Mom burnout and alternatives to typical self care with Dr. Morgan Cutlip

00:00:02    Alyssa

You're listening to Voices of Your Village, and today we're talking about such a needed topic. I got to hang out with Dr. Morgan Cutlip to chat about mom burnout, in particular moms, and we got to dive into actual practical self-care and how it isn't prescriptive, and that what works for one person is going to be different than what works for someone else. I love this so much because I think so much of our burnout comes back to how we're taking care of ourselves, and what does that look like, and what are the narratives around it, what's the access to it. Oh, so much. There's so much that's packed into this. I got to chat about comparison and how that comes up for me, or even like our goals and how parenting expectations have shifted and what's working both for us as parents and for kids, and what isn't, and how we can take a good hard look at this so that we can truly show up with more energy and engagement and feeling like ourselves. Morgan wrote the book "Love Your Kids Without Losing Yourself", and she's incredible. She's a psychotherapist, and it's packed full of incredible tips and strategies and really truly like practical and applicable. Head on over to wherever you get your books, Barnes and Noble, a local bookstore, Amazon, you name it, and snag Love Your Kids Without Losing Yourself by Dr. Morgan Cutlip. All right, folks, let's dive in.

00:01:12    Alyssa

Hey there. I'm Alyssa Blask Campbell. I'm a mom with a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education and co-creator of the Collaborative Emotion Processing method. I'm here to walk alongside you through the messy, vulnerable parts of being humans, raising other humans with deep thoughts and actionable tips. Let's dive in together. 

00:02:12    Alyssa

Hello everyone and welcome back to Voices of Your Village. Today, I get to hang out with Dr. Morgan Cutlip. She has a PhD in psychology and is highly sought after relationship expert, knows what it feels like to lose yourself in motherhood. I think something that a lot of us can identify with and she's determined to help mothers navigate it better. Thanks, Morgan, thanks. I think we need that. Throughout her career, she has helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide learn how to form and maintain healthy relationships. Dr. Morgan has been a featured relationship expert with Teen Vogue, The New York Times, Women's Health Magazine, Mops International, Loveology, and Flow, the number one app in health and fitness. Her new book, Love Your Kids Without Losing Yourself is available now. So press pause real quick and go pop that into your car, pull that trigger, you're gonna want it. Morgan is the mom of two tiny humans. She has a seven and a 10 year old and lives in California. And today we get to chat about mom burnout, which boy, is it real, Morgan. 


00:01:15    Dr. Cutlip

So real. Thank you for having me, by the way. 


00:01:17    Alyssa

Yeah, I'm jazzed to get to hang with you. Taking it from Instagram to podcast, I dig it. Totally. One of the things that I really gravitate toward in your work and how you talk about burnout and self -care is specifically around self -care. You know, when we were putting together the CEP method, self -care is one of the five components of our method. And I feel like it's gotten so buzzwordy, right? Like self -care. And I think you and I are really in alignment on what actually is self -care. 


00:01:55    Dr. Cutlip

Yeah, I get kind of like sick of the term, which I think we're all sort of sick of the term. And, you know, we hear it and we're like, yeah, yeah, moms need self -care. Parents need self -care. And we're sort of like, whatever. Yeah, we know, we shake our heads, but we actually have conviction behind it. And so first I'll start with three reasons why I don't like self -care. And then I'll tell you what I think is better instead. So one of the first reasons why I think self -care, it just needs like a rebrand, is that a lot of times when we think about parents and, you know, I work specifically with moms. So when moms are approached with like, this is something that will help you, they're often given these lists of self -care. And I find that moms just don't need more lists of things to do in the time that we don't have. And we run our life with list after list, whether it's in our head or out on paper. And when we have another list of things to do and we don't get to it, we end up feeling really crappy about it. We feel guilty. One area, you know, on top of all the others, we feel like we're falling short. So that's one reason. The second is that I feel like it's missing the deeper parts of what really needs to be covered when we talk about self -care. Because if self -care is something like taking a walk or getting a break, or, you know, sometimes it's just these surface things, get your nails done, something like that. It's ignoring the fact that there are a lot of women, a lot of moms in particular who feel a lot of guilt and have these like hesitations to ask for the time, the resources and the support they need to actually do anything on the list. And so it's like, to get to that point, we got to first deal with underneath stuff that gets in our way. And then last is I think a lot of self -care is really focused on the physical body. Physical body is a great point of intervention for self -care. We can get a lot of bang for our buck when we like exercise or complete the stress cycle and do these things. But we're more than just bodies. There's all these other parts of us. And so we can change the way we think, we can change the way we relate, we can change the way we assert our needs, all of these other areas. So I think real self -care is almost more holistic. I think that self -care is about how we manage our relationship with ourself, which is not how I typically see it talked about in social media lands out there. 


