Make Trick or Treat Time Safer With Life360

Life360 App Halloween

This post is a sponsored conversation about family communication.

It’s that time of year when little ghouls and ghosts take to the streets to plan a few tricks, but mainly to grab lots of treats. For some people Halloween is a big celebration. Not so much for me. But I do buy the good candy!

Each year, though, BabyGirl dresses up and heads out to say hello to friends in the neighborhood. As she gets older, though, she’s more interested in hanging out with her friends than walking alongside mommy. She’s also invited to trick or treat with friends from some of her other activities, in areas we’re not very familiar with. Then there is the bonanza that is Trunk or Treat!

I’m determined not to let my apprehensions about Halloween become her issue so when Life360 asked me to share how I use their app it only seemed to make sense. It’s an app I’ve been using for quite awhile, but mainly as a way to stay connected with some of my online friends. It wasn’t until we were at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party when I realized Life360 could be the perfect way to keep my family connected without relying solely on text messages.

I’ve written about Life360 as way to stay connected with your tween or teen in case of an emergency. So it makes total sense that Halloween and the nighttime festivities would be the perfect time to create a Life360 circle. How could you use this family communication app for Halloween?

Life360 Logo

4 Ways To Take The Trick Out Of Your Trick or Treat with Life360

1. Divide and Conquer – Instead of relying on back and forth texts of “Where are you?”, families can split up but still see where each other are located. This is especially great if the kids are going out with a sitter or grandparents. Instead of trying to figure out exactly what street you are – are we two streets over or three? – just check-in and others in your circle will know where you are.Life360 CheckIn

2. Teen New Drivers – What good is letting the teen get a driver’s license if we have to drive them everywhere? With Life360 you set up a Place location, and rather than the teen having to check in with mom or dad (which you know is totally not cool) once they get to the Halloween party you’ll get a notification. When they leave the party you’ll know that too. No need to text and drive because they forgot to let mom and dad know they’re on their way home. Safety times a bazillion!

3. Increased Independence – You got the kid a smartphone, but what good is it if they’re too cool to send mom or dad a text. (As if they’d actually call!) Having the Life360 app on their phone kids can check-in when they get where they’re going. No need to text mom or dad while their friends are looking. Or, gasp, risk a text from mom popping up while you’re trying to be cool in front of that cute guy or girl. Instead, communication within the app is more private and secure. And, kids are more likely to check in or let you know if there is an issue when they can do so without risk of being called-out by their friends.

Life360 Messages

4. Block Party – Teens and young adults have more opportunities now to attend large-scale parties for Halloween. Since Life360 is about keeping in contact, the app is flexible and allows groups of young people to stay connected. No need to hang out waiting for everyone to show up, just use the app and put everyone in a circle so you get notified when they arrive. Again, no need to text them 87 times because they’re driving and aren’t answering their phone. Let technology work for you!

I wish I had used the app more when we were in Florida. It would have been easier than texting. I had been using it more for business than for family communication and I was totally missing out on how amazing the app really is. I love the safety features built-in to the app that would allow BabyGirl to hit PANIC if she got separated and flustered. I really like that she can just check in and I know she’s OK. It’s tough being an only child when it comes to learning about independence. While she’s used to doing a lot of things on her own, sometimes it’s me who needs the push to let her try her wings.

About Life360

With users in over 200 countries, Life360 is connecting families near and far. Backed by $76 million in venture funding, the app has grown more than 400% over the past year to become the world’s largest network for family communication. Whether it’s dinner plans, car pool, or just making sure the kids got home safely from school, Life360 gives families simplified communication and peace of mind right at their fingertips.

Download the FREE app for iPhoneAndroid, or Windowsphone.

If you’re on social media, you can enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card from Life360 by sharing a photo of your costume. Tag your photos #Scare360 and share them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

On Instagram, follow @Life360app and tag your costume photos with our handle and #Scare360.

On Facebook, share your photos on Life360’s wall and tag them #Scare360.

On Twitter, follow @Life360 and tag them and the photo with #Scare360.

Note: Image information obscured for privacy.

Sara

Seven Not So Scary Reasons to Celebrate Halloween at Disney

Disney Halloween

I’m not a Halloween person. I’ve mentioned that before and it’s something many of my friends learn very early on in our friendship. But when Halloween is packaged with Mickey Mouse, roller coasters, a parade, and family memories, that I can do!

On our second trip to Disney World we were there during Mickey’s No So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP). BabyGirl was about 6 and she was very well aware of my non-love of Halloween. As a way to appease her and hope that she’d totally fall in love with Mickey’s version of trick or treating, and never want to go trick or treating at home, we bought tickets.

As a separate ticketed event, the Halloween party is not included in general park admission. So we plunked down our greenbacks, obtained our special wrist bands and made our way around Magic Kingdom for a few hours with what seemed like just a few hundred people in the park. I’m sure there were several thousand, but with no wait on any ride, lots of room to roam, candy stations that would fill your bags with hands full of candy, and character meet and greet lines merely a few people deep the Mickey’s No So Scary Halloween Party was a big hit.

We’ve now been to MNSSHP five times and each year it’s just as fun as the one before. So I thought I’d share with you …

Seven Not So Scary Reasons to Celebrate Halloween at Disney

1. Costumes – The general policy at Disney Parks is that costumes may not be worn by adults unless there is a special event permitting guests of all ages to wear them. And by adult, Disney means guest age 10 and over. For me, this isn’t really a big deal. BabyGirl likes to dress up for the Halloween party but I go as far as getting fun Halloween matching shirts for CycleGuy and me. This year BabyGirl dressed as Hermione from Harry Potter and she was a bit hesitant because it wasn’t owned by Disney. But she was happily greeted by Cast Members and guests alike. Minnie also noticed her during the parade and gestured to her that she liked the costume. A magical moment!

MNSSHP Alice In Wonderland

MNSSHP Hawkins Family

2. Short or Non-Existent Lines – Well, for the most part you will be able to get right on your favorite rides. The only exception we as was the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train which had a 25-minute wait. For most, that’s a short wait. But for MNSSHP veterans it brings out a bit of grumbling for having to wait. With the introduction of the Fastpass+ system, many are not able to secure a Fastpass for their favorite rides and wait times in excess of 45 minutes are often agreed to reluctantly. At the party, though, there are no Fastpasses so you can get on any rides or attractions that are open (which is pretty much all but a hand full). For us, the biggest coup was getting in to see Anna and Elsa without much of a wait. The outside placard showed 30 minutes. We debated whether or not we should just suck it up and wait, and decided that 30 minutes was worth it since we could have a snack and stand in the air conditioning. In under ten minutes we were whisked back to meet Anna and Elsa! That’s right, under 10 minutes to meet the two most sought after characters at Disney!

3. Character Meet and Greet – This is a huge draw for many people, especially since there are quite a few characters that only come for the party. I love this part of the event, but BabyGirl would rather spend her time on rides. I chalk that up to being a tween since in years’ past she’s loved having the opportunity to have these special photo-ops. Another cool thing is that there are usually Photopass photographers on hand. One of my favorite stops is at Haunted Mansion for the hitchhikng ghosts. Who doesn’t look in the mirror at the of the ride and wish they could take a photo of the hitchhiking ghosts? Now you can! Keep in mind that some of the lines do get very long. The Seven Dwarfs, Jack Sparrow, and Jack Skellington and Sally are all very popular and may have waits in excess of an hour since the characters don’t stay out for long periods of time.

MNSSHP Prince Charming

4. Boo To You Parade – Since the retirement of the Main Street Electrical Parade and Spectromagic, I’ve been a parade-hater. I admit it! But I just loved those parades and the newer ones have never really done anything for me. That was until we sat down to watch the Boo To You parade. The music becomes an earworm, but you’re rewarded by seeing characters in Halloween costumes, the Haunted Mansion caretaker, Cadaver Dans, and, of course, the Disney villains. There are two parades and many people will take time to see both of them since there isn’t the mad rush to try to get on rides when crowds are watching the parade. It’s a great way to enjoy those exclusive treats I mention next.

Boo To You Parade 2014

5. Specialty Foods – It’s not a trip to a Disney Park unless you get your favorite snack. But leave it to Disney to add a special something for your taste buds when you go to the MNSSHP. The line at Sleepy Hallow was pretty long for the spiced pumpkin waffle sundae, although we went for the funnel cakes. There are candy corn ice cream cones and cupcakes. Neither of which are as gross as they sound. Mummy and ghost-themed cupcakes can be found as well. And let’s not forget the season-inspired beverages of Pumpkin Spice Bubble Tea and the Wormy Apple Slush. (FYI: Most of these will be snack credits if you use the dining plan.)

