Emily Quinton, writer, photographer and speaker, has a busy life with four neurodivergent children and our conversation centres around how she makes space for calm and joy not just for her family, but for herself too.
In this episode we discuss:
Pressing Pause Episode 85 Finding calm and joy with a neurodiverse family with Emily Quinton
Welcome to Pressing Pause. I’m Gabrielle Treanor, a mindset and positive psychology coach and writer, exploring how we can create, find and feel more calm, ease and joy in our daily lives.
Hello and welcome to episode 85. Before I share my guest with you I wanted to remind you that The Calm Mind Club is currently open to join, it’s mid-October if you’re listening later, and this is the last time the doors will be open in 2021.
The Calm Mind Club is like Netflix for the mind – it’s a subscription where you can pick and choose from a huge range of topics, interviews, Q&As, meditations, workbooks, tonnes of resources – all designed to help you to bring down your stress and overwhelm and instead feel more calm, in control, confident you can cope, and ultimately, happier.
So that you can leave work on time rather than staying late because you think you should. So that you can keep your cool when the kids are squabbling for the 47th time today. So that you can confidently and kindly say no when you feel under pressure to say yes when you really don’t want to.
There are no live sessions, there’s no keeping up or falling behind, you have all the support you need to read, watch or listen to on your phone, tablet or computer, whenever you choose, zero pressure.
When you’re having a confidence wobble, when everything on your to do list is stressing you out, when you’re feeling under pressure to get things right and not let anyone down, when you’re worried about messing up, when you’re feeling frazzled and overwhelmed – you have a place to go, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
You can find out more about The Calm Mind Club and how it will help you to overcome your overwhelm, to deal with things like people-pleasing, boundaries, comparison and handling change, to build your self-belief and self-trust, your resiliency and confidence, so that you can feel more calm, in control and happier, at thecalmmindclub.com. All the information is there, including what members think of the Club, and of course you can always message me if you have any questions.
So, check out thecalmmindclub.com before doors close soon.
Now, my guest for this episode 85 is Emily Quinton. She’s a writer, photographer, speaker and mother of four neurodivergent children, and since she’s been speaking openly about her neurodiverse family I knew she would be a wonderful guest to talk with. Emily opens up about the challenges of motherhood, having children with learning differences and how in her very busy life she finds space for calm and joy not just for her family but for herself too. Emily speaks so honestly and she’s really inspiring with how we can challenge the societal messaging that we need to put others needs ahead of our own, I think you’ll find this a really interesting and valuable conversation. So, enough introduction, here we go…
[00:00:00] Gabrielle: So, hi, Emily. Thank you so much for joining me today.
[00:00:03] Emily: Hi, lovely to be here.
[00:00:06] Gabrielle: I wondered if you could just tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
[00:00:12] Emily: Yeah. So, I’m a mother of four, which I think needs to come at the top of my list right now. It isn’t always. But right now I’m very much in that zone. So I’m a mother of four children. I’ve got two girls and two boys. And three of them have got, an autism diagnosis. And the fourth probably should, or will at some point as well.
So they are four neurodivergent children and take up a huge amount of my time. But the rest of my time, I’m a writer and a photographer, and, kind of all around creative, I guess. I have recently moved to Somerset having lived in London for the last 10 or 12 years, I think, so yeah, that’s me.
[00:01:02] Gabrielle: Wow. So that’s a big shift of move from the city to kind of the countryside ish.
[00:01:10] Emily: Yeah. Small town. So get into the countryside a lot, and yeah hugely different from living in London. Yeah. I’ve lived in a city for most of my life. Not always London, but a city. So this is a big change for me. I love it. But also sometimes miss the city. So it’s it’s taken some, getting used to. The children absolutely love it. They love being somewhere quieter, calmer. Love being out in the countryside. So it’s definitely been really good move for them so far.
[00:01:48] Gabrielle: So it sounds like the calm and joy quota has gone up with the move. And so you mentioned that the fact that you have a neurodiverse family your children are neurodivergent. So how does that, I suppose, since the diagnoses, how has that changed how you go about creating calm and joy, helping you and your children to feel calm and joy?
[00:02:15] Emily: I think it’s made me way more intentional with making sure I start my day with some calm and joy every day. I get up early to make sure that that happens because once they get up, sometimes I kind of don’t stop. Life is being a mum until literally I’m asleep. They have lots of trouble with sleep and sleeping on their own and all sorts of things around that.
So if I don’t get that special time in the morning for myself, sometimes I don’t get it at all. I’ve realised and I always did seek that out, but I think after they were diagnosed, I realised why I was seeking that out and made it a real priority. And then for them, they have a lot of, anxiety around all sorts of different things.
