Since I was a little girl, Helena Christensen has always been one of my favorite models and, now, style inspirations. A talented photographer, great entrepreneur, (check out her amazing lingerie collection for Triumph), still one of the biggest “top” models, and a devoted mother, I had to ask her how she manages it all!
Helena– being a mom to Mingus, and traveling a lot for work, how do you manage to find time for yourself?
I always try to have a good balance between the important priorities. I might travel for work for about a week to 10 days, then be home for 3 weeks or a month. I make sure I group my jobs together so I do minimal amounts of flying and as little time away from home as possible. I am very much a stay-at-home mom when I’m in New York, and enjoying every second of it. And when I’m away for work, I put all my energy and effort into that.
With your lifestyle, it is quite difficult to have a “routine”, but what is more or less your day to day plan in New York?
My days at home in New York are actually very routine-like and mellow. I get up at 7am with my son and make him breakfast and bike with him to school. Then I go back home and tidy up our place, air out the bedrooms, make coffee and breakfast for myself and work for 2-3 hours on photo editing, emails and planning future jobs. Twice a week I go boxing, sometimes I run for about 25 minutes, or swim. Then I go to the supermarket and might start marinating something for dinner quite early on– all of this I do while listening to a really cool jazz station on the radio. Then I bike back to get my son after school and we might visit the pet store on our way home (we got two pet lizards, so gotta get crickets and wax worms, yummy!) and then we head home to hang out, do homework, cook dinner. I sometimes go out in the evening, but usually on the later side, so I spend a lot of time with Mingus.
I know you do a lot of boxing, any other work outs?
I’ve been boxing for 8 years now, usually twice a week, but sometimes I don’t box for months– if I’m in Denmark for the summer or whenever I’m on trips. I like swimming, but definitely prefer swimming in the ocean than in a gym pool. I also am really into playing tennis with my boyfriend and son, and occasionally I run– mostly because I love listening to music blasting in my head.
I know this was a while ago, but did you work out a lot while pregnant too? And what was your “dress code” while pregnant?
I didn’t actually work out at all till I was in my mid-thirties, and when I finally started it was because I wanted to feel strength in my body and to clear my head. I still have to kind of force myself to go work out, but I thoroughly enjoy the feeling afterwards.
While I was pregnant I wore mostly vintage slip-dresses, but I was really only big during the summer months, so it was easy to dress for that. I’m not sure what kind of pants I would have squeezed into if it had been winter the whole time.
I went to the Victoria Secret show the other day, where so many models gave birth a few months ago and looked as if they had never been pregnant. I have to say I was even more envious, and hit the gym for a couple hours the next day (lol).
Did you go back to modeling right after? Any tips on how you got back in shape?
Most of those girls are in their early to mid-twenties, and at that age it’s a bit easier for the body to snap back into shape, but those particular girls also already work out like crazy, so their bodies are accustomed to keeping in shape. I honestly didn’t worry about getting back to work quickly after having my son– I didn’t feel I had the energy or desire to for a while after. I was super exhausted and modeling was the last thing on my mind. I did the odd job here and there, but really just took my time and let my body adjust naturally.
It might have taken up to a year for me to feel somewhat ‘normal’ again physically, but breast-feeding and walking a lot every day with the stroller helped it along. So I guess my tips aren’t that radical… I like a womanly body, I like feminine shapes.
Mingus is now 13, how did you find it raising a child in New York City? Any pros and cons?
We both love the city and we both love the countryside. I think, because we’re fortunate enough to spend time in both places, we really appreciate what they each have to offer. New York is a great place for a child to grow up– there’s lots of parks, playgrounds and museums to take a small child to, and now that Mingus is a teenager I just really feel we can explore the city together from a new perspective. I think street-smart kids are cool, but I also know the importance of being in nature for a child. We spend whole summers by the northern coast of Denmark, where we basically are outside all day long.
Do you have any other general tips? Mom tips, beauty tips– anything you want to include!
Having a child is a great joy, honor, responsibility and a beautiful adventure. It is exhausting, invigorating, frustrating, empowering, stressful, enlightening and totally blows your mind in the most surprising ways ever. I think it’s important to acknowledge how tough it sometimes can feel and to know that it’s ok to be honest and open about that. Sometimes I never thought a night would end…and now I don’t know how to stop time so I have this wonderful kid stay a kid for a lot longer. It’s the most magical experience in life– having a child and feeling love.
Thank you so much Helena!
Photography by Helena Christensen and Christy Bush