Professional Practice

Taking Care of Ourselves and Our Families (Ep. 211)

Our teaching is in a state of upheaval right now, and–let’s be honest–so is the rest of our world. But before we can focus on our teaching, we need to focus on ourselves and our families. Today, Tim is joined by K-12 Director of PD Amanda Heyn to discuss how they are getting their home lives in order, taking care of their families, and taking care of themselves.  Full Episode Transcript Below.

Resources and Links


Tim: Welcome to Art Ed Radio, the podcast for art teachers. This show is produced by the Art of Education University, and I’m your host, Tim Bogatz.

The world of education, and I guess the world at large, are in upheaval right now because of the coronavirus. Schools everywhere are closed, and to be frank, we are navigating a new world in education. And I think even though this new reality can be kind of scary, I don’t want to spend too much time dwelling on what’s going wrong, what our challenges are. I want to spend some time thinking about what we can do right. So over the next few weeks on the podcast, I will be talking to people in education about what’s working for them, what’s working for their students, and what ideas they have that everyone can use. This is an opportunity for us to share, to learn together, and to do what’s best for our students.

However, before we can worry too much about our teaching and our students, we need to worry about ourselves and our families. We need to know that our families are safe. We need to take care of everything that’s going on at home, and get our homes in order before we can spend our time and our energy on our students and our teaching.

So today I’m going to bring on my friend Amanda Heyn. Amanda is the K-12 professional development director here at the Art of Education, and she’s trying to balance working from home, plus homeschooling, plus taking care of her other kid, and we’re trying to all sort of learn how we can balance all of these things, and how we can get everything in order at our house. So we’re going to be discussing that today, how we can try and keep things as normal as possible at home so everyone can stay healthy, stay happy, and be productive. Now one other thing before we start the interview, I do want to tell you that Amanda and I will also be hosting a weekly webinar on Thursday nights just about how to deal with everything that’s happening right now, and how we can help each other in art education as we go through everything that’s happening in the world.

So last week, last Thursday, was the first webinar. We talked about tips for teaching online, understanding remote teaching, lessons that you can use, lessons you can teach from home. Self-care, like how to take care of yourself during a crisis. It was a great experience, thousands of people watching, and if you missed it or you want to go back and watch any part of it again, you can find it on the AOEU website, or on AOEU’s Facebook page. We’ll make sure we link to those so we can check it out.

So this week on Thursday night, seven o’clock central, we will be back. You can register for that. See all of the presentations that are going to be happening, and all of the resources we put together for dealing with teaching remotely. Everything that we think can help you can find all of that at

Okay. It is time to chat. It is time to figure out how we can start to make things work for us and our families at home.

All right, Amanda Heyn is joining me now. Amanda, how are you?

Amanda: I’m good. I’m still in my pajamas from last night, and now it’s 8:00 PM where I am. So that gives you any indication as how things are going at my house. We’re recording this after my two kiddos are in bed, and it’s just kind of everybody’s new normal now, including me, but you know, other than that I’m doing okay. How about you?

Tim: Good. Same. I showered today.

Amanda: Excellent.

Tim: And that felt like an accomplishment.

Amanda: Yes, that is an accomplishment.

Tim: Yeah. So all in all, I think things are going all right if I can get that done more often than not.

Amanda: Definitely.

Tim: Hey, so can you tell us, I guess just a little bit about your situation. So as we get through this whole podcast, as we’re going through this conversation, people kind of know where you’re coming from?

Amanda: Yes. So obviously I work for the Art of Education University, and I manage the PD side of things. So things like pro and I’m heavily involved in the conference and things like that. So that’s kind of what’s going on professionally. We’ve obviously been ramping way up with our coronavirus webinar series that we’ve been putting on, which has been really exciting to be involved in. So a lot of people are bored at home, because they can’t work or can’t work as much, and it’s kind of been the opposite over here.

Tim: Yes.

