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Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
Set your DVRs, ladies, because tonight is a 90210 reunion! Well, kind of. Jennie Garth and her longtime gal pal Tori Spelling are teaming up again in the new ABC Family series Mystery Girls, premiering tonight. Parents caught up with Jennie a few weeks ago and then met her at a special Mamarazzi screening event, hosted by The MOMS of SiriusXM fame. The actress and mother of three daughters, Luca, 17, Lola, 12, and Fiona, 8, opened up to us about raising her girls to be confident women, recovering from divorce, working her latest volunteer project, and filming her hilarious new sitcom.
P: Your girls are growing up so quickly. Is it tougher to be a parent to toddlers and preschoolers or tweens and teens?
JG: Oh my god I would have to say younger is tougher because they cannot articulate what they’re thinking or what they want or need so well. The language barrier is definitely a problem.
P: What traits of yours do you see in each of your daughters?
JG: All of my best ones [laugh]. I can definitely see qualities from myself as well as qualities of their dad. Good and bad from both of us. Luca today was listening to the same exact music that I was listening to at her age, which was The Cure. She didn’t listen to it today because of me, she listened to it totally on her own. So we have similar musical taste. She’s also beautiful. She has very similar body, dance, movement style. My middle one, Lola, is very organized and very much an organized thinker, a list-maker and she likes to have tasks and complete them—that’s how my brain works. My little Fiona, she’s very competitive. So when we play board games she likes to win, and she’s very quick-witted and those are definitely both qualities of mine. You definitely see yourself in them for good and for bad sometimes.
P: Is there a childlike thing that you get excited to relive through Fiona, since she’s your youngest?
JG: All of it. Easter egg coloring, and you know, she loves to play board games. Coloring. Coloring book coloring. I love just sitting and coloring. She loves any kind of game. Puzzles. We do all that. And reading with her. We still snuggle in bed together, where the other girls do their own thing at bedtime, you know. The book-reading at that time is one of my favorite times of the day.
P: Having three girls is no easy task, and you’re a single mom. Do you have any best piece of advice for women dealing with the same situation and transition?
JG: I have so much encouragement and wisdom to pass along to people. When I first was on my own, everything was so challenging. Everything was stressful. Everything was more than I could handle and I didn’t know if I was gonna be able to get through it on my own. I felt like I was swimming upstream all the time. And at some point it just changed. And all of a sudden, mornings are pleasant again. The morning rush isn’t stressful. It isn’t like “I can’t do this,” it’s like “Yeah, we got this guys.” Me and my girls will handle it and it will all be great. It rounded a corner for me and I think that that happens when it happens for everyone and nobody can force that, and it’s really hard to believe when you’re in it. Hold on to that faith and knowledge that it will get better.
From a kid’s perspective, it’s an ongoing condition. My kids are never going to not be sad that their parents aren’t together. And me acknowledging that and holding that really gently and tenderly is the best thing that I can do. I can’t change the situation unfortunately, but I can hold the fact that their feelings about it are always gonna be right there at the surface no matter how old they are.
P: It sounds like you are all so close. With such a busy career it can be tough to keep that “family unit” feeling going. Are there any routines to carve out family time?
JG: We do dinner every night together. It’s tough because my teenager’s got a full schedule. But it’s always family before friends and the girls respect that and they take that seriously, which is cool. I just keep it really tight. Family first.
Spice up your family dinner night:
P: You’re involved in a new campaign that starts July 24 “Get an A+ in Eye Care” to help other families. Tell me about your work with this cause.
JG: Well with the three girls, two of them are now in glasses. I wear glasses. Eye care is something that’s a part of our family. I see when we provide vision care for the kids that don’t have access to it what a difference it makes in their lives. It’s pretty profound. I love being a part of it and this campaign is a very simple one. For every “like” on the Eye Solutions Facebook page Alcon is donating a dollar and that money goes directly to free exams and eyeglasses to children in need. I’ve been there and I’ve helped kids get fitted for their very first glasses.
P: Is activism and volunteerism something you hope to cultivate in your girls?
JG: Absolutely. It’s something that’s been instilled in me since I was a little girl. It’s something I’m just naturally handing down to my girls. It’s not something I really thought about. You pay it forward, that’s just what you do in this lifetime.