So making sure that they have lots of calm, especially at home where we can control it a lot more, is really, really important and also joy and helping them. They all no, actually, no, that’s not fair. Not all of but probably three of them have quite a negativity, they kind of, well, I think we all, we all can fall into this, having that negativity bias.
But they will often lean towards things going wrong or they’re kind of negative. And so I put a lot of energy into making sure we celebrate, you know, what are your three good things of the day at bedtime and making sure that they are looking for the joy even on their difficult days. So, yeah, that’s probably where I’m at with that.
[00:04:03] Gabrielle: Yeah. So it sounds like having that space right to start with the day for you is crucial. It sounds like it’s not like a, well, you know, it’s nice when I can manage to get out of bed and it’s a nice to have when I can fit it in. It sounds like it’s absolutely essential for you to be able to support your kids, be their mum, do all the stuff of juggling life. You need to have that piece at the very beginning of your day.
[00:04:33] Emily: Yeah absolutely. I get up at five 30 sometimes get up at five. Because I have to have that. Otherwise I, I just, and I do that even at the weekend, because I have to have that time for me. I just don’t function very well to do everything else that I have to do if I haven’t had that time.
I’m a very patient person and naturally anyway, and I’ve built my patience over the years of being a mother. And I’m still building on that, but I will run out of patience, a lot earlier in the day if I haven’t had that time in the morning where it’s quiet, where no one else is awake. I mean, that’s why I get up so early because I have to guarantee it.
If I got up at six, I can’t always guarantee that someone won’t get up, um, kind of six 30, so I have to get up. And when I don’t. You know, cause sometimes I’m tired or, you know, whatever might happen. I missed my alarm or something. I really notice the difference. I really notice it just has such an impact on my day that the next day I will never miss it twice in a row. Never because I can see, the difference that it has on the rest of my day. I’m very good at finding the joy throughout my day and finding small moments of calm and, things that I see when I’m out and about that make me smile and taking time for all those, those things.
If I haven’t had that morning kind of input, then I often miss those along the way as well. So yeah, there’s no compromise on it. It has to happen. Yeah.
[00:06:14] Gabrielle: Because of that time, it isn’t just, well, it isn’t just you who benefits at all. It’s crucial for your family as well as for you. And so I’m curious, are you a morning person? Is it relatively easy to get up at that time? Or have you had to really train yourself to get up that early?
[00:06:32] Emily: No, I’m a morning person, like a hundred percent. I always have been, I’d much rather go to bed early and get up early so that’s been great. The trouble I have is that because my children struggle with sleep. I can’t always go to bed as early as I would like to. So I also another part of my no compromise, although, I mean, sometimes I have to compromise on this, but I always have a 10 to 20 minute nap in the afternoon and that’s how I sustain being able to get up early every day. But, but I’m definitely a morning person.
[00:07:09] Gabrielle: Well, that’s definitely going to help because I am not a morning person and the thought of getting up at five is just too much for me, but I love that you have a nap in the afternoon. That’s brilliant because there’s a real feeling around napping. Like it’s so self-indulgent, and it’s such a treat and it’s just something that, we shouldn’t do, but you just said 10 to 20 minutes.
I mean, that’s less than half an hour and it means that you can extend your patience. You can have the energy, you can still find those moments of joy that you were talking about. So again, that sounds hugely beneficial and absolutely contradicts the idea that it’s in some way, a treat and a bit of a selfish act.
[00:07:52] Emily: Yeah, absolutely. It took me a long time to get over all that, all that you’ve just said, because my husband has taken an afternoon nap for, I don’t know the last, I want to say 10 years. Maybe it has been that long now, I don’t know. And, I’d say, I have probably taken my nap for now, maybe two years now, maybe a bit longer.
So for all those years he was having one, I would get really angry about it because I would say, but that’s not fair because I can’t have one. And he would always say, but you can. Why don’t you have a nap as well? And he was actually the one that really encouraged me to start having my nap, which was really, really helpful and also stopped me being angry with him for having a nap.
It’s the way I got through the pandemic with all the children at home. And I, I know again, just like my morning routine, I can see how my afternoon nap has a massive impact on being able to cope with after school. So I now stop work or whatever I might be doing when it’s two o’clock.
I stop all of that. And then I usually have a nap on the sofa, unless the children are here and then I go and have a nap in bed. I get my blanket and sometimes I put on some meditation music. Sometimes I just don’t need that and I just go to sleep. And then I have a bit of time after the nap to just prepare for going to school and picking up my children from school.
My youngest is eight and she really struggles after to school. Because she holds everything in all day. If you observed her in the classroom, you’d probably think she was absolutely fine. And so she masks basically all day and then she comes out of school and it all tumbles out. Literally, as soon as we leave the gate, sometimes she can’t even get out the playground, but normally she can get out at the playground.
And then as soon as we’re through the gate, she will start crying. Uh, yeah, she just lets it all out. So that takes an awful lot of patience for me to get her home. Normally when she’s home, I set things up before I go and get her. So she comes home to sort of a calm situation and she’s normally okay for sort of half an hour, but then she can get in a pickle again after that. So I need all that energy at a time of day when a lot of us don’t have that energy, you know, that sort of four o’clock, five o’clock feeling a bit like, oh, I could do with just sitting down, having a cup of tea, I’ve got to keep going and I have to keep going and going and going and going until they are all in bed and usually have to sleep with one of them and they don’t go to sleep until I’m in bed. So, that’s a whole other complicated, you know, I don’t have that wind down or anything, so I’ve got to keep going and going and going and go, literally until I got into bed and then I can read a book or, whatever, once I’m in bed. But that’s not how I would like it.
I love, I love, love, love to potter about the evening and g et ready for a new day. Like I would have a whole different evening routine if I could, but I can’t. So that afternoon nap is the thing that saves me.
[00:11:20] Gabrielle: Mm, and thank you for sharing that because I think it’s going to dispel a whole load of that gubbins that we have around the belief that we shouldn’t have afternoon naps, and you’ve just totally described why it’s essential and there will be people listening, I’m sure who will have lives and families that look different to yours, but will still recognise that actually, maybe that’s something that would really help them.
And that maybe they’ve been struggling with allowing themselves to have that nap to have that time. But hopefully they’ll hear this and they’ll think, okay, actually that could really help me. So I am allowed to do it. There is reason there’s benefit here. So I’d love to know if you can share with us what kind of like practical, what kind of things do you do at five o’clock in the morning when you get up that help you to yourself, get that calm, feel ready for your day.
[00:12:14] Emily: I have a soundtrack. I have a morning playlist on my Spotify, which I change sometimes, but I start my day, every day with the same song, which really kind of grounds me in the day. I always light a candle when I get up. And so I have a nice, scent. So it’s very relaxing. So I’ve got my music, my smell, my tea, nice cup of tea.
I have my gratitude journal, so I’ve lit my candle. Got my nice calming cup of tea, nice music on. Then I write three things I’m grateful for. And then, I do a mixture of things, so I love to journal. So love to do that sometimes do a bit of yoga. I would love to do yoga and journaling every day, sometimes I can’t because I kind of want to do something like get my to do list done because that helps me feel calm. So it kind of depends on what the rest of my day is looking like, but my gratitude journal, my music, my cup of tea, my candle that happens every single day. I love using, Oracle cards so often, pull a card and then do some meditation on that.
And my dog is also with me. So give him a cuddle. That’s how I start my day. And then depending on what time of year it is. I like to go into the garden and obviously at the moment it’s dark now at that time of the day. But what I do like to do is when the sun is coming up, or if it’s in the summer, I go out in the garden in my bare feet, stand on the, on the grass and just sort of think about the day ahead, set my intention. Which is always around calm and joy, actually, always wanting to have a calm day for me and for my children as well. And to feel joy and another thing I do which is kind of connected to that time in the garden and the intention setting and everything is I really tend to myself. So I do spend some time, sometimes I can do that really quickly. And other times I’m a bit like, oh my mind’s all over the place. And even though I’ve done all these nice calming things, I can still feel a bit, arrgh, so then I’ll do some breath work.
Take some, some breaths or, I follow breath pod on Instagram, so I might go and do one of their, sessions if I’m feeling particularly like, oh, I can’t get into the zone of the day. Definitely, always want to feel very grounded before anyone else gets up.
[00:15:08] Gabrielle: Mmm. So interesting that all those things that you’ve mentioned tap into each of your senses, none of your senses is left out. That’s so interesting. And none of them are complicated. None of them require gadgets and gizmos and stuff. They’re actually really simple things that we can all do, whether we choose to do them at five o’clock in the morning or some other point of the day.
But yeah, they’re actually really straightforward, but they work for you that’s so interesting how it all connects to your senses. During the day, do you find that you then do any of those similar things? If there’s a moment where you just need to kind of, again, centre yourself. Do you do some of those similar things, or do you find that you do other things during the day?
[00:15:52] Emily: Those things definitely I pull on during the day for sure. So, the being in the garden, I will extend that by going for a walk in nature, if I can. My music. My morning music playlist is long, so I never get through it in the morning. So I can put that on again. And that just brings me back to that nice feeling of calm that I had in the morning.
breathwork yes absolutely would do that during the day for sure. if I can get another meditation in I absolutely will, and yes, my candle I’ll, you know, can light the candle again, if I’m feeling a bit like, oh, I just need a bit more calm in the house. I’m always very conscious of and as we, you know, we, we finally bought our own home so now I feel a lot more in control about being able to create a very calm home. So as we’re sort of renovating the house and decorating and unpacking, it’s all about thinking how I can make the space calm and using the candles to bring that kind of sensory experience to home, really helps them.
So I actually use that during the day. So yeah, I think I tap into, all those things throughout my day. And probably just extend that maybe so. Yeah. As I said, you know, they’re going for a walk in nature is an extension of standing on the grass in my garden. Gardening is another one I love to do.
[00:17:27] Gabrielle: And what do you find brings you and your children joy on a regular daily basis.
[00:17:35] Emily: Creativity is the thing that brings us as a family the most joy, I think, as, as individually and shared experience. So we’re a very creative family. We have endless art supplies. There’s always someone making something somewhere. The table is never clear, which drives me crazy, but also makes me smile because it’s never clear because someone is always making something on it. So, for example, here, I can see there’s like a basket of, wool and there’s some paints out on the other side of the table. There’s always stuff going on. And that definitely brings us a lot, of joy. Being outside our dog brings us a lot of joy playing with our dog, taking him for a walk, just cuddling him.
I think those are the two big things, but definitely the creativity, is something that unites us. Definitely.
[00:18:37] Gabrielle: Yeah, I could talk to you for hours, but I have to ask you my final question, which is what are you going to do today to give yourself a moment of calm and joy.
[00:18:48] Emily: Well, I’ve already done my morning session, so I’ve had some calm and joy and I will be having my nice calm afternoon nap before I go to school. But I’m also going to start working on a new project that I’ve got a very personal project it’s not for work or anything. It’s purely for my own personal joy.
So in a few weeks time, I’m going to be 45 and I’ve decided that before I’m 50 I’m going to make 50 things. So I’ve got five years to make 50 things. And some of these things are big things that I want to make and some will be small, but I’m going to start planning that a bit more. I mean, obviously there’ll be things I won’t have 50 things on my list by the end of today.
But I’m so excited about this project and I’m going to start. Planning what I’ve got already, might even start making something this afternoon, depending on how much time I have, but I’m so excited to have a new, creative project that I know is going to bring me a lot of joy and will hopefully bring other people a lot of joy and them to get making as well.
[00:20:08] Gabrielle: the sound of that. That sounds super exciting. You might have to come back part way through and tell us how you’re getting on what you’ve made and what you’ve got yet to make. That would be brilliant.
[00:20:16] Emily: Yes, I would love to. I’d love to do that.
[00:20:19] Gabrielle: So how can listeners find and connect with.
[00:20:24] Emily: So they can find me, all sorts of lovely is my story and adventures and, sharing about being a mother of neurodivergent children. So I’ve got allsortsoflovely.com is my website and my blog, and @allsortsoflovely on Instagram. And then EmilyQuinton.com is coming back soon, I think it’s actually still alive, but that’s coming up for an upgrade, which will be more of my personal creativity, renovation projects on our house, that kind of stuff, photography, flowers, lots of joy on that. And also @EmilyQuinton on Instagram. So there’s two places you can find me.
[00:21:08] Gabrielle: Wonderful. Thank you so much, Emily.
What a joy to talk with Emily, she shared so much good stuff, hands up who’s taking a 20 minute nap when they need it?! I really hope you enjoyed our conversation and if there’s anyone who you think would enjoy it or find it useful please do share this episode 85 with them. You’ll find show notes and the transcript (all the episodes are transcribed) at gabrielletreanor.com/podcast.
As I mentioned at the start of this episode, The Calm Mind Club is currently open to join for the last time this year and it is packed with resources and guidance to help you take care of your own needs, while you’re busy taking care of those around you too. Go to thecalmmindclub.com to find out more and join before doors close soon.
Thanks again for listening, until next time, lovely people.
Throughout this website and my work when I refer to women I include people identifying as women.
If you have, or think you may have, a mental health problem that requires professional diagnosis or treatment, please consult a mental health care professional and your GP.
You can also talk to the people at Mind on 0300 123 3393 or SANE on 0300 304 7000 or Samaritans on 116 123.
Copyright © Gabrielle Treanor
Site by cptcreative