The busy, beautiful mama (and former Parents and American Baby cover star!) is making time this Mother's Day to champion a very special cause: clean, safe drinking water for global families.
Vanessa Lachey at the 58th Grammy Awards
Credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

Actress, model, TV show host, blogger, wife of a pop star, mom of doubt, Vanessa Lachey is one busy mama. But beyond balancing a household with two busy working parents and two small children, Lachey is also a mom with a cause: She's teamed up with Procter & Gamble to support and spread awareness of the company's non-profit Children's Safe Drinking Water—a program started in 2004 that provides clean water to families around the world. On May 3rd, the program delivered its 10 billionth liter of clean water (yes, you read that right!), and to celebrate, P&G is offering a 10-to-1 donation match. So for every $1 donated up until May 31st, P&G will give $10!

We caught up with the former American Baby cover star by phone from her home in Cincinnati, where she opened about about everything from parenting two toddlers (a realization that still takes her by surprise—two toddlers!) to sibling rivalry to Mother's Day plans to why this cause is close to her heart. You shared a lot of motherhood insights while you were pregnant when we last spoke to you...what have you learned now about being a mom of two?

Vaness Lachey: Giving advice is always a tricky path to navigate, because there's no right or wrong way to be a mommy as long as you do it with love. Everyday I'm learning something new. I want to protect them and watch them develop into little people. I think the biggest piece of advice that I would share is have an open mind and just know that they're experiencing everything for the first time. And that's been challenging with two, I'm not going to lie.

You talked about "worrying being waste of time" and that your mama instincts kicked in with Camden. Did that new-parent phase feel easier and less worrisome the second time around?

VL: Trust yourself—that's probably a better way to have said that! I don't ever want to say to a mother worrying is a waste of time, because it's part of our nature. You never stop worrying because you love your children. But, to your point, yes, having a second one, there is this quiet calmness in my heart that helped me with Brooklyn, because I know I did it with Camden and I've done an OK job with him so far! [It] allowed me to not freak out every time she walked around a corner or grabbed something that wasn't her toy. She'll stumble along the way and learn. But as long as you fill them with love, every act will be a ripple effect, and you can't mess it up. If you love them, everything else will fall into place.

What's really funny is watching Nick with his little girl. I want to toughen up this little girl...but if anything happens to her, whether [Camden] took a toy, or she tripped, within seconds Nick has this homing device, and its like "Daddy's got you..." it's really cute to see the difference.

You Instagrammed a pic recently mentioning a "rare moment" of sibling how do Camden and Brooklyn get along?!

VL: I think they have the normal sibling rivalry that most kids do. My thought behind that caption was, I didn't want people to see this photo of my two happy children and think I've got it all figured out. That's something that I feel like haunts mothers, that there's always this perfect picture, and it's filtered or changed in some way. I loved this moment because it was such a sweet moment, and I wanted to share it because I'm a proud mommy. But I also wanted to emphasize that it's not always perfect. Yes, they battle. Camden was the only boy for two and a half years, and now there's this little person in his life. The challenge for me is not to coddle her. I'm figuring it out, just like most mothers of two.

Speaking of social media, you and Nick have posted some adorable photos over the years. But do you guys have any rules about posting about your kids? 

VL: We just try to be conscious of it all, of course. There are no rules, we just co-parent and ask each other's advice. I'm not going to exploit them but I'm not going to hide them. Obviously, we want to protect them as much as we can.

You and Nick both have busy careers and two toddlers...any insights for other working parents (we're not just limiting it to moms here!) about balance?

VL: I think the biggest way we're able to balance everything is that [we're both] involved. I commend single mothers and single dads; they are truly superhuman! My biggest support system is my husband, and I don't mean that just emotionally—right now he's watching the kids while I'm on this interview. And vice versa, he's going on tour later and I'm like, 'Don't worry, I've got it.' That's how we do it together. I think ultimately if you make your family your priority...that has worked for us. It makes it easier for us to filter decisions.

Tell us about your involvement with Children's Safe Drinking Water...what is it about this cause that speaks to you?

VL: This is one of those mommy [causes] that pulls at your heart strings. As a mom, anything that involves children is close to my heart. This program is helping to address the need for clean drinking water around the world. This year is the 11th year of the program, and I got involved to help spread awareness. I just think it's such a wonderful program that I want to shed light on. As a mother I couldn't imagine my children not having clean drinking water. It's one of the most basic things in life. I'd love to encourage readers to go to the website so they can see the initiative for themselves. For this Mother's Day I think [making a donation is] an amazingly selfless but globally helpful act of kindness.

Mother's Day is coming up...any plans you can share with us?

VL: I let Nick do what he wants to do, I don't come at him with a plan. But Mother's Day is first and then Father's Day, so he sets the tone! We're in Cincinnati, and family is here, so it's nice just to be here and be surrounded by family and love. I'm sure it'll be something intimate and fun, and anything the kids do with Nick is awesome. He's such a good daddy and I like watching them together.

What's the sweetest thing Nick and the kids could do for you (or have done for you!) on Mother's Day?

VL: Honestly, I feel like every year it's going to get better and better. I have dreams, but I don't have expectations. I think that goes for everything, work and life. So whatever they do is going to be a surprise and awesome. Honestly, I can't wait until they can both run into my room and jump on the bed!