The reality of being a working parent is that there will almost always be a struggle between wanting to feel accomplished on the job and wanting to be there for your children. Perhaps that’s yet another reason why Chip and Joanna Gaines won over so many fans with Fixer Upper: On the HGTV show, they seemed to strike the perfect work-life balance.
Now, Chip explains that’s because they were guided by a simple mantra as working parents: At the end of the day, their kids should know they come first. Speaking to SUCCESS about what he and Joanna say before leaving on business trips, Chip said they always share the same assurance with their four kids:
“No matter what, we choose you. You’re the most important thing in the world to your mom and your dad. Right now, we have to go and do this particular thing or that particular thing, but we want you to know if you need us, if there’s something that comes up in your life, you tell us and we will leave whatever it is that we’re doing in a heartbeat.”
The family-first philosophy also influenced Chip and Joanna’s decision to end their hit HGTV show after this season. As Chip explained, their oldest child is almost a teenager, so the memories they are all making together are more precious than ever. “Jo and I just realized in our hearts that as much as we love Fixer Upper, as much as we love the honor that we have felt with this show basically introducing us to the country, if not the world, we want to make sure that we’re here for our family during really crucial, pivotal points in its journey,” said Gaines.
But, as the Gaines family also proves, it’s completely possible to have professional success while raising young kids—which Chip and Jo continue to prove with the launch of their amazing Target line, Hearth & Hand, as well as their other projects. As Chip said, work-life balance is really more of a matter of making choices. “I believe we are built to have thriving personal lives, and I think we’re built to have thriving professional lives,” he explained. “Where the error occurs is when one becomes secondary to the other.”
Chip acknowledged those choices may be harder for some families, especially when financial situations don’t make it as easy to scale back on work. Speaking from his experience growing up in a working class family, Chip said his “heart goes out to everybody who deals with a life where they have to choose one or the other.” In any case, he said it’s essential to stay on the same page as your partner about the vision you imagine for your family. And, even in his TV-perfect marriage to Joanna, Chip said that does take effort and ongoing communication. “There’s no secret. It’s hard work,” Chip said. “Jo and I have struggles and fighting and arguments just like anybody else. This isn’t like we got lucky and hit the lottery and the two perfect people fell in love.”