00:04:20    Alyssa

Yeah, I dig that. Okay, let's peel some of these layers apart. So I think of it as like taking care of ourself and that that's a really broad thing. And what that looks like for me is different than what that looks like for you is different than what that looks like for the next person. And that's one of my like triggers around the like blanket self -care statements from like, you know what, actually I like had this moment where Sage was about 15 months old and we were invited to a wedding and he wasn't invited, which was fine, but it was gonna be the first time that we were away where someone other than Nana, who's like very involved in our life, was gonna be putting him down because Nana was coming to this wedding with us. And we're like planning out all the logistics, right? Everything that was gonna go into it not being us for Nana. And then we get to this wedding, it was like fine, whatever. We got home and I was like, the amount that went into like getting out the door to the wedding did not like replenish. Like I'm still coming back. That was more depleting than recharging, right? But there were like these messages that I felt like I was receiving and I guess open to receiving around like having these dates and doing whatever. And I think for some people, yeah, doing that is really recharging. Having solo time to like go and not think about parenting and like dance with your partner, whatever. And that's actually not what I've learned is like recharging for me, right? Like for me, if I'm going to carve out time to be alone or not parenting and be with Zach, my husband, I don't actually wanna just be talking to a bunch of other people that I don't know or really care about that much at a wedding. I wanna just hang out with Zach. 


00:06:21    Dr. Cutlip

Yeah, I totally appreciate what you're saying. And I think, I mean, I have like so many thoughts in reaction to what you're saying. So one thing about the way that I talk about self -care is it's not prescriptive, which is what you're saying, which is like, it didn't work. Certain things don't work for me. Going to a wedding and setting up all the childcare, that drained me. And then being around all these people I don't care about drains me. And so, and I think that, you know, I was reading my review, of course, like I'm reading the reviews or readers of my book. And, you know, one person said, you know, I was really sort of hoping for her to say, do this, this and this, and you'll feel better. And she goes, but I know in my heart and mind, that's not the way to feel, actually feel better. And so she was like, I was pleasantly surprised, all these things. But that's the thing is it's not prescriptive because what works for me won't work for you necessarily. And I think that a lot of these self -care lists are really prescriptive. And so part of how we care for ourselves, and this is chapter four of my book, is that we have to know ourselves really deeply. I know this sounds like common sense, but I don't know if you've ever had the experience where, you know, someone's like, hey, how are you? And you're like, hey, I'm good. They're like, no, how are you? You're like, huh. 


00:07:36    Alyssa

Kind of a mess. 


00:07:37    Dr. Cutlip

I don't know. Like, I don't know. Like, how often do we just have this momentum that carries us through life that we totally lose touch with ourselves? It's easy for us to acknowledge like, oh, I feel kind of distant from my kid. You know, our kids started school today. You know, I'll feel a little distant. You know, it's easier for us to acknowledge my partner and I barely speak. You know, it's hard to find time to talk, but we also lose touch with ourselves. And so part of caring for yourself well, knowing what works for you is knowing yourself really deeply. And so I think that's one aspect of self -care that isn't necessarily really emphasized, but it's an important one. It's just like, when you know yourself well, you know what will meet some of the needs that you have. So that insight helps. 


00:08:22    Alyssa

I think that's huge. And when we're looking at like self -care as a whole, a part of it for me is that like nervous system regulation piece. And again, like that can't be prescriptive because for instance, my husband and I, he is a giant introvert and his dream is that no one's talking to him or touching him and he can be by himself and just do a number of things, but largely it includes he's by himself and no one's talking to him or touching him. It is definitely gonna factor into what will be most restorative for him. 


