Kate Gosselin is a magazine cover fixture these days, so it was a little surreal to see her -- and her trademark punky hairstyle -- in the Parenting offices for a sit-down with our editors. Just as the Gosselin divorce story exploded, we chatted with her about what "normal" is for her, her relationship with Jon, dreading the first day of school, and the future of the show.
Can you describe your typical day?
What's typical? I don't have two days alike anymore, unfortunately. Life is crazy. It's really hard at this point. When they're little you get up, dress, them, feed them breakfast, clean up, play, clean up, make lunch, feed lunch, clean up, nap time! Get them up, snack, make dinner, feed dinner, clean up. Bathtime, bedtime. Now every day is different and it's just a race and prioritizing every single day. Every day is a challenge at this point.
Then how do you plan?
I keep a lot of my schedule in my head, and I do have a huge calendar so I write that stuff down and it changes 150 times a minute, so it's all about having the people around me that I need to help me get everything done. I'm very hands-on and I like to do it myself, so it's still very hard for me to hand that control to other people.
So it must be really hard to choose help you're comfortable with. How do you do it?
Very carefully. Because of the situation we are in, we don't have very much help, even still. We do have someone that helps with the kids. But I still like to do it myself. I like to do my own cleaning. I like to do my own shopping. And I do. Because that's how I show my love.
You don't have a nanny or anything?
Well since I'm traveling a lot now, there is someone that is there. I don't call her a nanny, for the record. That makes it sound like she's taking my job, like she's in charge. I'm mom. I love her and she takes care of the kids the hours that I need her but by no means does she live there. When I come home from traveling I brace myself because it takes me a full three days to get the house back where it belongs. Not to say that people don't do their jobs in my absence but it definitely needs some attention.
Well it's your house. It has to be how you want it.
I'm a control freak. Like that notebook sitting there, I'm like, who sat that notebook there? What is that notebook? Whose is it? Where does it belong? Get rid of it. I don't know where it came from.
When you were a little girl, dreaming what your life would be like, how many children did you envision?
What do you think your life would be like if you only had three?
I have no idea. I do not know what it's like to have one baby. It just doesn't seem right.
Do you have personal time?
No. Eventually I get to go to bed. I actually smile as I'm walking toward my bed. I'm like, 'finally.' I do build in time to go to the spa once a month. Moms feel guilty about that. They feel like they shouldn't take that time away from their children. But I feel that if you don't do that, you're grouchier. If you can take that time for yourself you're a better mom in the end. Every day? No. Every week? No. But once a month I feel it's excusable.
That's an irony of life. Why is it that when you're really busy is the spa and the massage appointment the first thing to go? It gets shaved off the calendar and that's the thing you need. I can't figure out how to remedy that. That bothers me. You go to the dentist, even when you're busy. Why can't you go to the spa?
What about buying things for yourself?
I shop for myself because I feel like I'm out and traveling. At one time I was the t-shirt- sweatpants mom, but that's really not going to cut it anymore.
So you do get some personal time. But what about couple time with Jon?
We're together when we're cleaning up at night, and we have lots of dinner meetings. But couple time probably gets crowded out. But we do see a lot more of each other than the average couple because we work from home.
Do you and Jon get to do fun things, together, though? Do you go on dates?
No. Not so much. When I go home, I feel, like, "ahhh", I just want to be there. I just don't feel there's a need to go out. It's nice to be home when we're together.
What do you consider your job? Being on a TV show? Motivational speaker? Writing a book?
All of the above. I am mom first. I am reality TV person second. And most people think, oh, reality TV show stars don't work, which is hysterical to me because so much goes into behind-the-scenes -- e-mails, the conference calls late at night. There are hours that go into it. They don't come over and say, 'Okay, this is the show we are going to do today.' I come up with the ideas. We talk about of it. All of that is so much work in itself. And obviously with eight kids you have all the dentist, doctor, orthodontist appointments, hair cut appointments, all those usual things. The speaking, the partnerships that I do, the book writing. I've written a book in a day -- and a half. A day was my goal and I didn't quite make it. Never did I ever think I would be doing this but I'm loving it.
How often are the cameras not in the house? How much of the year?
We started filming in 2005 and I think we've had a week or two off here and there but we never really stopped. And they are there an average of three days a week. But it's now just filling in between everything. They're very workable. I can essentially make our schedule, which I like a lot.
How long do you want to let the cameras, and the world, into your home?
I have never known, from day one. As long as people want to watch us. I can't ever say.
How do you get eight kids to the dentist?
We take the whole afternoon. We take a huge block of time.
How do you keep them entertained in the waiting room?
They just play. They're good.
They're all going to school in the fall?
All eight. Yep. I'll have to lay out eight outfits and pack eight lunches and book bags and get eight pairs of sneakers. Homework. Field trips. Just getting through the stack of papers that come home. I'm a little nervous.
Are you doing anything to prepare yourself?
I already have their wardrobe picked out and ordered from Healthtex -- each outfit is $16. I remember when Cara and Maddie were dressing themselves I was really anal. They'd come down in all this horrendous mis-matchey stuff. I'd never allow it -- I was always laying out their outfits. Even back then when the babies were little I couldn't tolerate it. It hurt my eyes. But the Healthtex line is all color-coordinated so they can pick and choose, which is fun because I'm going to put it on the low rack in their closet and let them go crazy and dress themselves.
What about budgeting for back to school? What's your advice?
I buy things on sale. The key for back-to-school is not to wait until the last minute, when things get sold out. I want the products that I want for the cheapest I can get them. I don't want to have to give up on the products I want in order to fall into my price range. Watch for things you know you need. Lots of moms don't budget for back-to-school, and they should.
Why don't they?
When you're buying back-to-school stuff, you're saying goodbye to the summer. People don't plan ahead because they don't want to face it's over. I dread when summer's over. Dread, dread, dread. I hate it. I hate the routine of getting up early, the warm days are gone. You're heading to fall and it makes people upset. People don't want to watch for sales. I literally dread when I start seeing the sale things, with the rulers and the apples on them.
This school year will be a major milestone for you as the younger kids go to school.
Yeah. I can't imagine it. I've only been in our house twice without anyone else in it.
How's it going to feel?
Too quiet. Kind of sad. It really is sad. We all have those letting-go issues. Are they really safe at school? I hope they're okay. What if they miss me?
What will the first day be like?
Are you trying to make me cry? It's going to be facing reality. They're going to be five. Every year is hard but five is old.