So I'm not an Elf on the Shelf mom. I'm just not. It's great that some families find that a fun thing to do at the holidays, but I am just too overwhelmed to take it on. Many moms I know love Elf on the Shelf. But many start doing it thinking it will be fun for the kids, and end up exhausted by it, if not the first week, the first year for sure.
Now there is a Halloween version of this madness: the Sugar Goblin. It's pretty much the same concept as Elf on the Shelf, only you're supposed to satiate the Goblin with a candy offering when it starts playing pranks on you--of course there's a book that has his whole backstory. Now apart from the weirdness of requiring your children to make offerings to a stuffed animal, I think it's just kind of a lazy way to deal with the inherent problem of Halloween.
Halloween means candy. That's just what it's about. While that can be problematic for little ones who don't understand why they can't or shouldn't eat it all in one sitting, kids who can argue with you about it are old enough to solve that problem themselves. I love solutions like the Teal Pumpkin project that helps parents find homes not serving candy. That's a great solution! There's also dentists and doctors and other groups that will take candy donations following Halloween, and those interactions give you a chance to have a conversation with your kids about why you might want to do that.
The conflicts that we have to problem solve with our kids can't be taken away by the Sugar Goblin. It's conflict avoidance at it's best. I mean, what is this Sugar Goblin-inventing mom going to do when her kids don't want to do homework? Or chores? Or get an after school job? Invent magical entities for those things too?
Not only that, it takes the problem out of the kids' domain and puts it in yours. Now instead of having to say "no" you just have to scour Pinterest for 4,789,576,489 tricks for your Sugar Goblin to play on your kids! And photograph them all. And post them to Instagram. And then blog about it.
Why do we make parenting so complicated? Just say no to the damn candy, send the kids to bed and watch Hocus Pocus already. And extra 80s Parenting Bonus Points if you eat the good candy while your kids are sleeping.
Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mom of three girls who lives and writes in Western Oregon.