mild torture, Gwyneth Paltrow & friends style

14 Apr

I am a fan of Gwyneth Paltrow’s work as an actress/performer.

I loved her in Emma, Shakespeare in Love and The Royal Tenenbaums, and her guest star appearances on Glee.  She was interviewed on Inside the Actors Studio, and she seemed funny and insightful.

She has a blog called GOOP . I don’t know who her intended audience is, but I imagine many of the subscribers are middle and working class women they like me, who find her work and style interesting.  On that premise, I can’t really understand this one entry in her blog (  and what exactly, she and her guest blogging friends really expected as a reaction from readers.

Her blog has had some great articles on charitable organizations, organizations for literacy, education,  some humor, a really great entry on Post Partum Depression. The ones where she provides links for $90 organic toddler clothes I tend to skip.

I don’t want to give any impression that I think I know her as a person. ( I doubt you were thinking that, its just a disclaimer if I sound a little snarky at times) I am only familiar with some of her work, and tidbits of her public persona.

The blog post is about balancing being a working woman and a mom. I shared the link to this blog entry a few months back on an area parenting yahoo group I’m on. The membership is diverse in ethnicity, educational level, socioeconomics. But I remember one member (who has a PhD in something, I remember it in her signature line) said “This made me throw up in my mouth a little.”


A Day in the Life …

One of our readers emailed GOOP about “finding a good balance between having a career and being a mom,” which got me thinking about the other extremely busy working mothers I know and what their days might be like. I asked Juliet de Baubigny, a venture capitalist I met (it’s no wonder this woman is so freakin’ successful—spreadsheets for family packing … wow!), and fashion designer Stella McCartney to send in a day in their lives to see how they do the mothers’ special—everything all at once. I learned a lot and got some good tips from these ladies. And, because some of you have asked what one of my days looks like, I’ve included a random one of my more manic days from last November.



Thanks gp, It is a tough thing, managing a career and a family. I look forward to learning  how others manage it. I haven’t heard of these other ladies, but I know who Stella McCartney is. We have a lot in common: Her dad is a Beatle, and she works as a fashion designer. My dad is a retired math teacher, and I am a speech therapist.

Juliet de Baubigny’s day on September 16th, 2010:

Busy, fun, fulfilled, happy and often manic! As a full-time working mother, wife, mother to two children (ages 6 and 3 1/2) and, as my husband will tell you, someone who likes to “do it all,” every day is a constant juggle and quest to create more time. I am a Partner at Kleiner Perkins, Caufield & Byers, a venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, California. I balance this with my work as a board member of Product (RED), the organization started by Bono and Bobby Shriver to help fight HIV/AIDs in women and children in sub-Saharan Africa. I’m also on the board of Trustees of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco and actively involved in the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, California.(Wow! That is a lot to juggle, I know how you feel. I am the co-leader of my daughters girls scout troop,and her school just got done doing a Little Caesars pizza kit fundraiser. Do you think those are worthwhile, or do you just do the cookie dough ones? Needless to say, I lead a busy life. Here are some things that have worked for me, which I wanted to share, in the hope that they may be helpful.

My day:

I’m an early bird—so I try to seize “Juliet time” first thing in the morning. I get up between 5:30am – 6am and quickly scan my email. Then my priority is exercise. If I can work out each day, I’m a really happy person. And let’s face it, if you are getting up on a cold morning in the dark it had better be fun. I’ve found that having a trainer come to my house on a Monday really motivates me—she’s knocking at the front door so going back to sleep is NOT an option (Another tip: getting up early gives a better chance of getting an eliptical  without the numbers on the buttons off, and close enough to the t.v.. to read the closed captioning.) This way, my body clock adjusts after the weekend and I’m more inclined to commit to workouts each day during the week. I’m currently obsessed with the Tracy Anderson Method and do the Perfect Design DVD three times a week. I even take the DVD traveling!  On cardio days, I use the elliptical or spin bike for 30 minutes (including lots of sprints). I bring my iPad and use the Flipboard app to curate my social media (Facebook, Twitter and categories that are important to me: business, technology, style, design, fashion). The iPad is a lifesaver for me: in 30 minutes, I have read everything that I need to start my day! (Don’t you find you get disctracted and start reading the Huffingpost and then go on ebay, or etsy?)

