Trista Sutter made a name for herself as the first Bachelorette, but these days she and husband Ryan (one of the few TV reality show couples to actually last), are more likely to be found trading diaper duty than traveling to exotic locales. We talked to Trista about her family of four – son, Max, 2, and Blakesley, 1 – and what she thought about this season’s Bachelor. – Andrea Zimmerman
What’s your parenting philosophy?
I don’t necessarily have one. I look for the goal, and that’s to raise kids who are appreciative, grateful, honest, fair, kind, hopefully intelligent – who are curious about the world, have faith, all the things you picture the perfect person being. As a parent, I’m more of a protector; Ryan would probably say I’m a bit overboard. We balance each other out because I worry too much, whereas he thinks if they fall and bump their heads, that’s a learning lesson.
Who’s the good cop – you or your husband?
It depends on the situation. When Max was turning a year old, he was pushing our Husky, just playing, and she scratched his face, and he had to get stitches. I freaked out, but Ryan turned into the firefighter that he is and scooped up Max and took him away, totally calm. In situations where there’s some sort of danger, he’s definitely the one who steps up to the plate because I lose it in a crying, motherly sort of way.
If you could teach your kids one life lesson, what would it be?
The golden lesson – treat others as you’d like to be treated.
How do you handle a public tantrum?
If Ryan’s there and we’re tag-teaming the kids, I’ll stay with Blakesley, and he’ll usually grab Max and take him outside, because he’s really receptive to the outdoors. It’s all about getting down to his level, telling him to take a deep breath, then redirecting his attention.
What shocked you the most about parenting?
How truly little sleep you get. I’m really surprised by how well I can function on very few hours of sleep.
What’s your favorite meal to make for your kids?
Mac and cheese! That’s easy!
What do you wish you knew as a new parent?
Not to worry, everything is going to be fine. I was a pediatric physical therapist for four years at a children’s hospital. I worked in the neonatal and cardiac unit and saw a lot of really bad things. When you know too much, it’s hard not to stress because you want your baby to turn out perfect and healthy.
Would you ever consider doing a family reality show?
We’ve been approached, but no, it’s not really our thing. We’re open to doing little updates that you see on The Bachelor because we love to show off our family and let people know what we’re up to. But when it comes to having cameras in the house 24/7, it’s not something we’d venture into. We want to keep it relatively private, and I want to shield my kids.
If you could be any TV or movie parent, who would it be?
I loved the Cosbys! I always thought that their family was so much fun! They talked through things and they looked like they really enjoyed being together. You knew they loved each other.
What’s been your biggest parenting challenge?
Patience. It’s hard when you can’t communicate on the same level as a little person or reason with them because they don’t understand you.
What do you do for “me” time?
During Bachelor season, I have my girlfriends over from Mommy and Me classes to watch the show. Now that it’s over, I’m thinking, “What are we going to watch now?!”
Any favorite contestants in the past few years?
From this past season, Corrie! I loved her personality and she had great style. And I absolutely loved Jillian!
Stay updated with Trista! Follow her on Twitter @TristaSutter!