I’m delighted to feature Amy Williams in this months’ How She Does It interview. Amy is the President of Citizens for Humanity jeans, a mother of five (three amazing stepchildren and twin daughters), a reader, a thinker, an absolutely wonderful human being, and someone I’m honored to call my friend.
It was a tremendous privilege and a huge pleasure to have lunch with Amy in New York last year, and I only wish we lived closer to each other. I know that many of the questions and issues that preoccupy me are central to her life as well, and I love following her on Twitter and Instagram. I am thrilled to share her thoughtful answers with you today.
Tell me about the first hour of your day? (I often describe mine as being “fired out of a cannon”)
It all depends what you count as the first hour…Evelyn who is 4 ½ does not have the best sleep habits ( entirely my fault ) and usually comes into our room at 2 or 2:30 am. She comes over to my side of the bed and whispers “Mama” and I then pull her into bed and snuggle with her until about 5 or 5:30 am when I often describe her as being “shot out of a canon,” we let our dog Percy out, and I wander into the Kitchen for black ice coffee for me. My husband wakes up a couple minutes before this routine and is typically reading the NYT in the Kitchen. She and I cuddle on the couch, watch tv and then soon start some art project while all the other kids come to life. From there..Scott makes our oldest Jackson breakfast and takes him to High School ( he is a sophomore ) and I make Ben and Sophie breakfast, get them ready for the day and take them to school..our car is for sure more fun and includes the girls and Percy!
I work from a home office much of the week and then travel to LA a day or two a week and on occasion to NYC, Europe and Japan. I am incredibly fortunate to spend time with the kids until they go to school or our nanny comes and not have to spend time commuting each day. I think it makes me more focused both with them and at work.
Each week, I go to LA for the day and the routine is totally different. 5 am wake up call, shower and taxi to the airport. Emails on the way and sometimes an early morning call. Airplane ride to LA is usually filled with work and ride home is usually magazine reading or catching up on Parenthood or Downton Abbey.
Do you have a work uniform that you rely on for getting dressed? What is it?
Citizens of Humanity jeans of course, often a white shirt or black silk top and my most recent love..Celine Pony Van’s. When I am in LA or going to meetings…A heel instead of the Celine Van’s, a Stella Mcartney black blazer which I have made too much of a “uniform” or another jacket or Soyer sweater.
How do you and your spouse reserve conflicts about scheduling?
We actually don’t have too many conflicts about it now…as much as we have conflicts about our style. I love calendars and organization and LOVE planning in advance. He goes more day by day which is a good (and likely better strategy ) when managing 5 kids and joint custody. I don’t always do a great job communicating and have gotten MUCH better and we still struggle with managing between two houses and a third style of communication and expectations.
Do you second-guess yourself? What do you do when that happens?
As a parent, often but it is lessening as I get older, as a person same…as a professional, not that much.
What time do you go to bed?
9:30. Sometimes earlier which is a TOTAL luxury.
Do you exercise? If so, when?
I have been again and it makes a WORLD of difference to me. On the weekends, in the morning if I can or in the late afternoon…During the week when traveling I LOVE SoulCyle and love that I can walk to one in LA and one in NYC from my favorite hotels. At home, newly addicted to Body by Simone TV 30-40 min videos that are great or a hike near our house..
Do you cook dinner for your kids? Do you have go-to dishes you can recommend?
I’ve been cooking more though my husband is a REALLY good, intuitive, use-what-you-have cook. I love ALL of Ina’s books and my go-to’s are all from her…Turkey sausage lasagna is great for sleepovers, Parmesan crusted chicken, Bloody Mary tri-tip and a favorite re-creation of the Ivy grilled veggie salad with shrimp.
Do you have any sense of how your children feel about your working?
I think the girls wish I did not work BUT love the person who takes care of them…they ask me to do things with them in the morning and I often wish I could..I don’t really know what the older kids think though I hope that since they were 2, 4 and 7 when Scott and I met that they know that I love them and that all of the decisions he and I have always made about life and work have been with the kids in mind first. We choose to start our business because of them and what it would allow us to do and be as parents, and decided to leave it, work with Citizens of Humanity for the same reason.
What is the single piece of advice you would give another working mother?
Be Kind to yourself and know what your REAL and your own priorities are..For example, I say no to a lot of social things that don’t involve our family when I am home. At the end of the day, I am lucky to have a husband who is my best friend, kids that I adore, a few friends that I cherish and couples/friends that have similar values. I love the team I work with and don’t feel like it is work…
And, inspired by Vanity Fair, a few quick glimpses into your life:
Citizens of Humanity Emerson Fit
Shampoo you use?
Anything by Dani Shapiro
Live as if there is no tomorrow.
Favorite item (toy, clothing, or other) for your children?
Our treehouse built with so much love
Thank you, Amy!!
This series is inspired by many things, but most recently and significantly by the blog What Would Gwyneth Do and her marvelous series, I Don’t Know How She Does It.
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