Breakfast: super important and always super-rushed with the pressure of everyone being out of the door at 7:45am. I really make a point of sitting down with my children—even if it’s for 15 minutes. A great time saver is to make steel cut oatmeal, put it in a ceramic bread loaf pan and slice it each morning, add a drizzle of maple syrup, milk and 45 seconds in the microwave—healthy breakfast in seconds and I can make it last over 3 – 4 days! (Seriously?) In the summer, I start the day with a protein smoothie, which can be made in minutes (a handful of organic berries, a large scoop of Greek yogurt, a squirt of flaxseed oil, 2 scoops of protein powder, organic pomegranate or cranberry juice and blend). If I’m really in a rush I have a Shaklee vanilla shake. I always try to take the Shaklee multivitamin strip + iron, which comes pre-packaged, to save time. This way breakfast takes a few minutes to make and I have the time to talk to my children about their day. (I actually use quick breakfasts like these, too. Diet Coke and Luna Bars have the right blend of carbonation, natural and artificial sweeteners.)

Hair: A great time saver is to have a weekly blow out. This means that you don’t need to wash your hair each day—the time that you save with a blow out can save you minutes in the morning.

Makeup: I was given an amazing present of a makeup lesson with Wallet Lubrich. (You know someone named Wallet?) She taught me how to do my daily makeup in 5 minutes. No joke, I can dress, do my make up and be out the door in 15 minutes. (Here’s a great tip: use lipstick for your blush. Its last longer, I haven’t worn eye make up in 10 years.)
I always make a point of doing the school run in the morning. It’s a really important moment in my day. This fall, my children started at the same school, which is such a time saver for me. Our 15 minute drive together is treasured time and I really feel that we all start our day on the right foot.

My Day: Is a blur from the minute that I arrive in the office but that’s how I like it. I have the benefit of an amazing assistant, without whom I could not make it happen (Thank you, thank you, Diane). My day is packed back-to-back from the moment that I arrive until the moment that I leave. When I’m driving to a meeting, I bring a call list with me so that I can quickly return calls. On a Friday afternoon, I’m given the list of outstanding calls/topics/decisions that I need to make over the weekend. I carve out key moments during the weekend to do emails and return calls. During other windows, I turn my Blackberry off so that I can focus 100% on my children and my husband.

6pm – 7:30pm is family time, as many nights of the week as I can make it. Conference calls happen before or after that window, same for email. Giving 100% attention and quality time to my children is key, particularly when I’ve been out at work all day.

Bed: By 10:30—if I can!

Sunday nights: Always, always family dinner. It’s super fun now that the children are older. We do everything together—we plan the menu, often going to the farmer’s market the day before, prepare the food, set the table, cook together and clean up. It’s our ritual. After the children are in bed, I print out the family calendar for the week. It has all the activities and schedule, and I put it in on the board in the kitchen so that everyone knows who is where and where they are supposed to be!

Juliet’s top 10 time savers:

  1. The power of the list: My great friend, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, (Hey! I have a Facebook account. Two different people have told me my son looks like Mark Zuckerburg)shared with me a great tip, when we were both on maternity leave after the birth of our first child, to create key spreadsheets to help manage your home life; for example, travel check list (clothes, toys that each family member needs to bring with them for travel. Believe me, my children are very grateful after I managed to forget their underwear on two consecutive family holidays!). I also find it invaluable when I’m packing for a business trip at midnight! Other lists include grocery staples, birthday lists, monthly household task lists. I file them all in a binder and keep in the kitchen where anyone can access them. It saves a ton of time and money. Note—do not try to give a list to your husband, the reaction is not quite so positive!
  2. Aggregate all your medical appointments: Another time saver is to try to do all your standard appointments on one day or one afternoon. For example, September is back-to-school time for us all and I plan an afternoon to take my children to the doctor, dentist, and hair. I do the same for myself in January. That way, I can get it all out of the way in one afternoon and ensure that the appointments really happen!
  3. Plan ahead for birthdays, holidays: I’m afraid that I’m one of those people that really does try to plan ahead. It saves me from too many moments of last-minute panic! I sit down in October and pull together my gift list for the holidays. I buy hostess gifts and presents for the children’s teachers well ahead of time. I love One Kings Lane so much that I got Kleiner Perkins, Caulfield & Byers to invest in it. It’s my main stop for beautiful products for the home and have my wish list throughout the year that I can stockpile. Use this time as a moment to support initiatives or causes that are important to you. For me, I buy products from Product (RED) like Starbucks gift cards, Caroline Bucci bracelets, Nike laces, and Apple Nanos. My other great gift is a donation in someone’s’ name to Donors Choose—all the monies go to a wish list of teachers in public schools.  I keep the gifts in transparent plastic tubs and then wrap in groupings, tagged with a sticky label that indicates the content of the gift.  I have an accordion file that is filled with birthday cards labeled by category: child birthday, adult birthday, Valentines Day, Halloween etc. That way, I can always have a card at the ready to send (or…use the Facebook reminders and just post on their wall.)
  4. Condense your appointments: find a great salon that understands time pressure and can accommodate your schedule. I have a great salon near me that I can go to at the end of the day to have a facial, manicure and pedicure at the same time.  I’m in and out in 70 minutes. Not relaxing but efficient. Same for other appointments. I have acupuncture at 9.30pm at night. It’s a wonderful end of the day.
  5. Shop for clothes at key moments during the year: While some of my friends may be surprised at this, I cannot stand to shop. I don’t like it, I don’t have the patience for it and it’s not fun. But, I love clothes and fashion so it’s a problem. My solution: make a wish list at key moments in the year—mine are fall and spring. I plan my key pieces, order, and then I can forget about it for 6 months. Also, find a great alteration person. Twice a year, I meet with her, review my clothes, sort out my closet, plan key looks for travel, weekend, evenings, and holiday. That way, I can dress, pack and travel in seconds. It’s worth the investment of time upfront.
  6. Curate your own web: find a list of sites that really help your life. For me, it’s Net-A-Porter and Kirna Zabete for all my shopping, ideas on how to style clothes and hours of fun. Note, try to avoid shopping when your husband is looking over your shoulder—”you are not really going to check out all of those clothes in your basket, are you?”—for everything from books, beauty products, night diapers, to household products—love, love Amazon Prime! Zappos for all my childrens’ shoes. Zazzle—for great t-shirts for kids’ sports teams, stamps for holidays and cool customized products. Vivre for amazing gifts for friends, and my husband. GOOP, which is my digital “girlfriend,” and covers all of my lifestyle needs. Indagare for travel, Chasing Fireflies for childrens’ Halloween costumes, Oriental Trading Company for childrens’ parties, Crew Cuts and Papo d’Anjo for my childrens’ clothes.
  7. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”: One of my partners gave me a great tip for time management. At the end of each week, I review my calendar and look at the following categories: Work: did I spend my time in the right places, right meetings, impacting the highest upside situations? Home: did I have dinner with my children at least 3 times during the week? Did I read to them at least 5 times in a seven day period? My Husband: Did we have at least one dinner on our own or with great friends? Did we find time to take a walk/run/bike ride together? Monthly: did I see my girlfriends for dinner? Daily: having a really good laugh about something!  Good data to collect. (Also: Did you let your kids play video games for half an hour while you went in the bathroom and read? I don’t like to do this more than 6 of 7 days a week.)
  8. Bring your notebook everywhere: I have a black Moleskin notebook that I bring to each meeting. At the end of the day I go through it with a highlighter and mark open action items. Some get transferred onto my outlook task list. Most I try to get done at the end of each day.
  9. Adapt to what works for you: I work full-time, so I can’t attend the afterschool classes or as many moments in the classroom as I would like to, but I still want to be involved. So I organize one or two key moments during the school year to have the class over for a project—that way my children see me interacting as “Mummy” and I can connect with their friends and mothers. Things that worked for us: co-hosting a Valentine’s party for the girls in my daughter’s class, doing a Halloween cookie decorating party with my son’s preschool class. (Okay, I must ask. You’re a partner in this company. Why don’t you just say “long lunch today!!” and go be the recess mom once a month. Or paint your nails during one of the conference calls to free up time.)
  10. Get your girlfriends together: I can’t see my girlfriends as much as I would like and I really need that girl time. Also, your girlfriends are the ones that give you great timesaving tips, keep you grounded and make you laugh. I try to organize a girls’ night once a quarter and do something really fun together. It’s also a great way to introduce amazing women. For example, my friend Olivia Chantecaille came to visit and we had a makeup party—lots of champagne, makeup lessons and laughs. I did the same for Philip Lim and had a trunk show with my friends. But often we’ll just have a potluck supper and a glass of wine. Nothing fancy but super fun!
    1. Hike in the Redwoods with my family on the weekends.
    2. Find a great TV show to watch with your husband—for us, Mad Men on Sunday night
    3. Go to a concert/art exhibition regularly—went to see Sheryl Crow with a girlfriend last night—she rocked! I’m excited to see the opening of the new Impressionist show at the de Young Museum in San Francisco on September 25th.
    4. Discover and find what inspires and grounds you. For me, the work of the ONE campaign and Product (RED) has given me such an inspirational education in the work of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
    5. Taking the time to give big, long hugs to each member of your family each day and tell them how much you love them.
    6. Getting 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night!
  11. Things that make my life really amazing:

