Hilaria Baldwin doesn’t have time to sweat the small stuff. The 33-year-old fitness and wellness expert, who’s currently expecting her fourth child with husband Alec Baldwin, is simply too busy taking care of her kids—Carmen, 4; Rafael, 2; and Leonardo, 1—to let stress get the best of her. Here, she opens up about juggling the demands of motherhood and marriage with the desire for a life of calm.
As a mom of three, I know my life is always going to be hectic. My kids are going to cry and throw cereal, and I can’t be in three places at the same time. But knowing that is actually good thing because when it comes to managing stress, I’ve learned that I’m better prepared to handle whatever comes my way when I don’t expect everything to run smoothly.
So when Rafa has pulled Carmen’s hair, Carmen’s screaming, and Leo’s simultaneously knocked over his bowl of food, I try not to let myself freak out. (Oh, did I mention there’s a fourth on the way?) Instead of trying to “fix” things, I take a deep breath and relax my muscles so I can parent in a more productive and enjoyable way, teaching my kids not to hurt people, how to react if someone hurts you, and accepting that a spill is just a spill.
That sounds easy, but de-stressing is actually something I invest a lot of time and thought into, and not just at the scene of the cereal spill. These are the habits I work into my life regularly to ward off stress:
X MARKS THE SPOT
We all hide stress in different places in our bodies, and when that tension builds up physically, you’re more likely to explode or react in a way that you may regret later. I carry tension in my shoulders, and I fell in love with yoga because it stretches the muscles that have become tense as a result of stress. Life is constantly throwing stuff at you, and if you want to be ready to move in any direction as it comes at you—physically too. That’s why yoga is my go-to when I’m stressed.
BATH TIME IS NOT JUST FOR KIDS
I also love to take baths to unwind. Even if I have five minutes, I’ll just dunk myself in a bath. My kids are the same way — we all bathe both in the morning and at night. It’s wonderful to have that warm water on your skin, not just for cleanliness but for your muscles to relax too. Another way I like to unwind is by lighting candles and turning on music while I cook. It’s about taking time for yourself in some way because as a mom, you’re constantly giving. When I’m not giving to my kids, my husband wants me to give to him. Alec and I always laugh because he’s very good at saying, “I need your attention” to me (even when he’s not being ignored). I’m getting pulled in a million different directions, and I need to have that moment when I can check in on myself and say, “Hey, this is ‘me’ time.”
DON’T SKIP THE ROMANCE
My husband and I spend every single evening together and often see each other a lot throughout the day. I’m his wife and the mother of his children. But he’s the first person to say, “I want you to be my girlfriend too,” and it’s important to keep all those aspects of your relationship.
DE-STRESSING DATES WITH ALEC
We often do silly things together to de-stress. I love to go and get pampered, but only when I’m with somebody else. So we’ll go and get pedicures or foot rubs—nothing fancy, just at the typical New York nail salon around the corner. Massages are great, too, but I could never imagine checking into the spa for a day alone. My husband could do that, but it’s just not for me—I like the social aspect. Before we had children, he actually brought me to a spa for an entire weekend. Going from one massage to the next sounds amazing in theory, but I was like, “I’m so bored. I want to talk to somebody!”
My husband and I are yin and yang. To relax, I like to move my body; he likes to sit down and read. I think the one thing he would probably complain about is that I don’t watch TV with him. He’s had to get used to it. He’ll watch something on his computer when we lay in bed, and he’ll say, “Please watch this with me.” But count to 30, and I’m passed out. He laughs about it and finds it endearing … I think.
Luckily, Alec is very giving. I’m not the type of person who does back flips if you buy me flowers; flowers are lovely and that’s great, but I really want an experience. My husband knows I’m not a big material person—we’re very lucky to have lovely things, but I want a foot rub or to just sit and talk. He knows that I’m obsessed with being the a mom, so every single day I’m reflecting on the different experiences I had with my children and the things their teachers and classmates said. That’s what I want to talk about, and he makes sure to be there to listen.
GOTTA GET WITH MY FRIENDS
When it comes down to it, I really just enjoy having people around. I’m a very social person, and I see my core group of friends on a regular basis. They’re like uncles and aunts to my children at this point. We’re all from different walks of life and we all came into this melting pot to create our families here in New York together, which is kind of amazing. As you get older, I think you get even better at picking friends. People always say, “See who your friends are when you’re going through tough times and you find out who’s there for you.” But I always say, “See who your friends are when you’re happy, because those are the people that you want to share the happiness with.”
To me, that matters much more. Because life is too long—and too short—to be anything but happy.
—As told to Samantha Simon