What Joanna Gaines’ Own Mother Taught Her About Being a Great Mom
An exclusive interview with Jenna Bush Hager.
Jenna: I know you’re close to your mom. What were some of the things that she did with you that you’re trying to emulate with your kids?
Joanna: My mom has the most childlike way about her. She gets all dressed up (because she loves that), but when she’s with the children, she’s like a big kid. I remember growing up and having her chase us around the house. She would play make-believe and take us to the park. We have totally different personalities. She did the things that I must find the energy to do. I try to do them because that’s when the kids have the most fun—when I’m playing Wiffle ball or hide-and-seek. You can tell that’s a special time for them. That’s what Chip does well. I know that I don’t have to be so hard on myself because God gave them Chip as a dad.
Jenna: I loved growing up in Texas. Being outdoors under the big sky is so good for the soul.
Joanna: I always loved being outside. I have lived in Texas since I was 12 and was kind of a tomboy growing up. I would ride bikes with the boys; we’d go on all the dirt hills. Chip loves the outdoors, too, so I feel like that’s just innately in our children.
Jenna: My girls’ lives look different than mine did growing up in suburban Dallas. Do you feel that way too? How do you teach and pass on those values?
Joanna: My mother also stayed at home. Being a mom is at the core of who I am. It’s my top priority. What I always challenge myself with every day—even if it involves going on an out-of-town trip—is asking myself, “What can I do to fill these kids up?” The biggest investment that I’ll ever put into life as a woman or as a wife or as a mother is time. That is my greatest investment. That is what I’m carving out and scheduling when I look at my days. It gets hard. I’m juggling meetings, and then I get home and am tired. But I’ve found that it’s the little things that they really take away. Two weeks ago, I came home exhausted. I’d forgotten about meal planning and had five bags of 30-cent ramen, which I made for dinner. My children were in hog heaven. While I was beating myself up for giving them my second best, they loved it. And I found grace in that moment.
Jenna: What were your parents’ secrets?
Joanna: I remember at the end of any day, we would all be in the living room, reading a book or lying down, and we were all just listening to music together. No one was talking. There’s something about music. When I hear a song, I can remember where I was—to the exact moment. It can remind me of 1980 or 1984. It just makes me feel at home every time I hear it. That’s something Chip and I do. We play music all day in the house. Each of the kids has their own favorite song. That’s important to us. I want them to remember the smell of the candles that I always burn and the songs that we have playing. Home is such a sensory thing: the sights, the smells, the sounds, the emotions. We create those for our family.