Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell on Why They Skip 'Elf on the Shelf': 'There's Enough Going On'

The Hello Bello co-founders talk parenting wins, misses, holidays, and what they are still figuring out.

You've seen them play mom and dad on-screen (Dax in Parenthood, Kristen in Bad Moms). But they're also open books about real-life parenting on their podcasts (his: Armchair Expert, hers: We Are Supported By). The couple behind the plant-based Hello Bello products and cohosts of NBC's Family Game Fight give us an update on raising Lincoln, 8, and Delta, 6.

Recent parenting win

Shepard: I figured out that if I scratch my younger daughter's head extremely hard­—her request—she is out cold within 90 seconds.

Recent parenting miss

Shepard: I gave a "no TV for the weekend" consequence, which was later revealed to be a barbaric punishment for us.

Bell: Yeah, that will never happen again.

Parenting superpower

Shepard: Not yelling.

Bell: Mine is patience while everyone moves like molasses getting out of the house.

Parenting kryptonite

Shepard: Waiting for others to get out of the house.

Bell: But it's true that he never yells. My kryptonite is when my girls give me sass. I have to bite my cheeks to keep from sassing them back!

Fun of a family road trip

Shepard: Singing together in the family bus.

Bell: Getting out of our bubble and exploring together.

Hitch in a family road trip

Shepard: Power struggles over who sits where.

Bell: Attempting to keep bedtime when everything is new and fun and exciting. Also, missing the dogs.

High point of pandemic parenting

Shepard: Spending 24/7 together. There will likely never be another opportunity.

Bell: Agreed. Getting to know my kids in a way I never would have otherwise.

Low point of pandemic parenting

Shepard: Spending 24/7 together, with a side of Zoom homeschooling.

Bell: Attempting to keep everyone's brain occupied and growing when we had to stay indoors.

Lovely thing about being a "mom and dad" on Instagram

Bell: Being able to drop words of encouragement to someone we don't even know.

Tricky thing about being a public "mom and dad"

Shepard: We're performers, so we still need America to be sexually attracted to us.

It's not the holidays until we do this

Shepard: Get the over-the-top exterior illumination banging!

Bell: Dax handles the outdoor décor, I handle the indoor. The holidays cannot begin until it looks like Santa has puked endless decorations in every corner of the house.

One ritual we skip at the holidays

Shepard: Elf on the Shelf. There's enough going on.

Bell: Agreed, the elf never worked for us. The kids would hide it more than we would, and then we'd have to act surprised. I'm also into skipping cooking sometimes. Less stress and a way to support restaurants.

At least we have this down

Shepard: Talking to our children. We've always been honest and respected their opinions. There has yet to be a problem we have not been able to talk our way through. I'm so grateful. I don't know that I could ask for much more.

Bell: For me, it's distracting them when they are on the brink of a tantrum.

We are still figuring this out

Shepard: How to referee their fights. I'm growing pessimistic; the only solution may be tranquilizer darts.

Bell: I'm still working on packing lunches that they don't complain about.

Great thing about raising strong women

Shepard: Knowing that they will be seen and heard.

Bell: That the women they are becoming are women I'd want to be friends with.

Challenging part about raising strong women

Shepard: Everything's a court battle that ends, best case, in compromise.

Bell: Teaching them it's their body, their choice, can really backfire when you are asking them to wear pants to school.

This article originally appeared in Parents magazine's December 2021 issue as "Highs and Lows: Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell." Want more from the magazine? Sign up for a monthly print subscription here

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