00:08:58    Dr. Cutlip

And - Like an isolation chamber is your husbands dream.


00:09:02    Alyssa

Correct. And I was just saying to my best friend the other day, I was like, one thing I've learned about myself is that I feel really recharged after like a kind of untimed hang. So if I am trying to fit in, like, yeah, I'll grab coffee with you from this time to this time because I have a meeting or whatever, it doesn't really fill me up because it feels like, okay, I'm running from this, I'm gonna grab coffee with you and then I have to go get Sage from school or whatever. Like that doesn't fill me up as much as like, oh, I can just, the kids are playing in the backyard and we get to hang and chat and there isn't really an end in sight. Like it just kind of naturally comes to an end where I feel like we really get to just hang and it doesn't, there's not a lot of pressure on it. That really fills me up. And as I like learned that about myself, I started to realize like, oh yeah, all these other ways I was trying to like build in connection time with friends, it was so timed that it wasn't working for me. Yes. But for Zach, my husband, the idea of like, oh, there's an unending hang where people are just gonna be like around all the time. How long will they talk? Are they gonna, am I gonna have to talk? What kind of questions am I gonna be asked? Right, like that for him isn't super restorative. And I think, but it's really understanding like our own nervous systems, right? And I think that like what you're hitting on here of the like understanding yourself really is so frigging key because we can't do the rest of it. You can't address the burnout. You can't address regulation even until you know what makes you tick. 


00:10:51    Dr. Cutlip

Totally. And I, you know, the way that my book is structured, it's built around a model of relationships. So the idea, the takeaway is you do these check -ins with yourself and you sort of scan through, I call it five steps, but this model of relationships. And the first step is the know deeply, but they all end up sort of like working together and integrating. So as you move through the book, you know, you'll build upon that concept and be able to integrate more pieces. But I think something too, that's worth pointing out for moms is, you know, we might know ourselves really well going into motherhood, but then after we become moms, there's this whole new dimension. People say, some people say like, you sort of have to mourn who you were. And I don't, I have like mixed feelings about some of that stuff, but I sort of think we unlock new dimensions of ourselves. And part of the way that we do this is because we learn to become parents, but specifically mothers from the moment we're born, how we're cared for, what we see modeled, what we learn from society and the structures we exist in, all of these things. And we sort of absorb all of these messages and they live inside of us, unbeknownst to us. They're just kind of existing. We become a mom, it opens this up, and all of a sudden these sort of templates that have become internalized are put out there. And they usually come out in the form of expectations we hold ourselves to. And so what often happens is that we're not even really aware this is going on, except when we feel like crap, like we're not meeting our expectations and we feel guilty or like we're falling short. And so, I think this is another thing that we really have to just take a moment to reflect on specifically as mothers is, what is the mom I thought I would be? And what are those expectations? And I need to get to know that part of me that really was just born when I became a mother. And we can be 10 years into motherhood and have never examined this stuff, but I promise you it's impacting you regularly in the ideals and the expectations you're holding yourself to. 


00:12:59    Alyssa

Sure, and that like, who's the mom that I thought I was gonna be is gonna come out in so many different ways. When it comes to making my kids food for school or how often I'm around them or what it looks like when I'm around them or whatever, there's so many different layers to it. And I think that's so powerful, Morgan, because it gives us the freedom to say, is this something that I really believe, like me now, and that I wanna hold on to or not, right? 


00:13:30    Dr. Cutlip



00:13:31    Alyssa

I'm never ever gonna be the mom that makes cute lunches. I'm not. And I'm really truly okay with that. I don't give a shit if it's like cut into a shape or frankly, like I'm just like, how do I most efficiently pack this lunch, right? Like it's not something, but for some people, like it brings them joy, right? Like the packing of it, the making of the whatever brings them joy. It's so not me. And I'm also like, I'm not gonna be a mom who like does crafts with their kids and sends them to grandma and grandpa in the mail. It's not gonna happen. No. And like my sister-in-law slays that. She loves doing crafts. She like gets them in the mail. We get a little like package and their youngest is three weeks younger than Sage. So really close in age. And so at first I'd be like, oh my God, like it would come and I was like, great. Just another example of like the shit I'm not doing. And then after like experiencing it enough, I was like, I don't wanna do that. Like that is so awesome for them and that it brings her joy and that that fills her up. That doesn't fill me up and it doesn't feel important for me to do. 


00:14:54    Dr. Cutlip

Yes. You're touching on really important things. So I'll like highlight what you're saying. So I, in the book, give examples of kind of these expectations we might hold ourselves to or like when we thought about what kind of mom we'd be. Cause you were like, it kind of goes into different domains. I'm like, yeah. Like thinking about what we look like as moms. Like what's your body gonna look like? How are you gonna dress? How are you gonna show up? Our energy level, what kind of activities we participate in? Are we creating a Montessori stimulating playroom or are we just like Fisher pricing it to the gills? Like what do we imagine things would look like? And so I try to help moms actually, I don't just leave them with like the theory or the ideas, but like, let's break this down and let me give you some framework to do that in. Cause I think that just takes some of the mental energy off of moms. Like, let me guide you there. Let's explore this together. And then you said something else. Oh no. 


00:15:55    Alyssa

Around the comparison? 


00:15:57    Dr. Cutlip

The comparison, but oh yes. It's the thing that you said about when you can identify it then you get to choose what to do with it. And I am a huge believer. Like when we define these invisible things that are like sucking up our energy, draining us, making me, making us feel bad about ourselves. When we define them, we can put them on the table and we can decide, okay, what do I wanna do with this? Do I wanna like, that doesn't fill me up. I'm gonna ditch it. You know, but can I, can you revise it? Can you just embrace it and accept it? You know, we become empowered to do something about it. And so I just hear you like that coming out in your story, like all of these different elements that I think it's really important for moms to understand. 


00:16:39    Alyssa

Yeah, and I think it's a huge part of the like burnout, overwhelm, exhaustion is when we don't do the examination part, we don't do the awareness part, then we're trying to do all these things. And a lot of them we actually don't care about or aren't important to us, right? Like I honestly, like I'm not gonna be a super put together childcare drop -off mom or just like human period. And like, it wasn't me pre -kids, it's not gonna be me now. My husband was like, I feel like it's like you got like Amy Schumer vibes, right? Like how do you keep it real? 


00:17:13    Dr. Cutlip

Thanks babe.


00:17:14    Alyssa

I'm gonna do drop -off in sweatpants. Like that's what's gonna happen. And I, but like there was, yeah, it's like the ability to be able to say, oh yeah, and that is what is gonna feel best for me. 


00:17:29    Dr. Cutlip



00:17:30    Alyssa

But the awareness part of the examination is, it's the gateway to us being able to decide that. I love this. And I think it's a huge part of curbing that burnout because I find myself chasing things where I think I'm supposed to, as a mom, as a partner, as a daughter, as a sister, as like in all these buckets, right? Where I'm like, this is what I'm, this is what it's supposed to look like. And I see somebody else like slaying it with their Instagram snapshot. And I'm like, oh shoot, I should be doing that. 


00:18:01    Dr. Cutlip

Oh yeah. 


00:18:02    Alyssa

And yeah, it's exhausting. 


00:18:04    Dr. Cutlip

Yeah, it's exhausting. And so you're bringing in another element of where this sort of stuff comes from. So we have the internalized, but then we have the whole external world, which is so powerful on our experience in parenting and motherhood today. And, you know, just on different levels. I mean, there's the social media one where it's like the comparison. Yeah. Yes, of course. You know, there's always somebody more beautiful, smarter, seemingly better behaved children, more put together house, richer. You know, there's a, there is a never ending amount of content to look at to make yourself feel like crap. That's just the world we're living in. And so there's that piece, but then there's this whole piece and you and I live in this world. So we're part of this beast of the experts on social media that, you know, well -intentioned, it's such a gift, but also sometimes too much of a good thing is like kind of not so good. And I think it's so important too, as we consider all of the things we're taking in that affect how we think about ourselves as moms and as parents that, you know, the advice offered out there is not taking in your specific context of life. It is a blanket statement. We're trying to speak to the masses. And so I think that, you know, that's a whole nother layer that can really feed into how we experience motherhood and parenthood and why it can feel so hard is that we are consuming so much great advice, but advice that can lead us to feel super, like almost like hypervigilant in our parenting experience, like the smallest little thing is gonna mess up our kids 


00:19:42    Alyssa

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00:19:43    Alyssa

Oh my gosh, yeah. 


00:19:44    Dr. Cutlip

There's just these pressures are, you know, are coming from so many different angles. 


00:19:50    Alyssa

Yeah, I think that's so key there. That like expert space. We had done an Instagram story a while ago now where I had gotten, I shared a story about just like having a hard time and I got a bunch of DMs and somebody was like, oh, so refreshing to hear, like this also happens for you. And I was like, oh yeah. And so we did an Instagram story poll where I was just like, how many of you feel like you, there are humans who are doing this perfectly and they set this boundary with their kid and their kid's like, okay, mom, I'm disappointed about it, but I'll follow it, right? Like how many of you feel, and there was basically, it was almost 100%, it was like 98 % of people felt like there are some people who are doing it perfectly and that if they just did all the right things, they would get there. And I was like, yeah. And I was like, damn, that sucks. Because I think that one leg up that I have from like being in this space and be like whatever "expert" is that I also know like, oh yeah. And in my day to day, here's what life looks like, right? Like also it's hard. And also my child is sobbing and flailing at the fair with his body on the ground, screaming, go away, as he crawls over to another family and lays as close as possible to them while they try to eat dinner at the fair. My husband and I are sitting on the grass while people stare at us and then I'm carrying a screaming flailing toddler out. 


00:21:27    Dr. Cutlip

Like that real life stuff. 


00:21:29    Alyssa

Yeah, exactly. But I actually, I have tried to like really share more in stories that are just like, hey, I didn't share any pictures from the fair that were of him having a good time. I didn't share a picture of him having a hard time. I just like shared a picture of our fair trip and was like, also just like, this was really great. He did all these things. And this was how it ended. Like this was the total shit storm of the end of the fair and trip home and whatever. In case all you see is the highlight reel. 


00:22:03    Dr. Cutlip

For sure, and I think we're sort of fed this myth that if we turn the right dials and parent perfectly that our kids will fall, like step in line. And I know that we're not, you know, we'll say, face value will be like, well, we understand that's not a realistic expectation, but kind of in our hearts, we feel like we're screwing up when we're doing, like I'm doing all the right things and it's not translating into this perfectly, but it's a child. And I think we so connect our worth as mothers and parents to our children's behavior. And that becomes such a source of like this insane rollercoaster ride of ups and downs and feeling really crappy when things don't work out perfectly. And the reality is, is like, you can do all the right things and it just might, you know, I think it's a couple of things. Sometimes you plant those seeds and then you see the blossoms like three years later, which I've seen with our kids now that they're older. I'm like, oh my God. 


00:23:00    Alyssa

Oh, shoot, it was paying off! 


00:23:01    Dr. Cutlip

It was doing something, you know? And then other times it's like, it's just, you know, they're dysregulated or they're hungry or there's this and that, and it's just not working in them. I mean, our daughter Effie, so she, when I was raising her, at least it came later, but I wasn't on social media. I wasn't consuming. I was reading blogs about sleep, but I ended up turning to books. And, you know, she started tantruming gnarly, gnarly tantrums from a very young age. And I was like, this is not what I signed up for. I was only expecting us to like, you know, me to put my therapy skills to work, you know? We'll sit in timeouts. Timeouts, like you don't do timeouts now, but you know, I imagined it. Like I'll sit and I'll come talk to her and I'll be like, you know, what did you do wrong? What can we do better? And we like skip off into the sunset. That was not my experience. So then everything I read was name it to tame it. Anytime I did that with her, it pissed her off more. 


00:23:54    Alyssa

Yeah, sure. 


00:23:55    Dr. Cutlip

And so it didn't work. And I regularly felt like something was either wrong with me or wrong with her or wrong with the both of us. And so I just think these things are important to keep in mind when we're on social media and we're consuming all this content and remembering like, you can't parent perfectly. And even if you do, it's not gonna necessarily equal a perfect outcome in that moment. 


00:24:15    Alyssa

Right. Well, and what's the goal, right? Like people will say like, oh, I'm doing this and it's not working. And I'm like, what's not working, right? Like, what does working look like? And I mean, when we're sitting there on the grass and Sage is losing it, my best friend and her wife are there with their kids and I just turned to her and I was like, the book's tiny humans, big emotions. It comes out October 10th, if you want any hot guidance here. 


00:24:42    Dr. Cutlip

Hot tips, coming at ya. 


00:24:43    Alyssa

That's right. Here's what it looks like. But it's just like, that's the reality, right? It's like, I'm not like, oh, if I do all these things quote right or perfectly, my child isn't gonna have a hard time. The fair meltdown won't happen, yada, yada. That if that is your goal, then yeah, this feels exhausting. 


00:25:03    Dr. Cutlip

Yeah, chronically disappointed. 


00:25:04    Alyssa

Yeah, and it's exhausting. So you're like, shoot, what else should I be doing? What else? 


00:25:08    Dr. Cutlip

You're constantly on that quest, that quest for like, what's gonna crack the code? And I just think that, I think a lot of parents are dealing with that pressure. And I'm also, as we're talking about this, I'm thinking of, it was our kid's first day of school. I've seen a lot of content about back to school and I've seen, and people I adore and love and it's great information, but like the whole trend of drawing the hearts on your kid's arms. Have you seen that? I don't know. And then there was like something else I saw about doing these affirmations with your kids every day before school. And I'm like, I'm trying to make it on time. 


00:25:40    Alyssa

Right, just trying to get out the door. 


00:25:42    Dr. Cutlip

Right, and so sometimes even I can consume the stuff and be like, I don't have enough time in the day to incorporate sometimes all of the - 


00:25:50    Alyssa

And have I failed my kid because I didn't draw a heart? 


00:25:54    Dr. Cutlip

Now what am I, oh man, now they're gonna be like missing out on something that I should have done for them or should have given them and it extends into other areas. 


00:26:03    Alyssa

That's why they had a hard drop off, right? Like, cause I didn't draw the heart. And then you draw the heart and you carve out the time to do the thing or the affirmations and they still have a hard drop off and you're like, oh damn, this is a part of the process, right? 


00:26:15    Dr. Cutlip

Exactly, we gotta keep learning that lesson. 


00:26:18    Alyssa

Yeah, yeah, but I think that like, what is the goal is a huge part of the burnout because I see us like chasing this, if I do X, Y, and Z, if I only eat these foods or only feed them these foods or I work out this much or I connect to my partner in this way or all of these shoulds and to dos that I think are in this quest of feeling like we're doing enough, feeling good enough, feeling, you know what I mean? And it - 


00:26:47    Dr. Cutlip

Oh, for sure. 


00:26:48    Alyssa

I think it's a huge part of our burnout. 


00:26:50    Dr. Cutlip

Well, in the first chapter of the book, it's called 'We Mom So Hard', I lay out three conflicts that moms face that I think really starts to like explain how do we burn out? Why do we burn out? And also like, why does motherhood feel so hard sometimes? And the third one is the intensity of our parenting standards. And this isn't based on my research, this is research done in the 80s and 90s, but there's this whole body research on intensive parenting, specifically intensive mothering. And I think this is what, this is really what we're getting out. There's these five components, essentialism, which is this belief that moms are the best ones for the job, which has a huge and powerful impact on how we show up as moms. Because if we're the best ones for the job, which maybe we are, sometimes we are, but not always, then what does that mean when we ask for help? What does that mean if we send our kids to daycare? What does that mean even involving our partners? It means we're subjecting them to second or third rate care. And so how can we possibly live with ourselves? So that's a big one, gets in the way of moms asking for help. A lot of times, child -centric, everything revolves around our kids. We've become, our millennial generation is very child -centric. We sort of, I feel like a part of our identity is like really tied up. 


00:28:02    Alyssa

I think it's a pendulum swing, right? Like we didn't have any of it. And so we're like, well, then everything will be child -centric. 


00:28:10    Dr. Cutlip

Yes, and we've gone too far. 