Amanda: Yeah, but then on the personal side of things, I also have a family, and so my husband works in software development, so he’s been working full time from home, and then we have a school age kiddo, who we’re trying to homeschool, and we have a three year old. So there’s just like a lot of plates spinning, and so far they’re all up in the air, but I would be lying if I said it hasn’t been a challenge. My kiddo, his school got called off last Wednesday, so we’ve had some time to plan and prepare, but we’ve been at it for a couple of weeks now and it’s going okay.

Tim: Good, good. So I guess I should probably share with everybody here my situation too, same as you. Working for AOEU full time, and my wife, who’s a teacher, is chilling. She’s doing fine right now, because it’s supposed to be her spring break, but we’ve kind of ramped up into overdrive with all the stuff that we’re doing for AOEU. So that’s been a little hectic. My kids are a little older, 12 and 10, and they’re still on spring break, but we’re going to have to dive into the schedule, but I thought it’d be good for you and I did kind of compare and contrast what we’re doing because you are very like Type A personality.

Amanda: What do you mean?

Tim: I’m very not Type A. And so I think a good compare and contrast can maybe give people, I don’t know, they get twice the advice for one podcast.

Amanda: Pick your path.

Tim: Exactly. So let’s start out with scheduling I guess, like what does your daily, I assume you have a daily schedule.

Amanda: Oh, we need a schedule.

Tim: But what does that look like for your family?

Amanda: So while we have a couple of different schedules I should say. So we have have the kids schedule< what they are kind of doing every hour of the day. And then we have the grownup schedule, which is kind of how my husband and I are figuring out who works when. So the kids’ schedule so far, we’re not that far into it at this point, but it has stayed pretty consistent. My kids get up early. So from about 6:00 to 9:00 AM they’re kind of just hanging out, getting dressed, eating breakfast, playing whatever they want to play in the house. Then we usually hit school a little harder in the mornings. We have a couple of different timeframes where we’re doing school related stuff with definitely an outdoor break in there. So we’re not obviously socializing with anyone, but we’re still getting out to hike or bike or just play in our yard. And then we have lunch and then, because I still have a little one, and because I need it for my own sanity, we have like a read and/or screen time period in the afternoon. And then we do some chores, and then we kind of have an open time, where we either finish school, or they help me cook dinner, or more outside time or whatever.

So try to keep it a little less structured, although still within a timeframe in the afternoon and yeah, and then it’s dinner, bath, bedtime, and then I get back to work. And then grownups, we just kind of figure out who has important meetings that they can’t miss, usually someone takes a morning shift from 7:00 to 9:00 AM, we both usually do a night shift, and try to work during rest, and kind of split everything in half after that. So it’s working pretty well and it makes me feel better to have a schedule. I’ve kind of just transitioned, so I don’t know if people know, but I was a classroom art teacher before I worked for AOEU, so I kind of am back in teacher mode and schedule mode, and I always really loved that world. So it feels natural to me to have that again, especially when I am essentially homeschooling my kids at this point.

Tim: Yeah, yeah, that’s good. And I think it’s important, especially when things are so chaotic everywhere else to be able to schedule and to feel like you have some kind of modicum of control.

Amanda: Totally.

Tim: I think that’s helpful. So my schedule, or what we will be doing for a schedule is much less structured than that. That’s like a rainbow color.

Amanda: Oh it’s in a rainbow order. It’s literally in rainbow chalk. Yeah.

Tim: I knew that without you even saying that. That’s a nightmare for me. So I think what our plan is right now is just to give our kids a checklist of what they need to accomplish throughout the day, and then let them figure out how to do that. And I think that will be good for them. Like they’re old enough, they’re more mature. They can manage their time a little bit.

Amanda: I’m trying to think about what my six year old and three year old would put on their own checklist.

Tim: I love it. I mean we’re going to have schoolwork that we need to do, and we have things around the house that need to be done. We want to give them some time for themselves, but it’s a feeling out period. Like it’s going to take a while to adjust to this and we’ll just kind of see how it goes. So let me ask you, you talked a lot about open time, and free play, and other things that you’re doing with your kids. So what kind of activities are making up your day right now?

