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Design Your Dream Summer with Heidi Van Natter & Emily Stephenson [episode 15]


Click below to hear how to design your dream summer:

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Welcome back to another episode! Recently, we’ve been talking all about how to get ready for the next school year. If we want next school year to look different, we need to take some time to plan ahead for our next school year, in addition to making time to rejuvenate, which is what this episode is all about. On today’s episode, I have guests Heidi & Emily who will be sharing how to effectively design your dream summer. 

After 14 years in 2nd grade, sisters Heidi & Emily are passionate about helping teachers elevate what matters and simplify the rest!  Heidi (the big sister), taught 2nd grade for 12 years and preschool for 7 years, while Emily (the little sister), taught 2nd grade for two years and preschool for 7 years. They are the founders of Second Story Window and you can find them weekly on their Teacher Approved podcast

When it comes to designing your dream summer, Heidi & Emily’s approach is simple: if you want to see yourself or your relationship with the classroom look different come next school year, you need to design that intentionally for success. Their approach involves two things for summer, which are recovery and a readiness for back to school. 

That all sounds great, but how are you going to get there? They identify 4 areas of recovery which include relax, refresh, refocus, and recharge. By identifying those 4 areas, you’re then able to set goals and boundaries that help support your journey to recovery. 

Throughout this episode, roles were reversed where Heidi & Emily asked me questions, instead of the other way around. Their questions helped me design my dream summer, and going through the same process, I know that they’ll help you design your dream summer as well! 

There are so many exciting things happening at Wife Teacher Mommy, and one of those is our virtual summer event: Educate & Rejuvenate. This is an event we’re hosting and it’s going to be so fun! We have sessions including life coaching skills, talking teacher burnout, and learning amazing teaching strategies that you can implement in your classrooms. Another bonus is you can get PD credit and tickets are only $5! Check out the links below for more information!

In this episode on designing your dream summer, we discuss:

  • The 4 areas of recovery and the two additional components 
  • A deeper dive into questions to ask yourself that will allow you to start the school year from a position of strength
  • Heidi & Emily help me design my dream summer
  • Finding ways to balance out your summer with work and personal relaxation 
  • Heidi & Emily give a sneak peek into what they’re be sharing at Educate & Rejuvenate

Resources mentioned:

Meet Heidi & Emily from Second Story Window:

After 14 years in 2nd grade, sisters Heidi & Emily are passionate about helping teachers elevate what matters and simplify the rest!  Heidi (the big sister) has a masters degree in education with a math endorsement. She taught 2nd grade for 12 years and preschool for 7 years. She believes Jane Austen may be the sum of all wisdom.She thinks sleeping in on Saturday mornings is the highlight of the week. She’s really sad that she will never be interviewed by Oprah.  Emily (the little sister) has a degree in Early Childhood Education. She taught 2nd grade for two years and preschool for 7 years. She is a world class klutz with a surprisingly deep knowledge of Beatles trivia. She is mildly obsessed with lemon-scented cleaning supplies.

Related episodes and blog posts:

Connect with Kelsey:

Read the transcript for episode 15, Design Your Dream Summer with Heidi Van Natter & Emily Stephenson:

Hey, teacher, friend, I don’t know about you, but I am so happy that it’s summer. I’m ready for the pools, the warm weather, going to the splash pad with my kids, reading by the pool, and all that comes with summer. But as we’ve been talking about on the show, if we want next school year to look different, we want to also take some time to plan ahead for next school year, in addition to making time to rejuvenate and that’s what this episode is all about. So today I brought on Heidi and Emily from Second Story Window to the podcast. I love these two sisters, they are so amazing. And it was so fun to interview them today. And as you may have noticed by now, I’ve been bringing guests onto the podcast who are also going to be speakers at our Summer Event Educate & Jejuvenate. And this will be taking place this month on June 28 and 29th. And Emily and Heidi are going to be talking all about morning meetings during the event. If you are a Club member or if you’ve grabbed your ticket to the event to get excited to meet these two, and you’ll be even more excited to watch their session this summer. If you have not grabbed a ticket to the event yet, it is not too late. You can go to and grab a ticket. It’s only $5. And it’s going to be well worth $5 It’ll be worth every penny, and so much more I promise. And if you are one of our club members listening today, don’t forget that we also have a members only private podcast feed. So if you’re enjoying this podcast, we have even more for our members on our private podcast. Every guest that I bring on to the show we do a little bonus segment with and the one that I just did with Heidi and Emily today it was so much fun. They had an awesome hack to share and some great Book and TV show recommendations. The private podcast is just so much fun. It’s really a blast. So if you’re a member, be sure to listen to that episode as soon as you are done with this one.