P: Mystery Girls with your longtime friend and co-star Tori Spelling premieres tonight. Tell me about the show and how you help your girls create solid healthy friendships like the one you have with Tori.
JG: Tori’s and my friendship is a pretty unique situation because we were on  for ten years together. Not a lot of people get to experience what we did. So we have this crazy bond together and we are so blessed by that and able to carry that into our next job together. This is very a special love for each other. For my girls it’s just about teaching them their self-worth, first and foremost. Teaching them to love themselves and respect themselves and to gravitate toward other people who do the same and also to give them that same respect.
P: How did being a mom affect your decision to go back into the studio full time with Mystery Girls?
JG: For me it was location. It’s very close to my kids’ school and our house, where we shoot it. The hours of the day that we work, sitcom hours, are much less than any other show you can shoot, and we work three weeks on, one week off. So I can have a solid week with my kids. And also, our kids come to the set and it’s so close to their school that they just come right after school. If this was a show that shot in West Los Angeles or something, it would be a totally different decision to look at. When you have kids, for me, they come first and my job comes second. So I have to look at all those factors, location and traffic and drive time all that stuff.
P: Your character, Charlie, is a bit concerned about being perceived as a cool mom by her daughter. How concerned are you with being a cool mom?
JG: I try to be not cool. I’m the mom with the tattoos. My kids admire the fact that I am kind of edgy personally, and they actually try to keep me in line. But I try to be not cool because I don’t want to be their friend. I want to be their mother.
P: Your book Deep Thoughts From a Hollywood Blonde puts it right out there: don’t stereotype me. How do you help your girls be confident young women and defy stereotypes?
JG: I think just in my actions and them seeing me function, you know. I’m so independent and capable that they have no other way of seeing a woman. I set an example not by choice but because that’s how I have to live. It’s so easy to stereotype women. Even my 16-year-old daughter is cast in plays as the “pretty girl,” the cheerleader, and she does it beautifully and she does it with depth and a certain depth I wouldn’t think they were expecting, but I’m already cognizant of what’s happening with her. It’s something that we’ll be facing and working on and discussing I’m sure for the rest of all of their lives.
Mystery Girls premieres Wednesday, June 25 8:30/7:30c on ABC Family. Check your local listings.
Photograph: Courtesy of Jennie Garth
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Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
Attention all 90210 fans! Tori Spelling and her California co-star Jennie Garth are back with their new sitcom Mystery Girls, premiering tonight on ABC Family. Parents caught up with the pair at a Mammarazzi screening event hosted by The MOMS, one of a series of town hall style events hosted by the mommy lifestyle brand. In terms of mommyhood, not all of the mysteries are solved yet, but Tori revealed to Parents what it’s like to go back to work with four kids at home (Liam, 8, Stella, 7, Hattie, 3, and Finn, 2), the secret behind her fabulous birthday bashes, and her proudest accomplishment as a mother.
P: Having four kids, how did your mommy duties play into your decision to go back to work full time?
TS: Having done a lot of reality work since Liam was born, I’ve had that luxury of always being able to have them with me, so this is my first job that takes me away from them in eight years. It’s been a definite transition. I don’t think I was completely ready. Finn is still so young. But the timing was right and in this business you don’t always get a second chance, you know? We had an amazing show that ran for 10 years and to me that was like lightening in a bottle and that is what this felt like with this show. It felt like Wow this is the moment for it so I gotta take it and create it and do it. The nice thing is they do get to come to set, so I get to see my kids. We shoot very close to where we live, so it’s a nice balance.
P: Not only are you starring in the sitcom, you’re also the creator and executive producer. Where did the idea for Mystery Girls come from?
TS: When I first came up with the idea it was “Mystery Mom” because I was a mom and I wanted to do something in the realm of comedy, but I also love mysteries. I love like the 80s, 90s mysteries and I was like “I’ve never seen a sitcom do it, why not?” And two women doing it! The idea that [our characters] used to be on a show together was a wink wink to 90210. It went from Mystery Mom to Mystery Girls because it opened it up to everyone. But what we bring to these roles, it’s not just like you could have hired any two actresses to play these roles because there is a friendship and a sisterhood that goes for 20 years that you can’t write that.