Amanda: Yeah, so my older son who was in first grade, he came home, so his school kind of had time to prepare before they shut. I know a lot of schools are just like, and we’re closed, so figure it out. So luckily his teachers had a few days to gather work, send it home, but still it’s been really chaotic. I really feel for parents who are not teachers, like a lot of us are who and our listeners are, because I had to field six different emails, and also our LMS, and gather it all up, and make a schedule. And so I would say definitely giving yourself time to adjust to that is important, but now that we’ve kind of got it down, we have a list of what Max, our older kiddo has to do every day and he kind of gets to pick and choose at what times he wants to do those things based on if it’s school work time. Does he want to start with math or I’m trying to include some choice there.

But then for my younger kiddo, we’ve trying to be doing things like making matching assignments. So like if Max is working on Spanish, maybe Sam and I are learning colors in Spanish or something, so that he kind of feels included, and he has a purpose throughout the day too, but when they’re not doing schoolwork, we’ve been doing a lot of cooking and baking, chores, helping others. Sending notes or I’m making signs for her windows. There’s a lot of building materials at our house. I like to joke that we have the home alone security system, because there’s just like toys. Sharp Legos from one end of the room to another often. So they’ve been doing a lot of building, art projects, obstacle courses. I had a lot of art supplies at home, obviously as I’m sure a lot of our listeners do, but we didn’t have a lot of like outdoor gear that would be appropriate for their ages. So I ordered some of those domes that, they’re kind of like cones so we can like play games outside.

I also made up this, it’s super dumb, I just found a box and put a question mark on it, and once a day I write something on a scrap of paper and stick it in there, and I’ve been calling it the mystery box. It’s like the dumbest things you could imagine. Just like weird things I found in the basement, or little prompts, like yesterday we did one that was like take a bath with shaving cream, right? Just like things that we have around our house, everyone’s is going to look different, but like they think this is the best thing ever and it usually comes out like after they do something that maybe is less fun, like then we can open the mystery box, and I don’t know, it’s been really keeping them and me sort of entertained.

Tim: Which is really what it’s all about.

Amanda: Yes.

Tim: Yeah. So basically, for me, this is something my wife and I have been talking about, and people have seen similar things to this online, but a little bit each day for your mind, whether that’d be schoolwork, or my daughter’s trying to teach herself French, or just whatever their interests.

Amanda: Awesome.

Tim: Yeah, of course she has.

Amanda: Of course she is.

Tim: Whatever they’re interested in studying, or exploring, or learning about, then I think that’s cool. Something for your body, exercise, going for a run, taking the dog for a walk. Even just getting outside for a little bit. That can be huge, and we want them to do something for fun each day, whether that be Lego’s, or maybe we’ll create a mystery box, I don’t know. Kind of just something that they enjoy doing that isn’t an obligation. Just something they can sit back and relax and have fun. And then lastly, something you can do for others. Something nice for somebody else, whether that be chores around the house that help out me and my wife, or maybe it’s calling grandma and grandpa, or writing a letter to great-grandma and grandpa, whatever the case may be. Something nice for others and just trying to make sure we do one of those things each day.

Amanda: I love that. Yeah.

Tim: And then the other thing, since we’re talking to a bunch of art teachers here, have you had time to make art? Like are you doing anything artistic right now?

Amanda: Well, I want to lie, but I’m going to answer honestly, which is no. I kind of hold that once things sort of settle down at work, and once we sort of settle into this, that I will have time for that again. I feel like any critical thinking, problem-solving aspect of my brain, or aspect of creativity is just going towards balancing schedules, and figuring out fun homeschool things, and looking at my older son’s schedule, and seeing how I can make it appropriate for my younger kiddo, and things like that. Today we did break out some art supplies and had a little time, but it really hasn’t been something that’s been a focus yet. I’m going to use my growth mindset there, yet. But what about you? I’m sure you have. I feel like you are way better at prioritizing that than I usually am.

