Of all the holidays, which are you most willing to spend with your former spouse?
(a) Christmas Day
(d) All of the above (I’d do it for the kids).
(e) Oh HELL no.
As far as I know, no formal studies have been done on this subject of which holidays are easiest to spend around an ex. I can only speak from the hundreds of divorced parents I’ve asked, and here’s what they say: If they spend any holidays together (and for obvious reasons, many do not), Halloween is the easiest. Maybe it’s because it’s a chaotic event in the dark with lots of other people. Or because you can wear a mask over your face to hide the stink eye you may be giving your ex.
Whatever the reason, some divorced parents do choose to spend Halloween together. If you can do it without damaging your children’s (or your) psyche, go for it. But if not, here are a few other ways you can share Halloween in a less “together” way:
One neighborhood, Split the Night
If one of you lives in a better neighborhood for trick-or-treating, then agree to go there. (Option B is to alternate which neighborhood you go to each year). The parent who doesn’t live in that ‘hood gets to pick whether to have the first or second half of the night. Then when you get to the half-way point, meet at an agreed-upon spot and swap. That’s it.
Pro: You each get to spend time with your children, and more importantly, they get to spend time with each of you.
Con: There isn’t one other than missing out on half of the trick-or-treating, which, if you’re like me, doesn’t feel like that much of a con after all.
Two neighborhoods, Split the Night
If you can’t settle on one neighborhood, then one parent gets to trick-or-treat with the kids in her neighborhood first, then the other parent takes the kids to his neighborhood.
Pro: Two neighborhoods equals potentially double the candy for the kiddos.
Con: Who really wants to be driving around on Halloween night?
Meet for Photos, Then Go Separate Ways
This works for those folks who can be civil long enough to snap a few photos of the kids, but not long enough to get through the night together without someone going to jail. My suggestion is to meet wherever the trick-or-treating will begin (ideally a public spot), take some photos, hug your kids, and then move on. The more one of you lingers, the more uncomfortable it will get for everyone.
Pro: Your kids see you can be around each other, even if it’s for 5 minutes, and then they can just go have fun.
Con: It’s no fun to see your kids dressed up all cute or scary, and then have to leave them.
If none of the above work for you, then just stick with the traditional schedule of alternating Halloween night each year. When it’s your night, you have the kids all to yourself. When it’s his, same thing.
Pro: No drama.
Con: You’ll miss out on the fun every other year.
Don’t forget there are other Halloween-related activities besides the night itself: school parties, pumpkin patches, haunted houses, and more. If you want to find a way to involve the other parent without messing with Halloween night, offer for him to take the children to one of these activities even if it falls on your time.
And of course, if you’ve already entered into a parenting plan that addresses Halloween, you’re going to have to follow it unless you agree to do something else.
How you deal with Halloween is ultimately up to the two of you. Whatever you decide, try to remember that it’s one night, it probably means way more to your kids than to you, and even if the night isn’t ideal, you’ll have an entire basket full of Snickers, Reese’s, and candy corn to ease your pain.