Mom Of The Moment, Donna Kelce, shies away from taking any credit for how her two sons — NFL stars Jason and Travis Kelce — turned out.
While the general public chalks up the Kelce brothers’ exuberant, funny, and warm-hearted personalities to Donna and Ed Kelce’s raising, she says that she really just took their lead.
“I just allowed them to be themselves. A lot of it is just who they are,” Donna told Scary Mommy this week in an interview over Zoom.
She has the same laid-back attitude about being a grandma and mother-in-law, telling Scary Mommy that she’s just taking Jason’s wife, Kylie Kelce’s lead.
When asked if mothers-in-law get a bad rap, Donna said it all depends on personalities.
“I try to stay out of it and listen to my daughter-in-law and how she wants to do things with her kids. I don’t tell her how to do anything. Children are all different, only a mom knows best because they’re part of you,” she said.
“Nobody wants unsolicited advice. I only interfere if I see one of the girls doing something dangerous, then I’m like, ‘Whoa! Let’s not do that!’”
She also credits Kylie for teaching her new parenting techniques.
“I’ve learned new things from Kylie and followed her lead. It’s cool to see the girls take deep breaths on their own and calm themselves down,” she shared.
Jason and Kylie, who married in 2018, share three daughters together — Wyatt (4), Elliotte (2) and Bennett (11 months).
All Donna can hope for Kylie and Jason is that they take in every moment with their kids when they’re young, as she reminded that it all goes by in the blink of an eye.
“You only get 18 summers with your kids, you need to make them count! After they’re adults, in total, you get about a year with them. Cherish every moment!” she said.
Having a laid-back viewpoint became a theme during my conversation with the 71-year-old sports mom who has stolen the hearts of pretty much everyone.
She only intervened with the boys when she deemed it necessary, like the time Travis asked her if he could go play hockey out of the country.
“Travis said he wanted to go to Canada for hockey and was getting scouted, but I said, ‘No, no one else is going to raise my kid,’” she said, mentioning Travis was still in middle school at the time.
Other times, she went completely hands-off, recalling a moment she walked out of the house while Jason and Travis went at it. The boys never shied away from any sort of competition about anything and everything.
“Travis and Jason had mini-competitions both on and off the field from who could get down the stairs fastest to who got in the car first. Once they got bigger than me, I would call up their dad. One time, they were going at it and I just grabbed my purse and walked out the door,” she said with a laugh.
Donna admitted that she didn’t encourage their sibling rivalry, but when it did come up, she usually let the boys work it out.
“I don’t think I fostered it, but I let it play out. In life, you’re going to have a lot of competition. Kids have to figure out how to compete without being in people’s faces, except in football, of course, when you’re always in the other person’s face,” she joked.
Thanks to Jason and Travis’ impressive resume of sports played growing up (including baseball, basketball, lacrosse, and football), Donna met all walks of life and cultivated friendships with other sports parents. When asked how she felt about sacrificing all that time and energy to youth sports, she said it was all worth it.
“Oh, I loved every minute of it. I didn’t see it as a sacrifice. I loved that I could sit and watch my kids do what they love and also commiserate with parents. I just loved being around people,” she recalled.
One other thing she learned from being around so many other sports parents? Back off!
In what seems to be the Donna Kelce way, staying on the sidelines (literally and figuratively) while kids play sports is vital to their growth on and off the field.
“Parents need to stay out of always helping. Kids need to figure it out for themselves. If your kid isn’t getting playing time, the parent should not go to the coach and demand more playing time,” she advised.
“Parents should encourage their kids to ask the coach how they can get better in their own time or outside of practice to get more playing time. Then the coach knows it’s coming from the kid, not the parent. A parent going up to a coach, demanding playtime, that’s the kiss of death. I’ve seen kids resent their parents for pushing them too hard,” she said.
The Kelce matriarch also shared that making ends meet with two sons involved in so many sports wasn’t always easy. From high grocery bills to endless sports equipment, Kelce advises parents to hold off before shelling out the big bucks on sports gear.
“I can’t even imagine the cost now. They didn’t have Nike cleats or fancy equipment back then, you just tried to do what you could. They don’t have to have the best stuff at the early levels, just see if they like it and go from there. Get pre-used equipment from Play It Again Sports. I think we had a family plaque there,” she joked.
She also wished a free cash-back, money-saving app like Ibotta existed back then.
“The Ibotta app would have been great to have to help save and definitely something to use now. Something like that would have helped so much to help lower costs across the board! Groceries, equipment, etcetera — I wish I had had it when I was a young mom,” she said.
Donna also mentioned how clutch the Ibotta app would have been during all those travel tournaments with the boys since the app does partner with websites like Hotels.com so, people can get cash back on their hotel stays.
Though she didn’t have the Ibotta app, she did have a hack for making sure the boy’s sweaty equipment didn’t stink up their hotel rooms.
“We used to put their hockey bags on top of the car because it smelled so bad, and out on the balcony of hotels. The gloves always smelled the worst for some reason,” she recalled with a laugh.
Now that the boys are grown and living in separate parts of the country, Donna’s grocery and laundry woes are a memory. However, she still tries to see her sons as much as possible, working to make it to at least eight home games between the two boys.
She candidly admitted that there are some stark differences between Jason’s games in Philadelphia versus Travis’ star-studded sporting events at Arrowhead Stadium.
“I love Philadelphia because of the grandkids. Travis has his own thing going on, but both home team games are fun,” she admitted. Definitely different kinds of fun — that’s for sure!