Exclusive! Star parents: Hollywood power couple Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard share their parenting tips and insights into their family life
- Mums Tips
- Mumpreneurs & Mums at work
- Published on Saturday, 09 July 2022 08:58
- Last Updated on 07 July 2022
- Monica Costa
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I recently got star-struck when I met world class comedians Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard at the UK launch of their family brand Hello Bello. Dax and Kristen are the most formidable husband and wife duo in Hollywood. Not only are they at the top of their game as actors, but in 2019, from their kitchen table, they created premium yet affordable eco-conscious products for the family. Available exclusively at Asda, the range includes nappies, nappy pants, baby wipes, baby lotion, baby oil and bubble bath. London Mums tested them and can confirm that all products are ideal for delicate skin types and good value for money.
Monica: What’s the inspiration behind the brand Hello Bello? Bello in Italian means ‘beautiful’.
Kristen: When I was pregnant I paid a lot for good ingredients. I had access to great products at all the little Los Angeles boutiques. It occurred to me how unfair that was and I wanted to even the playing field by making healthy, organic -whenever possible – yet affordable products for every family. I don’t want parents to ever have to choose between their baby and their budget.
Monica: How have you created the brand and why?
Kristen: There was a real hole in the market for products with good ingredients that were widely available to people, at prices they could afford. We teamed up with people much smarter than us and made affordability, accessibility and premium ingredients our north star. Our products are made without chlorine processing, artificial fragrance, lotion, latex and from recyclable packaging, and are designed specifically for sensitive skin.
Monica: How much was Hello Bello forged by Kristen and how much by Dax?
Kristen: Much like our marriage. It’s right in the middle.
Dax: It’s the perfect marriage. Because Kristen was very militant about what went on our children, from the nappies they wore, to their food. I don’t care much. If they’re happy, who cares… But I have a chip on my shoulder about class. So, if we can have something that other people can’t have, it pisses me off. Every mother would want to do what Kristen’s doing. But our friends and family in Detroit can’t afford that. I find it unfair. So, when she said ‘mum’s ingredients at dad’s prices’, the brand was born.
Kristen: That’s Dax’s tag. It came out of this weird moment we shared when we were preparing for the baby and I was buying products. I started with cloth diapers and it was not tenable. I was having them picked up. It is not a lifestyle choice you can keep up with.
Dax: If you live on a farm, maybe, and you have nothing else to do that day, you could stay on top of washing those diapers.
Kristen: It’s not practical. We’ve come so far from who we actually are, which is working class people from Detroit. But we know that my sister has four kids and still lives in Detroit and could never not look at the receipt after she shopped. We also represent charitable organisations in the States, and we know how one in four people choose between their baby or their food budget. Am I going to put a diaper on my baby this week? Or am I going to feed it? This is unacceptable. We wanted to leverage what we have and we didn’t need another pay-check. We wanted a company that does it right and we wanted to help as many people as possible. We have so far managed to give away a million diapers a year. That was mandatory for us when we started Hello Bello. We have put 250,000 into Ukraine, hoping to get it up to 500,000. We also created The Diaper Fund on our website like GoFundMe, where you can create a profile if you’re struggling, or you can create one for a friend, or donate to your community, or blessing a person with diapers every month simply because they need it.
Monica: I’ve watched your parenting podcasts and read some of your family stories and they’re hilarious and make all parents feel okay. If you high-profile personalities say these things, we feel better too as we realise that we’re all on the same boat.
Dax: Everyone’s doing it wrong.
Monica: The London Mums organisation was born in 2006 as a platform for parents to share parenting dilemmas without feeling judged. At the end of the day we are all on the same boat. We should have no shame in talking about our challenges. My child (and I, of course) couldn’t sleep at night until he was four. At the time, I couldn’t talk about it, without feeling abnormal and judged so I created my own caring network of like-minded parents.
Dax: We had a kid that once said to us: “I’m not going to stop wearing diapers.” We’re like, “What are you talking about? When are you going to stop?” “When I’m 16.” I’m like, “Okay, that’s going to make dating interesting for you. But look, we can’t make you not wear them.” Our first daughter potty trained herself at 18 months. We thought we were geniuses.
Kristen: Without feeling shame, we look at each other, we laugh about it. We’re like, “Everything’s going to be fine.”
Dax: She might wear diapers into her 20s. That’ll be her choice. Thank God she’s cute, because, when you bring your diapers for your first sleepover at a romantic partner’s house, that’s got to be quite an announcement. “Hey, you know what I decided, I’m always going to wear these. So, whatever.”
Monica: What’s your parenting style? A good cop- bad cop approach?
Dax: I don’t know if Kristen would care that I say this, but, in general, I’m more the disciplinarian.
Kristen: I’m a pushover and a doormat.
Dax: If our daughters want something, they definitely know to go to mum. I’m so grateful for that. We both recognise now how hard must have been for both of our single mothers that they had to be everything. Kristen can be a pushover and know that I’ll get them in bed on time. She’s always a safe place to go. They’ll always feel comfortable talking to her and seeking nurturing from her. And if they want to get somewhere on time, they’ll know to ask me. They benefit from us being so different.
Kristen: We’ve realised what we do best. Dax is practical with them. One of the things I love about him being a dad is that he’s incredibly playful and active with them and very affectionate. It is important for my young girls to see a man that stops and kisses your neck all over the kitchen, or gooses your hip as you walk by or …
Dax: … has always time to dance.
Kristen: Yes… he has always time to dance. He puts on a song and will dance with them at night regularly, or just says, “Do you want to cuddle? Come into my nook.” He’s there for them in all those ways, but he’s also practical and analytical. He sometimes says: “I understand you’re having this feeling. Do you need me to hear any more about it? I’m also a human being and you can cry about this. But now I’m bored.” That’s actually a practical thing to say because they shouldn’t think that the world is their audience at all times. He will say, “I’ve heard you out. I understand you’re upset. I’m now going to go outside because I want to take a walk and you’re welcome to lash out any emotions in your bedroom. I’m not suggesting to stop them. But I’m not going to be an audience for this anymore.” Whereas I will be like, “I just want to bear witness to what you’re going through. Get it out.” We have different approaches and personalities. It’s helpful for our daughters to be able to reach out to us for different things.
Dax: It becomes clear that you recognise what you maybe didn’t get growing up in a single parent household. I’m always aware of what partner I hope my daughters end up with. And I have to model that. I have to be the person that I hope they will date one day. I say: “I respect you. I love you. But I’m also not a doormat. I don’t want you to have a husband that’s a doormat.” I really got to be careful because they’ll emulate what they have with their dad. I have to make sure I’m the dude I would want my kids to marry. It makes me aim for something higher than maybe I would.
Kristen: Very early on, when we first had our baby, Dax’s mind was endlessly racing, which is really annoying. But sometimes this proves to be helpful when he has thought through a situation. He once said: “Kids see conflict and don’t often see resolution. Parents are snippy with each other, they apologise in the bedroom, you wake up the next morning, the kid never saw the resolution. How are we modelling that behaviour for them?”. If that ever happens to us and we’re snippy with each other, if we make up in the bedroom, the next day we make sure that we minimally play the part. “Hey, daddy, last night I came home and I had so much anxiety and anger about what I did at work, I took it out on you and I’m really sorry.” “Oh, that’s okay, mummy.” In that way our daughters are bearing witness to the resolution as well.
Dax: They’re going to see all the fights and the makeup.
Monica: That’s a good point, because traditionally parents were told to never fight in front of their children.
Dax: Oh, get real. What kid didn’t see their parents fight.
Kristen: How can you leave the parents’ house knowing how to handle a disagreement if you have never seen what worked? The only person that can clean your side of the street is you. And when your side of the street is clean, you have much higher level of self-esteem and you just feel better about yourself.
