After starting out as a child model, Brooke Shields first appeared on cinema screens at the age of 12. She has been twice nominated for a Golden Globe and has starred in a number of shows on Broadway.
More recently, she had a major recurring role in season 19 of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
After a high-profile marriage to tennis player Andre Agassi in the late-1990s, she went on to marry television writer Chris Henchy, with whom she has two daughters.
1Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Being a new parent is tough. You worry whether you’re doing something you shouldn’t, or not doing something you should. Shields says she’s a big believer in talking to other mothers – both to learn from them and to feel better when they share their failures or fears.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be too hard on yourself,” she says. “If you think that everybody else has it figured out and you’re the only one that’s going crazy or yelling or feeling like you can’t do it all – you’re not alone.”
2Make time to be together
It’s not just the special occasions, holidays or family trips that stick in kids’ memories – Shields believes the everyday stuff is just as important. Even though we’re all busy, we should prioritise our kids whenever we can.
“They’re not going to remember Mom was tired,” she explains. “They’re going to remember I did the weather chart or story time at school. So you just do it. It’s the mundane stuff that’s important.”
3If you’re struggling, speak up
Shields has spoken openly about her post-natal depression and wrote a book, Down Came the Rain, documenting her journey. She says there’s still a stigma attached to mental health problems and many women feel they can’t share their struggle. She’s aiming to change that.
“Nobody was talking about post-partum depression and women were struggling all the time,” she recalls about her decision to write the book. “I wanted to educate women who were suffering and families of women who were suffering.
“I’d gone through numerous attempts to have a baby and when I finally did, it all but destroyed me. I just cried all day long and thought I’d made the worst mistake of my life.”
4Try to stay calm
It’s easier than it sounds, and Shields admits it’s difficult not to react when your kids are pushing your buttons. She’s trying her best, though.
“Every day there’s a new challenge. My new thing is not screaming. I would engage in a fight and my husband would say, ‘What’s wrong with you? Why are you fighting with them?’ Chris calls it FOFO – Find Out Before You Freak Out. So before I react, I’m now trying to just count to ten.”
5Find a work-life balance
Many parents work because they have to; others because they want to. Either way, balancing professional demands with those of your children is a tricky process. And, says Shields, it’s all too easy to get overwhelmed with work-related extra-curricular activities. We need to breathe and dial back a little.
“I had a moment where I realized I was spending all of my free time, which is so little, doing events and going to charities. I wasn’t putting my kids to bed at all. When you’re doing theatre it’s almost impossible to put them to bed and it really threw me for a loop. I have to work, so when I’m not working it’s easy to get caught up and say, ‘Oh, I’ll do that charity’ or ‘I’ll do that thing for you.’ And your kids are with the babysitter and it’s heart-breaking.”