Halloween approaches and you know what that means: we are in the thick of Hocus Pocus season. Sarah, Mary, and Winifred Sanderson have taught a generation of women to be the baddest witch they can be... and, I'd argue, tough mothers to boot. The parenting lessons from Hocus Pocus, especially from Winifred herself, may not be explicitly stated in the film, but they're there for those of us who know what we're looking for.
I mean, if we're talking about nurturing caregivers, Winnie — whose goal is to suck the lives out of little children with the help of her devilish sisters — is an unlikely font of parenting wisdom. But sometimes the best parenting advice doesn't come from parents at all, and isn't even really about parenting. Moms pull from all facets of their lives and experiences to work their way through parenthood, so why not be open to learning from the wacky antics of a singing, dancing witch?
Winifred, incomparably played by the divine Bette Middler, is powerful, clever, ambitious, and a strong leader. She, like mothers everywhere, just seems to intuitive know how to figure the tough stuff out and get sh*t done. So with that in mind, here are some of the most valuable lessons she has taught me about raising my own little coven of witches:
Don't Be Afraid Of Judgment
As women and mothers, we often worry about how we "come across." But does Winifred Sanderson worry about "coming across" as shrill? Bossy? Aggressive? Singularly fixated on regaining physical beauty no matter the cost? No! Winifred Sanderson knows what she wants and she goes for it with everything she has. When people tell her to go to Hell, she assures them she's been there and, really, what is Hell if not a 3 a.m. feeding that ends in massive projectile vomit?
Look, moms live in fear of judgment and for good reason: judgment is everywhere. But when you come to realize that, no matter what you do, there's no avoiding it... well, that can be pretty liberating.
Children Keep You Young
OK, granted, in Winifred's case that's because she was casting dark spells on them and sucking their life force to maintain a youthful appearance, but what a lovely (if also disturbing) metaphor for motherhood. Because for as much as our children can age us ("OMG! How the hell did you get up there?! Get down!") our children do maintain a spark of wonder and whimsy and fun like nothing else can.
You Need Your Coven
As powerful as she was, Winifred couldn't handle Halloween night, 1993, without her sisters. (Or, should I say, "Sistaaaaahs!") Similarly, every mom needs her own personal coven — the folks upon whom she relies not just for assistance but for moral support, advice, and a little bit of magic.
Despite the American ideals of rugged individualism, we humans have never survived on our own. That's just not how we work. We need one another. And, honestly, if Winifred Effing Sanderson needs help then so do we.
Improvisation Is Clutch
If a mom knows anything it's that, when you're working with children, basically nothing will ever go according to plan. But when life takes your broom, find a vacuum! (OK, so Mary was the one who rode the vacuum, but this still applies.)
Out on an errand and you've run out of diapers? See if you can fashion one out of menstrual pads and a scarf. About to be hanged by Puritanical townsfolk? DIY prophesies are a great way to ensure that a virgin will bring you back from dead and, I'm guessing, get your kid to try a vegetable!
Think Long & Hard Before Giving Your Children A Pet
Just as that mangy feline Thackery Binx became a thorn in Winifred's side, so too might a pet you're not quite prepared for. Furry companions offer innumerable benefits to families... but when a four-legged fiend teams up with kids, they can often undo your well-laid plans.
I'm not saying don't get a pet, I'm just saying that Winifred really didn't think through her decision to conjure up a kitty and it bit her in the ass.
Never Underestimate The Power Of A Good Book
It doesn't need to be a tome of wicked spells and bound in human skin (though I'm not here to judge: you do you, witches) but the written word can be a powerful balm in this wacky adventure we call motherhood. Whether you're really into journaling to help you sort through your many (valid) emotions, or need the help of experts when figuring out how to potty train your toddler, or you just need to escape for a chapter into the world of smutty romance starring Fabio, you can always glance at your lectern or bookshelf or night stand and sing out "Boooooook..."
When Called Upon, Grab The Mic & Take Center Stage
Put a spell on them, mama! Because, witch, you are fabulous.
Remember To Delegate
Winfred, like mothers everywhere, often took matters into her own hands, but she also knew the strengths of her team and when to assign tasks. She had Mary sniff out children and Sarah sing to lure them to their cottage. And when she didn't have sufficient help in her immediate circle, she summoned it in the form of Billy Butcherson.
Even knowing what kind of help to ask for requires a great deal of mental energy. Rely on your band of witches and monsters (or, like, partner and friends) to help you out when you need it.
Let Sleeping Exes Lie
Don't text them. Don't look them up on social media. Don't cast a spell and revive their 300-year-old corpse to help you capture your enemies. It's never worth it. It might seem like a good idea at the time, but whether they bring up old drama or team up with a bunch of kids to thwart your murderous Halloween fun, they're just going to disappoint you (again) and remind you why you poisoned them and sewed their mouth shut with a dull needle in the first place.
Embrace A Self-Care Routine
When it comes to self-care, the ritual of it can be just as important as the final result. Winifred went hard when it came to self-care. You want to make an omelet, you have to crack a few eggs. You want to stay young and beautiful forever, you will have to suck the life out of all the little children in Salem.
As a parent, it's difficult to make time for you, yes, but remember that it's not impossible to partake of a beauty/skincare/wellness routine that is effective, soothing, and not pure evil. And while self-care isn't the solution to every problem that can plague a mother, it can nevertheless serve as a useful pick-me-up.
Take A Minute To Breathe
Motherhood is stressful, and it's very easy, taking everything moment by moment, to not realize how tense you're becoming in the process. Look, you're a boss and you can handle it, but sometimes you need to listen to the Mary in your life and join the calming circle. Close your eyes, breathe, and think of mummy's scorpion pie.
Don't Let Anyone Disrespect Or Diminish You
Not your kids, not your boss, not your partner, and certainly not a pair of punks with names like Ice who call you an "ugly chick." OK, maybe don't throw your children in suspended cages when they get saucy, but a timeout is definitely not out of the question.