Tim: Well, it’s something that I like to do with my kids, just to sort of keep me honest, like make sure that I am continuing to do that as well. So I broke out my old list of sketchbook assignments, and let my kids pick from those, because they really enjoy that. And just being an art teacher. I have a studio full of just random materials and we’ll just get those out. Like let’s try out some chalk pastels today, or how about this liquid watercolor, and just whatever. And just show my kids how to use it, and we just kind of dive in and experiment with stuff. And then Amber Cane, like this is old and not easily accessible, but she has an old now conference video about all the great stuff she does with her sketchbook, and she’s like sewing around her drawings.

Amanda: Oh yeah, I remember that. Like weaving.

Tim: Paper inside the sketchbook. I’ll just show random ideas from that to my kids and they’re like, “We need to do this.”

Let’s talk also though, I’m just kind of along those lines about, what we’re kind of doing for ourselves to keep ourselves going strong. Like keeping ourselves healthy mentally. Like are you staying connected with families, staying connected with friends? Like how are you trying to do that?

Amanda: Yes, yes. In short, yes I am. I would say, we have a lot family togetherness right now. Familiar unit in my very tiny house, but still it’s been really nice actually, and we generally do these things anyway, but it’s kind of becoming even more important. So making sure we have dinner together and playing family games, and then with extended family, FaceTime is a lifesaver. Any form of whatever form of video chat you use, but the kids have been calling their grandparents a lot, and just honestly texting friends, and checking in, and my book club is going to have a Zoom meeting this month, and just trying to get creative with how we can stay connected, and it’s weird because like we’re always connected via those. Facebook messenger or Instagram or whatever, but it seems like everything is sort of up ticked in the last few days, and there’s a lot of heart emojis flying back and forth, and it’s been kind of nice. I mean like would I rather see them in person? Yes, but it’s cool that we can do this now.

It’s not cool there’s a worldwide pandemic, let me be clear. However, if there has to be one, I’m glad that I can keep in touch with friends and family in a lot of different ways.

Tim: Yeah, that can be the silver lining, but I think it’s interesting because all of these forms of communication that we take for granted, now seem very meaningful. It’s a good feeling and a bad feeling at the same time. But what I was going to say, it’s been tough. My mom lives like an hour drive away. My parents [inaudible 00:19:32]. It was her birthday today and it’s super tough to like not be able to see them, but we did get my parents set up on Zoom, which their technology skills, like they’ll listen to [inaudible 00:19:49] and Schmidt, it took a little while.

Amanda: Congratulations.

Tim: But once we got it, like my mom was like in tears, like she was so excited to talk to me and to talk to the grandkids. And so, she loved that. So just being able to make that connection is really cool.

Amanda: Yeah, that’s awesome.

Tim: I’ve done that for my daughter with her friends so they can sit around and talk about what they’re doing. And then my friends, and I’m a huge nerd. That’s not a big secret to anybody listening to this.

Amanda: Not a secret. Nope.

Tim: But we do like game night every week, and so we decided to move that to Zoom, and so we just pick out board games that all of us own.

Amanda: No! Do you all move each others?

Tim: Yes. So we are still having game nights.

Amanda: Like do you guys know there are computer games you could?

Tim: Not the same.

Amanda: Okay.

Tim: Not the same.

Amanda: Okay. But what about Yahtzee? Like do you all have to roll?

Tim: These are like strategy games. They’re a little more complicated than Yahtzee.

Amanda: Okay.

Tim: Not that I dislike Yahtzee.

Amanda: Sure, it’s good.

Tim: I don’t want to talk bad about any game, but anyway. I’m glad you could come on the podcast and laugh at me about that. So thank you.

Amanda: Me too.

Tim: So what else beyond that though? Beyond like just communicating with friends, trying to stay in touch. That’s obviously important, but what else are you doing personally? What are you doing for yourself to kind of be healthy mentally?

Amanda: Sure. So I’m trying to read, which is going mediocre, but again hoping to like drop into it more. I’ve been walking, just going for a walk outside, going for a walk around the block can be really good for me personally. And then right before everything got real bad, I went to Whole Foods. They have these $20 beauty bags, I don’t know, it’s like once a year. It’s a thing that I just learned about.