    Note: Klipboard and are also Kleiner Perkins investments.

On a wintry day in November 2010 a very pregnant (with her 4th child!) Stella McCartney wrote:

Woke up, was not fun, I am tired!  Bailey, my daughter, on the monitor saying, ‘Mummy I need a poo’! I tried to talk her out of it as it was so early.  She eventually forgot her half-hearted excuse to get me up and started singing to herself. Bailey is 3.  I made my way upstairs, and got Miller, my oldest son, and her up and into my bed for a cuddle. My husband, Alasdhair, is away on work, which is rare as we both hate leaving the monkeys.  Miller is 5. We go down and have breakfast, cereal, toast, eggs, the lot! The kids eat so well in the morning … Good start to the day. I go upstairs and get Beckett, our youngest at 2 and obsessed with getting dressed, so each morning he says he wants to choose his trousers before I even get my kiss or cuddle. He can take over designing for my brand when he is big! Get the other kids dressed and scooter them down the street. Miller goes to school and Bailey to nursery.  As I’m so busy during the day, the mornings are concentrated kid time so I make sure to spend the morning with my kids, making breakfast and getting them out of bed before our nanny, Jennie, gets to our house to look after Beckett.  They are going to visit my sister’s boy Sam and look at the barge boats on Little Venice canal. Wish I was going with them.

I go into the office, where my day can turn into a flurry of meetings, as there are always a lot of projects and collaborations on.  I try to cram as much in as possible so that I can spend the mornings and evenings with my family.  My first meeting is with my shop architects and store planner. We are discussing possible stores in the States, their locations, how we design them and how they should function.  Las Vegas is our next store, so we’re attacking that today. The meeting is brief as I have four people outside the glass wall making gestures that I have to go to my next meeting. I stay out of scheduling for the most part and let my team get me from a to b.

Next I have a YSL beauty meeting. It’s hard-core, and there’s tons to do. They have come over from Paris and we have an agenda from hell. Some of it is top secret so all GOOP readers will have to hold their breath, I am afraid.  Some bits, though, are for your ears. We are working on new bottle design and outer packaging for the Stella Sheer fragrance.  It had some more work to be done but in principle was ok. We talked about the Mother’s Day set … Blah blah blah.

