Non-Candy Halloween Treats & Fun | Bethany Braun Silva on MomCave LIVE
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Does the sugar-rush of post Trick or Treating scare you more than ghosts? How do you celebrate Halloween with a diabetic child? Meet Bethany Braun Silva, former editor of Parenting.com, What to Expect, and Big Apple Parents. We chat and laugh about NON-candy Halloween treats and fun activities for the whole family.
Jen: Welcome to MomCave Live where we may have lost our minds, but we have not lost our sense of humor. I’m Jen and my guest today is Bethany Braun Silva. Hi, Bethany.
Bethany Braun Silva: Hi. How’s it going?
Jen: Great. I want to give you an intro, but it’s so hard to say she’s been on all the places because she is a parenting and lifestyle expert editor. So Bethany has worked for Parenting.com, Big Apple Parent, and What to Expect. And so she is here to help us with one of the big questions every parent has around Halloween, which is how can we make it not be about just candy?
Bethany Braun Silva: You know, it’s so funny. Like I even after 10 years of being in this industry, I still kind of cringe when I hear the word expert and my parenting expert, parenting plus expert. It always seems like an oxymoron to me.
Jen: It is. I mean, maybe I’m an expert on the digital media side, but with my own kids, no, I don’t consider myself an expert. And this is something I’m definitely a work in progress, especially around this holiday time struggle with Halloween candy.
Bethany Braun Silva: So this is something that I’m like actively, proactively dealing with myself. And I have a few tips that have worked with me, some I’ve learned from my mom friends, some non-candy Halloween treats ideas and activities… things like that. And really the first one that I want to talk about is this idea of the Switch Witch.
Jen: Right, so OK.
Bethany Braun Silva:: And people sometimes call it the Halloween fairy. There are different names. You can Google it-
Jen: I guess for some kids, witch is just too scary. We’ll make it a “fairy.”
Bethany Braun Silva: So this is really a way to kind of incentivize your kids. And I learned this from a neighbor of mine, and I have to tell her that I gave her props right here. So essentially what you do is… You don’t have to NOT go trick or treating. You can still have fun, trick or treating.
You can get all the candy. I know for me it was like a big deal counting. My kids have to count it and tally up all the pieces. Right. So you don’t have to eliminate that because that is really fun.
And we don’t want to take everything away or just this year. Right. So do all of that at the end of the night, lay all the pieces out on a table and tell your kids if they’re younger, that, you know, the Switch Witch is going to come to take this candy and give them a non-candy Halloween treat, a little gift, a little toy. Almost like, oh, you would do with the tooth fairy. Right. And so if they’re young enough to believe this and they get excited and the idea is like, well, this candy is going to disappear inevitably.
Let’s think of a toy you might like or you can even do a request for an experience, you know. So something like that. At night, you remove all the candy and then Switch Witch gives them a little gift.
You can get as creative as you want with a little note. You know, it really varies depending on what your bandwidth is, your parenting bandwidth. But I like this because it still allows my kids to enjoy all the trick-or-treating things.
And then but then it eliminates a lot of that sugar.
Jen: That’s a great idea. What I did the last time I did that was I took all of the candy. I then fished through it after they were in bed and removed all Reese’s products, kept those for myself, and threw the rest out. Then I had to hide the Reese’s.
Bethany Braun Silva: Right.
Jen: Because we can deal with a sugar rush. We’re grown-ups. But when the kids get the sugar rush disaster ensues.
Bethany Braun Silva: Yeah.
Jen: So with the Switch Witch, there’s a book and a doll, too, that you can get with Switch Witch. We did a giveaway of that once.
Bethany Braun Silva: So check it out.
Jen: So let me ask you in your house when it’s not Halloween, how bad are you about desserts and all that? Because I’m bad.
Bethany Braun Silva: You know, I recently felt like it was getting out of control. I think we all kind of struggle with this as moms, as parents. Like sometimes we feel like our lives are out of control.
And I certainly felt that way around sugar. Now, disclosure, I’m a diabetic. I was a diabetic. I was diagnosed as a teenager.
Jen: So it’s like extra sensitive.
Bethany Braun Silva: Yeah, somewhat triggering for me to see my kids eat loads of sugar all the time are you know, or even like once in a while.
So what I did was I. It really I guess it depends on your kid. So desserts… We try to stay away from that bribing like if you eat your dinner, you get a dessert. You know, what I was finding was I can set boundaries and rules in my own house, but where I was really getting the anxiety over lack of control was in other scenarios, even with my own parents.
Jen: Yes, the grandparents!
Bethany Braun Silva: I mean. Yes. I grew up here. I mean, I wasn’t raised like this. It’s like they short circuit when it comes to being a grandma.
Bethany Braun Silva: It’s very different than when we were kids.
Jen: My mom moved into a new house recently and she got one of those signs you get at like HomeGoods and it says, “Grandparents Rules.” And one of the rules says something about you can have whatever treats you want any time.
And my children were at a recent visit. And they took that sign very literally! Like every time I said, “No, you can’t have an ice cream cone five minutes before dinner,” they point to this.
“Oh, no, it’s a rule here.”
Bethany Braun Silva: And I have the same thing with the ice cream cones, the mini ice cream cones. My kids go over to my parents and eat five ice cream cones in a row.
My mother went through the trauma of my diabetes diagnosis with me. So what is she thinking? I don’t know. So what I’ve actually been doing to kind of curb this things-And again, this works with my own kids- is that I know there’s lots of information on Instagram, TikTok, and videos. What I like about that is that I actually find it digestible for them to see.
So to understand the effects of sugar on the brain. I think his name is Dr. Abel.
So it’s just seeing like what sugar does? And again, his videos aren’t necessarily tailored for kids, but the way he describes it, my kids are able to understand it in some capacity.
So I think with a lot of things with parenting and this is just from my own research, my own experiences, like when we give kids like the choice, when we give them the autonomy to like and the knowledge like we arm them with the knowledge they can make their own choices.
I think that oftentimes they’ll be you know, they will make the right choice.
Non-Candy Halloween Treats and Family Activities | Bethany Braun Silva on MomCave LIVE
Jen: We hope. We hope. Sure. I would try to give them that opportunity. What is another thing we can do for Halloween to kind of keep it away from the sugar, to find more non-candy Halloween treats and fun?
Fun No-Sugar Halloween Craft Activities
Bethany Braun Silva: Yeah, I mean, you can also do tons of crafts. We were at a Halloween party, actually, a Halloween party thingy, a fall festival thing. And then you make it about the crafts.
Like we painted these pumpkins here. We made different masks. And one of my favorite crafts is this ghost sheet that you can do with cotton balls or tissue paper. And then you essentially just you know, it’s just it’s so easy to do.
I’ll drop a link in Facebook tonight to that craft. But I think if you can incorporate as many crafts and fun activities and also, you know, if you’re not crafty, head over to the Dollar Store. Get some little goody bag favor things. You know, finger puppets, temporary tattoos… My kids love that because, to be honest, I’m not super crafty. So I rely on these affordable little knickknack things to keep my kids entertained and busy and feeling really festive around the holidays. I mean, I love a good craft once in a while, but I’m not a Pinterest mom.
Jen: No, no. In fact, when I started MomCave, one of the taglines was, “The ANTI Pinterest of Parenthood.”
Bethany Braun Silva: There you go. Yeah, I can’t live up.
If you’re just joining us, we would love to hear your comments about things that you might do that help out with this, or if you have questions and we’re going to choose the best comment to get a prize. Tell them about their prize.
Bethany Braun Silva: Oh, it’s a good one. So we’ll be providing a gift basket, a compilation of gifts from Safe and Fair, which is actually what I wanted to talk about it because they are amazing. They do popcorn, granola, and it’s all flavored like key lime popcorn, chocolate popcorn, and it’s all organic, you know, it doesn’t have all that crap that you don’t want your kids to eat it. Still tastes delicious. I can down a whole bag of their strawberry shortcake popcorn in one sitting. It makes a great non-candy Halloween treat! So we’ll be giving away Safe and Fairfoods. And then Aloysia Marie Facemasks, which I thought was kind of fitting for Halloween.
Jen: You know, if you’re to look a little bit like a mom-bie. Right. And have like your face mask and your curlers on.
Bethany Braun Silva: It never fails. I’ll put it on thinking my kids are totally occupied with Legos or something, and I’ll put it on for 10 minutes. And then they walk in and it freaks them out. And I’m like, well, this is part of my self-care story.
Jen: Yeah. Do you know if they’re little? Maybe they’re scarred for life, but if they’re older, it’s a good laugh you can all have together.
Bethany Braun Silva: Right. And they do. They look pretty gnarly. I’ll admit. They look great.
Jen: Well, sugar can kill your skin. So, you know, I’m saying all this, people listening and I’m not…. I’m the worst at this. I’m like the absolute worst. I eat sugar every day and am giving my kids dessert every day after dinner. I never should have started that.
And I know it’s just a question of like cutting it off and being like, that’s not our rule anymore. But yeah, I haven’t been able to have the self-control to do that.
Bethany Braun Silva: Well, Jen, what we do…, and this is actually something we’ve just discovered… My six-year-old came to me and was like, we got to do “Sundae Mondays!” Like ice cream sundaes, you know, like Taco Tuesdays and Sundae Monday.
So this is the day we go all out. We do ice cream, chocolate, you know, chocolate sauce, that whipped cream, all of it on Mondays. And this is our day to look forward to dessert. And, of course, you know, the weekends, you know, things are good, you know, but during the week after dinner, we keep it to like a Greek yogurt or something else or fruit with whipped cream. But Sundae Mondays are big day to splurge. So, they just love the idea of that. So, I mean, that’s just one suggestion for you guys like to make one day and make it an event for dessert.
And then if they ask for dessert, they’ll remember. Okay, well, let’s add it to Sundae Mondays or whatever dessert. Right? I don’t know- whatever you want to call it.
Jen: That’s great. Whatever can work for you. Are you going trick or treating this year?
Trick or Treating, Family Style
Bethany Braun Silva: We are. So we’re doing a family gathering, a family trip to actually we’re going to Salem. This is like a kind of like a bucket list thing. I know it’s still not an ideal time to travel.
But we are driving and we’re going to take all the precautions. And we’re super excited because my mom and dad are coming. They’ll be dressing up. My sister-in-law, my kids, like we have epic costumes. And this is something that I’ve wanted for so long, like to dress in theme.
And I’ll just say lots of 70s rock stars are involved. And I’m over the moon about it.
Jen: That’s so fun. Yeah. I kind of love the part about Halloween when I get to dress up. And I know like half of the parents are judging me, like what is with that woman? But the other half are wishing that they also dressed as Elsa last year.
Was that last or not? Last year was the fairy godmother and my daughter was Cinderella. And then the year before, we are Anna and Elsa. I mean, when else can a grown woman put on a blond wig and get all princess-ed up?
So I don’t know. We have no plan for this year yet, though, so I got to go.
Bethany Braun Silva: I know it’s been obviously it’s been a rough few months, to say the least. So I wanted to do something special, get out of our neighborhood. We live in New York City, which has challenges in and of itself.
So we’re excited to just get out of town for a little bit. Head up north and just have a really great weekend. But I will say, speaking about your comment about moms dressing up, I know this is a perfect excuse to kind of embrace the fun, forget know your ego, just go totally all out and-
Jen: -the kids will remember it. You’re making a memory even if you totally humiliate them or they say you are, they will remember the time that you dressed up as whatever? They’ll remember it.
Bethany Braun Silva: Yeah. Yeah, for sure.
Jen: And so that’s a good tip of making a trip or even if it’s just a different neighborhood that you don’t usually go to. Going somewhere else to make it special, to make it again, not all about, “How much Candy can I get? How quickly?”
Bethany Braun Silva: Yeah. And just also, we love to drive around for, you know, look at Christmas lights, Christmas decorations. And I don’t know, in the last few years, people are really going all out with their Halloween. We have great big blowups even here in New York City, like we’ll drive around, you know.
We live in Manhattan, but in the outer boroughs. And if you’re familiar with it, we drive around to Queens and Brooklyn and they have some of the craziest places. And it’s not in this suburban environment.
It’s still in an urban environment. So crazy how creative people can get. And I’m just that mom that’s like, “Look, guys! Look!” We get super excited. We make all my kids love it, you know, just swatting dragons and ghosts and like the craziest things.
Jen: That is a great tip. And that reminds me. So I think it was last year because of Covid and everyone was being so careful near where I lived. We decided not to walk from house to house, but we kind of drove from house to house and we spaced out the houses. Hoping to make it more of a non-candy Halloween treat… like a tour.
So the kids don’t know how many houses we’re going to and they don’t have any sense of direction. So we just felt like, oh, that house on that street has a ton of Halloween decorations. We’ll drive over there.
But then it’s going to take five minutes to drive to the next house. And so it became like a tour, the “candy tour,” culminating in stopping at the grandparents and taking pictures so that it became an event and there was less of an opportunity for candy.
The Haunted Car Wash : A Halloween Activity without the Candy!
Bethany Braun Silva: And also something that I’m really looking forward to that I only heard about for the first time last year, having to do with the car and Halloween are haunted carwashes! Have you heard of these?
