Upstate Familyt Resource Center


What’s New With You?

What’s New With You?

28 May, 2020  /  by Upstate Family Resource Center

Now . . . it’s Summer! Hooray! We finished the school year and can finally relax. Well, some of us more than others. I have two munchkins and still have to work so sitting by the pool relaxin’ all cool is a no-go.

However, these last few months enabled my husband and I to find ways to have fun, relax, and reduce stress with the kids. Keep reading to see a few of the ways we did this.

1.) Take a walk and/or exercise. Outside, inside—doesn’t matter. Just 30 minutes a day can reduce stress, improve your overall fitness, cause weight loss/reduce cravings (think of your snack stash!) and much more. I try to take the kids and the dog for at least a 1/2 mile walk daily—sometimes twice if they are bickering more. It really helps!

I also use a few different exercise programs, with Fitness Blender being one of my personal favorites. This husband and wife duo offer high quality workouts for different levels of intensity for F-R-E-E! An added bonus—no perky music or Jane Fonda type bubbliness. Their program is entirely web-based.

I also like the fitness app FitOn. This app features a customizable program based on your goals. This is also free unless you opt for the subscription which gives access to different music and/or meals. I did sign up for a year of it, but cancelled it as I didn’t care for the music options and never delved into the recipes offered. But, these instructors are not overly cheerful and do a great job keeping you motivated.

My children (ages six and nine) join me while I workout with one of these fitness programs, and they both have ones that are kid oriented too. Cosmic Kids Yoga is one we all enjoy. This Youtube-based program has fun yoga exercises that will have you posing through, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and even a pirate adventure. Not as flexible as I used to be, the kids get the chance to have a good laugh at Mommy.

2.) Find a quiet place. Maybe the kids are watching television. There is no rule that says you have to sit with them! Go sit in your room, read a book, knit, meditate, whatever you enjoy to do. When my kids are watching a Mommy Approved show or playing nicely, I’ll go sit outside or in another room and read a book. Don’t feel guilty if you aren’t within 3 feet of the kids 24/7 and providing constant entertainment. You need you time.

*please don’t leave your kids alone in the house unattended. That would spell disaster.

3.) Make sure your children are doing their part. Yes. The dreaded chores. Kids are messy. They need to learn to clean up after themselves. Heck, I don’t put my 6 year old’s clothes away anymore. After I showed him what was expected, he’s doing it.

He doesn’t like it— but he has to do it. I was going crazy trying to keep up. Make a game out of it, sing songs, have a dance party while they help you wash those windows. Instill these habits now, so they will have them as adults.

4.) It’s OK to have a pajama/movie marathon day. Pop that pop corn and let your kids watch Moana for the millionth time (million and one for me). There was a day I HAD to really focus and couldn’t go on a walk, so I called a movie day. They had fun, and I got some serious focus time. You aren’t a bad parent!

5.) Pick up a chapter book and have a read aloud. I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to the munchkins. Even little man was enthralled. Now we are reading the second one. This is great family/chill time. An added bonus is this can help them become life-long readers!

If you need inspiration, check out this list from Scholastic.

6.) Be a creative cook. Full disclosure. Pre-COVID when I worked all day at the Center, the last thing I wanted to do was cook dinner. So dinners started to become whatever could be heated in the oven. I am so over that. I want to feed my family REAL food, even help them sample international foods. Tonight I made chicken lo mein. Lady Bug first turned her nose up, but loved it once she tried it. Hubby and little man had two servings (I’ll share recipe at the bottom of this post). It can be fun and educational to offer new foods to your family. Recently we had a history lesson on polenta, a staple for Roman soldiers.

7.) Kids will work for stars (or stickers).


We have a chore/responsibility chart where the kids can earn stars for their work. If they have earned enough by the end of the week they get a prize. I stocked up on gummy candy after Easter for Little Man to work for. As for my daughter, she loves to have her nails painted. You don’t need to offer huge presents each week, just simple things. Maybe a special date with Dad or pizza for dinner. But having a written list of expectations really, really helps young children know what they should accomplish each day. Hubby and I slacked on this previously, but found it to be an excellent tool during full quarantine and distance learning. If someone was complaining aka having a fit over a chore, all I needed to mention was the star. Suddenly, the work was done. This is the one we have, but you don’t need a fancy one. You can make it on paper.