My day has already started getting late.   I am behind, so I decide to do my next meeting in the car on the way to Covent Garden’s adidas offices. Artist Dinos Chapman is my taxi date.  We have worked together a lot; he did a giant fuzzy felt backdrop for my show two years ago and did my advertising campaign too with Kate Moss and Ryan McGinley.  We are working on another project, and he thinks I am a dweeebo for having to do work on wheels, but at least we got it done!

I arrive at adidas, it’s a big day for me there as today I am showing the British Olympic Association my Team GB London 2012 concept. I am the creative director for adidas’s team GB for the Olympics and the Paralympics. It’s major and I am so excited! It is honestly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I have a strong concept and today was about showing the BOA my direction. They were really positive … It is totally just the starting points so just the very, very beginning concepts, but it’s just to give an idea. I do some press photos and video, which I hate, and head back to collect Miller.

Home sweet home … I hang with the kids, read books, we all talk about our day—they are full of all the energy I wish I had.  I head off to parents evening at Miller’s school. Reading all his books is so amazing. They are so brilliant and some are so funny! He is doing well. I think he is a star. I head back home and put the monkeys to bed. They are all in pajamas. We sit on the bed and read, and I demand my usual cuddles. Jen leaves at 6:30, so I try my best to juggle the three monkeys and keep them all in one piece till bed time. Then get ready for dinner, head off to meet Gwyneth, mother of all GOOPs!

(I don’t have many things to add here.  But I must ask: Does your dad ever sing your kids songs? That must be AWESOME!!! My husband has a brother Andrew…we sing the lyrics “We’re so sorry , Uncle Andrew..” with our noses plugged. The kids think its hilarious.)

Gwyneth’s day on November 4th, 2010:

