The Moms of HGTV on Balancing Work and Home Life, Including Their Kids on TV & More
The stars of HGTV have proven time and again that they're able to adapt and work well under pressure. What some fans may not consider is that some of those stars are also mothers who balance their work lives with busy home lives.
In honor of Mother's Day, TV Insider spoke with four stars from the network's fan-favorite shows. Christina Anstead, whose new series Christina on the Coast premieres May 23, Mina Starsiak Hawk from Good Bones, Grace Mitchell from One of a Kind and Leanne Ford from Restored by the Fords open up to us about motherhood, balancing their careers with family and much more.
How do you balance work and home life with your family? Is that difficult?
Christina Anstead: I think that's difficult, and I think that's something that all moms deal with. After you have kids, mom guilt is a real thing, and it's constantly trying to find that balance. I think that pretty much all moms can relate, but I guess I just do it by knowing that I grew up in a household where my parents worked really hard and I appreciated that lifestyle that it provided. I always grew up knowing that I wanted a strong work ethic like they had, so I kind of just instill that in my kids as well and I just make sure that after work when I come home I'm totally present for them.
Mina Starsiak Hawk: We have really awesome regular sitters that take care of Jack throughout the week. Luckily he is pretty laid back. So unless he is hungry or tired — which he's really tired right now — he is very manageable to try to get work done with.
Grace Mitchell: Yes, it's really hard to keep track of everything, and I wish I could tell you that I had everything perfect all the time. But, you know, I forget Blue Shirt Day at school and you know, my child has an entire planet project due tomorrow that we're going to have to bust out in one night tonight. So yes, I mean, it's difficult to manage everything, but I think something that's really been helpful for me, and it sounds a little ridiculous, because my name is Grace, but it's taken me a long, long time to really have [is] to give myself grace — to just tell myself that, you know, you're doing the best that you can.
Leanne Ford: Home life is the priority for me. I think my family comes first. Luckily, it doesn't have to be exclusive of each other. I'd say that family is a priority, and luckily I work from wherever I am, which is good and bad. It's worked out great so far. [My daughter's] a very easy baby, so I'm very thankful for her.
How important is it to you that you kids play a role in your show?
Christina Anstead: [My daughter] Taylor's in school now — it's different then when she was little. I don't like it to disrupt their day, so they're not in it that much, just when we can fit them in. Because it's different, I don't want to pull her out of school to do it.
Mina Starsiak Hawk: It's not overly important that necessarily he is in it. But, it is a family business and there's plenty of days where I just have to let production know the night before. I'm like, "Hey, I've got Jack tomorrow, so whatever we're doing he's with us." So when he shows up, that's real life. It ends up being part of the show, [which] I think is good, especially for moms and dads that are kind of going through that internal struggle about their work-life balance.
Grace Mitchell: They've grown up with it. And it's funny, they are very thoughtful about spaces because of it. But I've always had them with me. And they are with me at every house. They have loaded and unloaded every house for the show, and it's just our normal life. So it's been really natural. I've been so grateful that the show has felt really authentic to our lives and how we really live, and how I really do projects.
Leanne Ford: She probably wouldn't be in or on the show by any means. I think I like to keep that separate. But I will say honestly, I've noticed HGTV's been so incredible about when they found out I was pregnant and supporting that. So they're very family-friendly and family-oriented, which I've noticed and really appreciated, because that's a good thing.
Home renovations and DIY projects take a lot of problem solving. Are there any lessons you hope to impart to your kids through your work?
Christina Anstead: Well, I think that they've grown up with it, and they've grown up going through many renovations. I think Taylor's already lived through three of them. So I think that she has a lot of valuable information, and she may just choose that she wants to live in the same house forever because maybe she's seen too many renovations. But, yeah, they've definitely learned a lot along the way, and she has strong opinions about decorating. She knows exactly what she likes and she tells me that she's going to be my boss when she's older, so there's that.
Mina Starsiak Hawk: My biggest goal for him and all of his life is just to be kind, interact with other people in a respectful way and work hard. So I think it's going to be really cool for him to be able to grow up with a family business.
Grace Mitchell: It's nice to be able to teach them some of the life lessons of, you know, this is how you respond when things go wrong in your job. And this is how you handle it. That's been a really nice part of it, that I've been able to teach them how to handle problems in the real world when they are older.
Leanne Ford: Yeah. I mean honestly, design is a creative process. Key word is "process" there, so you really have to be open to messing up and be open to failure. Be open to kind of evolving, taking chances, you know? The reason that I think Steve and I are so good at what we do for a living is because it's how we kind of treat life. Which is, not afraid to risk things creatively, and that goes with everything else.
How do your kids influence your work?
Christina Anstead: When I'm redoing other people's houses with a young kid, I take into mind things that have worked or haven't worked for me. Like I want to make sure that they have floors that are durable so that kids can pull chairs out without leaving a scuff mark, and I want to make sure that the counters are spill-proof, that way if the kid spills a juice it's not going to cause a disaster in the kitchen. I guess in that aspect I just want to make sure that people's houses are kid-friendly, and that's how I do mine now too.
Mina Starsiak Hawk: The way I designed homes before I owned my first one was different. Now, designing the one that I'm currently in, that we filmed my forever home special about, we've been more driven by, "Okay we're going to have a kid...." I know babies have all the gadgets and the bottle warmers. So when I did my kitchen layout, I had a cabinet that literally sits right on top of the counter and has outlets inside of it. So, you can leave things plugged in and close the cabinet, so your counter doesn't look cluttered. So just a lot of functional things like that, that until you're in the situation, you don't really realize that maybe you don't have.
Grace Mitchell: I can't tell you how many people think, "Oh, I need to have more furniture in here. I need more stuff in here." But really, kids are so great at teaching you that they want space. You don't have to fill up a whole room with stuff for it to feel like a home. Kids need space to move and to spread out their Legos. My kids always push me to do more color than I normally would.
Leanne Ford: Oh yeah! I mean even doing her bedroom has been so fun, but I had to learn how to do it, you know? Kids' rooms were not my niche by any means, so I kind of practiced on her room. So just that and knowing what kids need and what's dangerous — all the things that I'm sure other moms and designers know I'm learning as I go along.
What's the best advice you received from your own mother?
Christina Anstead: She was a really hard worker, and I guess the thing that I took away as something that I appreciate? My best memories are vacations. We took a lot of really nice vacations growing up, and that's something that I've always made sure that at least once a year we just escape for seven to ten days and we just all enjoy each other and each other's company. We especially love going to Maui. Those are some of my best childhood memories, as well. I just like to keep that tradition.
Mina Starsiak Hawk: I think from the way that they raised me and my siblings, my mom and my dad, it was very much [that] we were free to learn our own lessons in a safe zone kind of way.
Grace Mitchell: I remember when I would lose things growing up, my mom would say, "This is such a great opportunity for you to be excited for someone else." So I feel like, if you are training yourself to be really happy for other people when they succeed, through that you'll be more happy in your own life.
Leanne Ford: She's given such amazing advice. Honestly, my mom did such a good job on us. We always felt so loved and taken care of that we felt freedom. When I was a kid, I got all A's. So when I went into high school, I guess I was thinking I was going to go get all A's. But she said, "You know what, Leanne, get a B early." What she meant was like, get a B early, relax and enjoy high school. And I thought it was so profound.
Christina on the Coast, Series Premiere, Thursday, May 23, 9/8c, HGTV
Good Bones, Season Premiere, Tuesday, May 14, 9/8c, HGTV
One of a Kind, Mondays, 10/9c, HGTV
Restored by the Fords, Tuesdays, 9/8c, HGTV