I'm always looking for ways to make our family life simpler. Our lives have felt chaotic the past few years, as life often does when you're in the hot seat of motherhood. We've dealt with all the things that the thirties seem to throw at us to remind us we're adults…moving, job losses, family illness all while having two babies, and most recently the loss of both our mothers within six months of each other. We knew we needed to slow down, regroup, and simplify which is part of our why for our recent departure to live life at the lake.
I know I'm not the only mother who longs to simplify. That's why I'm pleased to introduce you to Lynne Newman, an occupational therapist for mothers and children. She holds space for overwhelmed families. I've been drawn to Lynne's authenticity and gentleness since first meeting her through a Facebook group. Her ability to step into and share her feelings, helps me accept all the feelings, dark ones included, that motherhood and life bring out. When you read Lynne's interview and follow her on Instagram, I know you'll connect with what I mean. Our April theme is Simplify, and later in the month, Lynne will be sharing ways to help us get started.
Coffee, Tea, Water, or Green Smoothie? How do you start your day?
Water. For some time, it was green smoothies or Kukicha tea but that comes and goes. I bought my first juicer when I was 17– so my intentions have always been good! If my husband, Mark, prepares a green juice or smoothie, I’ll happily drink it! Room temperature water with some lemon is what I tend to drink.
Tell us what makes you weird and awesome.
I drink my hot chocolate rather fast and I’ve actually never had a cup of coffee (I don’t like the smell—did I mention I’m highly sensitive?) Nacho dip is my go-to party dish. And my favorite movie is City of Angels with Meg Ryan. What my clients would say is that they feel really calm, supported and heard and know that I deeply care about them and their families.
Tell us about yourself.
A few years ago I wanted to escape my life– not because I didn’t love my family or my work as an occupational therapist, but because I just felt like it was all too much. I was juggling full-time work with a one and three-year-old in childcare and a husband with advanced cancer and I also suffered from postpartum depression. I finally gave myself permission to move on from my work, claim the time to heal and create a life that felt more aligned to what was important to me.
Today, even though we’re still dealing with challenges, life is much sweeter. Although it was hard to go through those darker times, I’m super grateful for what I learned. I believe it’s made me a much more compassionate wife, mom, friend, and therapist.
What is something mothers can start doing to simplify their life?
Often the easiest task to start with when simplifying is decluttering. There’s something so therapeutic and gratifying about it (at least for me). You can start with one small corner, a kitchen drawer, your clothes, the kids’ toys— really it’s endless. Start small and do what you can. The benefits, like less to clean, pick up, put away, more play, less sibling rivalry, are well worth the effort.
Other realms of simplifying like looking at your family’s schedule, rituals, and rhythms or filtering out the outside world (screens, watching what you say in front of child), can take a bit more effort. None of it is prescriptive but rather starts with what you’re dissatisfied with and creating small do-able change in order to move closer to what you imagine for you and your family.
Is there a quote you live by?
There are so many quotes that I love, but this one from my website speaks to me:
I love it because it speaks so deeply that nothing is perfect—and actually when things crack and feel dark, this is when the light comes in and one finds their strength.
What’s currently on your nightstand?
Right now, I’m in Bali with my family for four months and traveling light, so I brought the book Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron and loved reading it. I’m also listening to Better than Before and Learning to Walk in the Dark. The first one is about mastering habits and I sought it out specifically to cultivate my morning routine and business practices like blog writing. Learning to Walk in the Dark is a book I heard about and instantly gravitated to as I love hearing other people’s stories, especially truthful one’s and thought this would be a beautiful compliment as I create my intimate group mentorship Gray Mothering-because it’s not black and white. I’m really excited to offer this as it’s so elemental for women to feel heard, understood and seen as we walk the dark, the light and everything in between on this journey of life and motherhood.
What is the one thing you do to simplify your life in the midst of chaos?
Having gone through lots of my own personal struggles with health and being a burnt out caregiver, I have learned deep within my bones, the importance of self-nurturing. I say no and prioritize my needs, not out of selfishness but because I want to be fully present for my family and in order to do that, I need to slow down and reduce stress, especially for this introvert and sensitive mama. So if something doesn’t resonate or isn’t an astounding yes, I don’t do it. Saying no has been one of many conscious choices that have helped to simplify my life in the midst of chaos.
What is the most common reason mothers come to you?
Mothers come to me most commonly when they’re at their wits end and not being the mom they thought they’d be. Often their children are highly sensitive and strong-willed (which takes a heck of a lot of patience and skill) and sometimes, as a family, they are also going through stressful challenges like cancer, which amplifies everyone’s sensitivities. They know they set the tone for the family and somehow in order for things to get better, they need to do the inner work. And so we create a safe container to be heard and understood as well as inspire subtle and practical shifts, so they go from wanting to yell on the inside to feeling more confident and grounded, transforming who they are and how their children respond.