The holiday season is here and today I'm partnering with Ready Pac Foods to share with you some of my favorite healthy holiday tips for busy moms. This time of year is wonderful and magical, but all the celebrating can leave you feeling less than your best in a hurry if you aren't mindful about how you are spending your time. Hopefully these tips will help you make the season as magical as possible!
Five Healthy Holiday Tips for Busy Moms
1. If you start to feel too tired, over-spent, or overwhelmed...
It's ok to say no, it's ok to down-size traditions, it's ok to set boundaries, and it's ok to practice some self-care in the middle of the busy season. What this looks like in my own life is saying no to extra activities for my kids. If I want time to decorate, make cookies, and snuggle in front of the fire, I have to free up time to do that with them. Putting them in one more group/sport/class isn't great for me in the fall and it's not great for them either. I chose to put out only about 1/10 of my Christmas decorations this year. I didn't really want to get a tree either but I got out-voted on that one. I'm in the middle of finishing building a house, packing up a family of 7 to move, and at my busiest with work - decorations just aren't high on my list this year so I down-sized them.
Self-care mixed in with motherhood has evolved a lot for me. I often schedule self-care into my day planner and that might include calling my grandma on the phone, taking a bath, reading a real book just for fun for a set amount of time, or making a healthy dinner just because I want to eat it (and that means I have to be ok if the kids don't want to eat it or have a back-up dish ready).
2. If you love to pick out treats...
I'm a huge fan of letting my kids pick out treats, seasonal items, and new-to-us products at the grocery store. Sometimes we pick out pomegranates and new-to-us citrus, other times we pick out Oreo flavored candy canes (not that great BTW) and holiday candies in festive colors. It's all about balance right?! The thing I like to remember through the holiday season though is that the treats are going to come whether I get them or not, so why not get treats that are healthy this time of year? My kids and I are going to get loads of fun candy and treats from school, church, friends, and grandma. I don't have to be the one buying sweets and candies. I tend to look for items that are quick and convenient but have something other than sugar as the main ingredient.
I love to let the kids pick out a new-to-us Fresh Prep'd Wrap Kit (they like the Bacon and Garlic Caesar one and I love the Thai-Style Peanut wrap), Ready Snax, or Fresh Prep'd Soup Kit (they loved the Asian-Inspired Beef soup and the Italian Style Wedding soup - yay for mini meatballs and pasta). These have been so nice to have on hand for Saturday lunches that are quick and easy so that we can get back to the house, and great for easy dinners on our busiest week nights.
3. If you want to keep your focus on giving, rather than getting...
Taking time out of my day to serve others is so grounding which is always welcome in a hectic time. Our family makes a big ta-da out of the school food drive. The school normally sends home a list of foods that the food bank is in need of (peanut butter, granola bars, cereal, canned meats, etc.) so I give my kids the list, they each get a cart, and they get to go shopping. They get to fill their cart with things they picked out based on the list, they go through the check-out line on their own (I'm around, but they are in charge of the show), and they love it! It's fun for them and it fills a need in our community. We also make time to visit older folks in our community and take them treats. I try to make a double batch of dinner (this is a favorite) a few times a week and take the extra batch to a friend who could use a break, and we let the kids pick out something they want to put in the Toys for Tots bin. Little things like this are small and quiet but they have a way of filling me up in a good way.
4. If you don't workout for days or weeks at a time...
Whether you have a gym membership, go to a workout class, take the kids on a walk every morning, or love Yoga with Adriene on YouTube, sometimes when the holidays hit we set those things aside because we are busy. If you missed a few times this week, don't let that be the excuse to take the week off. I feel happier and better emotionally and physically when I take the time to move my body. I had a big mind-shift about exercise this year. I used to feel like it was something that I had to do - just another thing on my list. When I started thinking about it as an act of self-care, I started to like it more and be more intentional about making it happen. I don't exercise now because I need to burn calories, because I'm "fat", or because I'm supposed to. I exercise because it's a way to take care of myself. Missed the gym, your class, or your walk this week? So what? Get back at it today - you don't need to wait until January to recommit. You can make that choice daily.
I have started going for a walk after I drop my three oldest off at school (Thomas works from home until lunch so he stays with my youngest two). I listen to a podcast while I'm out and I have a little loop that I do every morning that includes a little up-hill hike to get my blood moving and then I go to the high school baseball diamond to walk laps around and around the fence. It's nothing fancy but it feels so good to take that time to move, feel the cold air on my face, and to listen to something uplifting or take the time to think.
5. If you eat too many cookies...
Raise your hand if you have had one of those days when you ate pie for breakfast, sticky popcorn for lunch, and then baked cookies with the kids after school - meaning you ate sweets all day long. I've been there. Lots of times. It's easy to get an all-or-nothing mentality going on and say, well the day is shot, I've eaten horribly, so we might as well just eat junk for dinner too. I was lamenting to a good friend about a day's worth of poor eating habits and she told me what she does when she has a day like that. She said she puts the cookies out of sight, drinks a big glass of water, and then eats some real food. Even if she feels like she shouldn't eat any more because her caloric needs were met by 10 am, she eats something nourishing. If you skip that part, you'll be hungry in an hour and back to the cookies. Don't beat yourself up about a day or two of cooking eating, but take the time to drink some water and eat some real food, even if you feel like you shouldn't be eating at all considering what you just consumed.
Salad, dinner leftovers, or even just some turkey slices rolled around a pickle is enough to get you headed back in the right direction. Warming up a bowl of Fresh Prep'd Tuscan White Bean Soup in the middle of the afternoon is always a good option, too. With a full 1 ½ cups of veggies, 180 calories, and 11 grams of protein per bowl, it's a quick and easy way to get some vegetables in your system.
There you have it - 5 Healthy Holiday Tips for Busy Moms! Nothing new or mind-blowing but lots of little things that are easy to overlook.
Thanks again to Ready Pac Foods for partnering with me on this post. I've been buying their salads kits and blends for ages. I don't eat out and so picking up a little convenience food while I'm out has become a life-saver for me. They've got a new line of Fresh Prep'd Wrap Kits and Fresh Prep'd Soup Kits hitting the market and they are fresh, veggie-filled, quick, and easy. These are great to keep on hand for busy nights or easy lunches.
My kids loved the soup kits. All you have to do is add water and cook them for 3 and ½ minutes. A few afternoons after school my eight year old came in and made a bowl of soup for himself. It was easy, mess-free, and full of vegetables so I thought it was great. He sat right in the middle of the kitchen floor one afternoon, in a warm sun-soaked spot, with a bowl of soup in his lap and our baby kept coming to him asking for bites. It was adorable. Sometimes I feel like where we have chosen to live means that we have sacrificed a lot of convenience (like restaurants, being within 2 hours of Costco, being near a doctor or hospital, having a gym, and so many other things), so I appreciate it so much when I can bring a little of that convenience home with me.
If you are new to Ready Pac, you can try them out using a coupon through ibotta.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored in partnership with Ready Pac Foods; all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that I genuinely use and love.
This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated in November 2019.
I love these 5 Healthy Holiday Tips for Busy Moms to remind us all that its okay to eat sweets and need to rest every once in a while, the you can get back to being a parent and enjoying your holidays as best you can.