By Jessica Wedemeyer
"The Hardest Thing" Drew Lachey will have to do this fall is figure out time for a nap! After spending the summer running a performing-arts camp for kids, and reuniting with his boy (man?) band 98 Degrees, the singer is gearing up to move his family back to Los Angeles as he competes on the all-star season of "Dancing With the
Stars." Six years after he took home the mirror ball trophy at the end of the show's second season, Drew, now a father of two, won't find the ballroom how he left it. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native opened up to Wonderwall about the latest milestones in his kids' lives, leaving behind his hometown, and his advice on fatherhood for his brother Nick Lachey, who's due to become a first-time dad sometime this month. Click through to see what Drew had to say.
You're a family man now, so will your wife and kids join you in Los Angeles while you're competing on "Dancing With the Stars?"
I just can't be away for my family for that long. I spend all day, every day pretty much with my kids unless I'm working. If I'm rehearsing, that's one thing, but what do I do for the other 16 hours of the day? I want to be with my
family. I want to have them out there. I wouldn't be able to focus on what I'm trying to do with the show if I'm worrying about what's going on back home. It's going to be just another family adventure. We took our daughter on tour with us when she was 9 months old. We moved to New York when she was 2 to do Broadway. It's just one more adventure for the Lachey family.
Why did you leave Los Angeles the first time?
My wife and I made a decision two and a half years ago to move out of L.A. after we had our daughter. She was growing up, and we saw the lifestyle that a lot of people had out in L.A. We're both from Cincinnati, and we have a lot of family in Cincinnati. Cincinnati allows us to keep her innocent just a little bit longer. The decision to move
back to Cincinnati -- and away from the industry that I work in and a lot of our friends -- was by far one of the best decisions we ever made in our lives. If we're able to give our daughter and our son even five more minutes of innocence, then the move was all worth it. I feel like we have a great connection of friends and family and support here, and Cincinnati's just a great place to live and raise a family
How excited is your daughter, Isabella, 6, for the move?
She's excited because she's gonna get to meet her new cousin right away and see some of her friends. She's excited to be able to see [the show] and see me do it live and be there and get dressed up in a fancy dress and be able to go to the beach and all those fun things.
She's in the first grade, and she's a reading rock star already. She reads better than I do. Right now she's reading the "Magic Tree House" books, and honestly, she reads anything you put in front of her, which is a little scary because we can't spell words out to each other anymore because she'll be able to spell it out faster than
I can. If we say, "Are we going to the m-o-v-i-e-s?" she'll be like, "Movies? We're going to the movies?" while I'm still on the V. So it's been really cool to see her blossom and become this intelligent, smart, artistic little girl. It's pretty awesome.
Your son, Hudson, is 28 months old. How is he different from your daughter?
He's very, very different than how she was. When she was his age, she was singing full songs, but if you put her on the floor, she would just play right there in her space. He's jumping off the third step and climbing trees. If you listen to my mom, he is a miniature version of me.
He is the same way I was. He's just a ball of energy.
What are your kids like together?
[Isabella] loves being the big sister. She loves reading bedtime stories to [Hudson]. She enjoys the fact that he wants to do whatever she's doing and that she needs to lead by example. If she does something wrong, we tell her, "Don't do that because he's going to learn." Then when he does it, she's like, "I'm sorry, Dad, he learned
that from me." She just loves the fact that she has that much power and influence over him. … They look like little California kids. He looks like a little surfer, and she's got this long blond hair and these striking blue eyes. He's definitely a little bit more rambunctious and daring. But she's a great big sister, and they just love on each other. They are completely in love with each other, which is fantastic as a parent to have your kids love each other that much.
Do they have any early ambitions to be performers like their parents?
When [Isabella] comes home and practices what she learned in dance class, [Hudson] will start doing the dance right next to her. I'm like, "Wow! I can't believe he's doing that." People are like, "Really? Do you expect him not to do that? Both of his parents do that!" So
they're kind of growing up to be these little performers, which is strange because we're not even trying to push that on them.
Will it be OK with you if that's what they decide to do?
Honestly, I'll encourage them in whatever they are passionate about, whether it's academics, sports, the arts, medicine, science, literature, whatever it is that they're passionate about and they love to do, we'll encourage them to pursue it with all the gusto in the
world. That being said, would I love for her to be a doctor and have job security and not have to go through some of the struggles that most performers go through? Yes. But if performing's what she wants to do and where her heart is pulling her, then obviously we'll support her 100 percent.
How will your brother Nick be as a father and what advice do you have for him on fatherhood?
Hands down, he's going to be a fantastic father. That baby is already loved so much and he's not even here yet. But my advice for new parents is don't take people's advice! Every parent is different. Every child is different. Every situation is different. Just go into it without a plan
in your head. Just go through it. Love that baby as much as you possibly can every day of your life and everything else will figure itself out.
What's it like heading back to the competition on "Dancing With the Stars?"
It's a little surreal to be going back into the ballroom again. Obviously I had a great run with it the first time around and did tours after that, so it's not weird to be dancing again, it's just strange to be back in that whirlwind again. When I did it the first time, my wife was
9 months pregnant. I had so much stuff going on in my head dealing with my personal life that the show was just like this giant tornado that scoops you up. But now going back into it, I obviously have a better idea of what to expect, a better idea of what the time commitment is, and a better idea how to manage my life and my time.
How do you compare as a competitor this time around?
I've become a much more confident performer. Even though I've been touring since I was 19 and doing shows, I'm much more confident in my abilities now. That being said, I have a lot more perspective being a father of two and living outside of Los Angeles. I know what's
important to me in my life, and I'm not going to lose sight of that or get swept up into the chaos that can ensue. Obviously, I'm six years older than I was last time I did it. My knees are six years older. My back is six years older. But I feel in better shape going into it this time than I did the first time, and I feel better prepared mentally to handle the challenges that come with it.
Your wife, Lea Dellecave Lachey, is a professional dancer and choreographer. How much does she help you with your routines?
She's very, very adamant about not having too many cooks in the kitchen, but when I ask her opinion, she'll give it honestly. She'll tell me which criticism or critique from the judges I really need to focus on. There is an
element of wanting to have my work life [in the ballroom] and then be able to come home and not think about it and obsess about it. But the fact that I know that she'll give me an honest opinion after she sees it is comforting
You also worked together launching the Lachey Arts summer camp for performing arts. How involved were you and your wife in running the camp?
The camp pretty much became our lives. My wife and I both taught classes. We both staged numbers. I was the first one in the building in the morning for early drop off,
and I was the last one to leave after the last kid got picked up. The camp really did become like our third child to the point where we got emotional when it ended. We were very hands on, everything from making Xerox copies to picking up lunch to being backstage with them for the performances to having individual classes with them.