Okay, so now let me introduce you to Heidi and Emily. After 14 years in second grade, sisters, Heidi and Emily are passionate about helping teachers elevate what matters and simplify the rest. Heidi the big sister has a master’s degree in education with a math endorsement. She taught second grade for 12 years and preschool for seven years. She believes Jane Austen may be the sum of all wisdom and she thinks sleeping in on Saturday mornings is the highlight of the week. Emily, the little sister has a degree in early childhood education. She taught second grade for two years in preschool for seven years. She is a world class Klutz with a surprisingly deep knowledge of Beatles trivia. She is mildly obsessed with lemon scented cleaning supplies. Now let’s get to their interview. I cannot wait for you to actually meet Heidi and Emily.

Heidi and Emily am so happy to have you to hear on the show today. Thank you for having us. We’re so excited to be here. Hi, Kelsey.

Okay, so can you to introduce yourselves for us. Maybe Heidi, you can go first.

I’m Heidi. I’m the older sister here. I taught second grade for several years and then was lucky enough that Emily and I got to teach second grade together for a little while. Different schools but in the same city. And then we just kind of worked that into starting our own business. So now we’re Second Story Window.

That’s so fun. Emily, tell us a little bit about you.

I’m Emily, I’m the younger sister. And like Heidi said I also taught second grade. And then she didn’t mention we also went on and taught preschool for how many years, seven years, seven years before the pandemic. And now we get to help teachers do their thing.

I love that. That’s so fun that you to do that together. And I remember hearing that story about you doing preschool together on your Teacher Approved podcast and that was so fun. I did not know that about you too. And for a Second Story Window, what age ranges do you serve?

Right now we focus on kindergarten through third. And we’re starting to expand into fourth. That’s awesome. And I’m also so excited that we get to have you at our event this summer this month actually Educate & Rejuvenate. And you are going to be talking about morning routines. So can you give us a little sneak peek about what you’ll be sharing at the event?

Yeah, we love morning routine. As much as we’re not, we’re weird. So if you think about your day in the classroom, the outcome of your whole day is really kind of decided in the first 20 minutes of what you’re going to do in that day, how effective it’s going to be how well you’re going to everyone’s gonna get along together, all of that can be distilled down to the choices that you make in those first few minutes of the day. So it really matters to get that right. Yeah, good day, start with good beginnings. Absolutely. I mean, I even find that like in my personal life, too. So it totally makes sense that that would translate to the classroom and for your whole, like just vibe in your classroom for the whole day. So I cannot wait to hear about that during your session at Educate & Rejuvenate. So everybody makes sure to grab your ticket,

Now today, you’re going to be talking about helping teachers design their summer. And I love this topic. Because as I’ve even been talking with other guests leading up to the event, what’s come up a lot is that for next school year to be different, we can’t just like hope for it to be better. But we have to actually take action and do something. And that’s why I started the conference in the first place. And I love that it’s brought so many of us together. But I want to hear from you about this specific topic. So why is designing your summer the topic you wanted to bring to this episode today? Why does it matter?

Well, the thing we realized is that you’re going to have a summer either way, right? Either you’re going to design it the way you want it to be or it’s just going to unfold on its own. And if at the end of the summer, you want to see yourself in a different place than you are in this moment with your relationship with the classroom and how you’re personally feeling as a human being. You need to design that intentionally for success. Absolutely. And what does it mean to design your summer as a teacher?

So we looked at it from the angle of the fact that teachers probably need two things from their summer one is recovery. And the other is back to school readiness. So we broke down recovery into some different areas that might support the past two years have just taken so much out of teachers. And so I think it’s really important, like you said to be intentional about making the changes that you want to see, so that you can head into the next school year from a place of strength. Instead of from a place of just still being this tired wornout frustrated teacher. And the other component of our summer plans include tackling some of that summer to do list without being chained to it. Because I know I have done that in the past where I just get so locked into, like, I have all of this ready to go by the middle of August, or I will never be ready for the school year. And then like two weeks into the school year. I’m as tired as I was in May. So we really want to help teachers set some goals and boundaries around their back to school plan so that they can start the year feeling prepared feeling that they have what they need in place to be successful, but that they haven’t lost their whole summer to it.

Yes, I love that it sounds like the perfect like combination. Like it’s you’re not doing too much of one or the other as far as back to school prep and like rejuvenation. So as we were preparing for this episode, Emily asked me if I would be okay if you asked me some questions, which I thought would be fun. I’m totally game.

Kelsey. So how are you feeling going into this summer?