00:28:11    Alyssa



00:28:12    Dr. Cutlip

The third is, see if I can remember, stimulating. We got to provide this like regularly stimulating, that's like that Montessori thing I always say, like environment for our kids, which I said this recently. I was like, when I think back about our daughter, our daughter's 10, her favorite toy, since as long as I can remember, is an ace bandage. She plays with an ace bandage. It's like called ropey and she still plays with it. And I'm like, why are we worried about creating these crazy environments and like just throw her more rope and a few blocks and it's like, they'll come up with something. So I think we spend a lot of energy and time making sure we're helping them develop on pace or ahead of pace and creating these really exciting environments all the time. And it's exhausting. 


00:29:00    Alyssa



00:29:01    Dr. Cutlip

The other is that it should be fulfilling, that we should be fulfilled completely by a parent. I think moms a lot of times can go into motherhood thinking it will sort of complete them and that can set you up for some rude awakenings. And also then you're putting like all of your kind of energy in one place and that can lead to burnout. And then the last one is that it's really, really hard. So when you expect it to be hard, it feels hard. 


00:29:30    Alyssa

Totally. Well, but I think like fulfilling in the it's really, really hard are, they are related. Because the, I think sometimes it's like imagining the wedding, but not the marriage, right? Where it's - 


00:29:43    Dr. Cutlip

Yes, totally. 


00:29:44    Alyssa

You're like, oh yeah, the baby shower, right? Like I'm planning out the nursery, I'm planning whatever. And I don't think you're often like, okay all of my holes are going to be leaking or what am I going to need when I'm trying to get dinner ready and I'm solo for another hour and two kids are here and crying. Like what, you know, like those aren't the moments I think we sit and fantasize about. 


00:30:10    Dr. Cutlip

No, and we don't even think about. 


00:30:13    Alyssa

That's what I'm saying. 


00:30:13    Dr. Cutlip

We don't like, we don't prepare. I feel like I'm a big proponent of having a plan. I feel like our relationships need a plan for after kids, big time. And we need it as moms, we need a plan. Like, what are we going to do to make sure we don't completely become invisible washed away? 


00:30:30    Alyssa

Yeah, and to know that like, you're not failing if like that hour from four to five or five seconds, whatever is tough, right? That like some parts of it will be hard. If we're like, this is all going to be hard. I think the same thing happens with like partnerships and relationships where like they take work and then you can end up like being in a relationship where it's like all work. And yeah, there's a balance there. Shouldn't all be work, right? Like not every step of the way is work. And they take maintenance and thoughtfulness and intention. And there are going to be moments that are hard. And if it's all hard, that takes, we need some examining there. 


00:31:14    Dr. Cutlip

Yeah, I feel like it's that, you know, that duality piece. Like, yeah, it's hard and it's also beautiful. And it's wonderful. So in - 


00:31:22    Alyssa

That's why I think the fulfilling and hard are like the same in some ways, where it's like either it's all fulfilling or it's all hard, like neither. 


00:31:31    Dr. Cutlip

It's a blend of the two. Yeah, let's not be so extreme. Yeah, absolutely. And you know, this piece around maintenance is really, that's kind of the underlying like thesis of my book is that, you know, our relationships are regularly being pulled apart by just the circumstances of life. It's like, you know, good things, beautiful things, tragic things, regular things are regularly interrupting our relationships. And unfortunately they don't auto -correct. And we know this intuitively when we, you know, care for our kids and we feel distant from our kids. It's like, oh, I got to do something to repair that connection. Or even with our partner, we'll feel it. We don't always do something about it, but we feel it. But also it happens with ourselves. And so if they're going to get messed up, if they're not going to auto -correct, we have to be the managers of our relationships and regularly touch base and make these little adjustments. 


00:32:28    Alyssa

Yeah, I dig that so much. And I think it's so huge that like check in with yourself is so important. And I think we often push it to the back burner. Yeah. And then, yeah, then looking at the like, and now how do I advocate for my needs? What does that even look like? And I think that your book is such a great tool in so much of it, the like mental work, but then the actual like practical strategies part of it. And that balance is so important. 


