Vanessa Lachey on ignoring 'finger-wagging' mom-shamers: 'When I look at my relationships with my husband and kids, I think: we're good'

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Vanessa Lachey talks parenting and teaching kids about money. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)
Vanessa Lachey talks parenting and teaching kids about money. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)

Welcome to So Mini Ways, Yahoo Life's parenting series on the joys and challenges of child rearing.

Actress, host and new author Vanessa Lachey is balancing motherhood and work from the Hawaiian island of Oahu (“not too shabby!” she jokes to Yahoo Life), so you can’t feel too bad for getting her up early to talk. While she’s filming NCIS: Hawaii, her family — husband Nick Lachey, sons Camden and Phoenix and daughter Brooklyn — relocated from California to the idyllic spot.

After giving her tips for excellent pancakes at a local brunch spot in Oahu, the topic turned to parenting and money. Lachey recently partnered with Wells Fargo to help educate younger people about financial responsibility via its Clear Access Banking, a free account for young people between the ages of 13 and 24 which allows customers to spend only what they have. Ahead, the former Miss Teen USA shares how she's teaching her own kids financial literacy — and squeezing in some alone time with Nick.

How do you describe your approach to parenting?

We [my husband and I] are always communicating to be on the same page. Because there are different phases of parenting — the baby phase, the toddler phase, pre-teen, teen — we try to remind each other that we need to be on the same page. No matter what [kind of decision it is], Nick and I have to be on the same page and are always talking. We’re constantly evolving [as parents]; there are so many ways to parent, but we try to always remind [the kids] of love. It sounds simple and cliché, but they know we’re the safety net.

You’re working with Wells Fargo to help educate kids about financial responsibility. How do you talk about this with your own kids?

I’m the safety net in terms of emotional support, but this is something that teaches them money management. The safety net with Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking is that there’s no monthly fee and does not allow for overdraft.

I talked to my 9-year-old [about overdrafts] and he said the fees for “money mistakes” made him sad. It’s true! He’s figuring it out, he’s learning the value of a dollar — and he’s had some buyer’s remorse. In fact, most kids do. There was a survey that said three out of four teens had buyer’s remorse. The interesting thing about this survey [revealed] nine out of 10 kids said they're more worried about their parents seeing their text messages than what they spent money on. What that tells me is that they don’t care — and the whole idea of responsibility? They’re like, whatever!

We’re trying to figure out chores and a weekly allowance. I didn't know what to do with my son’s weekly allowance, but we started an ATM for him. I tell him whatever he wants to buy comes out of this money and they learn the value of a dollar. It makes him think twice about the stuff he wants to buy.

Is there anything that's surprised you over the years about parenting?

I remember when the kids were born, being shocked that they eat every two to three hours around the clock [laughs]for three months straight! That’s why they call it the “fourth trimester” — that really hit me.

And now, are there big differences between sons and daughters?

My daughter is able to emotionally manage a lot (and she’s only ^). The boys are usually just focused on what’s in front of them. She’s intuitive and the boys are [oblivious]; it’s cool to have both!

What was the past year like for you guys?

The quarantine time gave me and Nick so much perspective, so much understanding, about what it really is like to have the kids 24/7 in both the good and bad ways. Now, we appreciate the nights home together as a family — and we appreciate dropping them off at school during the day.

Now we maximize our time together. The hours are so precious — with and without our kids — for our relationship and our marriage. I really enjoy my time with him and I don't ever want to take it for granted.

How do you carve out time for yourself?

That’s the ongoing question [laughs]. I didn't have kids until I was 30 and Nick was 37; we had traveled the world together. Having kids later was a blessing we didn't realize we were given. It’s hard to find time for you and when you do find the time, your brain is constantly thinking about them. I try to find time in the morning before they get up.

I talk about this in my book, Life from Scratch, about the “me time” I take in the morning. I was getting in a funk and started writing down things I was grateful for, and it gave me a new attitude. Finding time is a chore, but for me, it’s self-care. It’s hard to find time as a couple: we need a reservation, a sitter, we need to let the kids know we’re leaving… [laughs]. The “me time” — you just need to carve it out.

Do you have any advice when it comes to handling mom-shamers?

Now that I have three kids who are older, I completely ignore it. At first, I took it personally. They’re finger-wagging. But when I look at my relationships with my husband and kids, I think: We’re good. It’s so easy to say, but you can't let [negative comments] get to you. At the end of the day, if you love your kids and you’re there for your kids, you’re doing it right.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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