Even though it comes once a year Halloween presents a challenge on how to get the kids to sleep after an evening of trick-or-treating.

It’s not just the sugar rush that makes sleep a challenge. It’s finally getting to wear a costume. A costume that gives kids the chance to be a super powerful character or hero. There’s wandering the neighborhood on a school night. The thrill of it all plus the sugar work against getting sleep. And when the kids are too excited to sleep, parents won’t be having much fun on Halloween night.

Because you know what happens the kids don’t sleep just one night: there’s a domino effect for days.  Halloween is on a Thursday this year which means there’s a good possibility your children, their classmates and teachers, and of course parents, will have a rocky road to travel all the way to Sunday night.

Here are some tips to make Halloween night, November first, and the days that follow easier on your family.

Plan ahead

Don’t just carve pumpkins – carve out some quiet time during the day. Halloween shouldn’t be rushed into as just another activity. Encourage quiet time and preparation before going out for the trick-or-treat adventure. Make a small ritual out of putting on the costume so your child is clear about the fact that they are acting a part. That will make winding back into the everyday an easier transition and set up boundaries.

Many communities have Halloween parties on nights other than October 31st. If your children have already participated in one of these, discuss whether they really need the elaborate makeup or costume accessories on Halloween night. Simplifying costumes and eliminating makeup removal will make the changeover from fun in the streets to a calm bedtime briefer, familiar, and the transition to sleep simpler.

If there is a wide spread in age in your family’s children collaborate on how to manage trick-or-treating so everyone gets to bed at reasonable hours. Can you stagger trick-or-treating letting the little ones start early? They can return home in the care of the adult supplying Halloween candy for the neighborhood.

Toddlers might manage their consistent bedtime routine this special night with a fifteen to thirty-minute change. Don’t miss out on the “sweet spot” of tiredness and sleep. Pushing that window so they’re going to bed an hour later can lead to a toddler up past your bedtime. Since the entire household is involved in Halloween excitement, the adults may miss the “sleep window” signals communicated by kids.

Limit the sugar

This is a tough one, right? Candy is part of the Halloween tradition. As with all family discussions, if you want this one to be successful, engage the kids and weigh their opinions. Children are often wiser than we give them credit for. But remember, you have the final say and set the boundaries. They’re following your lead. With some humor you can point out how consuming every single treat in one night will not be helpful.

This is an important discussion because there is no question that sugar intake negatively affects how the kids get to sleep every night. Halloween is no exception

Raising blood sugar levels before sleeping will result in waking up in the middle of the night, putting your child and your family back into that cycle of sleeplessness and all the bad stuff that comes with it.

In addition to sugar, the caffeine in chocolate will negatively impact sleep. For more on caffeine, kids, and sleep, go to this blog post.

You can also opt-out of giving children sugar on Halloween. Or is that just way too scary?

Here’s what my family did for a few years with great success. We used the days before Halloween to go through all the little toys that had been collected during the past year. Toys like freebies from fast food chains and party favors which were no longer played with. On Halloween night, we gave out one piece of candy and one toy.

It was a HUGE hit! Kids were delighted, parents said “thank you!”. Plus we had the benefit of an intentional decluttering.

You can find more ideas for a sugar-free Halloween by clicking HERE.

Tweak the bedtime routines

Halloween may not be the night you want to go through your whole bedtime routine with your child.

Naturally, you’ll want to wash up, take the PJ’s out of their special place, and turn down the bed. Halloween may not be the night, however, to read a long book or go through a very long list of everything for which you’re grateful.

It is imperative you connect with your kids as they make that bedtime transition. Older children – tweens and teens – may require only a little eye contact, hug, and an affirming phrase. Affirm that you’ve been practicing the bedtime habit of washing up, brushing teeth, and turning down the bed for years. Younger children will need your presence at their bedside. Halloween can be a little too exciting for some and they’ll want to know they are safe from things that go bump in the night. Help them by connecting – a short poem from the Sleepytime Club Bedtime Journal can help – and releasing the day.

The Put the Day to Bed mini bedtime kit (audio and printable illustrated book) will release the day and calm your child down after an exciting Halloween evening. It takes about seven minutes. You can get it free at Sleepytime Club’s home page or filling out the form below.

Looking for more ways to make for happy good nights throughout the year? The free Get Your Sleep On Summit offers interviews with sleep and parenting experts. Download and listen HERE.