I’m the Host of CNN, Lisa Ling, and This Is How I Am a Parent
Lisa Ling is the host of the CNN documentary series It’s Life with Lisa Ling . In the fifth season, which premiered this weekend, she travels across America to explore topics such as gender fluidity, screen addiction, custody battles, and furries. When not on the road, she is at home in Los Angeles with her husband and two daughters, Jett and Ray. I talked to her about how she’s parents.
Name: Lisa Ling. Location: Los Angeles. Job: Host of CNN’s It’s Life with Lisa Ling Family: My husband Paul, our 5-year-old daughter Jett, and our 2-year-old daughter Ray. But it would be an oversight if I did not mention also the two grandmothers who visit our house every single day. And my husband’s sister Anne, who lives with us. I can never say that my husband and I are exclusively parents. This is a village. If we didn’t have family support like we do, I wouldn’t be able to do this job. And I love this job.
Tell us about your usual morning routine.
This is complete chaos. We transfer my girls to a bunk bed. We’re still getting used to it and it’s been a month for us. Usually we find ourselves with one or both girls with us in the middle of the night. So the morning is hard. My 5-year-old has to go to school at 8 am sharp. I try to make breakfast at home, which is quite common. And then – crazy madness – to drag them out the door. I really want this school to open later. By 9 o’clock, children are simply more mentally and emotionally ready.
Two grandmothers who help share the parenting burden:
What gadgets, apps, charts, or tools do you rely on?
I have a very, very large calendar taped to the fridge. It helped us get so many charts. My 5-year-old daughter used to check the schedule every day. She knows that if she sees the pink line, then that is what she will do that day. But I try not to overload her schedule. I think it is easy for working parents to want their children to participate in so many programs as needed. We try to limit this. She can go to taekwondo if she sleeps well and wants to go.
Also, when I travel, as soon as I leave the house, my heart just skips a beat. So I have a Nest camera in my daughters’ room. This allows me to be part of their sleep routine. I don’t like to disturb them because I think it’s making it harder for them, but I feel like I’m there. It’s also great to have Alexa in my house – my daughter can ask Alexa to call me when she needs me.
Have you come across any parenting product that has changed your life?
These Fever-Bugz stickers are an essential item to keep in your home. You put them on your baby’s head when he sleeps and they show if he has a fever. I also love our sound machine. This is comforting. And when we are all together in the same room, it allows us to maintain a conversational level without waking the child.
Has the way you work changed the way you become a parent?
In the past, if someone asked me to stay another week or even a month in the field, I would have no problem if I said yes. Now I can’t wait to get home.
Also, when I remember the stories I tell, I always think, “How can this affect children and parents?” We’ve got a piece of screen addiction this season. It turns out that this has a very strong effect on children. In the past, when children experienced anxiety, they looked for people to be comforted. Now, by default, they search for their devices. This is a hole from which it is difficult for them to get out. I told this story while thinking about my children.
Has what you learned about screen addiction changed the way you approach screen time in your home?
Oh yeah. I used to give my children my phone all the time, for example, when we were going to have a snack and I wanted them to calm down. I didn’t know anything better. