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The Joys of Parenthood: Cherishing Moments with a Kid in College and a 5-Year-Old

Chip and Joanna Gaines are taking a different approach to life as they deal with raising a kindergartener and adjusting to a new normal as their oldest begins his freshman year of college.

The Magnolia co-founders open up to PEOPLE for this week’s cover about how they’re spending their time now that the first of their five children, 18-year-old Drake, has left the nest.

“Fortunately, given my schedule, it’s something we’ll have to work out.” “We plan our schedules months in advance,” Joanna explains. “We have to know what we’re doing, how we’re working, our local businesses, and what meetings we attend.” So when I feel like we’re approaching a busy season, especially with sports with the kids, I’m really conscious and intentional about trying to get things off my calendar that I normally think, ‘I have to be there.'”

Joanna says the couple is pleased that the team they’ve assembled can step in and assist.

“If I’m saying this right, where I think for me now, it’s like my team knows priority is, I’ve got four teenage kids that are all in four different sports,” she tells the publication. “And that means every night or every weekend, and so playing around that.”
“I think it’s a gift that we can adjust our schedules in some ways,” she continues. And there are times when it’s difficult to manage both, but I think that’s my priority right now — which means that some other things have to go, or I have to find out how to accomplish it at a different time or in a different way.”
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The mother of five admits that “being creative with my schedule” is frequently a “fun challenge,” and she wonders, “How can I do the work that I love, but be super available and intentional with my kids?”

“I think the greatest gift of having a kid go off to college and having a five-year-old toddler, is kind of that perspective of it’s not here forever,” Joanna said in an interview with PEOPLE.

“Do not take these moments for granted, and cherish them.” And that’s what my five-year-old son Crew is teaching me,” she remarked, referring to her youngest son.

“So, hopefully, anyone in between that feels that intention, and again, we’re not perfect.” “There are days when I don’t do it well at all,” she admits, “but I have to give myself grace.”

“Something about Drakey going off to college really shifts your attention to Crew who’s on the tail end of all this,” Chip agrees. And you’re living very deliberately because you know — which is difficult to believe when you’re holding a one-year-old — ‘Oh, this time’s going to fly by.'”

“Because it seems like time was standing still, at the time, but then when you see your boy go off to college for real — well then, you certainly shift your attention to little Crew, and want to really practically live as if he were going to go off to college tomorrow, so we can enjoy and appreciate every moment.”

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Chip and Joanna also have Emmie, 13, Duke, 15, and Ella, 17, in addition to Crew and Drake. When asked if any of their children would one day join the family business, both said it’s vital to them to give their children space to “figure out your own thing.”
“Find your own passion.” Obviously, it would be great joy to have one of our kids, or two of our kids, work with us at some point. “But that’s not what we’re saying to them,” Joanna clarifies.

“I believe Chip is excellent at saying, ‘You need your own identity, your own purpose.'” He kind of set that expectation, saying things like, “When you’re done with college, go do some stuff on your own and learn some stuff.” We’ll be here if you want to come back years later and teach us something. We can hardly wait.'”
Joanna has seen her children as “their interests change,” but when it comes to the older four, she says, “I see business in all four of them in different aspects.” I saw one working on strategy and planning. “I see one as a business owner.”

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