by Amy McCarthy
Reality TV may be scripted, but real people live real lives behind the camera. Bravo TV’s The Real Housewives of Orange County follows the lives and stories of 5 women managing work, life, and family in some of the area’s most exclusive neighborhoods. We caught up with one of the show’s stars, fashion designer and Fox correspondent Alexis Bellino.
Bellino, a member of the Real Housewives cast since season 5, chatted with Parenthood.com’s Amy McCarthy about work-life balance, her newest fashion line, and whether or not she would allow her young daughters to watch the show.
Parenthood.com: How do you balance keeping both your family and your TV producers happy?
Alexis Bellino: We do film with the kids around, so even though they aren’t a huge part of the on-screen show, they’re always in the background. If I’m feeling overwhelmed (or if they are), I take time off. Bravo has been very understanding, and they get when you’re feeling tired or need to spend more time with your kids.
Parenthood.com: Speaking of your children - what do they think about Mommy being on TV? What do they think about the show as a whole?
Alexis: My son and daughters are so different. The girls are younger, and they really aren’t intrigued by the cameras. They just kind of hang out in the background and do their own thing. My son James, on the other hand, is totally into the cameras and always wants a mic. He’s always doing something cute on screen, and he’s definitely a natural. I’m not sure I’ll let him be in show business, but he is a natural.
Parenthood.com: How has being on The Real Housewives of Orange County impacted your day-to-day life as a parent. Are you still able to drive your kids to school and go to P.T.A. meetings?
Alexis: My biggest priority is always my family, and the show comes underneath that. The marriage I have with my husband is a little more traditional, and it works for us. I want to be a wife and mother. I don’t want to miss out on taking my children to school. Sure, there may be times when I have to send the sitter to pick them up from school because I have an interview or appointment, but I want to be a part of my kids lives on a day-to-day basis - I want to volunteer at their school. I eat up these moments with my little ones - at some point, they’re going to be too “cool” for Mommy and not want me in their classroom or around their friends.
Parenthood.com: I think it’s safe to say that you’re busy - three children and a husband is enough responsibility for anyone, but add in two fashion lines, a reality TV show, and other projects - what all is going on for you right now?
Alexis: Balancing my life is definitely a top theme for me this season. Not only am I designing two fashion lines, being on Real Housewives, and taking care of the kids - I am also a weekend correspondent for Fox 5. As you’ll see on the show, there’s lots of crazy running around because of all of these opportunities. My fashion lines Alexis Bellino and Alexis Couture have been particularly crazy - I do a lot of the pattern making, sewing, sketching, and other work that just has to be done. Luckily, though, I do have a partner for my newest venture and she can pick fabrics and I can make choices - being able to collaborate has really made this venture much easier.
Parenthood.com: So, we’ve established that you’re quite the busy mom. How do you keep balance (and sanity!)?
Alexis: Since starting the show, I’ve learned a lot of lessons. The first is to delegate responsibilities when you can - you don’t have to take the kids to school every day, just as long as you’re making it most days. You don’t have to hand-pack your daughter’s lunch - let the sitter do it. As long as you’re involved the majority of the time, it’s OK to let go of control from time to time. I also make sure to stay very strict on my work/family schedule - I know which hours to work and which I can’t and shouldn’t. I’ve also made Bravo aware of our family schedule. For example, my kids are in bed at around 7:30 every evening, so time before that is for them. After that, though, I can work on the fashion line or other projects I’ve got going on.
Parenthood.com: As a parent and reality TV star, do you let your children watch the show?
Alexis: No. They’re too young, and it’s inappropriate for them. They will see it eventually, though, because they’ve been a part of it. I don’t envision them watching it until they’re maybe 18 or 19, though. Once they’ve reached a certain age, they’ll be able to understand what’s going on. At this point, we just show them the little snippets of the show that they’re in. Once they get older, I hope they can look back and see that it isn’t Mommy who is swearing or acting inappropriately. As I’m doing the show, I have to keep in the front of my mind that I have 3 little ones who look up to me and that I need to try to be an example.
Parenthood.com: So, is there a Real Housewives of Orange County play group? Do you get together with the other Housewives so the kids can play?
Alexis: Most of the other wives children are much older than my own, but Tamra and I do have playdates sometimes and our kids play and interact with each other. Other than that, though, only Heather (the newest cast member) has young children, and I’m sure we’ll get together for playdates and our kids will get to know each other.
by Amy McCarthy