'It is tough and exhausting sometimes': Shantelle Bisson shares her top piece of parenting advice

By Sarah Curran

Shantelle Bisson is on a mission to teach people about the art of raising kids. And she's keeping it real – the last thing she wants parents to feel is that perfection is the measure of success.

"[Parenting] is tough and it is exhausting and some days you'll feel like you're just never going to get it right," she says. "It's not failure, it's natural."

She must have done something right – she and her husband of 30 years, Murdoch Mysteries leading man Yannick Bisson, are proud parents to "three incredible grown-up people," as she writes of her daughters in her new books, Raising Your Kids Without Losing Your Cool.

"We think we did a good job, but I don't know – you'd have to ask them!" she tells HELLO! Canada.

In the book, Shantelle serves up lessons she's learned, with advice spanning from the early days of pregnancy to the reality of dealing with teenage daughters in the social media age.

We asked Shantelle about her passion project – and how she and Yannick, both 50, are enjoying life today, dividing their time between homes in Los Angeles and Ontario.

HELLO! Canada: Shantelle, you're candid in the book about your own parenting missteps. Were you comfortable with that level of honesty?
Shantelle Bisson: That was the whole purpose behind the book. A lot of young moms think that they're failing when they see these mommy bloggers with their pristine homes and immaculately dressed children... I wanted to give them the ability to be comfortable in the reality of mothering – it is tough and exhausting sometimes.

Shantelle, here with Yannick in 2018, spent more than 20 years on stage, performing in musical theatre and dance, and has been a writer and worked on TV shows since 2008. Photo: © Photo: © Ryan Emberley/Getty Images for Artists for Peace and Justice Canada

You and Yannick became first-time parents when you were both just 19. How did you share the parenting load with him, as he was already a working actor?
There was a five-year dry spell where he had to do odd jobs like handyman work... but for the most part, he was a working actor. So he had a lot of time between seasons to be really hands-on. He's very loving and affectionate. He was the one on the ground wrestling with them and braiding their hair for ballet – I had two left hands when it came to that kind of stuff!

What is the best piece of parenting advice you've learned?
Always have humility. A lot of times, parents believe that their kids can't know they make mistakes. Owning up in the times when you've made a bad call teaches kids that it's OK to admit when they were wrong, too.

You're in L.A. as we speak. What's the difference between your life there versus Ontario?
All of our work is done in Toronto. That's where Yannick films and I own Shantilly's Place [the marina whose moniker is inspired by Yannick's pet name for his wife]. It's also where all of our charity work is. What's really cool is that when we're here in L.A., we get to pop around anonymously. We can just kind of blend in with everybody else and really re-group.

What has quarantine life been like for you in L.A.?
We're in a little town, which is actually a horse community, so it's not unusual to see people riding and walking their horses through the streets to get some exercise. It's quite remote, so it's almost like we're not even in quarantine.

These coronavirus days have many of us cooking more. Who is the cook in your house?
Our daughters are passionate cooks and they love to try new recipes. In fact, Mikaela has come up with the Bisson Cafe "Rona" Menu. Every week, there's a new menu posted. We've even been eating desserts, which we don't normally do. Yannick and I have been relegated to clean-up duty.

This piece was adapted from a story that originally ran in Issue 711 of HELLO! Canada.

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