Vanessa Lachey on Making Time For Cozy Family Reading—and Date Night

The mom of three and wife of Nick Lachey shares how the family treats screentime and making lasting memories.

vanessa lachey
Courtesy Epic.

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays in full swing, busy mom of three, Vanessa Lachey, is taking every moment of family relaxation she can get. The model, television host, and actress opened up to Parents.com about how a nightly ritual of reading together helps her family unwind and destress during this hectic time of year.

“We started a routine. Every night before bed, we read a story, we sing a song, I turn on the sound machine, and I put them to bed,” explains Lachey.

She and husband, Nick Lachey, and their kids—sons, Camden, 7, Phoenix, 2, and daughter, Brooklyn, 4—use this time to bond, decompress, and instill a love of learning. Especially during the holidays, when such moments of respite can seem hard to come by, the family habit helps them slow down.

“This time of year makes you want feel-good movies, books, memories,” says Lachey. “We were in Tahoe for the holidays last year, it was snowing outside, and I was sitting by the fire with Camden, reading ‘The Night Before Christmas,’ and it was a moment I’ll always remember.”

When sharing her and her husband’s childhood favorites with their kids, like “Rudolph,” or “The Giving Tree,” Lachey notes, “It’s fun for me as a mom to be like, ‘Oh my gosh, the nostalgia!’”

Lachey recently partnered with Epic!, an app with access to over 35,000 children’s books, and she describes it as a gamechanger. “We travel a lot, so whether it’s just going down the street for a soccer practice or a six-hour drive, all we need is one tablet to access thousands of books,” she explains. “I have three different kids with three different reading levels, interested in three different things—so it’s awesome that I can set up a profile for each of them.”

Although their family has a strict no screen-time on weekdays policy, Lachey credits Epic! to helping her kids engage in a meaningful, educational activity while still having the fun and novelty of using their devices.

“We limit screen-time to only the weekends for Camden, because with me or Nick traveling a lot, we found ourselves using it as an easy crutch,” she reveals. “We have that boundary. We stick to it, no matter what. But what’s great with Epic! is that the kids feel like they’re getting their fix with an iPad or tablet, but they’re also learning.”

Other features on the app that keep her kids engaged: the Read-to-Me books and the badges and stickers they receive for reading milestones.

“The Read-to-Me feature is awesome because there are sound effects and inflections. For my older kids, it highlights the words and helps them learn,” Lachey adds. “You get achievement rewards with stickers, and they love that. Anything that gives them accolades they love, and anything that encourages reading in a positive way, I love.”

For parents looking to get their kids interested in reading, Lachey suggests letting them explore the Epic! website for themselves and find what interests them.

“The other day I let Camden have his weekend screen-time, and, honest-to-God, instead of playing the game he likes to play now and again, he was on Epic!, reading about the New England Patriots and Tom Brady,” she shares. “Because our very good friends are huge Patriots fans and Nick isn’t, Camden wanted to learn more. It was just like ‘Oh my gosh, it’s working!’ I was really proud of that moment.”

And when it comes to finding time for each other during the jam-packed winter season, Lachey encourages the power of saying no. “We’re all in this together, but it’s okay to not overschedule. You have to pick and choose in order to preserve yourself or else you’re going to come apart at the seams,” she notes.

“I say to Nick, ‘Tomorrow we’re going to have a movie night.’ It’s almost like scheduling time together, which sounds ridiculous, but it helps to schedule a date or a dinner,” Lachey continues. “It’s about communicating.”

Between their holiday traditions of tree decorating and gingerbread house building, the Lacheys find these pauses of quiet downtime most rewarding of all: “Try not to over-inundate yourself with activities. Honestly, sometimes just staying in together and reading a book is the most beautiful thing you can do.”

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