Creatively Managing Self-Care for Parents and Educators while Social Distancing

Digitally illustrated graphic featuring a clock. Women on a ladder holding a clock hand and man on the left side looking at the clock. Background features a pink background with a calendar, arrows to show growth, light bulb and coffee cup.

Image source: Adobe Stock / VectorMine.

The last eight weeks, we’ve all been home and practicing social distancing. For this family of five, Mom & Arts Administrator, Dad & Middle School Art Teacher, three kids (7th, 4th, and 2nd grade) the quarantine is a shock to our system, like doing a belly flop into cold water. Normally, we jokingly call ourselves “The Art Family”: a combination of parents, kids, educators, students, artists and singers and actors. Team Grundler intro video. Before the pandemic hit, we were on the go daily–and on weekends–from school to rehearsal to events. So we want to share with you how we are managing the transitions.


We believe that family always comes first. Since February, our family has been on a rollercoaster. Matt lost his father, our family lost our dog Miley, and Matt was reassigned to another school. Through it all, we have had hope, each other, our friends, and our amazing community. We continue to learn and grow, remembering that family love is most important. LOVE is what drives out the darkness.

These are the things that help us keep family first:

Practicing love and gratitude

Matt was hit the hardest of anyone in the family during the last few months. His dad, his childhood hero, passed away on February 2. Besides being Matt’s high school teacher, he was also his wrestling coach. Reflecting on his father’s love and guidance, Matt has come to realize how grateful he is that the sport of wrestling taught him about the importance of perseverance without complaining. This attitude is foundational to Matt’s approach to life and teaching. He applies this philosophy to the way he approaches students in the classroom, to the way he makes his art, but most of all, to parenting. He is grateful for the loving example his dad set for him to follow as he guides his own children.

Finding joy in the big and small things

In our life of life, teaching, art-making, parenting, or anything else, we found opportunities for growth and JOY in small things. We’ve found joy in the kids’ academic struggles and successes. We might have cursed under our breath trying to do fourth-grade math (true story it’s not the way we learned it), but we’ve found joy seeing our 9-year old teach us what she knows. We’ve found joy in each child taking charge of dinner one night a week and learning to cook. Now, instead of the big deal events, like opening night for our thirteen-year-old, it’s been all the little things, like hearing our kids sing around the house all day. Our children’s theatre Genesis Children’s Theatre has found unique ways to keep the theatre alive and going. The young casts of The Wizard of OZ and Guys and Dolls are rehearsing via Zoom, and will be creating virtual productions through the magic of Adobe Premiere Rush and the amazing directing and editing of dedicated staff. So much to be joyful about!

Looking for hope and silver linings

Calling out silver linings has helped all of us adjust to the time at home. Here are three that are really helping us!

Silver Lining #1

We are becoming more flexible. This comes from commitment to our priorities. We want to accomplish our goals, but we ensure that we are giving kids (both our own and our students) an outlet, a place to share their feelings, a place to work through things, and a place to practice the creative process.

Silver Lining #2

Time is different. The ordinary daily rush isn’t as pressing and stressful. We have the opportunity to slow down in a way that we might never get again. To break up the work day, we like to get outside and make a small contribution to the mental health of our neighborhood by making cheerful sidewalk chalk drawings. While we are on our walk, we see people enjoying the outdoors and smiling and enjoying the sunshine. We find ourselves using our time better, getting the work done, and stopping when we need to.

Silver Lining #3

All this change gives us hope. We are optimistic about returning to work and our schools. How we manage our time makes us more mindful of balance and what really matters. The more hope we have, the better off we are.


Here’s the truth; in this house, we manage self-care with coffee and creativity. Delicious hot or iced coffee is always part of family time as we create together. Matt and I are both journalers, but rather than reflect in writing, we are visual journalers. In the past eight weeks, we’ve done more journaling to deal with stress and emotions than either of us can ever remember. Head over to our blog to see our journaling progress. Recently we posted to Twitter and Instagram a time-lapse video flipping through her journal creations, and I received tons of kind responses and requests to share lists of journal prompts. Mostly our journal art is a response to the day, but sometimes we use prompts; Laura recently did one from @tinkerlab that can be found here: TinkerLab Art Challenges.

Matt’s Journal 1 Matt’s Journal 2

Laura’s Journal 1 Laura’s Journal 2

Whatever you do, remember to do what works for you, your students and your family! Take care of yourself and add a little coffee and creativity to your life.

Wishing love and Creativity,

Matt and Laura Grundler