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Kathy Ireland shares her tips for life as a busy mom

  • Story Highlights
  • Former supermodel gives tips for moms in new book
  • Making a list of priorities is vital, Ireland says
  • Saying no is OK; you can love your kids by teaching them responsibility
  • Parents must ask themselves if they are really listening to their children, she says
By Steve Almasy
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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- At 7 o'clock in the morning, Kathy Ireland's life isn't nearly as glamorous as you think.

Kathy Ireland says a mom needs to face the tough issues in life straight-on and not bury her head.

Kathy Ireland says a mom needs to face the tough issues in life straight-on and not bury her head.

The former supermodel has to get three kids ready for day, make lunches and guide them through the chaos that precedes the rush to school.

"My life is, it's pretty crazy. Some elements are different than a lot of moms, and some are very similar," she said while promoting her book "Real Solutions for Busy Moms."

Once she gets the children in the car, she keeps them away from distractions. The ride is only 12 minutes long, but she views the time as some of the most valuable of her day. So there are no cell phones, no iPods, no video games.

Instead, they just talk.

It's their chance to connect.

"I get to impart my 'mom stuff' on them, and I get to learn about them and hear about them," she said. "It's often it's during those nothing times when you have those really special connections with your kids. They're not going to open up on your timetable." Video Watch Kathy Ireland describe how she balances business, family »

To most people, Ireland is the former swimsuit supermodel-turned-CEO of a $1 billion business, so she recognizes that it may seem odd that she is dispensing advice to middle-class moms through the book and a Web site.

She tells women that the struggles and challenges that they and she face are the same for many moms. And the book is her way of relating her personal experiences to her readers.

While she was a model, she was unable to work because of an injured knee and had a bank come to foreclose on a condo and credit card debt, she says.

Recently, Ireland's son came to her and her husband, wanting a loan so he could buy a computer. Rather than fronting him the money, they told him he would have to earn the funds and then buy what he wanted.

The lesson: Stick to reality, and don't spend money you don't have. And the conversation as parents was as important as teaching her son a lesson about finances.

Ireland says it's very important for a mother to examine her communication with her children.

"We need to ask ourselves, 'Are we really listening to them?' " she said. "Are we really giving them our focus? And then are we taking action upon what we are hearing?"

She says that the book asks tough questions of women and that readers need to examine how they are managing their lives.

"A common thread throughout the book is, we have to get over ourselves and pull our heads out of the sand," she said. "I call it ostriching. We must face the tough stuff head-on."

One way to start doing that, she suggests, is for moms to make a list of priorities. It is when priorities are not in order that life becomes a mess. Ireland likes to write down three letters: J-O-Y, which stands for Jesus, Others, You.

Many people will have a different list; some want to put their family first. She sees a lot of moms who have a hard time saying no to their children. They want to be their friends or to buy their affection. But she says that is unrealistic.

"It's not healthy for them," she said. "My job as mom is to love, to protect, to mentor and to discipline."

It won't be easy to face a lot of the issues brought up in the book, she says. It takes much effort because so many people are trying so hard just to get through each day.

She wrote the book to help women remove some of the obstacles to each day and help mothers get back to the visions they once had of their lives.

She knows that moms often feel guilty if they take any time to care for themselves. She knows how they want so much for themselves and their families.

"It is really a daily effort," she said. "I believe that women can have it all, but not all at once. Our lives come in seasons, and each season of our lives, we have to prioritize our time."

The book is divided into seven chapters, with each ending in a checklist. The chapters focus on issues with money, happiness, health, safety, self-examination, personal care and faith. Sprinkled throughout are questions from users of Ireland's Web site, which she answers in the passages.

When she's on the road promoting the book, she enjoys being able to meet with fans, hearing their stories and sharing hers. But at some point, she gets away to call home, check in with her husband and talk to the kids to see how their days were.


"There's always that push and that pull. It's really tough being on the road. I miss them desperately," she said.

As for her own life, she says, she goes back to the book constantly, going through the checklists and using them to stay accountable -- to herself, her husband and her children.

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