Disney Pumpkin Waffle
Image Credit: Disney

6. Limited Edition Merchandise – Of course you knew there would be merchandise, right? While I didn’t see my go-to, picture frames, there were a lot of cute things. With MagicBands being the new E-ticket, a limited edition Halloween Magic Band was released just for the party. It’s only available in the park, though. Since they didn’t have my picture frames, I went for pins. I got a Special Edition pin for the party, one of the mystery pin boxes, as well as my Limited Edition Passholder Pin. While most of these aren’t collectible, they’re a fun way to remember having gone to the party.

7. Haunted Mansion – this kind of goes without saying, but there’s so much more than just “Haunted Mansion at Halloween”. Madame Carlotta and Madame Raina sit on the law and chat with guests. It’s cool and creepy! Cast Members are kind of in a state of euphoria and excitement at all the haunting. And, of course there are the pictures with the hitchhiking ghosts!

So there you have it, seven not so scary reasons to head to Disney to celebrate Halloween! It hasn’t turned me into a Halloween lover, but it’s given me reasons to enjoy celebrating my love of Disney.

Have you ever been to a Disney Halloween party? If not, do you think you’ll go now?

Sara

Halloween, Slut Shaming and Double Standards

Whoreloween

Welcome to Whoreloween! That time of year when inappropriate costumes are rolled out for our young girls. Because, you know, we just don’t have enough sexy superhero images for our girls.

Last year I wrote about an article about the sexification of Halloween costumes for Girl Body Pride. Sadly, this year, nothing has changed. Just a few weeks ago Walmart pulled the “Naughty Leopard” costume for toddlers. Likely not because they felt it was inappropriate – someone approved it in the buying office months ago! – but more likely due to the parent outrage.

There are more and costumes with little girls that feature tiny cheerleader skirt and low-cut tops. Read the descriptions on some of these seemingly benign costumes and they read more like ads from Backpage. Little girls aren’t reading these, their parents (most likely mom) are. So why the sexy? Why the entendre?

SEXY KIDS COSTUME

And let’s not forget the come-hither looks, cocked-out hips, hands on hips with shoulders forward looks that are the same or similar to the adult woman modeling a similar costume. Judgements, yes, I’m making judgements. Because years ago kids wore kid-appropriate costumes not sexificated costumes that were once relegated to adult-only private parties or clubs.

But coming off of the Miley Cyrus performance at the VMAs and the subsequent slut-shaming that followed for the many days, even weeks, it’s easy to see a double standard.  The conversation about Miley as a role model and what her clothing says to young girls has been quite heated. There are always two sides – “Miley’s a grown up and comfortable in her skin so leave her alone.” versus the “Miley’s actions border on porn.”

We look out into the world and judge people by our standards. Yet now we have the new buzz-phrase of “slut shaming”. Defined as shaming or attacking a woman or girl for being sexual, slut-shaming seems to have double standards. Why is it not OK to call out Miley Cyrus but OK to attack a corporation for having a costume with a seemingly inappropriate name? Why should we hold our tongue when young girls post provocative photos of themselves to social networks but rant and rave when a major retailer has thong panties or underwear with “inappropriate” sayings on them in sizes for tween girls? Why is a show like Toddlers and Tiara’s acceptable but a sexy costume worn for 2 hours while asking for candy not?

Don’t misread this. I’m not advocating for sexy clothing for my daughter. She doesn’t buy her own clothing and won’t for as long as I can be part of that process. And, no, if she asks for a sexy kitty costume she won’t get one. Instead, she’ll get that wide-eyed, crazy mom “How do you know what sexy is?” look. Followed by years of therapy for the sure to follow parenting fail of having a talk about sexy when she’s only 11.

So why the double standard? What is it about Halloween that gives us the right to publicly judge the appropriateness of another woman’s costume or the costume a child wears? We will all judge those teen and tween girls who show up at our door dressed like a Hooter’s Girl or in some type of sexy something-a-rather. Don’t lie. You know you will. And I freely admit that I will. And I’ll probably say something about their parent “allowing” this. All this despite my feeling that I have no right to judge another’s clothing choice.

Can we rightfully advocate against and rise up against those who “slut-shame” while we do the same when it comes to Halloween costumes? What kind of mixed message are we sending to girls when we tell them they can dress how they wish an no one has the right to shame them. Are we confusing our young girls in a way that inhibits their creativity and expression at a time when we, their parents, are supposed to be there to protect them?

The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding. ~ Albert Camus 

I don’t have the answer. I don’t think anyone really does. But what I do know is that I don’t like this double standard. I think our young girls need to feel free to explore their sexuality in a safe environment and if we’re telling them no one has the right to shame them while we shame others that’s not right.