Well, so that is quite a loaded question. Because as you know, this summer we are doing our Educate & Rejuvenate event for the very first time. And there has been a lot going into that. So I mean, my summer looks a little bit different from teachers, but I feel like what we can all take as we all feel like there’s a lot coming up that we need to do. So for me, I’m feeling it’s kind of a mixture of like, overwhelmed, but also excitement about that. But then also just making sure like, Okay, I don’t want to make sure it takes over my whole life. I want to have time to spend with my kids and go to the splash pad or whatever.

Yes, absolutely. So hopefully we can help you design a summer that has all of those things in it.

We’re going to start by looking at recovery. And so we have four areas, and I’ll run through them really quickly. And then we’ll we’ll go through them one at a time. So the first area is relax, because that’s maybe the most important part of summer, right? And then we have refresh, refocus, and recharge. So when we talk about relax, we ask what is fun and freeing to you. So the types of things that would make you smile or laugh or feel carefree. And you know, what is fun for Kelsey? Even if no one else finds it fun. If it’s organized in your sock drawer girl just own it definitely not organized my sock drawer. Not much of a surprise I’m gonna be honest.

So what would you say is fun and freeing to you, Kelsey?

I mean, for me, and I don’t know if this would fall into the relaxed or refreshed category. But I love reading books. As I know Emily knows this. I love reading. I love listening to audiobooks. I love listening to podcasts, that might actually fall into the refresh category though, as I like hearing you name those.

There’s no right or wrong here. Yeah, we’re just getting ideas down. So we can make sure that they all have their place in your summer plan.

And then even just like going on a walk outside. You know, as long as the weather is decent ish, you know, not too hot. And just going on a walk and feeling refreshed and listening to music or podcast and just getting outside because I feel like so much of what I do is inside. So getting outside really helps me feel relaxed and refreshed. Man, I am messing this up. I’m like mixing this together.

It’s fine. It sounds like reading and getting outside fill both of the boxes for relaxed and refreshed for you. Yeah, yeah, they do. So is there anything else in particular for refresh that would make you feel like you make you feel like the Kelsey you want to be?

Refreshed, like going on date nights with my husband or like going out with my kids. And like, we just meant to be on a trip to Disneyworld with the kids, which I mean, wasn’t really relaxing. You know? It was refreshing because time with family. So that does kind of like differentiate between the two.

Yeah. So what keeps you fastened to your foundation, that’s what would be in the refocus area of this.

I mean, there are a few things that are like the routines that I have, like, you know that I know, the time that I’m working, I’ve set the boundaries when I’m working when I’m not. And then also to refocus for me, that is listening to books or podcasts that are going to help me with my work. So with Wife Teacher Mommy. And then even just like, you know, the people who I surround myself with my family, my close friends, the people who I know I can talk to, I feel like when I need to refocus. I know those people who I can reach out to, and we can kind of talk together and I can kind of talk out loud, like what’s going on. And then that helps me to be able to kind of refocus. And with that a lot of it is even my coaching too like I have a coach, I am a very big believer in life coaching, as if you listen to my show at all, you know this and that’s why we have it in Wife Teacher Mommy club. And that is something that helps me refocus as well.

I think it’s so important that you identified how the role that other people play in your ability to feel refocus. Because sometimes that’s just an easy aspect to ignore. But the contribution that other people make into our lives can be so beneficial if we look for ways to maximize that. So I think that’s such a smart thing that you’re doing. And then our last area is recharging. So what fills you up? And this might be you know, taking that big trip to Disneyland that wasn’t necessarily relaxing, but it fills your bucket, it may let you up with the fun connections and the memories that you have. So there’s something this summer that you could think about that might help you feel recharged in that way. And energized is the way I like to think of it.

Okay, so there are a few things that come to top of mind. One of them is the beach. I love just being on the beach where it’s like relaxing, and I can recharge and usually a book is involved with that too, just reading a book on the beach. And a lot of times like one way I really recharge is going on a trip with just my husband like without my children is terrible. So it might sound like it’s a good way to just recharge and to like kind of do nothing for a bit because like I don’t do nothing very often. So that is a big one for me. And you two are in Utah so you’re going to know what I’m talking about. But I like going to places like in Utah we have a soda shot called Swig and a bunch of other ones like it. I like going and getting my Diet Coke with all the different purees and it changed it up each time. So good, so refreshing and but it just helps me be like, Okay, now I’m ready to go again.

I love it. So it’s just summery thing to to have like your summer treat your summer drink. I love it for sure.

So how can you make plans to include time for recovery in your summer schedule? So these things that we just talked about? How are you going to make sure they happen this summer?

Well, I think a lot of that is kind of like we talked about just being very intentional with like my schedule or for you know, for our listeners with their schedules. And if you want to make sure everything is there, you have to put some of those other things like the things that will be recharged, and all that in first, otherwise, all your time is going to be taken up with all the work and everything for your kids, which is great. But you also need to take some of that time to recharge and have that time for yourself as well.

