Tori Spelling & Dean McDermott are no strangers to reality TV – their fifth season of Home Sweet Hollywood premiered yesterday on Oxygen – and they’re also no strangers to making headlines – the controversial couple’s been criticized for their quickie marriage and Tori for her lavish childhood and feud with mom, Candy (the pair have since reconciled.) But these days, the pair just wants to be known as “Mom” and “Dad” to kids Liam, 3 and Stella, 22 months. They chatted with Babble about the key to a successful marriage, life off-camera, oh – and getting pooped on.
What shocked you most about parenting?
Dean: What overwhelmed me was how much you could love someone so completely. When [the babies] were in Tori’s stomach, I thought, “I’m in love with this little thing,” and I hadn’t even seen them yet. Then when they come out, it’s overwhelming how much love you can give somebody. Also shocking: Getting pooped on.
Tori: And Stella’s a projectile vomiter. The first time she freaked me out; I thought, “Oh my god, what’s going to happen to her?” She has range, though. She’s a shooter.
What’s been your biggest parenting challenge?
Tori: Every day I think, I’m influencing these two little things, and who they become is because of us. You’re always questioning in the back of your mind, “Am I doing the right thing? Am I okay at this?” Even at 22 months and 3 years old, [my kids] are still forming who they are based on what we’re teaching them and what we [let] them experience. That’s a big weight to carry around but it’s also a blessing.
On your reality show, you have people like the “guncles” and Patsy, your baby nurse, who are like family without being family. How important are they to you?
Tori: Family is so important. You have the family you’re born with, but I also believe in the family you create. We have an amazing support system and are truly blessed to have friends that love our children as much as we love them. They’re there every step of the way.
Dean: They’re like second-family to me because my family is from Canada, so it’s the only family I have in California.
Tori: Patsy came into our lives for a reason. In L.A., everybody asked if I had a baby nurse and I thought: “What’s a baby nurse? Is this an L.A. thing? I don’t need a baby nurse; I’m going to do it all myself.” [But] my friend said, “I have this baby nurse who’s amazing.” Enter Patsy, and three years later, she’s family to us. We wish she would live with us – not work, just live with us.
How do you find quality family time when the cameras are there?
Tori: The cameras aren’t exactly the problem. We have a lot going on. As a working mom, I try really hard to find that balance because I want it all. I want to be the stay-at-home-mom who has dinner on the table and takes my kids to carpool. I hear other moms say, “I just dropped the kids off at school, and then I had time for a Yoga class.” I think, “What is that like?” It all sounds so inviting to me, but I want to run an empire. I love all my business ventures, so I struggle every day on how to blend the two. We get through it. I run on adrenaline, but I’d love to have more family time.
What’s your key to a successful marriage?
Dean: It’s hard, but I think if your relationship is worth anything, you have to have a willingness to communicate and listen and make compromises and sacrifices. It’s a difficult thing; with careers and kids, your relationship sometimes gets put on the back-burner, and you both have to have to be willing to sit down and say, “Okay, [our relationship] needs a little bit of work.”
Tori: Before people have kids, they always say, “Oh, our relationship will never change!” and then you [give birth] to these little things you have to provide for. You have to make your relationship a priority. When kids come, they take over and you forget you have to work on communication.
What’s your best kid time-saving trick?
Tori: Do it together. He does the heavy lifting.
Dean: Play to your strengths. If you’re good at changing diapers faster, they’re yours. I’m terrible at getting them dressed, because their [clothes] are too small for my hands.
Tori: Stella is such a girlie girl, and he’ll dress her and she’ll come out in a baseball tee.
Dean: Now that’s a challenge: dressing little girls!
What do you do for “me” time?
Tori: [Dean's] better at it than me. It’s something I struggle with, because I give everything to my kids and my husband and my work, and there’s nothing left for me. That’s a goal for me, because I have lost that. It’s hard when you’re a mom, because if you have any free time, you want to spend it with [your family.]
Dean: It’s really important to do things that you identify with, that make you who you are. I encourage her to find that.
Who are your parenting role models?
Dean: My mom. She raised four of us on her own in pretty bad health through very bad circumstances. We had very little. [But] we had so much from very little, so I try to carry that to my children.
How do your kids stay grounded?
Tori: At this age, I don’t think it’s necessary. But I definitely want them to stay grounded. Obviously, they realize there’s a lot of things going on around them that’s not like other kids, but we want to give them as normal a life as we can. You’re not anyone based on what you’re born into.
Dean: We’re both on the same page in not taking any of this for granted. It’s a special sort of lifestyle, but it’s very fleeting, so we want to teach them how to be normal.
Tori, in the past, you’ve had a tumultuous relationship with your mom. What is it like these days?
Tori: When you have kids, you want them to have their grandparents. She’s their only living grandparent, and we both came to a point where we realized that family is everything – nothing else matters. In the press, [our relationship] got blown completely out of proportion, and we both said, “Can we go back?” We were living out our lives and relationship in the press; once we took that away, we [thought], “Wow, we have love.”
What advice would you give to other parents in terms of balancing it all?
Dean: Whatever it takes to get you through the day, find it and do it. When Tori was pregnant, everyone had advice, so for me to answer that question, I feel like I’d be doing the same thing. Everyone’s different. Trust your instincts.
Tori: I don’t even drink coffee, so I don’t know what gets me through the day! Two [kids] is definitely harder than one, but it’s easier, too, because at this point, they’re best friends. They do everything together and entertain each other.