October 31st used to be about dressing inappropriately and getting drunk – but when you become a parent, Halloween comes with a whole new set of rules and expectations, says Isabel Mohan…
Before you settle down and have kids, Halloween is a strictly adult event – or, at least an opportunity to act like an overgrown teenager who secretly wishes they lived in an American high school movie. But, the instant you procreate, all that changes. The Halloween parties you’re invited to now take place in chilly church halls, not sweaty warehouses. And apple bobbing is now an actual wholesome activity, not a seedy chat-up line relating to your boobs courtesy of a mysterious stranger dressed as Darth Vader.
Basically, it’s yet another reminder that LIFE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN. Here’s what to expect…
HALLOWEEN WITH A NEWBORN
It might be 8pm on the last day of October, or it might be 4am on Easter Sunday, you have no clue. The tiny black cat costume one of your childless, hungover friends panic-bought in Sainsbury’s on their way to meet your little one for the first time is down the back of the sofa and will be found some time in January when you admit defeat and get a cleaner.
You have no idea it’s Halloween at all until the doorbell rings – you think it’s the Amazon man bringing you the latest over-hyped sleep aid, it is in fact a gaggle of trick or treaters. Unfortunately for them, you have eaten all the things in your home resembling treats and accidentally squirting them in the eye with your boob is definitely more of a trick.
A few weeks later, you notice there is dried-up egg on your car.
HALLOWEEN WITH A SIX MONTH OLD
You’ve hit peak maternity leave and you’ve got this parenting thing down. All babies around this age basically look like pumpkins, so the time is ripe to dress them as actual pumpkins for a cheeky daytime Halloween party orchestrated by whichever one of your new mum friends is the biggest Instagram show-off.
Secretly, at least five of the seven mums in attendance hate Halloween and really can’t be arsed with this but have gone along with it anyway because they don’t want to seem like killjoys. Most of the afternoon will be spent trying to get the babies to all be awake and not crying at the same time so that they can pose in their silly and now sick-smeared outfits. The remaining seven minutes will be spent inhaling prosecco at an alarming rate and trying to emphasise to your new chums that you did actually used to be fun by telling them about that time you got groped by Darth Vader at a warehouse party.
HALLOWEEN WITH A TODDLER
American celebrities have a lot to answer for. Which came first, the Daily Mail sidebar of shame or pumpkin patches actually existing in the UK and being a thing that people felt the need to take their small children to in order to post “adorable” pictures on Facebook? Clue: it’s the first one, but you are not Jennifer Garner, the only pumpkin patch you can find is 53 miles away, it’s pissing it down and WHY DO YOU NEED A PHOTO OF YOUR CHILD WITH A ROOT VEGETABLE ANYWAY?
HALLOWEEN WITH A SCHOOL KID
Otherwise known as the papier-maché years. Your child, unlike you, now gets invited to actual Halloween parties and you are all over it. There is a prize for best costume and you will flipping win that mini bag of Haribo if it’s the last thing you do. You don’t care if little Imogen’s mum is a costume designer at the National Theatre, your lovingly assembled 3D interpretation of Edward Munch’s The Scream will be the most spectacular outfit there.
You get to the party and every other kid is dressed as a witch/skeleton/cat. Your little darling cries because you’re so weird. Darth Vader is now a divorced dad of three, sipping craft ale in the corner and still making apple-bobbing jokes. Imogen’s mum slaps him.
It is also around this age that your child might express an interest in trick or treating. You could explain to them that knocking on strangers’ doors and blackmailing them into surrendering junk food is poor form on many levels, or you could turn it into a fun activity for your mother in law to do with them while you watch Bake Off.
HALLOWEEN WITH A TEENAGER
“YOU ARE NOT LEAVING THE HOUSE DRESSED LIKE THAT!”
The next day you find a lightsaber under their bed.