Supermodel Christie Brinkley is also a busy philanthropist these days, but her biggest donations of time—and love—go to her kids Alexa Ray, 24, Jack, 14, and Sailor, 11.

By Patty A. Martinez

You've been on runways and magazine covers since you were 19, and you're also known for having been married to Billy Joel. What's your secret for maintaining a close bond with your ex?

Billy is Alexa's father, and he and I made a pledge long ago to put her first and always stay friends. He's a great listener and he's been there during the toughest times of my life. I'm so lucky to have him around!

Is music still a big part of your family's routine?

Definitely. When Alexa is home we gather in our music room with her on piano and Jack on guitar (he also plays drums). Sailor sings with her beautiful voice. We'll dance for hours to Motown, the Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, or Broadway tunes.

That's one way to stay active. What about outdoors?

We're beach people—that's why we live on Long Island! In the summer we sail (that's how Sailor got her name), surf, kayak, and fish. In the winter we ski or snowboard. Even if the kids do their own thing on the mountain during the day, we all get together for dinner and a family sleigh ride at night.

You have great style. What's your favorite fashion tip for busy moms?

When I'm short on time I go for something simple and classic like jeans and a button-down shirt, or an easy wrap dress, then focus on my hair. I'll polish my look by using hot rollers to give my straight locks extra body.

Do your kids borrow things from your closet?

Yes—even Jack! He loves my hats, vests, and vintage cowboy belt buckles. The girls usually go for the scarves, jewelry, jeans, and shoes. I love how each one can wear the same item totally differently. Jack is my rocker, Alexa has an eclectic, artsy look, and Sailor has a natural elegance.

Besides your eye for style, what else have you passed down to your kids?

I'm always preaching karma to instill a sense of responsibility. They've been raised to think every individual can make a difference in the world. In fact, it's a person's responsibility to do so.

How have you shown them?

I took them to Rome for a Nobel Peace Summit. I like to think the subject matter sank in, but I have to admit they were most at peace with their mouths full of pasta! Kidding aside, Jack and Sailor do a lot of giving back themselves. They raise money to help environmental and children's charities by selling freshly roasted pumpkin seeds or vegetables from our garden.

That must make you proud.

It does, but the biggest compliment is hearing from their teachers that they're leaders in kindness. Knowing my children will look around—and if someone's being excluded, will invite him into the circle ... I get choked up just talking about it.

Fast Facts

A career to remember: Christie has appeared on more than 500 magazine covers over three decades.

Our family's morning routine: Every day we make a crazed, mad dash to the car to get to school on time!

Favorite healthy snack: Fuji apples and peanut butter.

Last book I read: Live in a Better Way: Reflections on Truth, Love, and Happiness by the Dalai Lama.

Pampered pets: A labradoodle (Maple Sugar), Yorkie (Pixel), and parrot (Kiwi Houdini Valentine).

Guilty pleasure: Chocolate chip or vanilla ice cream.

Originally published in the March 2010 issue of Family Circle magazine.