As many of us know, raising kids is hard. Your life transforms overnight—literally—and for some, it can be the most overwhelming and daunting task ever. That’s why we have some serious respect for women like Elizabeth Chambers Hammer who balances the two demanding tasks of running a successful business and mommyhood with what seems like an impressive level of grace and ease. Case in point: evidence of Chambers Hammer addressing a major diaper blow out 5 minutes into her husband’s movie premiere (photo above)
In her professional life, Chambers Hammer wears many hats. She serves as the Chief Correspondent of the Human Rights Foundation and she owns and operates Bird Bakery (shown below), the charming and thriving sweets shop with locations in San Antonio and Dallas, Texas, which she opened with her actor husband Armie Hammer. But at home in L.A. where her family is based, Hammer manages a slightly different kind of, though no less stressful, operation: A household with two young kids, ages 2-and-a-half years old and 6 months.
Knowing how difficult it can be to balance work and mom life, especially when children that come with their own needs and extracurricular activities are thrown into the mix, we asked Chambers Hammer how she tackles a trio of overwhelming schedules (for everyone aged 6 months and up), and how she handled the most stressful experience of her life.
Read on for tips from this pro multi-tasker on how to realistically plan your weeks without losing your mind and pay extra close attention to what she says about self care—we have a feeling you’re going to appreciate it as much as we do.
VIDEO: Creative Ways To Save Your Kids' Projects
How To Manage A Practical Schedule And Stay Sane
"I personally didn't subscribe to drastically changing our lives as a result of having children. Our children are our world, but I truly believe that it's healthier to invite children into your life instead of making everything about them. I am mindful of the best extracurricular activities for them and try to schedule them for 1-3 days a week. Whether it's dance class, music or sports, I make sure that we carve time out of our week for the kids to experience a variety of activities, while still allowing time for quiet and individual play time at home, which I think can be vastly underrated. I also believe that they can get just as much out of going to the park, running errands, and experiencing life with me. Seeing this, I try to bring my children along as often as possible."
"Don't over commit! I, myself am guilty of this but have realized that if you have two baby showers for you and three birthday parties for your children to attend in one day, it's going to be a lose-lose situation and no one will be happy at the end of the day. Be realistic about how much you can get done and manage expectations early.
"Communicate with your children. I tell them when I have to work and do my best to verbally communicate and walk them through the day so they know what to expect. I believe that, like with adults, knowing what to expect is the best way to ease any potential anxiety.
"Create balance in your schedule. When I've been working especially long hours, I make a point to spend an extra hour or two without my phone, doing something my children choose. They love the park or pool time, but mostly, they love my undivided attention. It's always going to be a balance, but I've found if I'm on a conference call while pushing them on the swing at the park, I'm not making anyone completely happy."
Why it’s Important to Prioritize Yourself
"I refer to 'me time' in motherhood as my “oxygen mask theory.” Anyone who has traveled on a plane with children knows that the flight attendants instruct parents to put on their mask before tending to others. I firmly believe that in order to take the best care of our children, we need to be sure that we take care of ourselves. I make it a priority to plan date night once a week, make time for a massage or at the very least a bubble bath when I can. While it can become difficult and I think we all have a tendency to put ourselves last, I have found that if I make a conscious effort to make time for my husband, and myself it goes a long way."
How To Deal With Overwhelming Situations
"If not managed properly, owning a company and running a business with multiple locations can make you feel constantly overwhelmed. Opening our initial location of Bird Bakery was the biggest challenge of my life and the second location presented more challenges that I didn’t anticipate. Contractually, we were required to open before Thanksgiving. After the official and final signing of the lease, our timeline allowed for about two weeks for me to design the space, eight weeks to complete our build out (a challenge my contractor had never before faced) and a week to hire our staff of 40+ employees in that location, test bake every item for consistency and open in time for the second busiest holiday of the year. Emotions were high (guests are always extra stressed during the holidays) and expectations were even higher. I was eight months pregnant and had never been so stressed in my life. But, I always try to keep things in perspective. I remind myself that we're not launching rockets and not curing cancer--we're serving food and doing our very best. I truly think that the key to handling stress and not becoming overwhelmed is to keep things in perspective and to know that you can only handle one thing at a time. There's only one way to eat an elephant--one bite at a time. It's an obvious sentiment, but one which I remind myself of often."