Alexa PenaVega doesn't want to be a 'half-butt parent': 'I want my kids to get a full version of me'

Carlos and Alexa PenaVega have three kids. (Photo: Getty Images; designed by Quinn Lemmers)
Carlos and Alexa PenaVega have three kids. (Photo: Getty Images; designed by Quinn Lemmers) (Quinn Lemmers/Getty)

Welcome to So Mini Ways, Yahoo Life's parenting series on the joys and challenges of child-rearing.

Carlos PenaVega and Alexa PenaVega are taking their parenting journey to the high seas.

The Big Time Rush star, 33, and the Spy Kids actress, 34, have purchased and fixed up an old catamaran and are planning to set sail to the Bahamas at the end of November along with their three children, Ocean, Kingston and Rio.

The couple — who chronicle their family life on their YouTube page, La Vida PenaVega — are big on adventure, and giving back. Their new children's book, Ocean’s World: An Island Tale of Discovery and Adventure, is named for their son and will send proceeds to the Salvation Army. The family recently volunteered to work with the organization on their Hurricane Ian relief efforts in Florida.

"Ocean really wanted to serve. We had him outside in the drive-through canteen," says Carlos, whose family splits its time between Florida and Hawaii. "These guys were serving, at the time, 7,000 meals a day just in Port Charlotte; that's one community affected. And Ocean would go to the car and say 'How was your day? How many meals would you like?'"

Serving others can help lay the groundwork for parenting, adds Alexa, who says it can help you "prepare for when you're serving this child."

"[As a parent] you become a servant," she says. "At least for those first few years, your intention has to be with those kids.

"Sure your life can get a little harder with two or three kids, but you learn to adjust," she adds. "That biggest adjustment comes from zero [kids] to one. All of a sudden you have a kid and your whole world changes, I believe for the better. But it’s a major shift and for some people, it can be really, really hard, especially if you're having kids later in life as opposed to when you’re younger and haven't set your routine."

The PenaVegas — who combined their last names, Pena and Vega, when they married in 2014 — make it a priority to find time for themselves amid the chaos of having three children ranging in age from 18 months to almost 6.

"Parents have to be in a really good place so that the kids get the best version of them," says Alexa. "If the parents are not in a good place, you’re gonna get a half-butt parent, a parent that's not all there. I want my kids to get a full version of me — an alive, fulfilled version of me. I know that's not always the case, but do whatever it takes to fill your cup."

For a lot of parents, "me" time equals screen time. The PenaVegas say they've found a good balance on that front, means limiting certain content. One thing that doesn't make the cut is the popular YouTube channel CoComelon.

"These kids in this generation — it’s like crack for them," Carlos says. "I'm not bashing CoComelon, but it’s designed to keep kids engaged, I don't think in a good way."

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