EXCLUSIVE: Jessica Alba on Motherhood, “I Always Feel Like I’m Compromising Something”

jessica alba daughters
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We caught up with Jessica Alba, mother of 3-year-old Honor and 7-month-old Haven, at The National Mother’s Day Committee’s “Outstanding Mother Awards” in New York City, to get the scoop on how she balances motherhood and acting. The key to sanity? Sleep schedules!

What’s your number one parenting tool?

“I am very good at staying on top of my three-year-old daughter, even though it’s annoying at times because we travel a lot, on her manners and rewarding her if she’s doing well. Not hesitating to give her a time-out when she’s acting crazy. I think you need to make that known early, so that they become respectful people early on. I want her to be respectful of herself, of the environment and of other people.”

What advice do you give to balance career and motherhood?

 “There’s no balance, it’s an imperfect thing. I always feel like I am compromising something. But at the end of the day my kid’s happiness is all that really matters, so everything else comes after that. As long as they’re happy, my mind is free.”

What’s your favorite thing to do for date-night?

“Watch whatever we TiVo’d and just hangout and talk. One of my girlfriends told me, while I was pregnant with my first child, that you have to put the baby on a sleeping schedule. But most importantly, [have them] in bed by 7 pm no matter what. Five o’clock is dinner, 6 o’clock is bath and 7 o’clock is bedtime. And it saved my life, because now I feel human again. I can get stuff done or you can hang out with your husband. I think that was key to sanity and sleep.”

Do you have something that your mom has taught you that’s invaluable, that you’ve been trying to instill on your children?

“Something that I’ve applied that she taught me was to always give it 100 percent and never give up. If you believe in yourself, anything is possible. We came from a very modest background, [where nobody was] in the entertainment business. I had a dream to be an actress and she always encouraged me. And now it encouraged me further, to start The Honest Company recently.”

What’s one item of clothing that you would never give away?

“I have a lot of beautiful things made for me. I have archived [dresses] for my girls, so that they can play dress up one day.”

Tell us: What’s your secret to balancing work and career? What’s the one thing you learned from your mom that you want to pass on?