8.) Your children miss their friends. If they can’t physically visit then Skype or FaceTime them. Lady Bug is much more of a social butterfly than her introvert mommy. Little Man and I would happily spend our days doing our own thing with out seeing others. But not her, nor her Daddy. So several times we’ve been able to arrange FaceTime calls with friends. She even told me that it really makes her feel better. It isn’t the same as playing Barbies together, but they will talk for an hour (we have to cut them off) about toys, family, pets, school, etc.

9.) If you are a working parent (like me) and you aren’t confident that your kids won’t argue or hurt themselves outside, then open a window. I feel stupid for resisting this (I don’t want to air condition the outside) but by golly when you need to work and the kids want to ride, jump on the trampoline or play outside just do it. It saves sanity. I also put my car at the end of the driveway to they can’t drive their bikes into the road 😉.

10.) Fly a kite. Oh my gosh. This has been the best thing. A Dollar Store kite flying will take away anyone’s grumpiness.


The joy on our faces when we actually get it flying and the laughter trying to rescue it from trees is so stress-relieving. Time flies by as we are out trying to get the thing going.

There are other ways to alleviate stress and unhappiness in your household whether it is related to the corona-virus or not, but these are a few things we’ve found beneficial.

Remember, if your child is acting out or whiny, maybe they are stressed over something too. Sit down and talk it out. Sometimes talking while doing something together helps. Little Man will talk while building Legos with us and Lady Bug and I have had great conversations while coloring or grocery shopping.

As promised—Chicken Lo Mein (adapted from Piping Hot Curry)

  • 8 oz Noodles Spaghetti or chow mein or hakka noodles
  • Sesame seeds for garnish, if desired
  • Salt to taste
  • *1-2 lbs. chicken cut into 1″ strips (I used breasts but any boneless would work) This was not in the original recipe–but my family loved the additional protein
    • 1 tsp crushed garlic
    • Salt *to taste
    • 1 tsp coriander
    • 1/2 tsp white pepper
    • Olive oil
    • 1 tsp Sesame Oil
    • 1 tsp red chili paste if desired


  • 2 cups Vegetable Broth (or water)
  • 1 tsp Sesame oil
  • 1 tsp Ginger paste
  • 1 tsp Garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Red chili paste adjust to taste
  • 1 tsp Brown sugar


  • 1/2 cup Cabbage thinly sliced (cheated and bought pre-shredded)
  • 1/4 cup Scallion or Green onion (white and green part divided)
  • 1/2 cup Broccoli cut into small florets
  • Optional (mainly because I forgot about these!):
    • 1 Carrot peeled and sliced into matchsticks
    • 1/2 cup Bell Pepper thinly sliced

Instant Pot Instructions

  • In a bowl, add all the sauce ingredients. Whisk until evenly combined. Taste and adjust as needed.
  • Set Instant Pot to saute and add the olive oil and 1 tsp sesame oil.
  • Once hot add chicken strips, garlic and seasonings
  • Cook chicken until no longer pink
  • Add the noodles to the instant pot.
  • Pour the above sauce into the pot above the noodles. Add vegetables on top except broccoli.
  • Seal your Instant Pot and set to manual, high pressure, 4 minutes.
  • When Instant Pot is done cooking, do a quick pressure release.
  • Open the lid and add the broccoli florets. Stir the noodles with tongs several times, breaking up any that may have clumped together during cooking. Add salt to taste. Close the lid for 3 minute so the broccoli get cooked (do not pressure cook in this step).
  • Open the lid. Sprinkle some green onions and sesame seeds and serve.

Without Instant Pot Cooking Instructions

  • In a bowl, add all the sauce ingredients. Whisk until evenly combined. Taste and adjust as needed.
  • Boil water and cook noodles according to the package.
  • On stove, heat a large saute pan or wok
  • Add the olive oil and 1 tsp sesame oil.
  • Once hot add chicken strips, garlic and seasonings
  • Cook chicken until no longer pink and has reached 170° F
  • Reduce heat to low and pour sauce onto chicken.
  • Add vegetables and mix
  • Keep an eye on your broccoli, so it doesn’t overcook
  • Once sauce is warm, add the noodles with tongs, breaking up any that may have clumped together during cooking. Add salt to taste.
  • Cover with lid for 3-5 minute so everything mixes (keep heat low so you don’t burn anything!)
  • Remove lid. Sprinkle some green onions and sesame seeds and serve.

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