It’s like $100 worth of stuff for $20. So it’s just something, again, kind of silly, but also kind of great to just like pick a new product out every night, and just do like a little nightly ritual with skincare or whatever, just to, I don’t know, it’s just like something new to try in a time where you can’t really go to the store. So that’s been kind of fun. Using paper plates, I would highly recommend if you have access to. Literally anything you can do to make your life easier. It’s like, “Oh my gosh. Like with the kids home. I’ve cleaned the kitchen like 45 times today and also my husband is somehow also cleaned the kitchen 45 times today and I was like, ‘You know what I got at Costco a while ago, like 400 paper plates.'” So we’ve been doing that. Yeah.

Tim: Well I was just talking to my wife today. I was like, “We’re going to break our dishwasher like it’s running three times a day.”

Amanda: I know!

Tim: We made just need to dive into paper plates.

Amanda: Yeah. Now if I can solve the laundry problem in a similar way. I think they used to make, I think there was a weird blip of like paper clothing fad, like sometime in the 60s. I don’t know, look it up. I’m not saying we’re there yet, but like, I don’t know.

Tim: I think the strategy is just to wear the same clothes.

Amanda: Yeah, true. Like I’ve been wearing the same pajamas for, that’s true. Maybe it’ll all work itself out. Yeah, and I would say one more thing is like helping others. I think that is really helping me. Like, yes, this webinar series is a huge lift, as you and I both know, but like it feels really good to be a helper. I’m setting up a directory for my son’s preschool, so we can start a group chat, and setting up Max, my older kid, to see his friends on Zoom. I’m trying to coordinate that right now. So like being a helper is really helping my mental thing, because I can only control what I can control, and so I’m finding something positive that I can control has been really helpful.

Tim: Yeah, that’s really cool. I like that idea a lot. For me, same thing, I’ve been reading when I can. I’ve been drawing when we can. Just like you talked about, and I just try and make it a point to draw a little bit every day. And the last few days we’ve been so busy that it’s just like 10 minutes before bed and I’m just like, I’m going to draw some shapes on the page, and I’m going to color in those shapes, and it’ll be a background for a better drawing eventually, but that’s literally all I’m getting through.

Amanda: Yeah, that’s a good strategy.

Tim: You know what I am getting through stuff, which is the important point there.

Amanda: Right.

Tim: So I’m proud of myself that I can get that done.

Amanda: You should be.

Tim: All right, cool. Well it is time for us to go. However, as we kind of do podcasts week after week with everybody who is doing their social distancing, I’m going to ask all of our guests for some recommendations.

Amanda: Okay.

Tim: So what I would love from you is a recommendation for something to read. Okay. Something that you would suggest people read. Secondly, something to watch. Okay. Whether that is streaming, whether that’s on YouTube, whether it’s an old DVD, whatever you have, whatever you think people should watch. And then lastly, something to listen to. Podcasts, music, whatever it may be.

Amanda: Okay. Something to read. I would say anything by David Sedaris. He’s just the best.

Tim: He’s amazing.

Amanda: Yeah. And I would say weirdly, my favorite book of his is Holidays on Ice, which is very out of season right now. It’s about Christmas or winter holidays, I should say, but man, when he is the Macy’s elf it’s the funniest short story I’ve ever read in my life. So good.

Amanda: Something to watch. I’ve been really into the Bon Appetit YouTube channel lately. There’s this web series.

Tim: You’ve told me about this before. I still have not watched.

Amanda: Oh my gosh!

Tim: Convince me. That I need to watch this.

Amanda: Claire Saffitz is like, I want her to be my new best friend. She’s a pastry chef who works there, and she has this series called Gourmet Makes, where she tries to recreate gourmet versions of classic junk foods. So like she just did Bagel Bites. You know like pizza in the morning, pizza in the evening, pizza at supper time?

Tim: Yes.

Amanda: Okay. Just did Bagel Bites.

Tim: I’m disappointed that you’ve just said that, rather than sung it.