Absolutely. So looking ahead, none of us are heading back into the classroom this year. But I think we can still apply these same ideas to our situations.

And I do like homeschool my kids. So you know a lot of that, like I’m not in a traditional classroom, but I am teaching my kids very often. And technically, we actually have a classroom set up in my basement. Super cute. We actually just decorate it with our rainbow decor. It’s so fun.

I love it.

So how do you want to feel in August, when you’re heading back into the back to school season? How do you want to feel?

I want to feel just ready to go and take it on like yeah, there’s a lot going on, always. But I want to feel excited about it. And you know, like, oh, wow, look at all these amazing opportunities and things that I get to do with my kids like the different ways I want to teach them. And the different ways we can help teachers with Wife Teacher Mommy, there’s so much and you could look at that, like, Oh, my goodness, I’m so overwhelmed by everything. Or you could be like, Oh, wow, look at all these amazing things. I’m so excited about them.

So smart to take something that could be a challenge and look at the opportunities that are hiding in there. So in order to feel that way, when you’re heading back, like you’re ready to take it on, what do you need to get done this summer? Obviously, you’ve got Educate & Rejuvenate coming up. But then you still got some of the summer left before it’s full on back to school season. Yes. So what do you need to get done between now and then.

So by the end of the summer, our goals are really to have Educate & Rejuvenate be a huge success for teachers, we want them to be able to watch all these sessions and gain so much from it. And it’s been a lot of work to put it all together. But I can just see like, what all the presenters are submitting and how amazing it is, it’s going to be such a great event. But then after that, we’re going to take some time to rest and recharge while also still simultaneously you know, but kind of pulling back a little bit, making sure that our club members are having the best experience possible with the membership, we have some really fun plans for that as well. But then during that time, I want to make sure to plan a specific time to do things with my kids take days off, plan a vacation day or two. And as far as the beach goes, it might just be going out to Jordanelle or something because I don’t know that we’ll actually be able to real beach, Jordanelle is a lake here in Utah, we are landlocked, we do not have an ocean beach anywhere nearby. Not quite like the Pacific, but we can pretend.

But making sure I find those ways to rejuvenate as well.

Well, it sounds like you’ve got a pretty clear vision of what needs to get done. And then it helps that kind of you’re getting a little break partway through your summer. So you have that boundary already built in around like this is gonna be the worst part of the summer, this is going to be the magic fun mommy type of summer. And that you’re finding ways to balance both of those. So I think that’s going to help you so much this summer, get to the end and feel like you really got the most out of this this time that can just feel so special.

Absolutely. And this was so fun, these questions and I know that you’re going to be helping teachers kind of walk through this process themselves as well. So can you share a little bit about that? Yes, we are hosting our free design your summer challenge. So we’re going to help teachers work through these exact questions themselves. And we’ll help each other figure out some of the trickier parts of summer that sometimes come up so that you can make a plan to leave this summer refreshed and ready for back to school.

That sounds amazing. And get me that link. And I will make sure to add it to the show notes. So our listeners can sign up for that because I think that they should all take the opportunity to be able to design their summers with you. Absolutely. You two just have so much to offer. And you’re going to be talking all about morning meetings at Educate & Rejuvenate later this month, which is going to be so good. I’m so happy you joined us. So what would you tell those who were on the fence about attending the event?

I would say you have nothing to lose. It is such an amazing price to come and hear from all of these amazing teachers. And I promise that it will be worth the investment of time and money to come.

I’m so glad you two will be joining us there So, where can our listeners find you? You can find us on the Teacher Approved podcast, and we’re on Instagram at @2ndstorywindow. And that’s with a two.

Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being on the show today. This has been so much fun. And everybody makes sure to grab your ticket to Educate & Rejuvenate to hear from them some more and to subscribe to their awesome podcast.

More about Wife Teacher Mommy: The Podcast

Being an educator is beyond a full-time job. Whether you’re a teacher or a homeschool parent, the everyday to-do list is endless. Between lesson planning, grading, meetings, and actually teaching, it probably feels impossible to show up for your students without dropping the ball in other areas of your life.

Wife Teacher Mommy: The Podcast is the show that will bring you the teacher tips, practical strategies, and inspiration that you need to relieve the stress and overwhelm of your day-to-day. Your host, Kelsey Sorenson, is a former teacher and substitute turned homeschool mom. Tune in weekly to hear Kelsey and her guests cheer you on and help you thrive as a wife, teacher, and mommy. Because with a little support and community, you can do it all. For access to every single Wife Teacher Mommy resource, join the club at

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