy to those coming to your house can be fun alternative to the demands of going door to door. Some hold a candy free party to avoid the issue! Others offer trade-ins for collected candy, which can be fun too! 10 mini candy bars = Movie rental or new book. Giving up candy maybe a tough one, so plan ahead and think creatively!
Halloween falls during a germ filled time of year! Thinking about how you can decrease exposure! Hand washing is key, especially before eating, so wash hands (or use sanitizer/wipes) before that treat hits the lips! Kids tend to want to sample the treats at every stop, but waiting until hands and face are clean may just prevent that next virus from taking hold of your little one! Classroom parties can serve up a dose of germs as well. Avoiding community dips, bowls of chips, and plates can decrease viral load. Having a child with mito prepare his/her plate first can help. Providing the classroom with foods that are safe for your child can help the child feel more included in the event!
Have a great time making wonderful memories with your family!