Ree Drummond Says She and Husband Ladd ‘Savor’ the ‘Two Nights a Week’ That They’re Actually Empty Nesters (Exclusive)

Ree Drummond has five adult children popping in and out of her ranch, so quality time with her husband Ladd is rare

Published Time: 05.07.2024 - 17:31:05 Modified Time: 05.07.2024 - 17:31:05

Ree Drummond has five adult children popping in and out of her ranch, so quality time with her husband Ladd is rare.

The Food Network star and her cattle rancher husband are parents to Alex, 27, Paige, 24, Bryce, 21, Jamar, 21 and Todd, 20. Their youngest was the last to officially move out when he began playing football at the University of South Dakota in January 2023.

“I say I'm an empty nester and that's not really that accurate," Ree tells PEOPLE, "because the nest is never really empty for long. Bryce and Todd have been home for quite a bit of the summer, actually. Paige, of course, is home working on the ranch.”

Ree’s eldest, Alex, and her husband Mauricio Scott, who just announced they’re expecting their first baby, have also been home in Pawhuska, Okla., fairly often.

“Alex and Mauricio have been here quite a bit," says Ree, who launched a new Walmart line of small appliances. "Alex actually works with me on the Pioneer Woman side of things, so she comes up for Walmart shoots, apparel shoots and things like that, and coordinates."

With her kids coming in and out of the newly-built family house, Ree has a short window to enjoy quality alone time with Ladd.

“So it's funny because Ladd and I, when Todd left for college in January of '23, it was a mourning period. I mean, we felt pretty empty,” she explains. “And then we sort of settled in and thought, ‘Oh, wait a minute, there are some benefits and we hardly buy any food and we hardly have any laundry.’”

“But then they start trickling back. So now it's maybe one or two nights a week our house is empty, so we savor those nights and then enjoy. And we're glad that our kids still want to be around us. It's kind of nice,” she says.  < -


Ree and Ladd shared more than a couple days alone together recently. In June, they went on a couple’s trip to Vail, Colo. While there, they adhered to their own timeline.

“We got away by ourselves. We may go eat dinner at 4:00 if we feel like it. 5:00 if we feel like party animals,” Ree wrote in the caption of an Instagram post on June 5.

She continued, “I’m sure we’re gonna find ourselves bored sometime in the next couple of days without the kids, dogs, horses, thunderstorms, garden, cattle, and life swarming around us, but for now we’re gonna go with it and smile these goofy relaxed smiles.”

Back at home, Ree and Ladd are enjoying having their youngest daughter on the ranch as Ladd’s newest “cowboy.”

“It’s really great to have her home,” Ree tells PEOPLE. 

But despite moving back to work with Ladd, the University of Arkansas alumna isn’t staying at the family house.

“She is actually living in town, in the house that was my in-laws' house,” says Ree. "So it's kind of nice that we still have that house, hadn't sold it and so she's moved in and made it her own.” Ladd's father Chuck, also known as Pa-Pa, died in 2022, while his mother Nan died in 2018.

Ree previously revealed that Paige came back to work on the ranch full-time in January. Since then, she's taking the job day by day. 

“In terms of how long she'll stay or whether it'll be a period of her life or forever, we're not really trying to predict or think about it too far in advance,” says Ree. “I love that she's here. She's the first of our kids to really come back and work on the ranch full time.” 

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