| For The Register Guard
As a child life specialist with PeaceHealth, it is my mission and my passion to help children and families through difficult, stressful times. While my work focuses on children in the hospital, I see many in my own life — including my own kids — struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Children are dealing with social isolation, family stress, canceled sports — and now, the prospect of holidays that may look quite different.
Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued recommendations for celebrating Halloween — and many of the most beloved traditional activities landed in the high-risk category: parties, hayrides, haunted houses and, of course, door-to-door trick-or-treating.
As disappointing as this is, it’s the right advice. Keeping our children and our communities safe should be our top priority, and we know that COVID-19 spreads easily through social contact.
My children are big fans of Halloween. For weeks now they’ve been sharing ideas for costumes and memories of beloved traditions. It’s been hard for them to adjust. They feel like they’ve missed out on so much fun already because of COVID-19. But together, we’ve come up with some fun plans — and they’re getting more excited every day.
Although the Halloween experience will be different for most of us this year, it’s important to give children opportunities for normalcy and joy, and to honor traditions best we can. In that spirit, I would like to share some creative and safe ways to have fun this Halloween:
Transform the inside of your home with simple do-it-yourself Halloween crafts. Engage your child’s imagination and creativity! The internet is filled with easy, crafty ideas for all ages.
Plan a Halloween movie marathon at home. Many television channels show Halloween movies in the month of October, and, of course, you can find them on subscription streaming services. You can also try your local library’s remote pick up option. Make some Halloween treats and enjoy!
Create a Halloween scavenger or treasure hunt. Hide candy, toys and prizes throughout your home or yard. Consider glow-in-the-dark eggs. Create clues and send your kids on a hunt.
Take your children on a Halloween lights drive. Bring along treats and hot spiced cider. Consider giving them Halloween bingo cards (you can print them from the Internet) or just a list of items to spot and check off.
Throw a Zoom or online Halloween party with friends. Host a Halloween costume, dance or even pumpkin carving party. Create a spooky playlist for the background and award virtual prizes for the winners.
Plan a socially distanced Halloween parade in your neighborhood. This is a fun, outdoor activity that allows kids to show off their costumes while keeping a safe distance. Decorate your bicycles and wagons too.
Rediscover some oldies but goodies. Pumpkin carving, bobbing for apples and making Halloween-themed treats together as a family never goes out of style.
Just so you know, we’ll make sure our pediatric patients at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend get to celebrate Halloween, too. We’ll have reverse trick-or-treating, which allows staff to bring themed toys and items such as bubbles and play dough to children in their hospital beds. We will also provide fun costumes and decorations to bring in some Halloween cheer.
A couple final notes from the CDC
If you gather with people outside your own household, you can decrease the risk by being outside, maintaining at least six feet of distance and wearing a mask.
Halloween costume masks are NOT a substitute for the kind of face coverings recommended to guard against COVID-19. Consider a Halloween-themed protective face covering.
Megan Massey is a certified child life specialist at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend. PeaceHealth, based in Vancouver, Wash., is a not-for-profit Catholic health system offering care to communities in Oregon, Washington and Alaska. For more ways to stay your healthiest: peacehealth.org/healthyyou.