P: Before Mystery Girls, your birthday parties on your reality show were famous. Do you have any fun parties planned and where do you get your inspirations?
TS: I did it the wrong way. I’m just putting it out there. I did it backwards. I went all out for the first two and then I kept having babies and now at four I’m like “There’s always a party, oh my G-d.” As a fulltime working mom, you just can’t keep doing the big parties. We’re scaling back now and we’re remembering it’s about family and who’s at the party, not about how big they are, even though I do still fixate on the details. It’s all about the DIY. Stella’s definitely a mini-me as far as decorating. Inspirations just come from when I was a kid. Everything that is out kind of comes back. So I always try to bring things back. Right now we’re into Jell-o molds. Bring em back!
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P: You mentioned Stella got your decorating sense. Are any of your four kids a mini-me?
TS: I’m gonna have to hear that question again because as soon as you said four I was like oh my gosh I have four. All of them have a little, yes. Liam is definitely stubborn like me. He’s creative and passionate like me. He holds in his feelings like me. Stella does the same. Stella’s a DIY goddess, so she got my crafting gene and love for it. She loves fashion like I do. Stella does everything I do. We have a lot of fun together. We’re best friends. Hattie has a much bigger voice than I’ve ever had. I would love to have Hattie’s voice. I’m still trying to find my voice and Hattie has it. She’s loud and proud and she’s number three. I will see her using her hands like me—I talk a lot with my hands. The other day she was on the phone and she had her hands on her hip just how I talk on the phone. I saw her walking and I was like “That’s my walk.” And then Finn. Finn and I have a really special bond. I had a hard pregnancy with him, so he and I…I just want to hold him and never let him go. He has a little soulful spirit and he looks a lot like me when I was a baby. Oh my gosh there are so many.
P: What has your proudest moment been as a mom?
TS: [When they show love to each other.] Mine are so little that they were kind of their own people and now they’re starting to love each other. They are just starting to help each other and the other day Hattie needed help off the couch and she was starting to cry and she was like “Sissy Sissy!” Stella came running over and lifted her off the couch. She changes Finn’s diaper and he looks for her. It’s knowing that there’s a little community of love I created. That they have each other and that’s my legacy to pass on to them. I’ve given them this. I’ve given them love that will surround them forever.
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Thursday, June 19th, 2014
In anticipation of this summer’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live-action movie, we caught up with actress and new mom (again!) Megan Fox. While many may recognize her of Transformers fame, her favorite role is mother of two boys under the age of two. Parents talked with Megan about the challenges and joys of parenthood, her rules about TV (unexpected for an actress!), and what she looks forward to as Noah, almost 2, and Bodhi, 4 months, continue to grow.
P: Now that you’re a mom, how does that affect how you pick your projects?
MF: The main thing it does is it affects how much I’m willing to work. I’ve never been an extraordinarily ambitious girl or career-oriented, but especially once I got pregnant with my first son and now [having] my second, it’s so hard to be a working mom especially when your heart is not in your work, when your heart is with your family. I have to make one movie a year because I have to invest in their future and I have to be able to pay their way through college and be able to provide for them. I’m looking for movies that will shoot in Los Angeles, for projects where I’m part of an ensemble so I can shoot in and out in 10-20 days. It’s all about trying to spend as little time away from my kids as possible.
P: What is it like having two kids under 2? What’s the most enjoyable part and most challenging part?
MF: It’s total chaos obviously. Before you have kids you really do not understand how much work it is and how consuming it is. And then you have one and you’re like, “Oh my God my baby is my whole world.” Every moment of the day is dedicated to this one baby and then all of a sudden you have two babies! Their needs are so different because Noah is nearing 2 and then my newborn is 4 months. It’s really hard to manage because I also don’t let them watch TV. It’s not like I’m going to sit Noah in front of the television so I can take care of Bodhi. I have to figure out how to incorporate Noah into the process and have him help me take care of Bodhi and make sure he doesn’t get jealous and make sure nobody’s neglected and everybody’s needs are being met. As a mom it’s hard because I don’t feel like I’m ever giving either one of them 100% of my attention or 100% of myself, so I carry a lot of guilt. Do they each understand how special they are and how much I love them? And are they understanding that they’re unique? It’s hard to make each one feel like an individual when you have to raise them together and manage them together all of the time. So that’s the most difficult part.