Corporations should be called out for pushing inappropriate clothing on our kids. But how we do it sends a message to our girls, too. Is a “naughty” costume for a toddler appropriate? No. Should someone have caught it long before it hit the shelves? Absolutely. Do either of these mean we should shame and bully the business until they take it off the shelves? And if they don’t then what? One answer – speak with you wallet and don’t buy it.

Social media has given us an outlet for our thoughts, opinions, so much more. Social media has also created a breeding-ground for public shaming of all sorts. We can hold people and companies hostage with a tweet, status update, or post on any number of social platforms.

But should we? Is there a better way to change the clothing options for our young girls? Can we still try to raise the bar without using it to impale anyone who doesn’t agree with how “we” think “they” should dress or how “we” should dress our girls? Especially when it comes to one night a year.

Sara

Halloween, I’m Just Not That Into You

Jack O Lantern BabyGirl and CycleGuy carved

OK, so hate is a pretty strong word. But, really, I don’t like Halloween. I don’t know exactly what it is about Halloween that bothers but the whole idea of it just weirds me out. I like the candy though. Something about the tiny candy makes eating a fist full much less depressing. The costumes, the going trick or treating. I could do without it. Although, I DO like passing out the candy. And I LOVE the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party at Disney World and secretly hoped that by going to that party BabyGirl would think that regular Halloween was lame and wouldn’t want to do it.

BabyGirl in her fab Halloween costume - almost 2 yrs old

I didn’t grow up doing Halloween. Does one ‘do’ Halloween? I’m not sure but that’s the verb I’m using.  I used to think it was a Jewish thing but it’s not. Lots of Jewish people participate in Halloween. My grandparents didn’t allow my brother or me to go out trick or treating so we stayed home and handed out candy. We did it to be neighborly, I guess.  When it was all done and the candy bowl was empty, the light would get turned off and we’d do our best not to whine about everyone else having candy and we don’t.

Another thing, I also don’t like scary movies. Anything other than Scream is a no-go. And even though I was (and still am) a huge Michael Jackson fan, it took me a few times to get through Thriller without being scared. Haunted houses? Don’t like them. Masks that cover people’s faces, nope! I know, call me weird but I just don’t get in to the holiday.

Sure there are cute corpse brides and the fairies and princesses. But, still, me and Halloween are definitely not ‘like that’. I don’t get the whole dressing up thing. Especially don’t understand the psychology behind dressing like a prostitute disguised as any form of something else – maid, policewoman, nurse, vampire. You name it and if it can be ho’d up it will.

I buy the good candy because I fear that we’ll be egg’d or something like that. And I buy plenty so that we’re one of the last houses to run out. Again so we’re not that house. For a person who doesn’t like Halloween, I sure do make sure we’re protected from the goblins, don’t I.

Add to this mixture a little girl. While other moms are trying to cajole their kid into some random costume and strollering them around the neighborhood trick or treating with a 2 year old, I was home handing out candy. I’m sure I began the scaring process to my daughter very early because I’m a Halloween Hater. Seriously, though, if the child is in a stroller do they really need 18 pounds of candy? Or is that an excuse for mama to get a smorgasbord of sugar-laden goodness all in the name of holiday fun? I’d much rather go out and just by the candy I like and not have to beg the neighbors for their crappy penny-candy.

And so, another Halloween goes by. And for the third year in a row, BabyGirl has gone trick or treating with me in tow. The first year we went to about 5 houses before she got bored. I was thinking ‘WooHoo, she’s got my genes!’. Last year we hit our block and the houses behind us before BabyGirl had had enough. Although I think it had more to do with one of the neighbor boys being rude and foolish than the whole trick or treating thing. On Sunday, though, we hit 4 blocks.  BabyGirl looked adorable and was polite and gracious. But then she got bored and wanted to just pass out the candy, so home we came.

Maybe I’m on to something. Let BabygGirl hang out with crazy boys who just want to yell random things and ignore her and pretty soon she’ll tire of this whole trick or treating nonsense. It could work!

So why am I telling you this now? Two days after Halloween? Well, because I didn’t want you teasing me about my general indifference toward Halloween. I figured you’d be hopped up on chocolate and sugar that by time Halloween rolls around next year you’ll have forgotten all about this due to having been in a sugar-induced coma. Even if only for a short time.

What do you think? Am I crazy? Should I just embrace Halloween or continue to be non-plussed by the costumed spectacle of candy asking-ness?

Sara