Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard on parenting wins, fails and family pranks

Hollywood’s most hilarious A-list power couple, Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard have been making us laugh with their candour and fun-poking humour for years. And with two daughters, Lincoln, 9, and Delta, 7, the pair are never short of a good-humoured parenting anecdote or two.

In fact, it was their daughters who inspired their latest joint venture, Hello Bello, their plant-based, affordable baby care brand, which they’ve just brought to the UK for the first time. So we caught up with them to chat all things parenting, from the highs to the lows and all the hilarious moments in between.

kristen bell and dax shepard
Hello Bello

Hi Kristen and Dax. Congratulations on bringing Hello Bello to the UK! Why did you feel the need to create it?

Kristen: When we first had kids, we bought a lot of baby products. The good ones were expensive and available in small boutiques in LA. It occurred to us that no one was making premium, organic and whenever possible, safe, effective baby products in stores where everyone had access. Our goal with Hello Bello was to change that. Make great safe effective baby products accessible and, most of all, affordable. 

Which Hello Bello product do you end up stealing for yourself? 

K: I’m often swiping the girl’s shampoo because I’ve realised it’s great to shave my legs!

What’s the number one rule in your household?

Dax: We have rules but they change and evolve.

K: Accountability is pretty much the one unbreakable rule, even if it might take some patience and time to get a littler person to realise what accountability is in a particular situation. But we strive to keep vulnerability with each other because we find that provides the best intimacy in our relationships. You have to know what you’ve contributed to a situation, and that goes for in our marriage and how the girls relate to each other.

D: Ultimately, you’re gonna have to own up to whatever your side of the story is, and hopefully an apology will be forthcoming.

How do you resolve family arguments? 

D: We’ve learned not to try and solve everything right away. Everyone’s crazy at that time of the conflict so now we wait until everyone’s calm and then go through it.

K: What I like to do, and the girls seem to favour, is what we call a family square. They understand that that means facing each other and that within a family square vulnerability is allowed at all times. You have to create a safe space for each person, but when you’re talking about conflict, you’re only allowed to focus on how you contributed to it. So you talk about how you can clean up your side of the street and what you did wrong to contribute. I find that that gives pretty good resolutions to when they’re fighting, but sometimes they call family squares for us.

D: Oh yeah, if they’re displeased with how we handled something…

Hello Bello Kristen bell and dax shepard
Hello Bello

Do you ever play pranks on each other?

K: The kids play pranks on us more than anything. They got into the Halloween decorations about two months into Covid because they were bored. We have a life-size skeleton called Mr Bones and they were waking up earlier than we were and putting him around the house. They put him on [Dax’s] motorcycle once with his helmet on.

D: He’s on the toilet sometimes.

K: They’re really sharp about it, like they’ll put toilet paper in his hand. Or once they put him standing at the stove with an apron on and an empty pan because they were like, ‘You didn’t get up and make us pancakes so Mr Bones had to do it.’ They’ve had to learn the value of a prank though and [understand] when it’s gone bad. Once they invited me into the bedroom and said, ‘Mom, you deserve a nap,’ and I pulled back the duvet and they had dumped a bucket of water on my mattress. That was one we had a discussion about, because when the clean up is so many hours, it better [be the]…

D: …Joke of the century.

What do they think about having famous parents?

K: They couldn’t care less.

D: Just like you don’t think about whatever job your parents have, they don’t think about our job. You’d imagine that would be some kind of bizarre experience, but it’s the standard experience for them.

K: It’s their norm.

Kristen, you voice Anna in Frozen. Was there a moment when your daughters realised that you were Anna?

K: No. Weirdly, they’ve always known because one of them was in my belly when I was recording it, but they’re not impressed. And sometimes I’ll get excited about giving them a behind the scenes tidbit and they’re like, ‘Cool’. It’s so average to them.

D: We’ve been blessed. They like the movie, but they don’t play it a ton, so we’re one of the only families in the world that has not heard those songs [so] much.

Before your kids were born, were there any baby names that you had to veto from each other?

K: I was desperate to get the credit for the baby name. I had so many that I thought were wonderful, [but Dax] said he wanted to name his first one. At that time, we thought it was a boy – [Dax] had been driving an old Lincoln forever and it was just the perfect name, it felt right. And then when the second baby came around, he also chose Delta. So I really have to tip my hat to you sir, you chose great baby names and I did not win the battle.

D: I’m good at branding.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to new or expecting parents?

D: You’re not going to like this, but we’re not advice givers. The notion that we have an answer for people who are different and we don’t know and are in a unique situation, to me feels a little arrogant.

K: But I would say, as a new mom, don’t be afraid to be flexible. The advice I wish I’d gotten is to follow your gut because there are so many different ways to do it and the one that feels right to you when you’re looking at your baby is the right one.

D: Assuming that doesn’t involve corporal punishment.

K: Right.

D: Our first child was so easy, potty trained herself, was out of diapers in two seconds, ate right away. We thought we should write a parenting book. Second child came along and was the opposite, truly. And we were like, oh, everything we would have written down would be useless for this child. Now we gotta go back to the drawing board.

kristen bell and dax shepard hello bello
Hello Bello

What’s your most memorable parenting wins and fails?

K: I definitely have some fails. I don’t remember a lot of the wins. But I remember one time, it was around Christmas and I didn’t realise how much my then six-year-old had been playing with and become attached to this log reindeer that we bought. So we ran out of firewood and I put that thing right into the fire and my daughter came in and you could see the shape of the reindeer in the fire.

D: It was like a horror movie.

K: She lost her mind. I felt so terrible because I was burning her best friend. That was a big fail for me. But the wins are every day when they come to you, when they ask for your help with something, when they want a hug, when they want to be around you. That tells me that we’re doing something right because they’re not averse to us… yet.

D: Our nine-year-old daughter is an incredible motorcycle rider, which makes me really proud. But really, the fact that they apologise really often to each other without us asking them to – if that’s all we did, I’m pretty happy about that.

Do you have any life hacks, related to parenting or not, that you feel like you’ve discovered?

K: As of recently, I’m focusing on setting my environment up for success. So that means if I want to make pancakes in the morning and I know I’m going to be frazzled trying to get it done before school, I will make the pancake mix the night before, set out the pan on the burner, have the spray ready. Little tiny things like that, the pre-production of my life, I’m focusing on a little bit more, and I’m finding that that makes things easier for me.

What’s a game you’ve made up to play with the kids? 

K: Sometimes at a restaurant, while waiting for our food, Dax will grab an item off the table. A napkin, a fork, anything. And pretend it is something else, that’s mildly believable. We pass the item around the table and each says what it is for us. Someone might say, ‘Oh there it is! My moustache comb!’ about a fork for example. It’s an old school improv game and engages the kids during a time when they can get quite squirmy. 

And lastly, what other projects have you both got in the pipeline? 

K: I have my second children’s book coming out in June, called The World Needs More Purple Schools, showing kids how to build community in their schools as well as finding commonalities while celebrating their unique differences. And Dax is continuing to do his Armchair Expert Podcasts on Spotify, as well as developing new shows on the ArmChair network. A new one is called ‘Flightless Bird’ about our friend David who was stuck in the US due to Covid, and couldn’t fly back to his home in New Zealand for two years. He does not at all understand Americans, so in the show he tries to learn about our obsession with football, Disneyland, why our toilets work differently, among other funny things.

Hello Bello is now exclusively available in Asda and online at Asda.co.uk, HelloBello.co.uk.