How Kelly Ripa Feels About Her Oldest Son Heading to College

And how the family dynamic will change once he moves out of the house.

ByABC News
November 11, 2015, 4:29 AM

— -- Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos decided early on that they would be "present" parents. The couple, married almost 20 years ago, have three kids -- Michael, Lola and Joaquin -- and make sure to be together one way or another at the end of every day.

"My husband had dinner as a family every night growing up and he was like, 'We are having family dinner every night, no matter what,'" Ripa, 45, told ABC News. "And we do that. It means so much to the kids, it means so much to me. Does it always go as planned? Of course not."

Not going as planned means pizza with the kids, sometimes standing up in the kitchen.

"But guess what? We are together, we have these meaningful conversations, we talk about the days of our children," she said. "That's what interesting to us. Sometimes your kids just want to be acknowledged and listened to like they matter, because they do ... and really hear what they are saying. Like if there's a struggle going on, if they are having problems with a subject [in school]. They can tell you so much if you just listen."

This dynamic might change in Ripa's household soon, as Michael is getting ready for college.

"We just finished all of our applications and I cannot for the life of me, I can't believe it," she said about her firstborn growing so fast. "We keep looking at each other [Mark and I], he drives now, he can do all of these things. I'm so proud of him. He's never asked us for extravagant things like cars and all of that stuff. As long as he has his Metro Card, he's happy as a clam."

She continued, "Every time he's leaves the house, I stare at Mark and say, 'I cannot believe we gave birth to that kid.' He's so much bigger than us. He's so much taller than us. He's so much cooler than us, without even knowing he's cool. I adore all three of them, but there's something about that firstborn child going off. It feels crazy."

As for Ripa herself, she says she excited for Michael to grow and blossom away from the home.

"He's very introverted, he does not reveal a lot of himself," she said. "We used to play this game, which one of our children would we want to have lunch with in 30 years. Michael usually wins that game. He's such a natural introvert, but so creative and interesting."

One person who is really going to miss Michael at home is Joaquin.

"They are so close," Ripa said. "He's so attached to Michael. Whatever Michael is doing is what Joaquin wants to do and so I think going to be hardest on him."

Then there's Lola.

"I think Lola is so excited, she can't control herself," she said, laughing. "She will finally be head of the family. It's a job she's coveted since the day she was born. Lola is a freshman in high school. I can't believe that either. I keep looking at them, for some reason to me, they will always be in 2nd grade, in my mind. People used to say, enjoy these moments when they are little. Mark and I were so sleep deprived and ... it felt so permanent. But people said it goes in the blink of an eye. And we blinked."

Ripa spoke to ABC in collaboration with Children's Motrin and the My Unstoppable Mom Campaign.

The campaign is close to her heart, as it started with a segment on her show. But she wanted more than 5 moms to get the credit they obviously deserve and thus, this online initiative was born.

"Wouldn't it be great to honor moms across the country, who might not be able to get a chance to be on TV," she said. "This is a way to honor more people."

But the honor comes from the children, who let their moms know what they mean to them.

"I'm always amazed my children are able to perceive what I do for them," Ripa added about the campaign. "I'm always assuming they don't pay attention, but they really do. They are watching. They like little unique things a mom might do for their kids that you just do because you love your children."