Alyssa Milano on 'Project Runway,' Helicopter Moms & Having 2 Kids

alyssa milano

Alyssa Milano is one busy lady: in addition to caring for her 7-week-old daughter Elizabella and her 3-year-old son Milo, she's the host on Project Runway All Stars, which premieres this Thursday on Lifetime. Nonetheless, even though she's surrounded by catty, cutthroat fashionista types (hello Isaac Mizrahi!), this former Who's the Boss star is surprisingly sweet -- a no-nonsense yet nurturing mom who's not afraid to share some refreshingly down-to-earth confessions about how she makes her life work.

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Milano is a celebrity mom who embraces the pounds she put on during pregnancy and epidurals to ease the pain of labor. And she isn't afraid to admit she's sometimes a bit of helicopter mom -- if the situation calls for it, that is! -- and even admits to getting caught up in watching kid cartoons with her son.

In short: she's the celebrity mom who we'd all want to meet at the local park.

The Stir caught up with Alyssa to talk about how she prepared Milo for a new baby, what she thinks women need to be good moms, and, of course, the next season of Project Runway

On what's in store for fans on season 4 of Project Runway All Stars:
I feel like this season we have the best group of designers that the show has ever seen. Normally, as a fan, you can tell who's going to be eliminated or in it for the long haul by episode 3 or 4. But this season was so hard to judge because they're all amazing. It was literally eliminating the least best.

What it was like officiating over a wedding on the runway in an upcoming episode of Project Runway:
I was ordained to marry a couple, and it was very sweet and exciting. The challenge was a bridesmaid dress challenge. I was ordained online; that was not a very romantic process! But at the ceremony I got super, super emotional. Of course, I was 7 1/2 months pregnant and very hormonal, but I definitely always cry at weddings. And me officiating was no different!

On "judgy" moms:
I think we're just in a judgy place, as far as society goes. And I think the Internet allows people to be able to judge under a certain amount of anonymity. It has made for this culture that is very hurtful, especially to women. I think it's unacceptable how people have lost compassion. There is a human being on the other side of that criticism. I understand it, it's obviously that people think they're totally anonymous while they're making these criticisms. That has bred this very harsh world in the media. I think it's hurtful.

On son Milo's favorite TV shows:
He loves Doc McStuffins, Octonauts, Little Einsteins, and Yo Gabba Gabba. I'd love to be on any of those shows so he can see his mom on TV! My favorites are Octonauts and Little Einsteins because they're educational but still entertaining. They have strong messages. Octonauts is a group of sea creatures and has a strong message of how we have to keep our oceans clean. Little Einsteins is about art and music where the entire episode will be done in the visual aesthetic of that artist and the sounds of that composer.

On her parenting "style": 
I've tried to strike a balance between all of it, because I think being too focused on one thing does not make life easier for me. I think it's super important as a mother to be adaptable and flexible. If you're too specific about your technique of parenting, obviously flexibility goes out the window. But also I've tried to take lessons from various parenting techniques that I agree with, and parent in that way but with balance. I held Milo for every nap until he was one a) because I could, but b) we couldn't sleep with him in our bed at night, our husband worked and he can't be exhausted. So, this was my way of having that closeness of a shared bed, but not interrupting my husband's world.

But obviously as Milo grew older, it's important to be able to grow as a parent with your child. I now attempt to take my cues from him. I'm not much of a helicopter mom unless there's a situation where he can get hurt. I try to give him as much space as possible, so he learns his own boundaries of what he's capable of and what to be cautious about. In terms of playground politics, I think it's super important for them to learn how to take turns and all of those things. If I'm constantly close by, I think he's more likely to think that mom's going to make everything okay. It's important for him to learn that I won't.

That said, there are moments when I am a helicopter parent. I try to rely on my instincts for when I need to be. We've become too reliant on what a book tells us to do or what is socially accepted. What happens when that happens is you're hindering your natural instinct. And to me, the most important thing you can have as a parent is that instinct. If you're relying too much on a certain technique you learn from a book, that brain knowledge is overriding that instinct.

