'An Army of Support' (Exclusive): Ben and Erin Napier Talk Balancing Parenting and Filming Home Town Takeover

The success of HGTV’sHome TownTakeover, a spin-off of the much-lovedHome Townseries with Ben and Erin Napier, has come as no surprise to fans of the franchise

Published Time: 04.06.2024 - 19:31:13 Modified Time: 04.06.2024 - 19:31:13

The success of HGTV’sHome TownTakeover, a spin-off of the much-lovedHome Townseries with Ben and Erin Napier, has come as no surprise to fans of the franchise.

The show, now filming its third season in Sebring, Florida, follows the couple as they renovate an entire town — lending their design expertise, craftsmanship, and charm to a whole community. But as the Napier family has grown - daughter Helen is 6 and Mae is 3 — the logistics of revamping multiple homes and businesses while traveling back and forth to their home in Laurel, Mississippi, was a bit more challenging (albeit more fun).

The Napiers recently sat down with PEOPLE and explained how they’ve combined family life with work in Sebring.

“Season 1 nearly killed us, it was the hardest thing we had ever done,” Erin says of their first Takeover in Wetumpka, Alabama. “I was pregnant, and we had a toddler, and it was COVID and we didn’t know anybody. But now, our girls are 6 and 3 and we have a little more freedom to bring them — they’ve been here with us every step of it.”

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And the girls have absolutely loved it. “Their life here was totally different from our life here,” says Ben, “they’re on vacation, they’ve been swimming every day.”

Erin adds, “They swim and fish and take field trips to the orange grove. This is a dream for them.” That dreamy vibe carried over to the entire family. “We’ve had summer vacation feelings the whole time, even though we’re working harder than we’ve ever worked in our lives,” Erin says.

So, how do they do it — renovate six homes, four businesses, a town square, and more — all while running their other businesses and parenting two young children?

“There’s no way you do this without an army of support at home and here,” Erin says. Who is in that army? Two grandmothers, first and foremost. “We bring one of our moms every time we come,” Ben says. “And our moms don’t hate it either,” Erin adds with a smile. 

Additionally, the Napiers say the Home Town crew is like one big extended family. This season was a reunion of sorts, with Home Town veteran (and Florida resident) Jonathan Walters returning to -

oversee the project.  

“Our kids were little babies at the same time, we shared diapers,” Ben says of Walters and his family. “And now, the kids can do so much. We were just at one of the houses, doing gardening, and our kids were helping us paint garden signs,” says Erin.

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And the girls are never far from the process. “Mae likes projects! She wants to get in there, but she’s only 3,” Erin says with a laugh.  “Helen just likes to observe. She’s a mama’s girl, she wants to be wherever I am, so she’s watching. Then, she’ll get in the car and ask a lot of questions, talk about things she thought were pretty.”

There was one small, unforeseen catch to the Napiers' seemingly idyllic arrangement — Kindergarten.

Ben explains their sudden realization just before the season began, “We were worried because attendance was not a thing I had thought about before.” They found out that Helen was only allowed to miss 21 days of school, “So, we planned our trips around days off and weekends,” Ben says.

“It’s tricky once your kids are in school, but they’re our first priority. I mean, we love doing this and it’s a privilege, but we don’t ever want our girls to say, ‘Mom and Dad were just gone when we were growing up,’ ” Erin says. “But the school was very understanding, and we got everything done — all of the makeup work!” (For those counting, Helen only missed 19 days of school)!

Another unexpected element? The same one every working parent deals with — sick kids.

Ben and Erin had to cancel filming for a week when one of the girls got sick. “I hated it, and I know it was an expensive problem, but we had to be Mommy and Daddy,” Ben says. “It’s not their fault that our job is so demanding and strange,” Erin adds.

The couple, who are as beloved for their “home town” values as they are for their designs, summarize it quite simply. “We have to have our priorities, and our first priority is what will be when there is no TV, and what was there before there was TV, and that’s me and Ben and the girls. So, that’s the priority,” Erin says. 

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