What is it like to co-parent with someone who can often feel like another big kid? According to Joanna Gaines, it has a special kind of magic.
“It didn’t take long after we became parents that I realized Chip was always going to be ‘The Fun Dad,’” the mom of four (going on five) has said. “Chip has a childlike way about him! He always has. At work, things are 100% about work, but as soon as he gets home, it’s phones up and playtime is on.”
Despite having different reputations in their household, Chip and Jo stay united under the big vision of the family life they hope to create.
As for how exactly they go about that, the Gaines family has some interesting rules:
1. They don’t own a television
Despite starring in one of the most popular shows in HGTV history, there is no way to watch it in the family home. This started way back when Chip and Jo first got married and their pre-marital counselors challenged them to go six months without a TV.
“Then, six months later we looked at each other and said, ‘How about another six months?’” Joanna recalled to Qpolitical in 2016. “And it just became one of those things where, 12 years later, we still don’t own one.”
(They do, however, have mini Fixer Upper viewing parties at a friend’s house.)
2. But they do mandate play time outside
As much as Chip likes to have fun with the kids, he is a self-described “drill sergeant” when it comes to getting them out in the fresh air.
“[There are] certain things that I really care about, but I think the funny part, with Chip, is just the video games, the TV,” Joanna told People this year. “That’s where he kinda gets a little strict. It’s, ‘You go play outside.’”
Chip agreed, adding, “I think I’m like a quarter Amish... I’ve got some glitch in me [where] I don’t like normal technological advances.”
3. They aren’t (too) nervous about letting their kids date
Now that their oldest son is almost a teenager, Chip and Jo are looking ahead to when the kids start dating. And, unlike many dads, Chip isn’t too worried.
“I’ve got buddies who are like, ‘Oh, can you imagine your girls dating?’” he told People. “I think I’m gonna be a good dad when it comes to that... I want my kids to date, I want them to go out.”
Joanna, on the other hand, says that’s when she is going to “turn on the crazy.” But Chip stands by his feelings.
“I just remember great experiences as a kid, you know? Driving your car for the first time, picking up a young lady on a date for the first time,” he said. “All those were little milestones to some extent.”
4. They teach their kids to be proud of work
In a letter to her fellow mamas, Joanna shared that striking a work-life balance is still hard for her. But she does want her children to feel empowered in their careers and hopes she is leading by example. “Taking a few seconds to let them in on this other huge part of my life has really helped them understand that Mom and Dad have a big job to do,” she said.
5. But they also show them family comes first
“When I get home from work I try and leave my phone in the car and make that intentional effort to play and connect face to face with them," Joanna said in her letter. "Even when I'm tired at the end of a long day, it's fuel to see the look in their eyes when I ask them to cook with me or go play outside.”
In choosing to walk away from Fixer Upper so they can devote more time to their growing family, it’s clear to the rest of us that Chip and Jo aren’t just saying these things. They really are the amazing partners and parents we’ve come to love.