Amanda: No one wants to hear me sing it. I considered it for about like four seconds. Trust me. And she’s done like Mentos, and Butterfingers, and like things that you think you would never be able to make in your, I mean sometimes she can’t make them very well, but it’s kind also weirdly like sciency, which maybe people don’t know this, but I’m also a big nerd. And so like, just seeing her go through like the trial and error of like trying to make these things. And sometimes she gets really dejected. Like there’s a weird cast of characters in the kitchen. So just highly, highly recommend.

Tim: All right, all right. What about something to listen to?

Amanda: Okay. Well you’ve heard me say this till I’m blue in the face, but Ologies with Alie Ward. Again, nerd alert, but she talks to a different specialist in a different field every single week. And so there’s one on, they tell me it’s a real word on the podcast, I don’t know, diabetology, which is obviously about diabetes, but I love that episode because the doctor on there actually started out as an art major, and he talks about how art actually got him into medical school, and it’s so interesting. If you want one more maybe pertinent to our situation, there’s a really good one about fear called Fearology, which kind of talks about like anxiety, stress, and general dread, which may or may not resonate with you.

Amanda: And then, gosh, what else? Okay, one more. If you want something totally off the wall that you think you probably won’t enjoy at all, but is maybe one of the best things I listened to in awhile. It’s the one about bats and I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s with this wonderful human named Merlin Tuttle who just, I think you’ll fall in love with. He just loves bat so much. So it’s really great.

Tim: Well, we’ve learned that being teachers, the things that we love, we are able to pass that passion onto our kids. Right?

Amanda: Yes, definitely.

Tim: All right, well let me dive in with my recommendations.

Amanda: Yeah, I was going to ask, do you have some?

Tim: I don’t know how many weeks this can go on, but I’m going to give it a try. So something to read. I broke out my complete collection of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and I love them, because some of them are short and some of them are long, but all of them are brilliant. And I just absolutely love Sherlock Holmes, so that’s what I’m reading right now.

Amanda: Excellent.

Tim: Something to watch. I’m not a big TV person, so I’m way late getting to this, but The Good Place. I just finished the first season, and it was one of the most brilliant things I’ve seen in a long, long time.

Amanda: Yeah.

Tim: So quick, easy episodes, easy to stream. It’s super smart, Super funny. And then the way they end the first season is just absolutely incredible.

Amanda: Well, we need to talk when you get to season four maybe.

Tim: And then lastly, something to listen to. I’m just going to recommend a single episode from one of my favorite podcasts called 99% Invisible. They have an episode about Vantablack.

Amanda: Yes.

Tim: Have you listened to that one?

Amanda: I haven’t listened to the episode, but I’m excited to.

Tim: It’s a brilliant episode. It’s about the invention of Vantablack, and how Anish Kapoor got his hands on it. So we have, contemporary art coming into the mix and then how Stuart Semple and Anish Kapoor started fighting over colors. Semple’s creating all these amazing pinks, and it’s this brilliant mix of science and contemporary art, and I just loved the episode so much.

Amanda: Exciting.

Tim: So anyway, we’ll link to that in the show notes so everybody can go listen.

Amanda: Perfect.

Tim: Cool. All right. Well, Amanda, we have talked way too long, but I hope it was entertaining for people. I hope we shared some ideas that are worthwhile. So thank you for your time.

Amanda: Yeah, anytime.

Tim: And thanks for coming on.

Amanda: You’re welcome.

Tim: All right. As predicted, we talked for a long time, but hopefully you have a few extra minutes and don’t mind listening to a little bit longer podcast.

Now, before we go, I just want to remind you that we have our webinar happening on Thursday night, seven o’clock central. We’ll just go for an hour this week rather than two like we did last week, but we will cover managing, working from home, teaching from creativity online, and some mindfulness practices for you and your students. So hopefully you can join us and we will see you Thursday or we will talk to you next week right here.

Art Ed Radio is produced by the Art of Education University with audio engineering from Michael Crocker. Thank you for listening. Stay safe. Take care of yourself, and please take care of everyone around you.

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.