The most amazing part of it aside from being blessed to just continue to have children: Noah’s starting to interact with Bodhi. He’ll try to comfort him sometimes when he cries and he’ll do the “sh sh sh sh” and to watch him do that melts my heart. I’m excited for the future, to see them be brothers and be best friends and I know that there’s gonna be lots of fighting, but there’s also gonna be lots of hugs and kisses. It’s sort of mind-blowing to think about how amazing the future is going to be with them, holidays and birthdays.
P: When did you first have that “I’m a mom” feeling?
MF: I was really connected during my first pregnancy. But even during my pregnancy I had no idea how worried I was going to be for the rest of my life. From the moment I gave birth to Noah, that was the first time I was like, “I love something so much that I will never be the same again.” I will never be relaxed again because I will always be worried about him and hoping that he is ok and safe and happy.
P: You said you don’t let the kids watch TV. When is the age range that you will let them?
MF: I do let them watch movies, I just don’t let them watch TV. With movies I feel like there’s a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s linear. There’s a clear story. I think that it’s different than just putting a kid in front of the television, because it’s just nonstop. They’re just being bombarded with all of this sort of live media and it’s very overwhelming and it’s too stimulating I think for anyone. I don’t watch television because it’s just too much it overwhelms me. I just can’t deal with it. But I do let them watch movies. Movies are so nostalgic and they can remind us of these amazing times in our childhood. I remember going to the theater to see movies with my dad or my mom and those are special moments for me. One day they’re gonna watch television. I can’t keep it from them forever. My intention is to keep it away as long as possible or to introduce it through Apple TV so they’re not being exposed to the commercials constantly. My goal is no computers, no cell phones until at least 8th grade.
P: Tell us about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. How was it filming while pregnant?
MF: I constantly had a big box of saltine crackers with me wherever I went. So in between takes I would scurry away and shove a bunch of saltines in my mouth to keep me from being nauseous.
P: Your character, April, is a confident woman, and you yourself are also very strong. Do you have any confidence tips for young girls?
MF: You know it’s hard growing up. I’ve always been someone who’s been really assertive and willful and that’s just something I was born with, but I had to learn how to temper that and focus it in the correct direction because it was sort of becoming a detriment. I wasn’t using it correctly. You have to trust yourself. The idea of being really intuitive and listening to your own conscious and listening to—I’m sort of a spiritual hippy so I don’t want to be off-putting but—you gotta listen to your higher self and trust that you know what is right. Be prepared to maybe lose friends or lose relationships. Be prepared to maybe make some people upset and that’s ok as long as you’re pursuing what you really believe is right and correct and true.
We love the names Noah and Bodhi! Find your perfect baby name with Parents‘ Baby Name app.
Photograph: Megan Fox as April O’Neil in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles / David Lee
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Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
The sun is shining and families everywhere are kicking off summer—including Busy Philipps and her brood! Cougartown actress and mom of two young girls, Busy lives up to her name by packing the season with tons of fun activities. She’s teamed up with Banana Boat to make sure she and her gals stay protected from the sun, and Parents chatted with Busy about her daughters, Birdie, almost 5, and Cricket, almost 1, her penchant for arts and crafts, and the parenting problem she grapples with every day.
P: You’ve teamed up with Banana Boat for the Best Summer Ever campaign. Why did you want to get involved?
BP: The whole idea behind having the best summer ever is helping moms. Summers can be long. Look, let’s be honest: You need some help thinking of new activities to do with your kids. You want to be outdoors and encourage outdoor play and you want to limit the time watching television and playing video games and sometimes you need an idea or two to get you through.
P: A lot of families choose to sign their kids up for camp to keep them engaged. Cricket is a little young, but does Birdie go to camp?
BP: Cricket goes to sleep away camp. She’s 1 [Laughs]. No really, Birdie goes to day camp in the summer. We have a two-week Frozen dance camp.
P: Sign me up!
