Tia Mowry: “I’m a fun mom and I’m a hot mama!”

Flu season is approaching, but that won’t stop Tia Mowry. Parents chatted with her upon the launch of a new flu vaccine and she shared tips for dealing with a sick baby, having a different parenting style than her twin, Tamera, and she let us help her cement her upcoming Halloween plans!

P: What makes you so passionate about this health issue in particular?

TM: I’m a busy mom. I’m always on the go. I’m an entrepreneuer, I’m a wife, I’m a sister, I’m a working mom, but my family’s health is my number one priority and my health is my number one priority. To be honest with you I never realized the importance of the flu vaccination, but after really understanding how the flu can take a huge toll on the entire family—because we all know once a mom is down or sick it’s instant chaos—I realized that it was really important to make sure that flu vaccinations were a part of my family’s annual routine.

P: What would you say to the mom who is nervous about vaccinating her child?

TM: When we think about vaccinations, we think about needles. Needles aren’t, I don’t think, anyone’s best friend. That creates a sense of fear when it comes to vaccinations. One thing I love about FluMist Quadrivalent: it’s needle-free. You know you’re not going to have a crying child leave the pediatrician’s office, which is a plus. (Editor’s note: The flu mist is for children ages 2 and up.)  The other thing is, it’s FDA-approved, and when I know things have been FDA-approved I feel ok about that. I want to protect my child in the best way that I possibly can.

P: When Cree does get sick, what are your non-medicine ways to help him feel better?

TM: The first thing that I do when my son gets sick is give him extra extra extra love and extra attention. Kids get scared. They don’t know what’s going on with their bodies and things are happening that doesn’t normally happen, they’re sneezing, they’re coughing and they get scared. Just to support them in a way that they feel comfortable, whether that’s letting them sleep with you, taking a nap with them, doing soft gentle things with them, I think is beneficial.

The other thing is: Vick’s has always been huge in my family. It just helps. I actually put Vicks on the bottom of his feet, it helps with coughs and it really really works. Instead of just applying it on the chest or the back, I apply it on his feet and put little socks over. Then I get a humidifier going and he’s fine.

P: Speaking of mom advice, you came out with your book of pregnancy tales and advice last year. What is the single most valuable piece of advice you want pregnant moms to know?

TM: The most difficult thing for me was worrying that everything would be okay. The best thing that I could say is “just relax.” I know it’s easier said than done and I’ve been through it already, but the more relaxed you are the better it will be for you and the baby. Don’t get on the internet and try to look at every wrong possible scenario that could happen. And sleep while you can. Everybody would tell me this, but I would not listen. Make sure you get as much sleep as you possibly can because when you become a mom—sleep, what? There is no such thing as sleep.

For moms in general, follow your instincts. I believe we have been born to do this, to be moms. We’re natural nurturers, so trust your instincts. Go at your own pace. I never realized how much judgment comes with certain parenting styles. Do what’s best for you and your family and that’s ok. If you are an attachment parent and you have the type of style, that’s fine. If you’re not, that’s fine. Don’t judge other moms. I think that’s the worst thing you can do to any mom and any child. Whether it’s breastfeeding, not breastfeeding, attachment parenting, co-sleeping. Every parent has their own journey.

P: Your sister, Tamera, is also a new mom. Are your parenting styles similar or different? 

TM: My sister and I have very different parenting styles. I’m definitely more of the attachment parent. I sleep with my son. I pay close attention to his emotional needs. If I could have breasfed until he was 2, I would have. I loved breastfeeding. That’s why we came out with Need Milky, because I was devastated that my milk dried up after three months. I’m not going to spank my child. I don’t believe in spanking. I was spanked as a child, so I have an interesting perspective about that. I do believe in setting boundaries. I think a child definitely has to understand their boundaries because when they go out in the real world not everything is going to go their way, but I don’t think that spanking is a form of discipline that works for everybody.

P: As twins and as co-stars you are so close, how do you deal with a clash about parenting styles?

