Can you tell us why the Save the Children charity is important to you?
Children growing up in poverty have a much higher propensity for obesity, which means that by the time they’re four years old, they are a year-and-a-half behind developmentally, which means that when they start school, they’re already starting back on their heels instead of running at a full tilt like every kindergartener should be. It’s not a fair start, and it leads to high school dropout because you’re playing catchup right from the beginning.
So I believe in what Save the Children is doing to reach kids from 0-5 and their parents, to get them started on the right foot, to make sure that their vocabulary is enriched, that they have kindergarten-readiness skills like sitting in a circle, and to get books into the parents’ hands so they can get them into their kids’ hands.
Once the kids are in school, Save the Children helps them catch up with literacy programs, making sure they learn about healthy eating, that they get a little bit of exercise every day. I love the program so much. I’m completely devoted to them.
How do you recommend we get our own kids involved in the charity, or in charity in general?
It’s such a tricky thing to get your kids involved in charity work, and this is an ongoing dialogue I have with my friends and my husband. You don’t want them to feel sorry for the people they are helping. But at the same time, you want them to be aware of what’s happening in the world. You can start dipping a toe in really early. The kids have to see that the kids are people and that they’re the same, and that sometimes life isn’t fair, and that it’s your responsibility and pleasure to help level the playing field a little bit.
You can have a lemonade stand and use the money you make to sponsor a child on Savethechildren.ca, and then you can have a bit of correspondence with that child. You can see the child’s picture, know what they’re like. And they may be just down the road from you! The first Save the Children site that I visited was just a couple of hours away from my home in LA, and it’s in rural California. Before we came in, they had one book for every three hundred children in this community. That’s happening all over North America, and it’s such a shame.
Moms are always looking for meal ideas, do you have any food tips or ideas for busy moms?
FAST. I’ll take a chicken breast and cut it in half while the grill is heating, and I’ll just quickly marinate it first — even if it’s just a second, it adds a little flavour. Lime juice is very important [for the marinade], a fresh lime, a fresh lemon, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and, if it’s for me (this is too spicy for my kids), a few chili red pepper flakes. Three minutes a side because if it’s cut in half it’s so fast. And while that’s happening, I’ll just do whatever I have handy — even if it’s noodles — so at least I know they’ve got one good healthy part of the meal.
The other thing that I’ve been so into is keeping fresh vegetables out on the counter, cut up, while I cook. Because you know how everyone’s so hungry before dinner, so I like just having it out, no pressure. Eventually, the sugar snap peas and carrots and bell peppers…they go!
What are some of your top tips for balancing motherhood and your career, charity work and life in general?
I struggle with this every day. It’s a day-to-day thing. I don’t think there’s a some big answer for that. Every day you just look at the day, look at the week as best you can and figure out where your energy has to go that day. Today, for example, I’m here, and I’m thrilled to be here, and I know my husband’s home with the kids, and he’ll put them to bed today — they’re well taken care of. But then tomorrow, I’ll dive right back in [to family life].
Your fans everywhere want to know, how do you stay looking so amazing?
Oh, really? That’s so nice! Have people do your hair and make up. Have Rachel dress you, Genevieve do your makeup!
The only way to workout, as far as I’m concerned, is to do it before the kids are up. And I know it hurts, and I know it’s early. I try for every day. Sometimes it’s half an hour, and sometimes it’s an hour — never more than that.
Sometimes it’s at six in the morning. 5:45-6:45am. I don’t get it done every day, but I try to get it done every day. If I miss a couple of days in a row, then I really make an effort because, if you miss a week, then you’re out.