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When we think of cute celebrity fathers, we definitely think of David Charvet.
The doting dad is enamored with daughter Heaven Rain, 3½, and son Shaya Braven, 2½, and takes great care of fiancée Brooke Burke‘s daughters Neriah Shae, 10, and Sierra Sky, 8, too.
Though he keeps busy — his latest TV movie, The Perfect Teacher, runs Wednesday night at 8 p.m. on the Lifetime Movie Network — Charvet always takes time out for family, a fact he’s very proud of (and rightfully so!).
The actor, 38, recently spoke to PEOPLE Moms & Babies about his busy brood, and filled us in on how he and Burke balance their non-stop schedules.
How are Shaya and Rain doing?
They’re doing really great! They’re growing up. Today was their first day of school, and I took them. We had breakfast with them this morning — it was Brooke’s birthday today (Sept. 8th) — so we got them dressed and wished her a happy birthday.
It was so funny to watch them pack their lunches and get ready. We went outside to our rose garden and picked some roses for their teachers. They were excited for their first day of school … which was not the case for me when I was their age. So it was nice to see them so into it.
Shaya did go to a school last year, but this is his first time in a classroom, with a cubby. It’s a big deal for him.
Do you and Shaya have a particularly special bond? What’s he into now?
I have this really special bond with him — we have a level of trust where he knows he can come to me and I can take care of him. I’m pretty grateful for it. I grew up in a situation that wasn’t like that, so I always wanted to make sure my son had everything, and felt comfortable and confident. I’m just constantly trying to be a good dad.
He loves tools. He’s got lots of tools! He brings his hammer and screwdriver everywhere. Even today, the first day of school, he asked if he could bring them with him. I said, ‘You can’t lose them,’ and he said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll put them in my pocket!’ I think he likes the idea of building.
He also really likes sports, especially baseball. Hopefully that will pay off for him one day.
We screened my new TV movie, The Perfect Teacher, a few weeks ago, and I took Shaya with me. There’s a scene where I kiss my on-screen girlfriend, and he saw it, looked at me and said, ‘Uh oh!’ It was just really funny. He was like, ‘Oh my gosh, Papa!’ It’s amazing at two years old he can already figure out what’s right or wrong. He’s just an amazing kid.
Do his sisters dote on him?
He is the baby of the family, so Rain in particular takes incredible care of her little brother. She’s always after him, making sure he’s okay, holding his hand while walking down the stairs. If he falls, she’s there to pick him up.
He’s a little strongheaded with these three girls — he wants his way also, so he tends to fight with them a little.
Do you and Brooke plan to have any more kids?
I think that the baby factory is on hold right now. Brooke has had enough with four kids, and honestly it takes a while to actually spend time with everyone. To bring someone else on board feels kind of unfair to the other kids. We don’t have enough time in the day to make sure everyone gets the proper attention.
We’re going to stop here for now, then reassess everything in the next three or four years. It’s very important to spend time with all four of our kids, and make sure they get equal attention and love. I had five sisters and one brother, so having a big family is a given for me, but now being a father, and trying to be a good father, I already have my work cut out for me.
With Brooke heading back to Dancing with the Stars soon and your work keeping you busy, how do you two balance everything?
I was in Canada to shoot The Perfect Teacher, and I missed the family a lot. I think Shaya needed his dad, and Rain wanted her Papa back. It was difficult. But we really try to support each other.
When I have to go off and work for five months, Brooke’s there, with the kids. She could also choose to go out and do things with her girlfriends, but she chooses to be with the children.
When Brooke goes back to Dancing with the Stars, I know Monday and Tuesday mornings will be a challenge, so it’ll be time for me to kick things up on my end.
It’s about supporting each other, and recognizing that the other person’s work is important also. We need to help each other out.
How do you keep the flame alive, with your busy schedules and four kids?
We try to have date nights pretty regularly. I like to cook, she likes to cook, so sometimes we’re in the kitchen together — that’s a soothing thing to do.
We have a cabana in the backyard, so on weekends maybe we’ll hang out there, drink wine and catch up. Or we wait until the kids go to sleep, and that’s our time to connect.
When we get anywhere close to each other when the kids are around, there’s a holler, and a ‘Hey are you kissing my mom?!’ So we try to carve out our own time. It’s not easy! It’s a work in progress all the time.
When we spoke to Brooke last year, she called you a ‘great, hands-on dad.’ How do you define her as a mom?
Brooke is a multi-tasker. She loves her children, and she never takes jobs that keep her away from her children for more than a day or two. So she likes to be hands-on, too. She takes the kids to school and picks them up as often as she can.
She takes the time for the children. What attracted me the most to Brooke — besides her beauty — is her capability of being the great mother she is. We’ve known each other 18 years, and coming together five years ago was not only the result of the great friendship we had, but me seeing her with the kids and seeing how great of a mom she was. That turned me on, and made me want to have kids with her.
|Brian Doben for PEOPLE for use on CBB|
Switching gears a bit … how did your family spend summer vacation?
We went to Italy for a couple of weeks, to Tuscany and Sardinia. We took all the kids, and that was a real challenge, because you never know what can happen on flights, or how they’ll behave. Luckily, it went pretty smoothly! Shaya had one tantrum — we took away his baba [pacifier], so we needed to help make him okay with that, since he’d had it his whole life.
But the trip was a great experience for them. They got the chance to see Europe, taste different foods, see a different culture, and be a part of something that’s much older than America. They loved it!
Not only was it a good way for them to connect, but for me to connect with the older girls. Since they go back and forth [between Brooke and David's home and their father Garth Fisher's home], there’s always a little adjustment period, and we never get the chance to spend enough time together. But in Italy, we got that chance to bond.
Tell us about your new TV movie, The Perfect Teacher. It’s kind of dark for you!
It is, but sadly, it’s something that actually happens in schools today: a teacher gets accused of doing certain things to a young girl. I play a teacher who is going through a divorce, and has a young daughter, and starts a new job when all of these things start to happen to him. I don’t want to give anything away, but he’s got his hands full, that’s for sure.
You also recently helped to launch a website, Herotopia. What’s it about?
My best friend, Brian Krauss, was a co-founder. We were hearing a lot about how school shootings and other drama often comes from kids being bullied. It happens at a really young age. So we decided to develop an online game that teaches kids how to deal with bullies.
Kids can play 20 games on the site, and we have about 25,000 kids on the site so far. It’s a work in progress, but it’s something we’re really proud of. It’ll teach kids that if you are being bullied, you can handle it.
– Kate Hogan