As a mother of three boys, you’d think Gwen Stefani might feel outnumbered. She has such a girly-girl side as a pop star, and she's a true fashion icon, always with impeccable hair and makeup. As a coach on "The Voice," she has brought young women to tears because they grew up wanting to be like her.
Still, Stefani grew up with two brothers and toured for years with a bunch of guys (her No Doubt bandmates). She currently dates country singer and Voice counterpart Blake Shelton. She gets dudes.
Recently, her sons with ex-husband Gavin Rossdale — Kingston, 11, Zuma, 8, and Apollo, 3 — were playing with water balloons at their Los Angeles home, and, in her words, were “doing boy stuff and just squirting them around, and being inappropriate.”
She schooled them. “Do you think you know something I don’t know? Because I’ve been on a bus with all guys my whole life.”
“I throw that at them all the time,” she says. “I feel prepared for boys in that way.”
While Stefani is currently on a break from "The Voice," she is busy promoting the second season of her animated series, "Kuu Kuu Harajuku," which premieres on Nick Jr. tonight. In an interview with TODAY Parents, Stefani proved why her mom act is as cool as her stage act.
She thinks her kids are ‘summer’ spoiled.
Some working moms think, “Ugh, it’s summer, what am I going to do to entertain the kids with no schedule?” Others think, “Yay, it’s summer, there’s no schedule!” Stefani says she falls more in the latter category, but still provides structure for her boys. “Things are more flexible in the summer time. But I think they feel more safe and happier when we have a routine,” she says.
A day after the water balloon play time, her older sons had a project. “I bought one of those clay pots you can put in the oven and cook things,” Stefani said. Kingston and Zuma researched recipes and went to shop for ingredients, with plans to cook dinner that night.
“We had an ice cream maker that has been sitting in the garage for years. So they went and got all the ingredients and are going to make two different types of ice cream.”
Their viewing pleasure for the evening? “Princess Diaries 2, because we watched Princess Diaries 1 last night.”
“I feel like they are quite spoiled, but I think in summer time they deserve it because they work so hard during the year at school,” she says. “I think it’s fun to do all that stuff because it just goes by so fast.”
Her parenting ‘village’ is a family affair.
Stefani says her family, including her siblings and parents, are all a major part of her boys’ lives. “I believe in that tribal thing, the more the merrier,” she says, adding that weekends are “always better with the cousins around. When it’s just my three boys, there are fights.”
She says she admires her mom, who had four kids by the age of 28. (In comparison, Stefani had her first child at age 36.) “My mom worked hard…she did everything. [Both of my parents] were really involved,” Stefani says. “Sometime it’s hard for me… I want to call my parents for help but how do they even relate to me? My life is so extremely different than theirs was.”
She encourages her boys' fashion choices.
Stefani says she was quite a tomboy in high school. "I wore a backpack and had Doc Martens on and men's pants — I sewed them to fit me. Everything was all about being homemade, the ‘anti-mall’… in a way, anti-fashion."
It was after her musical success that she discovered her love of fashion. "I didn’t carry a handbag until I was in my 30s. I never wore high heels... I was not in touch with that sexy side at all, until my 30s."
Her sons seem to have already taken a page from mom's style book. Before heading off to their July family vacation, Stefani said she and her two older sons had an important appointment: to get their “summer hair.”
“Everyone is dyeing their hair. We went and got all the colors at the beauty supply store,” Stefani said.
She loves that her work inspires her sons.
"Kuu Kuu Harajuku" has been yet another dream come true in Stefani’s career. She’s loved animation since she was a kid who watched Saturday morning cartoons like "Tom & Jerry" and "Scooby Doo." Her first solo tour in 2005, which featured backup dancers called the Harajuku Girls, inspired the series about five girls in a rock band who have adventures. Though the show is girl-centric, Stefani says “the cool little moral lessons” it instills are not lost on her boys.
So far, the only member of Stefani’s brood in the show is the voice of Chewy, her Pomeranian. (Stefani says the boys were bummed because the dog on the show is an evil character.) Recently, Kingston asked if his voice could someday be on the show. “It’s really fun to work and have them see your successes and be influenced by that,” Stefani says.
She misses the baby stage but is embracing the tweens.
Stefani was 44 when she had Apollo, and it was a pregnancy that came as a surprise. After celebrating Apollo’s third birthday earlier this year, she says she has been devastated about moving on from the baby stage. “I really love the baby stuff. I miss it.”
But, she’s optimistic about the tween years so far. “I’ve been surprised by the older age, how much I’ve enjoyed it. It’s really incredible to watch them overcome challenges and be good people,” Stefani says of Kingston. “I never envisioned what it would be like to have an 11-year-old — it’s magical in its own way.”
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The baby girl name she might have picked is, not surprisingly, adorable.
Stefani and Rossdale gave each of their boys three unique names — Kingston James McGregor, Zuma Nesta Rock, and Apollo Bowie Flynn — so when asked what she would have named a baby girl, Stefani sounds wistful.
“I remember when I had Kingston, I thought about the idea — because I wanted a ‘G’ name — ‘Ooh, maybe I could do, like, Garbo, you know, like, a Hollywood name?” she says,“But I never ended up having a girl.”
So would she ever try for a fourth child, in the hopes of getting a girl?
Stefani paused before she answered. “Um… I would love to but, I don’t, you know… probably not. I feel like Apollo was a miracle.”