Dax: Here you go, Monica, cool parenting tips from a couple of comedians. (giggling).
Monica : Kristen, you have been part of many comedies – Couples Retreat and Forgetting Sarah Marshall are my favourite ones – but your latest character in a Netflix series (with a not memorable long title) seems tragic. How did you prepare for that role?
Dax: Did you get it, though? Did you realise the whole thing was a joke? You didn’t, didn’t you? It is, because there are so many of these shows in the US and they’re all so generic.
Monica: Of course, it was ridiculous that the murderer was the child.
Dax: How ridiculous that it was a child. And she fights a child for 12 minutes.
Kristen: So ridiculous! In that genre, especially the series written by women for women, they’re always drinking wine, they’re always mixing it with pills, they’re having fantasies about the neighbours. It’s very sexualised and way too romantic.
Dax: Every time she looked out the window, the guy was shirtless. It was all a joke. And the title? What was the title here? So preposterous, right?
Kristen: The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window. Maximum amount of words, giving you zero information, which was, again, a joke. It was a very subtle satire of the genre.
Dax: My sister-in-law watched it and said: “I don’t want to tell Kristen, but it’s terrible.” Then she was at work and she had some girlfriends talking about how funny it was. And she was like, “Oh, I’m supposed to laugh at it?” She went back and watched it and she went: “Oh, my God. I love it now that I know it’s a comedy.” The sex scenes on stairs were ridiculous.
Kristen: Each of the women in it have an affliction. They always suffer something.
Dax: A phobia.
Kristen: My character has Agoraphobia. I can’t go outside.
Dax: This one woman also has a fear of rain. That’s preposterous. Who would have a fear of rain? She’s also a terrible painter. She keeps talking about what a great painter she is.
Kristen: So below average. And she keeps talking about her amazing artwork.
Dax: Then there was this dream of the ex-wife drowning and
how the girl died. Who leaves their kid with a serial killer? Who would do that?
Monica: I’ve got to watch it again. It’s certainly not your Couples Retreat type of movie that I watched many times.
Dax: No, that’s a drama and a serious movie.
Kristen: This differs from the types of comedy that I’ve done before. I thought: does this seem stupid enough to everybody? Yes, great. Let’s shoot it.
Dax: Even if you watch it again, you’re going to have the same experience. The whole thing’s ridiculous. She keeps dropping these plates. She can’t figure out how to carry a casserole.
Kristen: How long does it take for the guy to fix the mailbox? He’s been working on it for two years….
Monica: Kristen, out of all the roles you’ve played, which one do you prefer and why?
Dax: I might have to leave the room to get an honest answer out of her.
Kristen: No. That’s truly like asking me to pick between my children. I’ve learned something from every role and it’s built me up in a different way. Veronica Mars will always be super special to me because it gave me the platform to be seen. And I really learned hard work and how to care for myself and how to care for the character that I was playing.
Dax: You started by playing a confident and powerful woman. So, the roles that followed made sense for you to continue to play. But had you come out in something that wasn’t the role of your breakup, you could have got stuck in being, say, a Bond girl or something like that for a lack of a better opportunity. You were very lucky in what got you popular.
Kristen: I learned how to play a character that had ownership, despite her circumstances.
Dax: I got famous for playing dummies, and that’s what I mostly ended up playing, obviously.
Kristen: Dax wrote a role for me in the first film that he wrote and directed about our relationship called Hit and Run, which is where I was playing myself, basically. That was very special. That’s why he said he had to leave the room.
Kristen: I loved playing Sarah Marshall, but I would have to choose Anna in Frozen because that character affected so many kids and adults positively. But if I had to pick just one, it would have to be Veronica Mars because of all the things I learnt on that series and movie.
Monica: What are you up to next?
Dax: I’ll continue to host Armchair Expert Podcast on Spotify, which I love.
Kristen: I’m excited about the publication of my second children’s picture book The World Needs More Purple Schools.
Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums