The supermodel, businesswoman and mother of three is sharing her secrets for success and sanity in a new interview with JustMommies.
Former supermodel Kathy Ireland believes you can have it all -- just not all at once. As the wife of a doctor and mother of three -- one son and two daughters -- as well as the CEO and head designer of her own lifestyle company, Kathy Ireland Worldwide, she understands that women feel overwhelmed and underappreciated.
In Ireland's recently released advice book, Real Solutions for Busy Moms: Your Guide to Success and Sanity, she draws on her personal experience, her deep faith, her conversations with other mothers and a lot of research to give other moms the tools they can use to build a successful family life.
Now Ireland talks to JustMommies.com about finances, faith and how the tone you set in your home can make it a happy one.
You credit your faith with being your foundation. Why was it important for you to talk about that in your book?
KATHY IRELAND: I can't share solutions without sharing my source of strength and where I get it from. It is not my intent to impose my beliefs on someone else, but it wouldn't be honest to not share where it comes from.
What advice do you have for moms when it comes to teaching faith to children?
KATHY IRELAND: Everybody has to have their own relationship with God. Everybody's faith has to be their own. We have a small window of time in which to impart our values on our kids, but there comes a time when kids have to determine their own set of values. Not only that, but they need to understand why they believe what they believe. I encourage our kids' curiosity to ask questions. They have to have conviction for what they believe, so they can defend what they believe when necessary.
I really enjoyed the chapter where you write about the importance of moms finding their own joy. One aspect of finding joy you say is the environment, which is a natural since your lifestyle business is so much about that, so can you talk a little bit about how environment affects the family?
KATHY IRELAND: Absolutely. Everything from color, which affects our moods, to scents to too much clutter, which can make us feel so boxed in. There are so many things we can do easily to our environment. Also, on an inside level, on our heart level, [we have to look at] what we can do to change the tone in our home. Also, when we are addressing our kids or our spouse, are we just barking at them? Demanding, yelling and frustrated? Or are we communicating in a way that we are going to get a much better result?
I think women, moms included, often get stumped when it comes to finding the joy within ourselves and not depending on other people to make us happy.
KATHY IRELAND: So often we have to change our expectations. Not lower them because that is going to make us lose respect for somebody, just change our expectations. That can make all the difference in the world. We can't control what other people do, but we can control how we respond, what we say and what we do. We can make a conscious choice to be happy. We can set that tone in our home.
You also talk about the importance of using positive words to set a good tone.
KATHY IRELAND: Erase the negativity from your life. We have to deal with stuff. I am not saying put your head in the sand and not deal with things that are giving you challenges and problems, but deal with them by moving through them. Think about our attitudes, our body language and our communication. We set the tone as moms. We have a lot of power and we are really setting the tone for the entire family.
Children do remember the hurtful things parents say.
KATHY IRELAND: Devastating. And it doesn't go away and it is real emotional abuse.
As you pointed out, we have two ears and one mouth, because we should be listening more than we talk.
KATHY IRELAND: I get teeth marks in my tongue at times. I want to say things. I pray for the patience to not [say them] when it is not appropriate. It is really important that we are listening to our kids. Really listening to them and then taking action based on what we are hearing.
You also mention that time in the car is a good opportunity for moms to check in on what their kids are doing.
KATHY IRELAND: We love having that time. I believe that is a time for families to connect and to learn. There are so many great opportunities. Whether you are in the car, or sitting down for a meal together, if people are bickering and fighting, take a time out and give a genuine compliment to the other person. It is amazing how that makes a sibling feel -- to hear their sibling compliment something good about them. How that lifts their spirits. That can turn the whole mood around and set a new tone for the family.
Kids and money is another topic that you tackle.
KATHY IRELAND: When I was growing up, parents didn't really talk about money. It was one of those taboo subjects. I have always worked since I was a little kid. When I was 11, I had a paper route. Warren Buffet [one of the richest men in the world], who I know through our flooring partnership with Shaw Industries, also had a paper route. When I get together with him, we talk about our paper route stories. It is a great lesson for kids.
I believe in finding opportunities for kids to earn money. Yes, we live in a different world. We have to put safety precautions in place and all that, but we need to find ways for kids to learn the value of money and understand the family budget. We are going to have to say, "No," to certain purchases: "No, it is not in the budget today, but you may have all the responsibility you want and earn the money."
Our son recently came to me and my husband letting us know he wanted to buy a truck. I asked him four questions: How much money do you want? What are you going to do when you get the money? How are you going to get the money? What does your timetable look like?
When you are able to answer those questions, you can turn it into a reality. If you don't have a plan, you don't have a time table, and it is always going to remain a dream.
That sounds like good advice for everyone, not just kids.
KATHY IRELAND: It is pertinent to everybody, but it is never too early and never too late to learn those lessons -- and to learn to not be afraid of money. For so many years, I was afraid of money. I had issues about money that I had to work through. We have to pull our heads out of the sand and face the tough stuff.
If we have credit card debt, if the bank is trying to foreclose on our home, women in particular can be intimidated by that. We have to get over that. Pick up the phone and call the bank. They don't want to lose you as a customer. They don't want your house either. They want your money. Negotiate and re-negotiate.
A friend of mine was facing credit card debt. We called the bank and she was able to get her interest rate down from 23 percent interest -- enemy debt with no tax breaks on that -- to eight percent. We have to not do the minimum payments, because if we are just making the minimum payment, we are never going to get out of debt. Find ways to maximize payments, so you can get out of that situation and get rid of that enemy debt quickly.
What advice do you have for mothers who want to add income to the family budget?
KATHY IRELAND: Find out what your gifts are, what your passions are and your strengths and try to make a business out of it. I don't advocate working 24/7, especially when young children are involved, but desperate times call for desperate measures. There might be a time or a season when you can take on some extra work. You might be able to tie it to your passion, but you might find that your passion is just being able to support your family. That might be where you get your joy from. If you love fashion design, you might find you enjoy working in a clothing store. Having a child care situation in your home might be a great way to earn some extra money: You are at home and have your children around. You may make some good buddies for your children as well.
You also include a chapter on health. That it is important for moms to be healthy in order to take care of their kids.
KATHY IRELAND: I had a business partner call me out at one of our furniture markets just as I was guzzling down coffee and scarfing down cookies. He said, "Do you think you are making the healthiest choices?" He reminded me what flight attendants always say when we get on a plane, "Put on your oxygen mask before you help others."
Is that what inspired you to change your diet?
KATHY IRELAND: At the holiday, my son was taking pictures of everything, including me. My five-year-old looked at the picture and said, "Mommy, you look like you are pregnant." I was, "Let me see that." It really caused me to take a look in the mirror. It wasn't so much the weight, or my appearance, but I didn't look healthy. I looked over-stressed, overwhelmed, and yes, overweight, too. There is so much pressure on women to look a certain way.
What is interesting, People magazine did a very kind story on it, but since that article so many people are talking about: Will she ever fit in a bikini again? What does her body look like? They are not asking me about my cholesterol, the health of my heart, my triglycerides, or my C-Reactive protein. That is what is important.
I specifically built a business that was not about my appearance. And so, I would frequently say, "What does it matter if I am eating another bag of cookies?" It is important. I want to be there for our kids. If I end up looking better because of those healthy choices, great, but that is icing on the cake. Being there for our kids is the motivator. As moms we feel guilty if we take time for ourselves. We have to remember we are a member of that family, too.