We all know the holidays can be either the most magical time of the year or the most stressful.
From heated political debates with family to calendars crammed with back-to-back holiday parties, this time of year can wreak havoc on just about anyone.
Moms With a Mic’s Julia Bagg caught up with Kid Create Studio owner, Kenerly Wright, and marriage and family therapist, Monica Snyder, to discuss simple strategies for maintaining your mental health this holiday season.
According to Schneider, it’s all in the planning.
“I’m really starting to look at the next six weeks or so and notice, well, what can we attend to realistically? “I’ve already started buying presents and wrapping them so that Christmas Eve isn’t such a crazy night,” Snyder said. Be more relaxed and easy to say no to those things that maybe don’t really matter or will cause you stress and make the holiday season not so fun.”
Planning ahead for activities or purchasing tickets in advance for many holiday events may not only allow for a less stressful season, but also save you a few bucks in the process.
““Brightline launched the Polar Express for the holiday season,” said Wright. If you shop early and get those tickets early, you may get a better price on them versus waiting weeks or even days in advance. So it really helps us plan and help our pockets as well. “
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 be like, the timing of the event, and the special needs that need to be met during this time of year.
“The Internet has allowed us to have these really perfect forecasts for the holidays,” Snyder said. “Setting these expectations will be very beneficial for the family so that they can be met.”
In the event of a heated or difficult discussion with the family, Snyder recommended a practice she called ‘decompression’ — taking a moment to pause and de-escalate the situation without increasing the pressure or intensity of the situation.
“We as a society are more motivated by people and what they have to say than by being able to stop and listen,” Snyder said. “And so sometimes people strike up a conversation and we already have an assumption about what they’re going to say and where they’re going and feel the need to respond. Whereas if we stop and listen and just understand where they’re from, we’ll see that either is okay to disagree.” And because we were able to stay calm and were able to listen to him, we could actually have a fun conversation whether we agreed or disagreed.”
Wright notes that it is also important to remember that children are also aware of these interactions as they occur.
“You just have to think about why you’re there and that it’s time for family,” Wright said. Now consider a time or a place? What kind of example are you setting for them? What are we showing them in the way we talk to each other or how we share?“
By staying calm and setting distinct boundaries during the holidays, communication between relatives may be more fluid and less stressful.
But despite the hustle and bustle of the season, one thing that can really add to the madness is getting the kids involved in the holiday cooking.
Bagg, Snyder, and Wright went into the kitchen this season, sharing simple yet delicious recipes you can make with your kids this holiday season. Just remember that the chaos is all part of the fun.
Julia’s Easy Green Bean Casserole
- 1 can (about 10 ounces) heavy cream of mushroom soup
- 3/4 cup of milk
- 4 cups cooked green beans (fresh, frozen, or canned)
- 1-1/2 cups sliced fried onions
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Combine soup, milk, salt, and pepper in a 1/2-quart casserole dish
- Add the beans and 1 cup of the fried onions
- Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until hot
- flip over
- Top with the remaining ½ cup onion
- Bake for 5 minutes or until onions are golden brown
Wright family pizza recipe
- Fresh Pizza Dough – Rites usually buy folded dough from Publix in the open fridge in the bakery section. (You’ll want to leave this at room temperature for an hour or so before you start prepping)
- 3 to 4 oz. of pasta sauce
- 8 oz. Fresh mozzarella per pie (ball or pearl)
- Meat additives (quantity required)
- Vegetable toppings to taste (chopped or diced mushrooms, bell peppers (any color), jalapeno peppers, red or white onions, spinach, tomatoes)
- For the crust: butter, garlic powder, and dry Italian seasoning
- Preheat the oven to 415 degrees
- Unfold the folded dough onto a non-stick pizza pan
- Use a fork to poke small holes in the dough to prevent air bubbles from forming
- Using a pastry brush, spread a generous amount of the pasta sauce over the dough
- Next, add the meat. * It is better to place it under the cheese than on top of it
- Spread the cheese all over the pie
- We add vegetables on top of pizza on top of cheese
- Roll the edges of the pizza inward to create the crust *Be sure to fold the dough over, so that the crust stays in place
- Next, use a pastry brush to coat the crust with buttercream.
- Sprinkle garlic powder and dry Italian seasoning over crust. *You can also add this dry seasoning on top of your pizza for extra flavour
- Finally, place the pizza on the middle rack of the oven for 12-15 minutes.
- Let the pizza cool for 5 minutes.
Special diet information: The crust can be substituted for gluten-free dough, and the meat can be skipped for a delicious vegan pizza pie
Apple cider donut recipe from the Snyder Family (Courtesy of Radish Kids)
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup apple
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Spray donut molds (if using silicone individual donuts, place them on a baking sheet)
- Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon in a medium bowl.
- Heat the butter in a microwave-safe bowl until it melts
- Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat until smooth
- Add the brown sugar, apple juice, vanilla, and melted butter to the eggs and beat until combined
- Mix the wet and dry ingredients
- Fill donut molds almost to full
- Bake 15-17 minutes
- Heat the rest of the butter until it melts
- Mix sugar and cinnamon together
- Turn the molds over and remove the cakes
- Dip both sides in the butter, then in the sugar, and enjoy