TM: I’m going to be honest, that’s why I say “don’t be judgmental.” Sometimes I would think “Oh my gosh, are you judging me? Are you judging my parenting style? Do you think I’m not a good mom or a good parent because I’m co-sleeping with my child and you’re deciding not to?” We’ve realized that we have different lifestyles. There’s a reason why I do what I do. I work a lot. When I’m gone from my child, to then be able to sleep with him and to be able to feel his hand on my face and to hear him go “Muhmuh” in the middle of the night it melts my heart. Whereas, Tamera, she’s more at home so maybe she wants to have a little break. What helped us with that clash is not judging one another. We do what we do because it’s what’s best for our families, not that we believe one is the right way or the wrong way of parenting.

P: It’s interesting because obviously you came from the same family, but have very different interpretations of the events that you both experienced and how that translates to your sons.

TM: It shows how your children are watching. My sister’s way of parenting is very close to my mom’s way of parenting, whereas I’m like the free one. I’m the free bird. I like to try different approaches and have a mind of my own in a way. So I say, “Ok that worked for you, but I see it differently.” It’s interesting when you have your mom saying, “Honey, why does your 2-year-old still have a bottle.” And I say, “If he wants to have a bottle—this is what I mean by listening to him emotionally—he can have a bottle.” I know he’s not going to be 9 years old with a bottle, so if he wants to suck a bottle right now and that’s bringing him comfort, that’s fine. I trust my child in his development.

P: Speaking of age and developmental milestones, I know that Cree is 2. What is your favorite thing about this age?

TM: My favorite thing about this age is that I can now communicate with my child. I can kind of understand what he’s saying. There’s a lot of babbling. I love the way when I’m driving and we’ve been in the car for about an hour and he wants Mommy’s attention he says “hand, hand, hand” and I can reach back and give him my hand. I like the way I’m able to understand him more, he’s able to understand me more. I like the way he’s able to have his own point of view now or his own interests. He likes Curious George. He likes Thomas the Train. He was not too fond about the Chica show. That’s fine. I like that. Little bits of his personality are coming out.

P: Now that he’s vaccinated and there is no fear of going out and catching the flu, what is your favorite autumn and winter activities that you’re looking forward to sharing with Cree?

TM: My son loves being outside. He’s living up to his name, Cree, after a tribe of Native Americans who were warriors who would travel around the world. He always wants to go out and about. We love going to The Grove in L.A. For winter there is Santa Claus and there’s this big huge tree and he gets to meet Santa Claus, so that’s what I’m looking forward to. I also just got him a new wardrobe at Zara. I love ZaraKids. He’s looking like a little Jay-Z, he has on these puffy bubble jackets with these cool corduroy pants and boots. I can’t wait to dress him in fun fall clothes.

P: Speaking of dressing up, Halloween is upon us. Do you have a costume planned for him? 

TM: I have to tell this story. I was working last year for Halloween, I was doing Baggage Claim. My husband took my son around the block for Halloween. My husband dressed as Mario and my son was dressed as a frog. It was so cute. For the other one he was a boxer—I had to get him more than one because it was his first Halloween. This year I think I want to be a Geisha with the whole makeup, but I don’t know what Cree could be.

P: Maybe a little sushi roll?

TM: Oh that’s such a good idea! That is so cute. And then what should my husband be? A samurai!

P: Will he go trick-or-treating with his cousin or is Tamera’s Aden too young?

TM: He will be dressed up and I think that will be great. I’m thinking about having a huge Halloween party at my house and having all cool punches and desserts and food that’s very Halloween-themed. That’s what I want to do.

P: I know that Instant Mom is coming up. Is your character’s mothering anything like what it is with Cree, or maybe when Cree gets older?

TM: I think where Stephanie Phillips’ parenting skills are right now is kind of like how I was when I first had Cree. When you’re a new mom, you’re a fish out of water. You don’t really know what you’re doing. It’s trial and error basically. You can read all these books and get advice, but you kind of have to go through the experience yourself. So it reminds me of that, when I was a new mom. People would say that I’m a fun mom and I’m a hot mama and Stephanie is that. She is a hot, fun mom. She definitely has not lost who she is and her essence as a woman now that she’s become a mom and that’s how I am. But I add a lot of my own personality to my character, that she is just a lot of fun but when it comes down to discipline she’s serious with the kids. She feels “I know I’m your mom and you want me to be your friend, but at the same time I’m the mom.” But for me, my goal is to be the best mom I can possibly be.

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