|Russ Einhorn/Splash News Online|
Appearing on Dancing With the Stars is a dream come true for Melissa Joan Hart, but now that her appearance on the hit reality show will coincide with her cross-country move to Connecticut, special preparations are being made for her two sons Mason Walter, 3 ½, and Braydon ‘Brady’ Hart, 18 months.
“It’s emotional to leave my kids,” the 33-year-old actress admits in a new interview with iVillage. Up until recently she has been able to practice with partner Mark Ballas at a local YMCA during the day; As a result, Melissa spent time with the boys in the morning or at night, was often able to do Mason’s drop-off and pick-up from preschool and was “always” home for dinner.
With the debut of the show on Monday, however, Melissa says “the hard part” has officially begun.
“Now I’m gone for a little over a week and then they’ll come see me for a week and then they’ll be gone for two weeks, and so on and so forth until the end.”
To help prepare the kids for her absence, Melissa acted on the recommendation of a teacher at Mason’s preschool and created a sticker calendar which shows the days she’ll be gone. She says Mason will also be keeping a journal for her, and that she left Post-it notes throughout the house “so every time they see a blue sticky note, they know Mommy’s thinking of them.”
In addition, the family of four — which includes Melissa’s husband Mark Wilkerson — will utilize iChat nightly. “Of course my husband is going to be TiVo-ing me on TV so they can watch and see what Mommy’s doing,” Melissa notes. “And they’re going to be coming out [to California] a lot.”
“We’re used to traveling. We’re always moving around. They’re used to a lot of flux in their lives, so it’s just another thing we’re going to have to get through, but it’s temporary. Even though it seems like it’s going to be forever.”
Click below to read about how Mason has adapted to being a big brother.
In addition to Mark, the boys will obviously have each other to lean on when they’re missing mom and Melissa says that their brotherly bond is strong. “[Mason] was excited” about welcoming Brady into the family, she says. “He carried around a baby doll and talked a lot about babies…From day one he was always like, ‘Can I hold the baby? Can I hold the baby?’”
Now that Brady is mobile, the two spend much of their day playing together. “They go on the swing set, they wrestle,” Melissa notes. “Now they can be buddies.”
The transition wasn’t as seamless for Melissa and Mark, however. “It’s a lot harder to be on your own” with two kids, she admits. “Right now we’ve got man-on-man coverage, but it’s so much easier when you can double team.”
At no point is that more apparent than when the Hart-Wilkersons board an airplane! “It’s so much easier to stick him in the seat between you and be able to take turns — whoever has the patience at the time deals with the child,” she explains. “Or one runs to get the diaper while one goes to do whatever.”
“Instead of having two of you being able to do it, it’s one-on-one, and you’re having to rely a lot more on yourself than someone else to help you out.”
There is at least one distinct advantage to becoming parents-of-two, however! “The good thing is they entertain each other too, except when they fight,” Melissa adds.