Kelly Ripa regularly amuses her Live With Regis and Kelly audience with hilarious stories of pregnancy and parenthood. Kelly even famously joked one time, “I think children are like pancakes: You sort of ruin the first one, and you get better at it the second time around.” Kelly and her hunky husband, Mark Consulos, have three children, Michael, 10, Lola, 6, and Joaquin, 4. Kelly recently shared some of her parenting stories and advice with WebMD, a website run by children’s health expert, Dr. Steven Parker.
On learning to laugh at some of the challenges of parenthood: Kelly remembers the time that Michael was screaming that he was being kidnapped after she told him it was time to leave a toy store: “He took everything I’d taught him about what to do in that kind of situation and used it against me.” She also recounts the time Joaquin played hide-and-seek under his bed for far too long: “The only thing left to do was to call 911,” Kelly said, but just as she was dialing, Mark discovered their son hiding under the bed. “I was shaking, I was so relieved — and so angry, too! That kid!” And then there is her daughter, Lola. According to Kelly’s mother, Esther Ripa, Lola is just like Kelly: “Kelly was an old soul from the beginning, just full of her own opinions from a very young age, and always so chatty and mentally ahead, and Lola is exactly the same….Girls do love to press your buttons.” Kelly admits, “Lola challenges me,” and goes on to say there are vast differences between raising boys and girls, “Oh, definitely. My sons are forever happy to see me and they’re snuggly and cuddly. With Lola, everything is up for debate. Everything is a conversation. First thing in the morning, it’s a major discussion about what she’s going to wear. I’ve learned to give her limited options: ‘You can wear this or this.’ That’s what works best.”
On the challenges facing todays parents: “I grew up in the suburbs….There was so much less stimulation then, more freedom. And we were content with less. Kids today are so much savvier….I remember getting one of those huge boom boxes at 16 and thinking I was cool. Even Lola wants a cell phone and an iPod; all the kids do. It’s much tougher on parents now.”
On what makes for a “good mom”: “I wish I had the answer…. I get advice from both my mother and mother-in-law all the time. But I think the most important thing is to remember to be a parent and not a friend. My kids know I’m not their BFF. Basically, it’s my philosophy that doing the easy thing in the short term makes it harder for parents in the long run. Giving in when you want to say ‘no’ quiets things down momentarily, but you’ll just have more of the same — and then some — down the road. I’m big on letting my kids know exactly what to expect. I think children are consistency junkies; they need schedules and parameters, and it’s up to us to provide them. My kids understand that we love them no matter what — and they also know that ‘no’ means no.”
On her pregnancies and bringing the first baby home: Ripa said she had the “best pregnancies, followed by the worst deliveries.” All three of them ended in C-sections, despite her plans to deliver without surgery. But what really surprised her, especially with her first one, was the lack of information that came with Baby Michael: “they actually let you take this little person home. With Michael, we knew nothing…. Around the time he was born we’d just bought one of those widescreen TVs, which were new and all the rage then. And we walked out of the store with, like, a 6,000-page manual on how to work the thing. The hospital, on the other hand, gave us a one-page leaflet that said stuff like, ‘When the baby is hungry, feed him. When he’s tired, put him to bed.’ Incredible, right?”
On how she balances it all: “Listen, I run my family like a cruise ship. ‘Shuffleboard at 5!’ Everybody knows exactly what’s happening, all the time. And my house is like the CDC. I’m all about containment. We keep things really clean, really neat. The rooms are hydrated with humidifiers. When Michael was first in school, I had pinkeye six times that year. Now, it’s prevention, prevention, prevention: We do supplements, probiotics, you name it. Foods that provide the body with multiple nutrients pack a powerful punch in our convenient, contemporary lifestyle — one that often doesn’t allow the luxury of time and optimum nutrition quality.”
On how she lost the baby weight: “It took me a year and a half after every baby to get back to normal. I didn’t stress about it. Weight is just a number, and I knew that if I ate well and exercised, eventually it would come off.”
For the entire interview with Kelly and some great tips from Dr. Parker and other childhood experts, go to WebMD.
Photo: Bauer-Griffin, July 3