BP: Yeah! We’re all in that one together [Laughs]. She’s going to kindergarten next year, so she’s doing a little getting ready for kindergarten camp at her new school, which I feel like a lot of kids do during that transitional summer. She’s doing one of my favorite camps called Magic in the Forest that two women run in Los Angeles. It takes like 12-15 little girls, although there are occasionally some boys along for the ride too, and they explore for fairies in the park. Honest to God almost makes me tear up talking about it. Every year it’s a different story—what’s happened to the fairies and what they have to help the fairies do. It’s magical.
P: What—aside from fairy camp—is the key ingredient to the best summer ever?
BP: I think that what makes summer so special, even if you’re a working parent, if you’re able to take a week off to really spend that time with your kids and be focused on them. Let’s get out—and that’s where the sunscreen comes into play obviously because you need to remember to be protected. Coming up with fun activities even if you only have a Saturday with your kids that they’ll remember and cherish.
I read this book called No Regrets Parenting and there’s this statistic in it. It’s like you have only 900 Saturdays [P: 940 Saturdays] I’m gonna start crying—940!—from when they’re born to when they’re 18. When you consider that so many of those Saturdays are birthday parties and soccer games and Little League and all these other things, why aren’t we spending these Saturdays just loving every second of it? Especially in the summer. Put your phone in your back pocket and don’t check it for three hours. The world is not gonna end. I do this myself. Get outside and spend good quality time with your kids.
P: What are some fun outdoor activities you like to do?
BP: For Mother’s Day this year Birdie and I did a tie-dye project in the front yard. She made me a tank top I could wear to work out. I made her a sweatshirt. We both collaborated and made Cricket a onesie and little pants and my husband a T-shirt that he could work out in. It was so easy and it was the perfect 2.5 hour activity from start to finish.
P: Obviously you’re very crafty. What’s the craft of this summer?
BP: We haven’t come up with it yet. I feel like Birdie really loves sewing and she wants to learn how to crochet. That might be a good thing for us to kind of do at the beach. She and I just started doing a cross-stitch together and that’s hard for me even. We might do some good scavenger hunts when we go to the beach with her cousins in North Carolina. I haven’t been there since I was on Dawson’s Creek. It’s gonna be weird, but I’m excited to go back.
P: Summer is big for family events because of so many birthdays in your household. Cricket’s first birthday is coming up. Any big plans?
BP: So many birthdays. I feel kind of strongly that first birthday parties should be sweet and small and with family. We don’t have to Martha Stewart it up. They’re 1. Let’s be easy on ourselves. You’ve raised a baby and she’s made it to 1. That in and of itself is a triumph. We’re doing what we did with Bird: a small park party with a few friends and family obviously. And Cricket loves Elmo. She’s never seen Sesame Street. We just had some leftover Elmo dolls from Birdie and Cricket loves him so much. So I’m gonna make Cricket an Elmo cake. Her mouth will be red!
P: With two girls, are there any moments where Birdie or Cricket does something and you think wow, she is such a mini-me?
BP: [Birdie] asked me the other day if she could buy clothes online like I do. Like, if that was possible for little girls. “Can I buy clothes online like you do?” Not saying that I’m setting the best example, but that is so me. Also, the personality traits and [mannerisms]. She was shaking her head the other day and she goes “you know I got that from you.” She knows: The shaking her head she got from me.
P: Is there anything about parenthood that still continues to baffle you?
BP: I think the guilt and the worry that you’re not doing right by your children or that you’re not doing enough or you should be doing better or you should be calmer or you shouldn’t have been so upset. I think that’s the one thing that I have the hardest time with is going easy on myself. Giving yourself a break. But, if you’re not worried about messing it all up, then you’re probably messing it all up. Right? If you think you’re nailing it, you’re probably not nailing it. Like all moms who are trying to do a good job, feel like they’re not doing a good job or that they could be doing better.
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Friday, May 9th, 2014
Best known for her role as Grace Adler on Will & Grace, Debra Messing also plays another role she loves: mom to 10-year-old Roman. Her most recent gig, Outside Mullingar, was just nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play. Now she looks forward to spending summer allergy-free and enjoying the outdoors with her son thanks to Zyrtec. Debra caught up with Parents to talk about juggling her career and motherhood, her most memorable Mother’s Day, and thoughts on her upcoming television series The Mysteries of Laura.
P: Congratulations on Outside Mullingar‘s nomination for a Tony Award. What was it like to juggle being a mom to a 10-year-old and acting on Broadway since time to leave for work is basically dinner, homework, tucking-in time?
