Erin and Ben Napier on being real about parenting on social media: 'Perfection is deeply boring and unrelatable to me'

·5 min read

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

If you're obsessed with HGTV stars Erin and Ben Napier, you're in good company. The married Home Town hosts credit their success — and ability to spend just about every waking moment together, whether it's on the set or at home with their two daughters — to being "pretty obsessed with each other."

"We really overshare and overcommunicate with each other, so there's no surprises," Ben tells Yahoo Life's So Mini Ways.

"It's hard not to [overshare] because we are literally together 24 hours a day," adds Erin with a laugh. "So we know everything. But it's just the only way we've ever worked, so it's the only way we know how to work, I guess. And we don't get on each other's nerves 'cause I feel like ... I just always know what [Ben's] thinking."

Her husband puts it this way: "It'd be like me being annoyed with my left arm."

That tight bond has helped the Alabama natives be a "united front" when it comes to caring for their two daughters, 4-year-old Helen and 9-month-old Mae. According to Erin, the couple — who have partnered with Swiffer WetJet Wood, a staple in their own home thanks to two messy little ones and a new dog — are "both 100 percent hands-on," whether that means cleaning up after mealtimes or overseeing middle-of-the-night potty breaks. Ben shares that while Erin oversees bath time with the girls, he's in charge of getting up with Helen in the night when nature calls — a new habit they attribute to the toddler recently learning how the body, and the bladder, works.

"We take on different roles and those roles shift and change as we go," he adds. "But I am, for the most part, the authoritarian, which is very hard for me to do."

"He's like Santa," Erin explains. "Which I guess makes it more effective. When Daddy gets serious and uses the serious voice then things get real serious."

HGTV stars Ben and Erin Napier get real about parenting and tuning out critics. (Photo: Getty: designed by Quinn Lemmers)
HGTV stars Ben and Erin Napier get real about parenting and tuning out critics. (Photo: Getty: designed by Quinn Lemmers)

Helen also pitches in. Though she's not quite old enough to start Swiffering just yet, the 4-year-old has already learned how to help out around the house.

"She does dishes," Ben says. "She clears the table at the end of the night for us. She helps unload the dishwasher and she's really, really good at moving the clothes ... from the washer to the dryer and then starting the dryer. She knows how to do that."

She's also crafty enough to trick her babysitters when her famous parents try to take a moment for themselves, trying to convince caregivers that she can have Pop-Tarts for dinner or stay up until Erin returns to tuck her in. Like many parents of young children in an ongoing pandemic, the Napiers are in what Erin calls the "hunker down" phase of life. Even so, having the girls in bed by 7:30 p.m. so they can have some alone time is "non-negotiable," with at-home date nights usually involving ordering in food, watching a movie or hiring a chef to cook a special meal.

"It takes effort ... to get a babysitter and go out," Ben says. "The problem with us right now is that Helen is extremely clever and very smart. She's not conniving; she's not being malicious, but she knows how to play people. And so we get a babysitter and she tricks them."

Stories like these — and the odd Instagram photo of a sleep-deprived Ben or a botched braiding attempt — have given the Napiers a relatable appeal, particularly among fellow parents. The couple wouldn't have it any other way.

"We stopped following social media accounts where everything is always staged and beautiful and perfect because it is so boring to me," says Erin. "Perfection is deeply boring and unrelatable to me."

When it comes to social media, the college sweethearts say they're "old enough to see it for what it is" — as in, not something that actually reflects "the real world." While Erin appreciates the online community the success of Home Town — now in its sixth season — has helped create, she is quick to push back against judgmental comments.

"We're very thankful for the people who want to keep up with us on social media," she says. "I'm not thankful for people who find us on social media and give us a hateful opinion that was not asked for. That's not how people communicate in the real world."

Adds Ben, "If you see me on the street or in the grocery store, you're not gonna say something snarky or mean to me. You're not gonna say anything. You're not gonna treat Erin like that. ... You don't treat people like that."

Erin — who has spoken out about the pressure on moms to breastfeed and invasive questions about fertility — wonders "why we let it slide on social media."

"Anytime someone is cruel on social media, I feel like the adult thing to do is to respond to that the way an adult should respond to that," she says, "which is to say, 'you're old enough to know better [and] to know how to communicate. And if this is how you're gonna communicate, let me help you unfollow me.'"

—Video produced by Stacy Jackman.

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