Keep ‘Em Safe Out There!


A few years ago, I wrote for WalletHub magazine when they came calling for experts to comment on an issue. I am no expert in finance by any stretch of the imagination, so why in the world did a money management business magazine request something from me? I’ll never know. Maybe it had to do with the fact that the topic was about Halloween and kids and well…that’s something I know a little about.

I guess they kept my name on file because they emailed me for another contribution to their upcoming Halloween issue. Here is the final product with my mug in it. If you want to skip reading the article, here is what I wrote plus a little more (no extra charge!)

  • What measures should parents take to ensure their kids are safe when trick-or-treating?

If children Trick or Treat in groups, there should be at least one responsible adult or older sibling who knows how to keep young children safe when crossing streets, approaching doorways, and knowing a familiar walking route. One of the primary dangers of Halloween is being hit by a car. Kids should never run ahead of the group or their parent, but instead, stay together. Use designated sidewalks and cross walks, obey pedestrian lights, and be sure the driver makes eye contact with you before crossing in front of a car.

Attach a piece of reflective tape somewhere on their costume or bag. Children also love to wear glow sticks and this doubles for being seen better at night. The leader of the group should also carry a flashlight. It’s always a safe practice when your child is out in public to write your phone number on their palm or inner arm with a permanent marker, or pin it to their costume.

Although many costumes include masks, it’s much more safe to paint on your child’s face so their eyesight is not limited by two tiny eye holes. Many schools prohibit masks anyway, so avoid buying or making masks and opt in for decorative non-toxic face painting instead. Speaking of costumes, check the fabric to see if it’s flame resistant and that accessories (like a knife or sword) have a soft or blunt end.

Go through your child’s candy (not to eat the good stuff!) to make sure all pieces are individually wrapped. No hard candy should be given to a child who might choke and be sure to check for food allergies.

Check out where registered sex offenders live before sending older kids out to Trick or Treat on their own so they do not go near those houses. Older children should each carry a cell phone and discuss a plan for “what ifs” and a reasonable time to be off the streets.

  • What are some healthy treats or nontraditional goodies that kids might actually enjoy?

It’s hard to compete with good, old fashioned candy as a Trick or Treat reward. Kids don’t usually drool over apples and carrots and this healthy switcheroo will definitely not get you nominated for Best Parent in the Neighborhood. But surprisingly, here are eight sure-fire rewards that kids won’t throw immediately into the trash when they get home. They may even enjoy them long after the candy is devoured (and stomachache ensues).

“Super” or Bouncy balls. Who doesn’t love them? They are popular at any age and they even come in “glow in the dark” which is cool for Halloween.

Natural Fruit Leather. A healthy, naturally sweet alternative to candy.

Stickers, especially if they are high quality. Have a variety so the kids can choose their favorites.

Mini flashlights. They can be ordered in bulk to bring the cost down and they are a bonus for keeping kids safe while they Trick or Treat at night.

Fake Mustaches. What a fun and silly way to celebrate dressing up.

Glow Sticks. Here’s another “treat” that doubles for a wearable item to keep kids more visible and safe while they safely Trick of Treat.

Individual-Sized Popcorn or Pretzel Bags.

Mini Playdough. I’ve never seen a child turn this down. You’ll get “oohs” and “aahs” for sure with this one. Maybe ever Parent of the Year.

Work-Life Balancing Act


I’m about to share with you one of my favorite YouTube videos. No, it’s not a cute baby saying something adorable. It’s not even one of those funny pet video clips. Spoiler alert: it’s serious and it’s seriously awesome.

Quite a few months ago, I watched a few presenters at the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival, moderated by TV Anchorwoman, Katie Couric. The speaker who enthralled me by her eloquence, intelligence, and balanced parenting perspective was Anne-Marie Slaughter. She was featured after she wrote a piece for the Atlantic called, “Why Women Can’t Have It All,” which stirred up no small dust storm of controversy.

In this YouTube video, she explains her tug and pull of working for the US State Department while raising two teenage sons. She frankly discusses how she created a work-life balance which required sacrifice, commitment and following her maternal instincts.Gasp! Does anyone talk about that anymore? Do we acknowledge maternal or paternal instincts or are we just in a have-it-all, economy-driven society? When challenged on her choices and outspoken opinions, she granted that each parent should follow their own path, without judgment from others. But in her case, she examined her choices and eventually quit her high profile job because her sons needed her.Gasp, again.

Not everyone has a choice to work or not; that is indisputable. Many women have to earn a paycheck. Their children know it is for them that they make that sacrifice.They are united in purpose. Far too many parents, though, work far more than necessary to buy things that are far less than necessary. Those children also know what their parents value.

What is necessary, then? Another presenter at the conference, Lori Gottlieb, said her research and private practice with families has shown her something about what are the most cherish childhood memories. She revealed, “In my therapy practice, what people say is this: Their fondest memories are playing Scrabble before bed, stirring pancake batter on a Sunday morning, tossing a ball out front, hanging out in their pajamas until noon, and those silly inside family jokes that still make them laugh 20 years later.”

I know this balancing act. I’ve felt this rope of tug and pull. I’ve sometimes even found myself on the end of a frayed knot, hanging on for dear life. It was hard to be a good or responsive parent in these moments. What I want to share is this: whenever I’m faced with a proposition for paid employment outside (or even inside) the home, my children and husband’s needs come first. Our short- and long-term goals are always in view. The sacred stewardship of parenthood directs all our choices. We remember these wise words: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).

I want my treasure chest to be filled with pancake batter, PJ’s and popcorn, Scrabble tiles, warm embraces and long Sunday walks with my children by my side. And chocolate wouldn’t be too bad either.