A Chat with Melissa Joan Hart

As the mother of two boys, Melissa Joan Hart is always on the go. The actress and her rocker husband, Mark Wilkerson, are the proud parents of Mason, 3, and Brady, 1. Melissa, who grew up on the television shows Clarissa Explains It All and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, is now enjoying everything that motherhood has to offer. She took time out from her busy day with the boys to talk about her favorite role -- mom.

The More, the Merrier

Melisa Joan Hart

Since I was little, I knew that I wanted to have children. I'm the oldest of eight kids, and I have always liked the idea of a big family. I love my siblings, and I loved growing up with all of them. Having a big family has always been very important to me, and I would hate for my kids to not be able to experience that. Mark and I would like to have more eventually.

The Pressure Is Off

Dieting is such a big thing in Hollywood. To be free of pressure while I was pregnant was nice. At first it took a while to get rid of the food guilt, but then I was like, "Let me at it!" I kept saying, "I'm pregnant." I was eating and eating, and I gained a little too much weight when I was pregnant with Mason. I went back to my old comfort foods, pasta and bagels. I didn't have morning sickness, but I wasn't feeling well.

Getting Back on Track

I wasn't in any hurry to lose the pregnancy weight. I did lose it, but only once I put my mind to it. I am lucky to have really good genes; my mom is super-skinny after having all of us. I found that after having Mason, as soon as I stopped breastfeeding it was easier to drop the extra pounds. When you're trying to feed your kids healthy food, you take better care of yourself. After I had Brady, I began eating healthier right away. I was also chasing around a very active 2-year-old, which meant constant calorie burning.

Dad Deserves a Medal

My husband was a softy at first. Then we agreed that we had to be on the same team. He carries 60 percent of the workload when he is not on the road with the band (Course of Nature). He's up in the morning with Mason, and I'm up all night with Brady. He makes breakfast in the morning -- he's the cook; I don't cook. He gives Mason his baths, and he even takes care of the dogs. He is the perfect dad. I didn't know there were dads like that out there.

Potty Training 411

It's one of your child's first lessons in independence. You are teaching him something that is going to stay with him for the rest of his life. And it is a huge topic of concern among parents. As a parent you are always hungry for advice, but especially when it comes to potty training. That's the one time nobody tries to pretend they're the expert, and parents will try just about anything. I think that with potty training, there isn't really a right or wrong way to teach your child, it's just whatever works for him.

A Journey to the Bathroom

I first bought Mason a potty when he was 1 and I was trying to plan ahead. My idea was to start off having him sit on it while he was watching TV. He did this for a little bit, but then he lost interest. I put it away for a while. Then one day when he was around 2, I was cleaning the bathroom and pulled it out. He was like, "Potty, potty, potty." He was so excited. So I figured it was time to start trying. And he went on it the first time! I thought, My kid is brilliant, and this is the easiest thing ever. But that didn't last. I approach each week with a new outlook because I have learned that what worked for him yesterday may not work for him today. Every day is a challenge -- one day I think we have it handled, and then the next day there is a road bump.

Mom Knows Best

Right after I had Mason, I felt overwhelmed. My mom told me to listen to myself. She said, "You have really good instincts." I think I cried. She kept telling me to just trust myself. And actually my doctor said the same thing to me recently. I think as parents we have this instinct, and if we just listen to it, we will know the right thing to do.

Originally published in the February 2009 issue of American Baby magazine.

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