Raising Sextuplets stars Bryan & Jenny Masche have been in the spotlight ever since their six kids were born three years ago. They’ve been followed by WeTV cameras throughout their time trying to well, raise their sextuplets – and have been the topic of lots of talk because of it. We spoke with the extremely busy mom and dad about the current season of Raising Sextuplets (the season two finale aired August 12 on WeTV), their decision to go through marriage counseling, and why they thinks it’s okay to let cameras follow his kids.
Let’s tackle the obvious first. You have six kids – how crazy can that get?
Jenny: Well, you could be changing a diaper while the second child is climbing on the top of the counter while the third child is climbing in the pantry trying to get the Cheerios down – and spills the whole box – while the fifth child has a glass of milk they’ve spilled all over the floor. There can definitely be moments where there are lots of disasters happening at the same time, but you have just as many moments where they’re cute and laughing and playing and doing Ring Around The Rosy and playing hide-and-go-seek and hugging.
You just survived the terrible twos, congratulations! How terrible were the kids, actually?
Jenny: I feel really, really blessed. I think our kids have their moments, but they really are sweet. Yesterday, we got up at 4 in the morning, flew to New York City straight to the studio for filming, and they were amazing on the airplane and in the studio. We’ve done it enough times with them that they’re really adaptable. That’s part of it – taking them to places and doing things with them so they know how to be in different situations. They’re really, really good! There are moments that are horrible, where you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t do this!” but there are way more good moments than bad.
Do you have tips for parent about to go through the terrible twos?
Jenny: For me, it’s all about perspective and attitude. Having a plan for your day helped because then your kids get used to that plan and they know what’s coming next, so you don’t have to wait until they’re frustrated to change the activity. But you’re still going to have days where things don’t go as planned so the most helpful part is having the attitude that this isn’t going to last forever and just embrace it. Parents who have kids who are ten look back and say, “Going through the twos was just a blink!”
How do you manage to keep an eye on all of them? Are there particular activities that keep them all occupied?
Jenny: Obviously, the first thing we do is get them dressed and have breakfast, then it depends on the day. On Friday, there’s open gym at the gymnastics center where everything’s padded and they run around for at least two hours and play on the beams and the bars. Then on Tuesdays, we’ll go to a park with some friends or on Wednesdays we’ll go to my friend’s where they have one of those really shallow pools so we don’t have to worry about them drowning. I have different things planned for different days of the week. Outside time, inside time, bike riding time, time when we watch Dora – you just figure out the schedule that works best with the kids’ energy levels and go with it.
Jenny, Bryan has said he likes to keep the kids close. Can you share your thoughts on letting kids be their curious and adventurous selves?
Jenny: I definitely let them explore more than he does, just because of our different personalities. To me, [kids] won’t learn lessons in life if they’re not able to do things and fall and get in trouble and make mistakes. Obviously, you want [your kids] to do it in a realm where they’re safe, where the kids aren’t going to really hurt themselves. But it’s a good balance – Bryan’s more, “Let’s keep them in one room where they can’t get out,” where I’m more, “Let them explore and see what they can do!”
What’s your parenting philosophy?
Bryan: I don’t know if we actually have a strict philosophy or a rigid way we do things. We try to do our best and follow what the Bible says about raising a child. We’re trying to treat them all like individuals; it’s so important for their development. We really try to look at certain things the kids are good at and try to facilitate that gift, like Cole is a drummer.
If you could teach your kids one life lesson, what would it be?
Bryan: Never give up; keep fighting. Life is by no means easy; we all have our different battles we go through in our lives. Just [don’t] give up hope; don’t let anyone get in the way.
What can you say about the current season of Raising Sextuplets?
Bryan: We moved across the country, switched careers, Jenny and I spent time with a marriage counselor, [and] the kids have changed dramatically. The show is running probably about a year or so behind the actual development of the kids. The kids’ second birthday aired on their third birthday, so [it’s] not happening in real time.
How did you adjust to Jenny going back to work and you being the stay-at-home dad?
Bryan: Divide and conquer – that’s [our] philosophy. It was tough. She went back to work a while ago, when we were still in Arizona, and we traded off. When I was at work, she was at home and there was a small time period when we’d both be at work at the same time. It’s really hard on both of us because she really wants to be home with the kids and be a stay-at-home mom. When we first moved to Florida, we were totally in opposite roles. I was the stay-at-home dad trying to build my own business, and she was working full-time at the hospital. So we’re totally in opposite roles from what we really wanted.
What strategies do you use to save money?
