Dr. Morgan Cutlip’s years of touring with her father, Dr. John Van Epp, and experience earning her own doctorate degree in psychology played a huge role in helping to publish her first book, Love Your Kids Without Losing Yourself.
Released by the publishing house HarperCollins in September, Cutlip spent seven years creating a tool to help new mothers who found themselves in the same position she used to be in: overwhelmed by a deluge of new responsibilities.
“My book offers a plan for moms to feel good in motherhood while still being a really good mom, so not sacrificing (their relationship or their kids’ relationship) with themselves,” said Cutlip.
A 10-year resident of San Clemente, Cutlip and her husband, Chad, were living in Florida when they had their first child, a daughter named Effie. Effie was born shortly before the family moved across the country.
“I was totally caught off guard by my loss of freedom, by how overwhelmed I was, and what I didn’t know in terms of being a mom,” said Cutlip. “I thought all my degrees would prepare me for this, and I felt so overwhelmed and burnt out (I was) starting to feel some resentment in my relationship.”
From then on, Cutlip felt called to help other mothers, and she got down to work on her book shortly after the birth of her son Roy a few years later.
Her formative experiences in the world of psychology and personal improvement came years before, when her father left his practice to create educational courses for single people and couples.
In junior high school, Cutlip traveled with him to conferences and other events, developing a knowledge of translating psychological theories and research into practical applications. The emphasis on research carried into the process of writing her book.
“I spent a lot of years reading research on millennial mothering and parenting, (and) how it looks different from previous generations,” she said. “Some of the research is about what it’s like to parent in a time of so much information, with social media and the internet, and all of the voices and opinions that are part of our process as parents now.”
Despite the amount of research involved and the references to studies listed in the book, Cutlip asserted that her book was “very readable.” Its basis around the model of attachment, a topic concerning an infant’s connection to their caregiver that Cutlip wrote her dissertation on, helped her write the book quickly once she knew what she wanted to write.
The only problems, however, involved getting the spark to officially start writing and finding time in her schedule to do so.
After years of chipping away at her outline and “sitting on her idea,” as Cutlip described it, she and her husband had an authentic conversation that taught her the situation was “now or never.”
“I keep waiting for this break in life,” she recalled. “It’s just not happening (and) I’m getting busier, so I’m going to do it even though I don’t feel ready.”
Cutlip secured a literary agent within the next two weeks, and after the pair refined the proposal for her book, they sent it out to publishers and received multiple offers.
“I was really thrilled to go with a big publishing house, because that (gives) credibility to your book and (opens the door) to opportunities and relationships,” she said. “Honestly, it felt really surreal.”
As a mother of two with a husband who travels for work, Cutlip then needed to figure out how she could have enough time in one sitting to do some significant writing. The couple decided that the best option would be for Chad to take the children, now 7 and 10 years old, on weekend road trips that allowed her to complete a few chapters at a time.
“Obviously, the thought process was months and months, (with) the outlining, but the actual writing of the book occurred in about five weekends,” said Cutlip. “I write quickly once I have my framework. All the research was done by that point.”
Over the last few years, Cutlip has built a significant Instagram presence as she’s continued working with her father at the company My Love Thinks, which produces blogs, podcasts and other courses aimed at teaching people about relationships.
She’s also been featured in publications such as the New York Times and Women’s Health Magazine, and appeared on Good Morning America to promote her book.
Cutlip called her rising national recognition “scary and exciting,” as it can sometimes portray an unrealistic outward appearance.
“I’m working hard to try to get this book in front of as many people as possible because I know it’s going to help moms, but it … also feels, I think, behind the scenes, like I’m just hustling over here,” she said, adding that her situation is “more glamorous than reality.”
She’s received an avalanche of support on social media since publishing her book, which has been a humbling experience for her.
Cutlip said she gets messages daily about how her work has impacted people’s lives, and that comments about her book often center around her relatability and practical advice. Mothers feel seen, she added, and that they’re not being judged.
“It’s not a list of self care strategies,” said Cutlip. “It’s not like, ‘Go take a walk and get your nails done.’ It’s actually meaningful strategies that are going to make a big difference in how they experienced motherhood.”
She also mentioned another interaction that meant a lot to her.
“Somebody said, ‘Your book is like amazing information (wrapped) in a warm hug,’ ” Cutlip continued. “That’s the best compliment I’ve ever received.”
More information about Love Your Kids Without Losing Yourself, as well as Cutlip’s blog, courses, and podcast can be found at drmorgancutlip.com.