00:32:57    Dr. Cutlip

It really is. Yeah, I think needs, it's a really big thing for moms. I've done content around it and like some different iteration multiple times of like moms getting a moment alone and not knowing what to do with it. And I think that's what often happens is that, you know, in early motherhood, it's the necessity sort of for us to kind of decel because we got to keep these humans alive and get up in the middle of the night and do really hard things. But we sort of get stuck there to where we put our needs on the back burner for so long that we're a few years in, five years in, 10 years in, we're like, oh, wow, I don't even know what it is that I need anymore. And so really like helping, I try to help moms come back to a place where you can examine what you need, start to define that and then learn, how do I assert this in my relationships? Because a lot of times we require other people to help us meet our needs, not always, sometimes. So, yeah. 


00:33:54    Alyssa

Yeah, I think that's so key. And you're right, like for folks who start parenthood with an infant from infancy, especially if you like carry that human, if you're feeding them, whatever, it's so physical in the beginning. And one of my friends, she at one point was, we were talking about like they were maybe 15, 18 months, her kid was, and she was talking about getting up and all the time she had been up and I was like, oh, is there any way you can like tag team with your husband? And they weren't nursing anymore, this baby took a bottle and stuff. And so I was like, is there any way you can tag team? And she was like, oh yeah, he just like doesn't do well without sleep. And I was like, oh yeah, no one does. 


00:34:40    Dr. Cutlip

No one does. 


00:34:41    Alyssa

No one's like, guess how I thrive on low sleep. And I was like, for sure, he's allowed to not do well, you also don't do well on low sleep. 


00:34:51    Dr. Cutlip

Yeah, you're not doing well. 


00:34:52    Alyssa

Yeah, you're not doing well. But it was this like, it's little bits at a time, right? Where it was like only her for a while because of the nursing part and maybe didn't take a bottle for a while. And so like, it was really on her. And then it just kind of evolved into like, this is our new norm. And I'm just doing these things because she was like, frankly, it's easier for me if he's rested than if he isn't. And I was like, okay, let's dance now. And we got to like have a deeper conversation about that. But I think so many of these things become just like habits. 


00:35:29    Dr. Cutlip

Absolutely. I talk about this actually with a mental load. I call it the piling on of precedence where it's like you start this like pattern. A lot of times the pattern starts just out of, I mean, hers even out of just love and care. You know, oh, he gets better when he's rested or we have these really good reasons. And so we start doing the things and then the things become our things to do. And a lot of times, you know, with her partnership, he probably didn't even consider getting up in the middle of the night anymore. It was like, she takes care of that. Why would I worry about it? And that happens with whether it's something like that or just even taking care of responsibilities around the home before you know it, it's just like, it's off their plate, out of their mind and it's on yours. And so part of the work is getting good at like undoing some of these things. And that's where I think a lot of moms can struggle because we might have these belief systems or these stories we tell ourselves or these shoulds that we hold that really get in the way of us feeling like we have a right to ask for some of this stuff. Or to have this need, let alone have this need get met. And so part of the work is kind of pulling that apart, examining it, probably what you did in your conversation with your friend and revising it because it's not serving you or your relationships. 


00:36:49    Alyssa

Right, yeah. And it just becomes like, this just is, right? Like that just, and for her, it just was, like there wasn't him being involved until we dove into it in that way. Yeah, oh, Morgan, I'm so excited that people get to snag your book. I'm so jazzed that it's out and people can literally go grab it right now, snag it at your local bookstore, get it shipped to you from Amazon. That's my favorite. And you read the audio book. 


00:37:20    Dr. Cutlip

Yeah, I did. 


00:37:21    Alyssa



00:37:21    Dr. Cutlip

Yeah, it was so fun. It was so much fun. Yeah, thank you for having me. Yeah, the book, you can get it like through my website. It's linked everywhere. It's or anywhere you buy books, like, Barnes and Noble, anywhere like that, Amazon. 


00:37:37    Alyssa

Love Your Kids Without Losing Yourself. Thank you so much for doing this work, for giving us a toolkit for burnout and true self-care. 


00:37:47    Dr. Cutlip

Thank you so much for having me.


00:37:48    Alyssa

Thanks for tuning in to Voices of Your Village. Check out the transcript at Did you know that we have a special community over on Instagram hanging out every day with more free content? Come join us at Take a screenshot of you tuning in, share it on the gram and tag to let me know your key takeaway. If you're digging this podcast, make sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode. We love collaborating with you to raise emotionally intelligent humans.


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