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Jessica Alba and Lizzy Mathis on the joys and journey of parenthood with ‘Honest Renovations’

Alba: “By the way, your husband, your partner, your children will never say, ‘What do you need?’ You have to say, ‘ What do I need?’ And you have to do that for yourself.”

Jessica Alba and Lizzy Mathis on the joys and journey of parenthood with ‘Honest Renovations’

Jessica Alba and Lizzie Mathis, Honest Renovations

Jessica Alba, actress and founder of The Honest Company, has always had an eye for design, and so she teamed up with her friend Lizzy Mathis, founder & editor of The Cool Mom Co., to co-host and executive produce ‘Honest Renovations,’ which airs on Roku Channel today.

The series allows Alba, 42, and Mathis, 40, to not only bring their unique perspective on living spaces and homes but also bring their parenting skills forward to help families with candid conversations about the journey of parenthood and the importance of having your own space as parents.

Each of them are moms of three and first bonded as mom friends, having met when their kids were in preschool. While their personalities might be polar opposites (Alba shared she’s awkward and can’t talk to strangers easily, while Lizzy is open and embraces strangers with hugs), the duo are a perfect fit to bring their strengths to the table as they give each a home a refreshing makeover that in turn helps families be a better unit.

While on their press stop in Toronto this week, Alba and Mathis sat down with us to discuss the joys and journeys of parenthood, their secret to balance, their advice as moms and entrepreneurs and more.

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Q: Can you talk a bit about your own experiences as moms, and how having a family of your own is reflected in what you brought to the show?

Jessica: I have a 15-year-old, a 12-year-old and a five-year-old and at every stage of my family's growth, my house just didn't match up, and so I had to adjust our home in order for it to meet us where we were at, whether it went from one kid to two kids, that was a big change or two kids to three kids. Then every stage of life, if you have your room set up for a toddler, and now they're in primary school, and they have just different needs, and they have homework now and books, different types of books that they want to read and different toys and things.

And so you have to for maximum happiness, and if you can really kind of do a lot of reflection on where you guys are today, especially if you're finding that everyone's on edge, and people are just frustrated, and people can't figure out like what's going on, or what's this dynamic. And oftentimes, the family outgrew the home space, and so you can refresh and update your home space to get it to meet where your families are at. A lot of times, we all hang on to things from the past that aren't necessarily relevant for us today, such as decluttering, organizing and having beautiful solutions so when you look around at your home, you're so happy to be there. It’s your escape from the world, and you can really hunker down and create amazing memories, and it can really be a sanctuary. So that, for us was what we wanted to create with every family.

Lizzy: And then I think also COVID, I think every family experienced that. I think during COVID the space was just your space, you had to figure it out. It had to be the kitchen, it had to be the homework table, it had to be the project table, it had to be the work table. It had to be your office. One space became so important. I think that's what we really want to come in and also identify with our families. We wanted to come in and say okay, let's separate some of these spaces and have intentional moments not only for family but also for our parents and for our kids individually as well.

Q: What are some parenting challenges that you yourself had that you feel people will relate to and be able to take away from because of the way you designed their spaces?

Jessica: I think just giving these moms the permission to have their own space. One of the single mom was like, ‘This is my daughter's room as much as it's my room.’ And she's like ‘I don't feel like I have my thumbprint on any of this. It’s my sister's furniture and my daughter basically takes over every space.’ So giving her sort of the permission to say, ‘No, this isn't an adult beautiful, sexy grown woman space, right? And that's okay. And you can embrace that, you can want that for yourself.’ We just sort of allowed her to be able to lean into her best self.

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Lizzy: I think also we came in knowing that even us as mothers, as parents, as wives, as working women, we realized that no one – not even in our lives – will stop and say ‘Hey, what do you need?’

Jessica: and they never will. By the way, your husband, your partner, your children will never say, ‘What do you need?’ You have to say, ‘ What do I need?’ And you have to do that for yourself.

Lizzy: So we knew coming into it that that was what we wanted to give them to. So the first thing that Jess and I were talking about was, ‘Okay, what do they need? What does she need? What can we give her?’