When I got downstairs this morning at the crack of whenever, the coffee machine said “ERROR 8” and wouldn’t let me make the cup I had been dreaming about. This begs the question: is it odd to dream yourself to sleep thinking about the next morning’s coffee?  (Not at all.) Not a good beginning. Got Apple all fed and dressed in her uniform and ready to go but no sign nor sight of Moses at 8 am and we have to be out of the house by 8:20. I went up to arouse the little man from slumber and he quite happily got up and crawled into my arms. We got downstairs and I made him a quick breakfast of eggs and toast followed by a spoonful of lemon flavored flax oil that I try to remember to give them both every morning. Getting everyone into the car on time was a challenge; we’re going through a phase where no one seems to be responding to me (“Time to put on your shoes” … No response.) (I hear you on the not listening. Sometimes, you just have to yell. But not too much, or it starts to sound all the same to them. ) It is the school Christmas toy drive deadline today so before jumping into the car, we pack up and finish decorating the shoe boxes with toys, toothbrushes, hats, scarves, books, etc, for the school Christmas toy drive. Once the kids really understand that the toys go to children around the world who will not be as fortunate as they are this year, they very sweetly take trips to the playroom adding their own toys and books to the boxes. Somehow managed to get to school just as the old-fashioned bell rang. Moses was a bit teary today so I hung around and watched him through the window. Periodically he would check to make sure I was still there. When all was well I dodged off as fast as possible but was still late to the 9 am workout. Did dance aerobics for 45 minutes then all of the butt lifts and the like. Rushed upstairs to have a shower, doing my post workout stretch while the conditioner was doing its magic on my hair to combine activities/save time. Dressed quickly and rushed downstairs. On a less manic day, this would be my couple of hours in the office to work on GOOP, come up with ideas, write/edit and go over scheduling, travel, whatever else I have going but I have no time so I just pop the old cabeza in to see if there are any deadlines or fires that need putting out. When I am given the all clear I rush out the door, headed to rehearse with a band to prepare for the Country Music Awards which are just a week away.  I’ve never performed live before so I’m preparing for this as if it were the Superbowl, which, in it’s own way, it is. I’ve been having voice lessons with my teacher, Carrie Grant, every day and rehearsing with an amazing London-based band. This will be my fourth and shortest rehearsal of the week, as the day is so full, but I am excited to get in there and see everyone. Had to do my vocal exercises/warmups in the car, sooo not a good look. Fellow drivers looked on a bit bewildered. ( I think it was that they were driving next to Gwyneth Paltrow) Rehearsed with the band from 11:30 to 12:30 and then scooted back out to the car and had kind of a big interview on the phone while trying to subtly check/reply to well-overdue email. Got home and had a fitting with super stylist Elizabeth Saltzman for the upcoming Nashville trip (what to wear, what to wear?) from 1-2. This is my 4th out of 5 fittings for this trip. We tried on a myriad of dresses and outfits, and I had b.o. by the end of it from wrestling with all of those dresses. I have six looks I need to choose for the trip; there’s the radio press conference upon arrival, the red carpet for the Country Strong premier, press interviews, a Sony Music VIP dinner, the red carpet for the CMA’s and the outfit for my performance! We manage to finalize all of the looks for the (very nerve wracking) trip. ( I have to ask..WHAT do if you’re having PMS and going to one of these things? Don’t you just want to stay home and eat nachos in front of the t.v. Made with multi grain tortillas and chevre cheese, of course) At 2 pm I head into my office with a nice cup of tea for two hours of phone interviews. I am doing lots of these this week, but today’s session is only two hours. I call country radio station after country radio station speaking to some of the nicest and friendliest DJ’s on the planet. Thursday is the one day of the week that I do not pick my kids up after school. They go straight to an activity and I am able to really maximize work stuff. I always feel a bit guilty (obviously) about it, but it means I can focus fully on them when they get home instead of trying to do two things at once. At 4pm, my weekly owners’ and managers’ call takes place for the Tracy Anderson Method with our brilliant CEO Stephanie Stahl taking the lead. I basically listen and try to learn. Kiddies burst through the door and play in my office while I finish up, just drawing and hanging out and of course playing Plants vs Zombies on the iPad, their obsession that I have to limit like crazy! What up, gamers. Then downstairs to make cupcakes for tomorrow’s bake sale. It is ‘Bonfire night’ in the UK tomorrow and the bake sale is to celebrate and to raise money for charity. We decide on vanilla cupcakes with pink icing and green icing (from Tate’s Bakeshop cookbook with the icing from American Desserts cookbook).( A recipe for cupcakes?) At 6:30 pm we all get in the bath and it’s hair washing night for the kids (every other night—never popular). Then back downstairs to check on cupcakes and have a visit from an auntie and uncle. The kids indulge in a super sugary cupcake before bed but I don’t feel too bad because they had a brown rice stir fry for dinner with baked sweet potato on the side. It’s all about balance! My night to lay with Mosey so I tuck Apple in, say a prayer and go into Mosey’s room for a story, foot massage and quiet time. As soon as all was quiet, I rushed downstairs to grab a blazer and some blush and flung myself in the car for girls night. Lovely dinner and great conversation. 11:29 pm now, exhausted and ready to do it all again tomorrow!

Gwyneth’s time saving tips:

  1. Schedule your time well. When I know what I am doing from hour to hour I get more done. Write it all in the day’s calendar, what you want to accomplish and in what time frame.
  2. Focus on the task at hand. Be thorough.
  3. I cook a lot, especially on the weekends, so I like to plan a rough menu for the whole weekend and get the food in on Friday. Obviously stores and websites that deliver make this a dream. In London I use Ocado. Also James Knight, my favorite fishmonger,( Hey! I know the term fishmonger. My husbands grandmother took us to one when we visited her in Scotland. Back in the states its still called a person who sells fish, or guy at the market.) will deliver. Having all of the ingredients means I’m prepared even when I don’t think I am.
  4. I always lay the kids uniforms and school things out the night before once they are asleep. When it’s quiet I can check the “kid list” for show and tell items to bring in, consent forms, ballet kit, etc, so that the morning is less of a scramble.
  5. The school run is a great time to return calls (in whichever direction that the kids are not in the car) so don’t forget your hands-free device. (Hey!! You’ve been on Oprah. Didn’t you take her pledge not to use the cell phone while driving? The literature says the risks are as high with hands free devices, Just sayin’)

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Posted by on April 14, 2011 in Uncategorized


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