Halloween is a big day for many families – decorations, costumes, parties, trick or treating, and gatherings now hallmark the day! Halloween, however, is often a bit scary for families with children who have chronic illnesses, including mitochondrial disease. Germ exposure, cold (or sometimes hot) temperatures, energy demands of parties and social interactions, mobility issues, treats that kids with GI issues cannot tolerate, even walking door to door, 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 you and your family, and to keep all the scary goblins away!
Allowing the child to help make or pick out the costume may be a fun adventure itself! Sometimes keeping Halloween simple is the way to go, but be creative and ask yourself the following:
- How difficult is it to get in and out of the costume?
- Does the costume make mobility more challenging?
- Have you used bright and reflective materials? These will be best for door to door trick-or-treating in the dark.
- Are you prepared for temperature challenges? Layer clothes under a costume for additional warmth. If you are in a hot climate, consider incorporating an “ice vest” into the costume idea to keep cool.
- How can I incorporate my child’s medical device(s) into the costume?
Use flashlights. Small hazards can pose risks, as they can cause falls or injuries. Flashlights are a fun tool for children to use and can help prevent accidents.
- Remember that face masks decrease vision and may add to falls and bumps!
- Keep 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
Adults and children with Mito have to work hard at energy conservation, and limiting energy expenditure. Coming up with a plan before the big day can help! Getting rest and eating/drinking well the day before can help start the day with a full battery! Remember that picking and choosing which Halloween events are most important will conserve energy and will yield happier children. Monitor your child’s battery and be prepared to head home or offer a place to rest when needed. Before your child heads to school on Halloween ask yourself: “Can my child be at school all day, walk in the school’s Halloween parade, ride the chaotic bus home, AND still have the energy to go hit every house in the neighborhood?” Staying at home and doing fun activities, instead of going house to house is a great alternative.Either way, on the day of Halloween, try to fit in an after school nap, and use a stroller, wagon, wheelchair, or take the car house to house to save that battery from hitting red! 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 children with Mito cannot eat candy, but really enjoy the thrill of dressing up and going door to door in search of tricks and treats! Some parents drop 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 a fun alternative to the demands of going door to door. Perhaps you can host a candy- free party to avoid the issue! Businesses and parents are known to offer trade-ins for collected candy, which can be fun too! 10 mini candy bars = Movie rental or new book. Giving up candy may be a tough one, so plan ahead and think creatively!
Reduce your family’s Halloween germ exposure by following a few simple tips! Hand washing is key, especially before eating. Wash your 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 faces 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. Having a child with Mito prepare his/her plate first can help. Providing the classroom or group with foods that are safe for your child can help the child feel more included in the event! Avoid community dips, bowls of chips, and plates to decrease viral load.
Have fun! Be safe! Happy Halloween!