Jessica: What is the thing that we intuitively can tap into because we've been there.

Jessica Alba and Lizzie Mathis Jessica Alba and Lizzie Mathis, Honest Renovations

Q: In the journey of helping other families, what have you learned about yourself as moms and individuals?

Jessica: I have to not be so controlling and maybe micromanage a little bit less because it will just release the pressure to be a perfectionist. Since I was small, I put a lot of pressure on myself to be a perfectionist. And then when you're thinking of someone else, and then I was projecting, are they going to be happy and it needs to be perfect. And no one else is caring about details. So I think just letting it go.

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Lizzy: It was so important for us to give love moments to our families that sometimes I don't remember to do it for myself as often as I would hope that other people are doing it for themselves. Self love is so important… as much as we are giving the gift of here's the bathroom, here's your new bedroom and all that, I think in turn, I took a mirror to myself a little bit instead of hey, you need to take these moments for yourself too. And so I think I'm learning that and I think season one really kind of showed me how much more I should be doing that in my world.

Q: You’re balancing it all as working moms, entrepreneurs, actors, producers. What is the secret to having it all and balancing it all?

Lizzy: I think the secret is knowing that you're not balancing it all, or having it all? I don't believe that there's really a true balance in life, I think that some things require more at certain times of life than other. I think that the true gift of it all is knowing where and when to put your efforts in certain things. And that's okay, and being okay with that. Not being so steadfast and stuck that you're so controlling like, ‘Okay, I have to do everything. I have to be everything for everybody right now.’ I think being able to be settled in yourself and say, ‘It's okay for me to give a little bit more here and let someone else help me a little bit here.’ And then give something there and just find the rhythm of life more so than the balance.

Jessica: Yeah, you get burned out if you try to just do everything for everyone all at once all time. I think balance is a daily thing – it ebbs and flows. It's interesting because it always feels like other people have what you don't have. But ultimately, if you're doing the work to really find your own inner happiness or inner peace, then it feels less distant, the idea of balance or happiness with something that someone else has that you don't feel is like envious maybe of other people's lives because you're more concerned about your own internal clock.

You need to be connected to yourself… especially in social media time. When everyone just wants to show you the highlights and also they fake highlights. It's built on FOMO. I have to explain to my daughter that it’s not real life. This is everyone's fantasy world of their life. And I think it's important as much time as you ever spend looking at feeds and social media and all of that, which we do and we are participants but also to spend that much time on your own sense of self and self reflection.

Q: What is the biggest misconception of parenting that you learned along the way?

Jessica: I think that it's that your whole life needs to be completely tied up in your children. Now, my kids are the most important things in the world to me, but I think you also have to have your own identity because if your identity is too attached or connected to your kids, that puts too much pressure on them. And then when they naturally evolve and grow and become adult humans and live their own life, it's going to be kind of unhealthy. And it's important for your kids to also see you as a functioning whole person in the world, because it's such a good example for who they could be.

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Lizzy: I think that the biggest misconception of parenting would be that you're supposed to have it all figured out. You're the parent, you're supposed to have it figured out. You're supposed to know this already. And that's falsity. You realize you are figuring it out along the way…. Also like my biggest fear is going into teenage hood, right? I'm like, ‘Oh, my God, my daughter is about to be a teenager in a couple of years. What am I going to do?’ But I don't have to have it figured out. I can take the stages with the ages and take it as it goes. I think that's the biggest pressure we put on ourselves as parents. We want to just know what we're supposed to be doing and we want to get it right. But there's no handbook, you're not going to always get it perfect. And I think learning along the way and giving yourself grace as parents is a big thing, too.

All six episodes of 'Honest Renovations' is now streaming on Roku Channel

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Marriska Fernandes is an entertainment and lifestyle journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. She’s the host of Telefilm’s Maple Popcorn podcast and contributes to The Toronto Star, EverythingZoomer.com, Complex.ca, SHARP, Exclaim.ca and Elle Canada. 

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