Nick Lachey on prioritizing date nights with wife Vanessa: 'If you're not good with yourself or your partner, you won't be good with the kids'

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Nick Lachey opens up about being a dad. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)
Nick Lachey opens up about being a dad. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)

Welcome to So Mini Ways, Yahoo Life's parenting series on the joys and challenges of child rearing.

The TRL generation will always know Nick Lachey from his boy band roots and early reality TV pioneering with Newlyweds, but the former 98 Degrees singer gained a new legion of fans last year when he won the fifth season of The Masked Singer as the Piglet. These days, Lachey can be found co-hosting the just-released new season of Love Is Blind with his wife Vanessa and managing their family of five from Hawaii, where the Lacheys are based these days. Vanessa is on NCIS: Hawaii and Nick typically helps the kids (sons Camden and Phoenix and daughter Brooklyn) get their day started in the mornings.

“Vanessa’s out the door because of a crazy early call time,” he tells Yahoo Life's So Mini Ways. “The morning routine is 100 percent mine. ... I get up early every day and I’m usually the one who gets up with the kids. I can't wake up to the pounding on the door and snap right into it. I need coffee, I need to check ESPN.com — I need to do certain things before I get thrown into the deep end."

A quick fix breakfast also helps. As such, the hands-on dad is teaming up with Eggo to give away a million free waffles on Monday, March 14 — the day after daylight saving time kicks in — to help fellow tired parents on one of the toughest days of the year. (For a chance to win, follow Eggo on Instagram and Facebook and look for the waffle drop announcement on March 14.)

When he's not rushing around with the kids in the morning, Lachey is careful to squeeze in plenty of fun bonding activities. The Ohio native cites taking his oldest son, Camden, to cheer on the Bengals at this year's Super Bowl. Making time with wife Vanessa is also crucial.

“As a couple, you have to carve out time,” he says. “You have to get the sitter and go out on the date. You have to make it happen. You gotta make those things a priority! If you’re not good with yourself or your partner, you won't be good with the kids.”

That's something he's come to appreciate more as his brood gets bigger.

“There’s a huge difference between two and three [kids],” he says. “People joke, 'if you have three, you might as well have five,' and I kind of subscribe to that. You’re outnumbered and there’s an odd man out at playtime. It’s tricky! To go from two to three is an absolute game-changer! I didn't appreciate that until we had three. That said, I wouldn't change it for the world.”

As a dad to two boys and one girl, the "What's Left of Me" singer admits he's adjusted how he approaches parenting each individual child.

"My dynamic with the boys is so special in its own way, but the phrase 'daddy’s little girl' is real, and to have a daughter it’s so special," he says. "[Recently] my daughter and I had a day at the beach; we ran through the water and went out to a sandbar. I’d be lying if I said I’m as stern with her as I am with the boys. But kids are all so different and the way you react to them and talk to them has to be different too.”

Lachey also says that the effort he puts into parenting is motivated not just from wanting to be a great dad, but simply not wanting to mess up his kids.

“The pressure you put on yourself not to screw these little people up is the only thing you care about. I find myself getting consumed by it … you just want your kids to be happy and content,” Lachey says. “I always wanted to be a dad but the extent to how much I care — that was pretty eye-opening.”

While Lachey may have been surprised by how much he would get consumed by his three children, he tries to keep his cool at every turn and to practice patience daily.

“My best attempt at patience is [my] overall approach to parenting,” Lachey says. “It’s gonna be stressful and trying, but you’ve got to do your best, in my opinion, to remain even-keeled as much as you can. You don’t want to accelerate a situation, but defuse it. With three [kids], it’s tricky not to lose your cool, but I’ve found that only makes it worse. It’s taught me a lot about patience.”

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