It is easy to see why Halloween is a holiday that children look forward to every year—getting to dress up as your favourite character, decorations and crafts, and of course, all that sweet candy. Halloween is a personal favourite for me, mostly because I love seeing all the great costumes and having an excuse to watch tons of scary movies.

My affinity for Halloween is likely due to the many great memories I had as a kid. As an adult, I appreciate all the behind-the-scenes work that parents go through to ensure children have a fun, safe, and memorable Halloween every year. Between costumes, decorating, and fearing the inevitable sugar rush, it takes a lot of planning and is truly a parental labour of love.

Thinking of parents facing the holiday post-separation, I completely understand the unnerving picture of what Halloween will look like in a new co-parenting relationship. What’s terrific about Halloween, though (okay, okay, I know my bias is showing), is that it’s an especially child-focused holiday. There are many co-parenting options, and your child will have a special time with almost any choice you make for how to celebrate.

~Please be sure that you and your children are safe this Halloween by adhering to all COVID-19 public health orders and recommendations regarding Halloween, public gatherings, and trick-or-treating.

Alternating Years

Simply put: “You get one year, and I get the next.” This option comes with the understanding that you are responsible for all things Halloween when it is your year. Done! All figured out. On Halloween day, send a few pictures to the other parent or arrange a short video call so your children can show off their costumes before starting their Halloween activities.  

Alternating years is a go-to option for many co-parents, and the courts often apply it in shared-care arrangements because it seems the fairest and reduces conflict between the parties. This option makes the most sense in situations where communication and resolution on disagreements are difficult between co-parents. It allows co-parents to put all of their energy toward making Halloween fun for the children.

Sharing Time

Halloween with young children is a time to cherish, so it is understandable if both parents want to be a part of the day every year. It is only a matter of time before your children want to go off with their friends independently to celebrate Halloween. Sharing time provides flexibility for co-parents allowing both to enjoy those younger years as much as they can.

Sharing time involves both parents being present on Halloween. Both co-parents can help dress the children in their costumes, put face paint on, do a Halloween activity, and share some favourite Halloween candy.  If, as co-parents, you can spend time together without getting into disagreements in front of the children, this option may appeal to you.

Alternatively, If spending time with a co-parent is difficult or not something you are comfortable with, sharing time could mean splitting the day up into two parts. One parent would have care of the children during the day, and the other parent plans Halloween evening activities. This option allows both parents to partake in Halloween activities but limits their interaction with the other parent.

Any time Halloween Activities

No matter who the children are with on Halloween day, the whole month of October is filled with all types of activities you can do with your children that will create fun, lasting Halloween memories.

For younger children, there are corn mazes, pumpkin patches, jack-o-lantern carving, baking Halloween themed treats, decorating the house and yard, Halloween arts and crafts, or Halloween themed movies. All of these activities are enjoyable and creative ways for you to spend time with your children and celebrate all month.  Sometimes it helps to remember that making memories is about the experience rather than the specific day.

No matter the arrangement, Halloween post-separation doesn’t need to be scary; leave that for the costumes and movies. Think of it as an opportunity to start new traditions! Whether it be alternating years, splitting time, or celebrating on a different day, the important thing is to make Halloween as memorable for your children as possible.

By Alyssa Bird

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