We all know the holidays could either be the most magical time of year, or the most stressful.
From heated political debates with family to overbooked calendars with back to back holiday parties, this time of year could spell chaos for just about anyone.
Moms With a Mic’s Julia Bagg caught up with Owner of Kid Create Studio, Kenerly Wright, and Marriage and Family Therapist, Monica Snyder, to discuss simple strategies to maintain your mental health this holiday season.
According to Snyder, it is all in the planning.
“I’m already starting to look at the next six or so weeks and notice, okay, what can we realistically attend? I’m starting to buy presents already and wrap so that Christmas Eve is not a crazy night,” Snyder said. “If we start looking now at what’s coming up, make a plan as a family, it’s going to allow for your holidays to be more relaxed and it’s easier to say no to those things that actually maybe don’t matter or will cause stress and make the holiday season just not as enjoyable.”
Preplanning activities or buying tickets in advance to many holiday events may not only allow for a less stressful season, but you may also save a few bucks in the process.
“Brightline just launched their Polar Express train for the holiday season,” said Wright. “If you shop early and get those tickets early, you may actually get a better price on them versus waiting weeks before or even days before. So really it’s helping us plan and helping our pockets too.”
Snyder also suggested that one way to ensure a more enjoyable holiday season is to set clear expectations with family members about what the holidays will look like, the timing of the event, and special needs you need met during this time of year.
“The Internet has allowed for us to have these really idealistic expectations for holidays,” Snyder said. “Putting those expectations out there is going to be super helpful for family to be able to meet them.”
In the event of a heated or difficult discussion with family, Snyder recommended a practice she called pressure release — taking a moment to pause and diffuse a situation without adding pressure or intensity to the situation.
“We as a society get so triggered by people and what they’re saying instead of being able to stop and listen,” Snyder said. “And so sometimes people start a conversation and we already have an assumption on what they’re going to say and where they’re going and we feel the need to respond. Whereas if we just stop and listen and we just understand where they’ re coming from, we’re going to see that either it’s okay to disagree. And because we were able to stay calm and we were able to listen through it, we actually can have an enjoyable conversation whether we agree or disagree.”
Wright noted that it is also important to remember, children are also perceiving these interactions as they happen.
“You have to really just think about why you’re there and that it’s family time,” Wright said. “Consider is now the time or the place? What kind of example you setting for them? What are we showing them in the way we’re speaking to each other or how are we engaging?“
By staying calm and setting distinct boundaries during the holidays, communication among relatives may be more fluid and less stressful.
But despite the hustle and bustle of the season, one thing that can add to the madness is involving kids in the holiday cooking.
Bagg, Snyder and Wright all took to the kitchen this season, and have shared simple yet delicious recipes you can make this holiday season with your own kids. Just remember, the mess is all part of the fun.
Julia’s Easy Green Bean Casserole
- 1 can (~10 oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup
- 3/4 cup of milk
- 4 cups of cooked green beans (fresh, frozen, or canned)
- 1-1/2 cups of fried onions, divided
- salt and pepper to taste
- Mix soup, milk, salt and pepper in a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish
- Stir in beans and 1 cup of fried onions
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until hot
- Top with remaining 1/2 cup onions
- Bake 5 minutes or until onions are golden brown
Wright Family Pizza Recipe
- Fresh Pizza Dough – The Wrights typically buy the folded dough from Publix in the open fridge in the bakery department. (You’re going to want to leave this out at room temperature for an hour or so before you begin preparing)
- 3 to 4 oz. of pasta sauce
- 8oz. of fresh mozzarella per pie (ball or pearls)
- Meat toppings (desired amount)
- Vegetable toppings as desired (chopped or diced mushrooms, sweet peppers (any color), jalapeno peppers, red or white onions, spinach, and tomatoes)
- For the crust: butter, garlic powder and dry Italian seasoning
- Preheat the oven to 415 degrees
- Open the folded dough onto a non-stick pizza pan
- Use a fork to create tiny holes in the dough to prevent air bubbles from forming
- Using a basting pastry brush, spread an ample amount of pasta sauce over the dough
- Next, add your meat. *It seals better if you put it under the cheese rather than on top
- Spread the cheese around all over the pie
- Add the veggies over the pizza on top of the cheese
- Roll the edges of the pizza inward to create the crust *Be sure to tuck the dough, so the crust stays in place
- Next, use the pastry brush to coat your crust in butter.
- Sprinkle garlic powder and dry Italian seasoning onto the crust. *You can also add this dry seasoning over the pizza for extra flavor
- Lastly, place your pizza on the middle rack of the oven for 12-15 minutes.
- Let Pizza cool for 5 minutes.
Special Diet Info: The crust can be substituted for gluten-free dough, and meat can be skipped for a yummy veggie pizza pie
Snyder Family’s Apple Cider Donuts Recipe (Courtesy: Raddish Kids)
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup apple cider
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cupsugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Spray donut molds (if using individual silicone, place on a baking sheet)
- Combine flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and 3/4 tsp cinnamon in a medium bowl
- Heat butter in a microwave safe bowl till melted
- Crack eggs into a bowl and whisk till smooth
- Add brown sugar, apple cider, vanilla and melted butter to the egg and whisk till combined
- Mix wet and dry ingredients
- Fill donut molds till almost full
- Bake 15-17 mins
- Heat the rest of the butter until melted
- Mix sugar and cinnamon together
- Flip molds and remove donuts
- Dip both sides in butter then in the sugar and enjoy