DM: It was very very difficult. I’ve been offered plays in the past and it’s always been something that I couldn’t consider because normally when you sign on for a Broadway show it’s for a year. I just felt I couldn’t do that as a mother—that wasn’t the best choice for my family. This play came in and it was a limited run, just three months. I sat Roman down and told him what it would mean in terms of the structure of our week changing and he said “Mom, do it! You gotta do it!” It was hard to miss that time. But, being on that stage was a lifelong dream of mine since I was maybe 7 years old and it came to pass when I was 45. It just made me feel like it’s never too late for anything.
P: What is it like in general to juggle being a mom and a full-time acting career when your schedule is changing depending on your current job be it TV, film, theater?
DM: I try and just take it hour by hour. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed as a working mom. Juggling is just a constant part of your life. I happen to be a single mom, so there are extra challenges in that. It’s a matter of leaning on family, friends and people who can step in and be some support when needed. I think flexibility is really the key, but also trying to keep certain things a constant so that there is a feeling of consistency.
P: What are the kinds of things you and Roman enjoy doing outside now that your allergy symptoms are managed?
DM: He loves sports, all sports. Playing soccer, playing baseball, playing basketball, going on his little scooter, anything. He’s a very very active boy. It’s great. [With Zyrtec] I no longer have to worry about “Am I gonna be able to participate?” It’s like, “You wanna go? Let’s go!” That’s comforting.
P: Is there anything that Roman does that is just like you when you were a kid?
DM: Yes. [Laughs] He is a very very curious child—and I celebrate that and encourage that—but sometimes he can be a little too curious for his teachers and can ask too many questions in a class. When I was in third grade my parents were called in for a meeting with the teacher and they said, “Debra asks so many questions we are going to limit her to three a day now because there are other children in the class and there’s just literally no time for anyone else to ask a question because she’s always asking questions.” That’s a family story that people like to share because it is funny, but I’ve had similar conversations with Roman’s teachers along the way. I recognized it immediately. I was like, “That’s my fault!”
P: Where does Roman get his name? Is it a family name?
DM: Roman is not a family name. We just wanted a name that was strong and confident, unique, but not pretentious.
Download our Baby Name Chooser app to find a great pick, like Roman, or find tips in the video below.
P: Well, with a strong name and precocious personality, what is the parenting rule that you always seem to give in on?
DM: I try and do candy just on special occasions, so just at birthdays. Inevitably something will happen. We’ll be at the Harlem Globetrotters and they’ll have some guy walking around and saying, “Here kids! Here’s some candy!” Roman will look at me and say, “Mom?” I just can’t say no.
P: Does he ever outsmart you?
DM: He’s very tricky. He’s tricky and he’s smart. I think he’s discovered lying for the first time. I’ve caught him in a few fibs. He’s being a typical boy.
P: Mother’s Day is around the corner. Do you have a favorite Mother’s Day memory?
DM: I can’t remember if it was when Roman was 2 years old or 3 years old: He made a special book for me with pictures of us and he wrote in his hand little love messages he scribbled. It just meant everything to me.
P: Your upcoming television series The Mysteries of Laura is about a working mom doing her best to balance it all. Aside from being a working mom, how are you similar to Laura, if at all?
DM: I think that’s pretty defining, being a working mom. She’s also going through a divorce, and she’s very very passionate about her work. It’s something that she’s very good at and she loves. I related to that because I am fed in a way through my work that nothing else can [match]. In a similar way, being a mother feeds me in a way that nothing else can. I can’t imagine either not being a part of my life. But, one hour she is doing well balancing and the next hour she’s really messed up. I just relate to that. I relate to baby steps and little victories and trying not to beat yourself up over those mini failures.
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Thursday, April 3rd, 2014
Like most moms, Alison Sweeney is super busy. But the Days of Our Lives actress, Biggest Loser host, author of the upcoming novel Scared Scriptless , and our cover girl along with her cute kids back in 2011 still makes living healthfully a top priority for herself, her husband, and Benjamin, now 9, and Megan, now 5. She’s recently teamed up with Arm & Hammer Truly Radiant to promote healthy smiles. Parents caught up with Sweeney to talk about good nutrition, keeping active, setting a good example, and maintaining a balance amidst the chaos.