Jen: No, but it sounds amazing and fun.
Bethany Braun Silva: I mean, kids already love to drive through a car wash or something about the excitement of the soap and everything’s electric. But we heard about these haunted car washes. We didn’t get a chance to do it this year.
So I’m determined to find an awesome one this year and do that with my kids. We might have to drive through twice. I don’t know.
Jen: You can get all your family’s cars washed. You can take your car and take your husband’s and take your mother’s and everyone’s cars. This is great. These are some really good ideas.
Jen: What about creating your own haunted house?
Bethany Braun Silva: Yes, it’s a good one.
Jen: Not during Covid. I guess you can’t really have people traipsing through your house. But I have seen people do their backyard. So you walk into their backyard and it’s all decorated and it’s haunted. And to give the kids something that they’ve created and they’re giving to others, as opposed to just grabbing the candy as much as they can get.
Bethany Braun Silva: Yeah, I do like that idea that’s behind it, incorporated that a little bit. Last year, we didn’t go trick or treating. We were looking for Covid-safe non-candy Halloween treats and fun.
Last year, we had a small group of people over to our house. And right before we went over to Walmart and we bought a little smoke machine.
So I think that’s why we try to make it special for our kids. And you’re right for our guests, they make it about helping, you know, making it a fun event for other people. I do love that idea.I don’t know if we’ll do that again. But, yeah, it was great to do each idea every year right up. And every year is different.
Jen: These are some great ideas.
Favorite Halloween Costumes
Bethany, what was your favorite Halloween costume ever?
Bethany Braun Silva: Oh, my gosh. You know, my mother can sew and she would be you know, she would have to sew something that she threw together when I was, you know, four or five, six. I think I was consecutively like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and they were all costumes that she cut from gorgeous patterns. So I wish I had a picture to throw for you know, I should have prepped this with photos to show everyone.
But I would have to say probably Snow White when I think back. The details of this costume that my mother–and I have absolutely no skills like I, I order costumes online–But she can sew. I have to say, one of those Disney princesses is definitely my favorite.
But, you know, you get like a few years with your own kids or you can dress them and whatever you want before they start to-
Jen: I know… I miss those days…
Bethany Braun Silva: -have their own ideas. I know, my mother made a full Hobbit costume for my first son when he was two years old.
So he went as Frodo. He had a cape and it was again, all homemade, handmade by her. That was really, really special. And he had this curly Hobbit hair and it was so cute. It was so. So I think that might actually trump anything that I did.
Jen: That was so sweet. You know, we have a group on here on Facebook called The Mom Cave, and we should all go in there and put some of our photos of these costumes and share them with each other because we all love to do that. And I would like to see everybody else’s.
Bethany Braun Silva: Oh, yes. Yeah. Yeah.
Jen: Do you have a final tip for us before we sign off and get into this whole Halloween season?
Bethany Braun Silva: You know, it is it can be hard and it has been especially hard because, you know, this last Halloween, Covid, all of that. But I think, you know, like anything, if you’re doing if you’re experiencing something together as a family, I think you can always double down on the fun that way.
A last word on non-candy Halloween Treats Rules
And everything that I said about the non-candy Halloween treats…. If your kids… if it means something to them in the moment, if they’re feeling like maybe like deprived. Go ahead. Like, you know, you really don’t have to, you know, give them nothing.
There are no hard and fast rules in parenting. I think this group probably knows that better than anyone. So, you know, got to do what feels right for you. I love to make it about together time and making memories of being silly.
But if my kids are upset because they want this piece of candy, of course, I will give it. And so, you know, just follow your gut.
It’s one night out of the year. So, yes, a little sugar isn’t gonna kill them. But we will do our best to make sure we don’t get them all sugared up and turn them into sugar monsters, as we say in my house. So we try for NON-candy Halloween treats for sure.
Jen: Thank you so much for all these great ideas. We’re going to continue to share these non-candy Halloween treats and activities with everybody and we’re going to put some info in the comments. And thank you for sharing with us on the Instagram. Bethany, tell everyone as we sign off where they can find you online.
Bethany Braun Silver: So you can find me at @BethanyBraunSilva on Instagram or you can go over to my website, BethanyBraun.com. I’m really I’m pretty easy to find, but Instagram is the best way to reach me.
Jen: Right. And I am @MomCaveTV on all of the things. OK. Happy almost Halloween, everybody. Here’s hoping we all make it through with no sugar meltdowns and a ton of fun! Thanks, Bethany.