24 Hours With … Maia James from Gimme The Good Stuff

With so many resources available for non-toxic living, it can feel a bit overwhelming. Add to that the panic-stricken feelings the subject can induce, and avoiding the topic altogether might feel more appealing. Maia James, founder of Gimme The Good Stuff, somehow balances deep knowledge in non-toxic living while also being totally realistic, reasonable and personable—a rare combination! Her web site is full of well-researched and well-reasoned recommendations—it is definitely worth a look (I was really surprised about some things I learned from her). As a Huffington Post writer and celebrity consultant, Maia devotes her career to helping people, particularly mothers, reduce toxins in their lives. Maia lives with her family in New York, and this is her 24 Hours.

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Do you work inside or outside of the home? If outside of the home, what are your hours? I work inside my home, in an office in my apartment.

What is your childcare/schooling situation? My older son is in kindergarten all day, and so I work during the younger one’s nap, after they both go to bed, and then a couple of mornings a week I have a babysitter here to play with my 15-month-old while I work.  All other times, I try to just be a mom for the boys, and not be multi-tasking with my iphone in one hand, trying to surreptitiously check email while reading Curious George. I sort of pull this off, but not always as well as I would like.

What is breakfast, lunch and dinner like in your family? Pretty chaotic. My one-year-old only wants to eat with a fork, so it’s always a huge mess. Breakfast is usually oatmeal with chia seeds and maple syrup, or French toast which we make with sprouted bread.  Lunch is often leftovers from dinner, but I admit to doing a fair amount of whole-wheat mac and cheese with broccoli thrown in! My husband often makes dinner (lucky me)—often either salmon or chicken, with a vegetable and a grain, like quinoa, brown rice, or kamut, which the kids like with butter and tamari. We make pizzas on premade crusts when we feel lazy, or sometimes a pasta with shrimp or veggies. I don’t eat meat, but my boys do, so sometimes I’ll make homemade tofu burgers and my husband will make grassfed beef burgers for himself and the kids.

Do you meal plan or wing it? Do you like that? A little of each. I sort of plan in the morning, so that during the afternoon I can start prepping dinner a bit…but I definitely don’t lay out the week’s meals every Sunday. I wish I could be that organized!

What is the most challenging part of your day? The stretch in the late afternoon to early evening when I’m waiting for my husband to come home can feel really long, and I know it’ll only be worse this winter! My husband now knows that if he stops on his way home—be it for a 6-pack or toilet paper—he may have his head ripped off for daring to be delayed even 5 extra minutes!!

What is the easiest part of your day? When the kids are finally in bed and I sit on the couch and do work while my husband lets me monopolize the TV with terrible shows like The Bachelor.

In terms of running a house with a family, what do you feel like you have figured out? [Long long pause]. I think I’ve figured out how to prepare meals with two kids underfoot pretty well. Sometimes that means letting the baby bang on pots at my feet, sometimes I’m holding him in one arm while I stir and Felix is playing on the ipad.

Does anything still stump you? Most things! I still can’t believe it when I visit people with kids and their homes are spotless and perfectly organized. I just don’t have a good handle on this yet. I feel like I walk around cleaning and picking up ALL day, yet the place always is a mess.

How do you take care of yourself and recharge? As I mentioned, every night I get a little recharge by putting my feet up, watching something mindless on TV, and drinking either a Kombucha, a good IPA beer, or a glass or wine. I actually find working on my business relaxing because I so rarely get dedicated time completely to myself!.

If you had an extra hour in your day, how would you spend it? I would love to have one solid hour of time just devoted to snuggling or being silly with my kids, without feeling like I need to be doing anything else at all.

Any other tips you’d like to share? Get a handheld vacuum cleaner! Somehow it took me 5 years to do so, and it’s changed my life.

What does a usual 24 hours look like in your house? The kids are up at around 6:30 a.m. and my husband leaves for work really early—the boys and I have a little lazy time in our jammies, reading books or snuggling, and by 7:00 we are up eating breakfast, then getting dressed, brushing teeth, cleaning up, packing lunch, and out the door at 8:20 to walk my older son to school. From 8:45 to noon I either have a babysitter and I work or I take the baby to the park/a music class/to see a friend. Then we eat lunch and I put him down for a nap, and then I nearly sprint to my computer to catch up on the piles of work that are always waiting for me! Wolfie wakes up at around 2:30, at which point we have to leave immediately to pick up his brother. We often run an errand after this—grocery store or other shopping—or sometimes I take my older son for a playdate. We get home by 4:00 or so and I start dinner by 4:45 so the kids can eat at 5:30, which is usually around the time my husband gets home. After that it’s the standard bath-cleanup-stories-bedtime routine, with the goal that the kids are both sleeping by 7:15! I try to get myself in bed by 9:30 since I always read for at least an hour before going to sleep (mostly The New York Times on my phone but ideally a bit of fiction, too!).

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