Bryan: We [planted] a garden in the backyard, which is pretty cool. We completely quit using credit cards, [because it’s] been really hard paying them all off, [so we’re] not strapped to debts. I started a small business on the side, too, and we’re involved in a multi-level marketing company. It’s brand new and pretty awesome; it’s like getting into Mary Kay [cosmetics] 35 years ago.
Bryan, you and Jenny have admitted to struggling with your marriage and seeking counseling. What tips do you have for keeping a marriage alive?
Bryan: Surround yourself with people who love you and care about your relationship. You’re in it for good, come hell or high water. You have to do whatever it takes to fix [your marriage]. That’s what we’re going through. I’m going through anger management classes right now, [where I] delve a little bit into my past. I love my dad dearly [but] I had a very, very difficult and challenging childhood. [Jenny and I are] not perfect people, but God is working on us both.
How do you two resolve parenting disagreements?
Jenny: For the most part, because we are believers and we believe in the Bible, we do have very similar discipline styles and we do believe in discipline – we believe in disciplining for defiance and not just for childishness. It’s about training and teaching your kids. When we do disagree, we just try to accept that, okay, sometimes we’re going to do things differently, and we may not like it, but we need to accept it.
How do you and Bryan make time for each other?
Jenny: It’s obviously very, very difficult because we both work and we have six children, but we try whenever we have the opportunity to have a date night, which is time away from our house, just the two of us – whether we go to the bookstore or a movie or just have dinner. It’s constantly thinking of when we can squeeze in a couple of hours. It’s definitely not easy, but it’s worth it if you can do it.
How do you make time for your children individually?
Jenny: I love to do that, and we have been a lot better at that. The other day, I had to go get my hair done because we were in New York for the shows, so I took Molly. We got our hair done and we went to lunch together. In everything I do, I try to incorporate the children; we normally split the boys and the girls. So we’ll go on a Daddy date with the girls and a Mommy date with the boys, or the other way around. Even just having a group of three you can give them a lot more focused attention than in a group of six. We love to divide and conquer.
How do you deal when your kids do misbehave?
Jenny: It depends on what they’re doing. I read this book once called Makng Children Mind Without Losing Yours. It’s by a Christian psychologist named Kevin Leman, and I really agree with it. It’s about reality discipline: You sometimes you let the situation play out and see what the natural consequences are instead of always intervening. But I think the number one thing we use is time-out. We remove them from the group, which they hate, and as soon as they’re ready to apologize, they can join the group again. We also both believe in spanking, but that’s for things that could be very dangerous or serious; things where they’re really going to hurt someone or hurt themselves.
Why did you decide to allow cameras into your life?
Bryan: It was almost 4 years ago [when we started filming], and at the time, Jon and Kate [Gosselin’s] show wasn’t even on the air yet. There were the crazy MTV [shows], but no real family shows, so we didn’t think anything weird about doing it. [Plus], what an incredible opportunity to have professional home videos of our children for the rest of our lives. We knew neither one of us could be engaged enough with the camera to film. Obviously there was the financial benefit of it and having another income from the show to pay the bills. [The money is] not nearly what a lot of people think it is. It’s definitely nothing like the kind of money that Jon and Kate made, but it’s something that has helped us.
Do you ever worry about the possible negative effects the filming could have?
Bryan: If we ever thought this was hurting the kids or hurting each other or our relationship, we’d stop doing it; [that’s a] no-brainer. Frankly – and I’m being perfectly honest – I don’t care what people think about me. People think I’m a crazy maniac who yells and screams. [But] Jenny gets upset really easily; she gets worried about stuff.
Do the kids ever watch the show?
Bryan: Yes, they call it “the mommy and daddy show.”
What’s your guilty pleasure as a parent?
Bryan: I secretly will sneak off and bum a cigarette from one of my friends – that’s about as guilty a vice as I can get.
Finish the sentence – Before I had kids, I swore I’d never:
Bryan: Lose my temper, scream, [and] go crazy on them like what was done to me.
What makes you cringe?
Bryan: [There are] a lot of things that make me cringe. Probably my biggest pet peeve is what I call “ignorance in action,” like in places of authority.
What do you have planned next?
Bryan: Jenny and a friend of hers are in the process of putting together children’s books based off of our kids that will introduce them to certain concepts, like sharing. Like, “Hi, my name is Bailey. I like to share.”
What do you look forward to most with your kids growing up?
Bryan: Getting them out of diapers. I want to be done with that phase and done with car seats – loading and unloading – getting past the point of manual labor. Maybe in a few years they can start doing some things on their own. Just the work of chasing all six of them – [like] getting them out to the van and getting them strapped in. We’re both pretty healthy, [but] it’s tiring.