Admittedly going into the Feb. 26 season 2 premiere of the ABC reality series, many viewers responded with scoffs and rolled eyes a-plenty (yours truly included) about this swapping duo. The fact that Gosselin is no longer a wife seemed like an obviously lacking pre-requisite to participating in this particular brand of reality show. Call me crazy. Plus, let’s be real, Kate Gosselin’s time in the reality show limelight has grown increasingly sour since her endearing early days on “Jon & Kate Plus 8.”
So heading into the season 2 premiere of “Celebrity Wife Swap,” this TV Moms Examiner went into the episode with no small dose of skepticism, and (shockingly) came out a bit of a fan. Here’s why…
Going into the swap blind, both moms were unpleasantly surprised by their new-found families for a week. For Kate it’s hell to be in a land of virtually no structure and the utterly foreign concept of free time - though it's heaven to be in the presence of such a devoted dad and husband. As for Kendra…Well, she’s wife to the most doting husband in the universe and mother of one, so walking into a home to find eight kids (twins Cara and Mady; sextuplets Alexis, Hannah, Aaden, Collin, Leah, and Joel)…Almost anyone’s stomach would sink to their toes at that task.
Kendra: "Oh my god, I'm-I'm being parented right now...Mady is mentally older than I am..."
Mady [at dinner]: "…And please help Kendra to survive this week. Amen."
Both moms struggled to find their groove in their new households: Kendra keeping up with the schedule, trying to figure out how one goes about spreading your love, time, and focus to eight children, and hating that these kids didn’t seem to have nearly enough time to just “be kids” in the midst of all this scheduling. As for Kate she had major issues letting go enough to let Hank “pamper” her and just take some free time to relax. And she couldn’t understand how Kendra was willingly giving up so much time that she could be spending with little Hank.
Then came time for the new-mom-rules. Kendra worked to relax the kids’ schedule and just give them time to be free and “kids,” she also came up with the excellent rule of switching up the chores – sending the boys to the kitchen and the girls to the chicken coop. Kendra also exposed the Gosselin kids to a little spontaneity – taking an impromptu dash to the tree house, a ‘picnic’ dinner…Eventually Kendra discovered that all of that structure and scheduling has its purpose, and is a necessary evil when your running a household of eight children. Meanwhile, Kate, not surprisingly, decided to introduce the intriguing land of boundaries, rules, and family time for Hank and little Hank.
While Kendra was endearing in all her overwhelmed wonder, Kate came out of this looking like a parenting all-star. Seriously. You can’t fault a woman who promotes spending more quality time together as a family, and who didn’t love her magical touch of getting that sweet little 2-year-old to pick up his toys? Ultimately both moms came out of this with things to learn from each other. Kate embraced the chore swap for the kids and working some (guilt free) ‘me time’ into that jam-packed schedule, while Kendra saw the value of the family dinner and taking a more active role in her family’s life.
In the end, we have to take this reality series for what it is, but I for one was pretty happy to get a glimpse of that Kate I remembered from all those years ago in the early days of “Jon & Kate Plus 8.”
What did you think of the season 2 premiere of “Celebrity Wife Swap,” Kate Gosselin/Kendra Wilkinson?
Next week’s “Celebrity Wife Swap” has rapper Coolio’s girlfriend switching places with singer Mark McGrath’s wife at 8 p.m./7 c. on ABC.