On juggling two kids:
I'm doing wonderfully, actually! It was a concern, but it's going really well. And Milo, I'm telling you, it's like she was always a part of him. He did not have one moment of jealousy; he made this easy on me. And it's actually made me appreciate and love him even more. He's so loving and sweet. He says, "Hello, my little sweetheart." And he's 3! It's the most beautiful thing to watch. I had this baby for him. I didn't want him to be an only child. I was a parent later in life. I didn't want him to be alone when I got old and sick. I wanted him to have that friendship of a sibling. I wanted them to have each other. And he gets it.

How she prepared her son Milo for the birth of his sister:
We involved him from day one. We said, "Mama has a baby in her belly; it's YOUR baby." Not "Mom's having ANOTHER baby." He came to my doctor's appointments with me. I put sonogram pictures up in his rom. I don't know how much he was able to wrap his head around it, but the day he came to the hospital to meet Elizabella, I'd heard "don't hold the baby when he first comes in; he may think that baby is replacing him." So I put her in the bassinet. He looked at me and said, "Mama, she came out?" I said, "Yeah, baby, she came out of my belly to see you." He kept repeating, "She came out!"

More from The Stir: Alyssa Milano Breastfeeds Baby Elizabella in First Public Photo

The best part about having two kids:
Just seeing them together for sure. And seeing my son in a nurturing capacity is really mind blowing. I have 5 dogs and 10 horses, and he's always been very affectionate. But to see him with another child, a baby, is really special.

On what she'll do differently this time around:
I think it depends on her needs. With Milo, I catered to what he needed. I'll do the same thing here. With Elizabella, it's too early to really tell all of that now. All she needs right now is my boobs, my arms, and my love. And some time outside in her stroller. Her needs are basic. As her needs evolve, so will I.

The biggest difference between having a girl vs. a boy:
It's mind blowing how much energy Milo had. He came out very active and curious and motivated. Elizabella's very grounded and centered. Completely different. But I can't really tell if a girl is easier, because I have two kids!

What she misses most about being pregnant:
I definitely miss feeling the kicks for sure. I miss feeling them move inside me. That is such an amazing thing. To allow yourself that time to enjoy your pregnancy really means to embrace the miracle that is our bodies, and how we are able to transform not only physically but mentally into a mother. Just the little things that happen, like the darkening of the nipples. All that stuff is so magical, when you learn about the reasoning behind all that, it's so miraculous to witness and embrace those changes.

Why she's glad she waited until her late 30s to have kids:
Otherwise I wouldn't have had kids with my husband. He is the reason I waited. I was not going to get comfortable with not finding the man I knew I could do it with. From the moment I met him, I knew I could do this. I told him, "Had I met you in my 20s, I'd have six kids by now."

On whether she plans to have more kids:
My baby's only 7 weeks old, so I'm still in that place of just creating a new normal. I'm sure once that's been established, we will discuss that. As of right now, at 7 weeks, I'm lucky I can think about brushing my teeth!

On her involvement with UNICEF: 
I've been in a goodwill ambassador since 2003. I like that first of all, UNICEF's main mission is not just one issue, it's the welfare of children, which spans many issues -- health, vaccinations, clean water, sanitation, and everything in between. My belief is that every child deserves a normal childhood. They're striving to give every child that.

On what she's learned from how kids and moms live in other areas of the world:
Two things. One is a global view, which is that everyone is basically the same, we're all looking for our happily ever after. It doesn't matter if we're in the US or Africa. What makes us unique are the territories we're born into. But our struggles are the same struggles. What they struggle with in Angola is the same thing we struggle with here. It's relative. Our country is always striving to make education and our health care system better. Those fundamental human rights are what people struggle with.

The second is a motherly aspect. The thing I've taken from those trips is you really need nothing to be a good mother. What I mean by that is we've got the swings, the bassinets, the milk bottles, the sleep training. Everything is such an industry in westernized parenting. And when you travel over there, you realize they have nothing. They sometimes don't even have a hospital bed to give birth in. They don't have clean water. They certainly don't have bassinets or swings or the Internet to look up "my baby's coughing; what could that mean?" They have nothing. They have their love, their instinct, and their bodies, and that's all they need. That's a pretty powerful thing to realize.

What do you need to be a good mom?

 

Image via Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

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