Screen time isn’t completely off limits at the Waco, Texas, home of Chip and Joanna Gaines, but they do try to encourage their five children to put their efforts into other things.
In a conversation with Jenna Bush Hager for the March issue of Southern Living, Joanna says she and her husband “don’t have a TV” and that they have iPad rules for their children: Crew, 7 months, Emmie Kay, 8½, Duke, 9½, Ella Rose, 12, and Drake, 14.
“Our rule for the iPad is that the kids can use it a certain amount of time every other day,” says Joanna, 40. “It’s contingent on them doing their chores and homework. I try hard to make it not the thing they look forward to every day. I don’t want them focusing on that.”
“It’s funny when I say, ‘No iPad games,’ and then see the things they create and invent on their own,” she adds of the benefit to limiting the kids’ screen time. “I’m like: ‘That! That’s the stuff right there, kids.’ ”
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Motherhood, Joanna explains, “means everything to me” (it’s what “wakes me up” and “is my heart,” she says). But despite how perfect her situation may look from the outside, she isn’t immune from the dreaded mom guilt.
“I’ve been through plenty of stages of guilt. It always creeps in. It paralyzes me. I don’t want to waste a second of emotion on something that doesn’t create any good,” explains the former Fixer Upper star.
“I think, ‘What can I do to show my kids that I love them?’ ” Joanna continues. “Even if it’s making a cup of hot cocoa, which takes a few minutes. It’s about finding little ways to connect.”
RELATED VIDEO: Joanna Gaines on Juggling Five Kids and Her Magnolia Empire: Crew “Gave Me an Extra Kick in My Step”
Since welcoming Crew in June, Joanna says, she has been “so much more sensitive” to the ups and downs of parenting in all forms, and wants “to be the person who encourages other moms.”
“I remember those times when I was home and couldn’t even take a shower,” she tells Bush Hager, 37. “When you’re
on social media, you need to step back and say, ‘My life is going to look different — and it should look different.’ ”
“Celebrate others doing little things as well as big things, and celebrate yourself by saying, ‘This is what I was meant to do,’ ” Joanna advises. “I really want women to feel encouraged. Know that you are doing enough. Own yourself.”
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My very own snow angel.
A post shared by Joanna Stevens Gaines (@joannagaines) on Feb 2, 2019 at 6:27pm PST
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We take #Demoday seriously in this family. I love my crew! #FixerUpper Photo: @matsumoto818
A post shared by Chip Gaines (@chipgaines) on Apr 3, 2018 at 4:22pm PDT
RELATED: Joanna Gaines Is Releasing a Children’s Book! Everything to Know About We Are the Gardeners
Joanna says the biggest thing that surprised her when she became a mother for the first time 14 years ago is “how much would affect” her.
“You just think kids will fit into your life, and then I had these babies and didn’t realize how they would have every string of my heart,” says the Magnolia mogul. “Everything I do, from the moment I get into my car to drive to work, I’m thinking, ‘Did I do everything I could to make those kids know that I love them?’ ”
“I’m a segmented person, but there is not a moment when they’re not in my mind,” Joanna admits. “I never thought it would be like that.”
Joanna’s debut children’s book, We Are the Gardeners, is out March 26 but available for pre-order now on amazon.com.