P: How do you approach the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle?
AS: There are so many great tips from The Biggest Loser that I have incorporated into my daily life, but certainly I have tried to make it a lifestyle for my kids, too. Just that idea of healthy eating at home. Not making food or dessert a reward in any way. Trying not to put too much emphasis on food, trying to keep it in a healthy realm. I wish Popeye were on TV again eating his spinach to get big muscles, because that’s exactly what I’m going for: Your body needs fuel, but there’s good kinds and there’s bad kinds.
P: Are your kids healthy eaters naturally or do you get creative with your recipes?
AS: Maybe there are kids who are healthy eaters “naturally,” but I have yet to meet one. Our preschool taught us that kids’ palettes change over time so even if they don’t like something right away you should try it again. I just keep reintroducing foods, especially vegetables. I try different ways to prepare them. Brussesl sprouts are more a grownup thing, but I’m absolutely obsessed with them. They’re my favorite vegetable right now. I made a raw brussel sprout and kale salad the other day that I literally chopped up like a chopped salad and my kids devoured it. I had this olive oil and lemon juice dressing and roasted almonds on it and I’m not kidding, my son had third helpings. I couldn’t believe it. I do keep trying. I’m an old school parent; I’m pretty strict. “You don’t always get to eat your favorite thing. This is what I made for dinner tonight and you have to eat your vegetables.” That’s the rule.
P: Is there a go-to healthy snack that you like to give them after school or before an activity?
AS: I love greek yogurt. So I have tons in the house. It’s a 2% greek yogurt with blueberries, a little bit of agave and cinnamon and spiced almonds. My kids love it and so do I and it’s really good for you.
P: How do you like to get active with your kids?
AS: My kids are involved in lots of sports and different activities after school. I like to get involved with my son. He plays baseball and I love to go out and play catch with him and run the bases. I worked with him on his running technique because I am a runner. It was really fun to practice his breathing technique with him and his posture and his form. I was thinking to myself, “Wow. It’s pretty cool, a 9-year-old learning to run legitimately.”
P: With all of this encouragement of a healthy lifestyle, how do you still promote a healthy body image so that it doesn’t become a pressurized situation, especially because you have a young daughter?
AS: I think in today’s society it really is starting to become across the sexes. It’s something that I’m extremely aware of and concerned about. I know that my best course of action is to model the behavior that I hope to see in them. I don’t criticize my own body. I don’t cover up or shy away from wearing a bathing suit when we’re at the beach or when I’m with them. I work hard not to use dieting-type words in front of them.
P: How else do you set an example?
AS: It starts from the moment you wake up in the morning. We brush our teeth together. Your kids should see you work out and taking time for yourself. You would want your daughter to take time for herself to work out. You play with your phone in the family dynamic, that’s the choice they’re going to be making. I know lots of people with teenage kids who are like, “Why are they on the phone the whole time?” And I’m like, Aren’t you texting me right now to ask me that question?
P: It seems that women are always trying to achieve a perfect balance. How do you manage expectations and how do you hope to guide your daughter?
AS: I don’t expect everything to balance out at the end of one day or two days or even a week. I feel like it is a pendulum: We’re getting a little bit heavy on the work this week, so next week we’re gonna get a little heavy on the family life. If you’re looking at the scale over the course of my life, it will balance out in the end. It’s a conversation my husband and I work on together when we see how the family dynamic is shaping up.
P: Was the quest for that balance part of your choice to leave Days of Our Lives?
AS: I turned 16 at Days and I’ve loved being part of the show. That said, my son is now 9, my daughter is 5, and I’m wanting to spend more time with them and to explore new opportunities directing, acting, writing, and developing shows.
P: How do you hope to spend the time that this will free up?
AS: I’m still planning to be busy but I’m hoping the new schedule will enable me to take my kids to school more often, help them with their homework, go with them for a hike, and take vacations when they’re on break.
P: What is your favorite thing to do with your kids?
AS: I love when my husband, kids, and I have an impromptu dance party at our house. It’s so much fun, and hearing their laughter is the best.
Photograph: Alison Sweeney with her kids Benjamin and Megan/ S. Buckley for Shutterstock
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