Aside from their athletic accolades, the couple is well-known across social media for their successful YouTube channel, The East Family. Johnson posted the first video to the channel in December 2015, and the first few videos gave fans never-before-seen insight into the couple’s relationship, with videos like “MY ENGAGEMENT VIDEO” and “Whipped Cream Style Couples Q&A” earning hundreds of thousands of views. While much of the content is light-hearted and entertaining, exploring everything from their wedding to Johnson’s pregnancy, Johnson and East haven’t been afraid to touch on personal subjects, including pregnancy loss in one of their most viewed videos titled “pregnancy + heartbreak | Shawn Johnson + Andrew East,” which has earned over 3.8 million views since it was posted in 2017.
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The couple went on to welcome their first child, a daughter named Drew, in October 2019. Since then, much of their content has explored how they’re raising their daughter, with recent family-friendly videos including fun titles such as “parenting Olympics: 1-mile race but with a stroller” and “baby chooses what we do all day.” BabyGaga recently had the chance to speak with Enfamil Enspire spokesperson Andrew East about how he and his wife have adjusted to being first-time parents, touching on everything from how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed their daily life to staying safe while sharing so much of their personal lives online.
Alexandra Sakellariou for BabyGaga (BG): Your daughter is turning one next month! How is she doing? Has she hit any important milestones recently?
Andrew East (AE): Drew is great! She’s such a happy and healthy baby. Her latest milestone is that she’s eating solid foods, her favorite is surprisingly broccoli, and is holding her own bottle. She’s recently learned how to walk and is now attempting to run.
(BG): Does your family have any big plans to celebrate her birthday given the current pandemic?
(AE): We’re having a really small get together with family. We’re hoping to go all out, as much as we can, with invitations, cakes, balloons, everything. I know that it seems like it’s more of a celebration for us, since she’s so young, but we want to set the habit of celebrating her in a special way.
(BG): The COVID-19 pandemic has changed most people’s daily routines. How has it had an impact on how you and your wife are parenting your daughter? For instance, do you have plans to put your daughter in daycare in the current environment?
(AE): Originally, we wanted to put Drew in daycare, but we’ve grown more hesitant to do that right now. Fortunately, we have Shawn’s parents in town who are able to help here and there, but in a lot of ways, we’ve been really fortunate to be able to slow down and savor our time together. It’s been fun to take morning walks and have really quality family time in the evenings, so we’re enjoying that while we can!
(BG): What’s the one thing about being a new parent that has surprised you and your wife the most?
(AE): I honestly didn’t know that I would laugh this much. Babies are hilarious. Watching Shawn interact with Drew is hilarious. She brings us so much joy. I knew that I would enjoy being a dad, but it’s been so rewarding to have increased responsibility, but also increased enjoyment.
(BG): What’s the best part of having a daughter?
(AE): Growing up and before Shawn was pregnant, I always thought I wanted sons to play sports with. But being a #girldad has totally changed my ways. It just melts your heart, it makes you cry. The thought of Drew being a little mini Shawn when she grows up, is literally the best thing that could happen.
(BG): Your family has a YouTube channel, The East Family, where you share a lot of insight into your daily life and parenting styles. What’s the best and worst part of sharing so much of your life online?
(AE): The best part is having this community of people we have to help us through whatever situation we’re going through—offering advice, a different perspective, encouraging or helpful words, and that’s been extremely important to us. Honestly, we view it as really important to share the sensitive moments, but the most difficult part is that the very act of sharing or capturing in a sensitive time can sometimes put stress on Shawn and I and our family. So not crossing that line is a fine balance.
Take breastfeeding, for example. Early on, when Shawn was trying to breastfeed in the beginning and Drew just wasn’t latching, we switched to formula. I did so much research to make sure whatever we gave her was the absolute best for my daughter—and in the end it was clear that Enfamil Enspire was the best for so many reasons. It has expert-recommended amount of DHA, which is really important because DHA is crucial for a baby’s brain and cognitive development, and MFGM, which also helps with a baby’s brain development. And most importantly, Drew loved it!
(BG): There’s some controversy surrounding family vlogging in the world of YouTube. What’s your take on this issue? Are there any concerns you have about sharing so much of your life online?
(AE): We for sure acknowledge that this is new—being able to share so much with so many people is new. We don’t know what the outcome will look like, but we try to be as thoughtful and as discerning as possible so that we keep our family the top priority. But we do think there’s a positive side and positive effects of family vlogging, so we try to do as much as we can of that.
(BG): You and your wife film all sorts of fun videos, from testing viral tik tock hacks to truth or dare with your fans. What video(s) have been the most fun to film or have been the most memorable?
(AE): I think it’s really fun to document any new adventures we have, and that could be anything from making a new recipe to hiking the Grand Canyon in a day. It’s really fun to be able to document Shawn’s reaction to new situations to be able to look back on later. My dad used to take a ton of home videos, so I think I get that appreciation of documenting our memories from him.
(BG): What’s the best piece of parenting advice someone has ever given you? What about the worst?
(AE): The best advice I’ve ever received is to realize that there’s a million different ways to raise a child. And that doesn’t mean that any number of them are right or any number of them are wrong. There are a lot of decisions to be made that only you and your situation can determine the best decision possible, and that applies to a bunch of things—everything from co-sleeping and letting the baby sleep in the bed to sticking to a schedule, etc.
On the other hand, I think bad advice is the thought that you are your child’s hero. We view our parenting role as a responsibility, equipping our child to become a responsible human. And allowing them to get bumps and bruises and make mistakes along the way, while you’re there to help and encourage them through that challenge is just a part of that journey.
(BG): If there’s one thing first-time parents should know about having a baby, what would you tell them?
(AE): Have grace for yourself, your spouse, your child—it’s gonna be a really difficult adjustment, realize that and know that it will be okay as long as you leave room for forgiveness and understanding.
Thank you so much to Andrew East for taking the time to speak to BabyGaga.To keep up with more of Andrew East and Shawn Johnson’s parenting adventures, be sure to check out their YouTube channel, The East Family.
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