Just watching Camila Alves describe the whirlwind of chaos that comes with getting three kids under the ages eight and under — Levi, 8, Vida, 7, and Livingston, 4 — ready for school each morning is enough to leave you gasping for air. With her hands rapidly moving through the air, her tempo dramatically increases as she talks about her family's morning routine and the steps she's taken to bring some order to the mayhem. "I have a wild four year old so I don't know what's going to happen," she says. "I have no choice. When I don't [follow my routine], trust me, it's not worth it."
Her routine is one that moms everywhere can follow to make their mornings run more smoothly. It involves making sure the kids get a good night's sleep, going to bed at a consistent time each night ("If not, it doesn't matter what tricks you have, they're not going to work," she advises). Picking out their clothes the night before ("Set [them] up away from the closet and away from their drawers where they can change their mind."). Packing their bags the night before ("They get the autonomy of doing it themselves and that creates that habit of preparing for things."). And making their lunches and filling their water bottles the night before.
It's such prep work that keeps the Alves-McConaughey family running smoothly. Camila spends most of the day each Sunday cooking and preparing meals for the week. It isn't because she loves cooking (which she does), but it's because she's in survival mode during the week. "Is it a pain in the behind that you sit there for almost half a day prepping stuff like that? Yes," she says. "But it makes your whole week so easy. I'm here [in Las Vegas] now, so I cooked yesterday. I left them what's for dinner tonight. Matthew can now go and put it together himself."
Matthew is Academy Award winning actor Matthew McConaughey. It was Matthew's film schedule that led Camila to her latest venture, Yummy Spoonfuls brand of frozen organic baby foods. "It really started from frustration," she explains. "We were in Calgary, in the middle of nowhere, living in a trailer, and I was making baby food at three in the morning. Bowls of purees were everywhere. The little kitchen was filled up with dishes to wash. I was trying to figure out the flavors, making little pouches, and I thought, 'Baby's going to wake up for a next feed in a few and in the morning I'm going to have all three kids on my own and I'm not getting any sleep. Why is it so hard to open the freezer door and find the most pure form of food?'"
After some research, a friend put her in touch with Agatha Achindu who had already been working on the Yummy Spoonfuls brand, but had yet to take it national. The two joined forces and before long, the pouches of pure organic purees made their way to the freezer section at Target. "We do it just like you do at home," Camila says. "We start with real fruits and vegetables. We lightly cook them. Then we puree, then we freeze them. Just like homemade. We're making homemade food without the mess."
Though all of her kids still eat the purees (Vida's favorite flavor, pear, will soon be added to the line), they're also big fans of mom's Brazilian traditions. She shares many of those recipes, like her slower cooker version of Brazilian-style Chicken Stroganoff and Pão de Queijo on her Women of Today site.
Camila indulged us in answering POPSUGAR Moms's questionnaire:
POPSUGAR: What's your go-to quick family dinner that everyone will eat?
Camila Alves: Chicken Honey Chicken
PS: When you have a parenting question, who do you have on speed dial?
CA:Depends what it is, but usually my husband.
PS: What's the one parenting skill you wish you had?
CA: More patience and more sense of humor when I'm really exhausted.
PS: What food do you hide from the kids?
CA: Processed foods.
PS: Flats or heels?
CA: High heels.
PS: Helicopter mom or free-range?
CA: It depends on where I am and who I'm with.
PS: What's the kids' book you'd happily never read again?
PS: What's your biggest working mother guilt?
CA: Leaving them.
PS: What's the one thing about motherhood you wish someone told you?
CA: Birth. There's no easy way to give birth, for me. If people do it, I don't know how they do. I just got really unlucky.
PS: If you could write a parenting book, what would the title be?
CA: Something like, "How to Break the Code on What You Feed Your Kid."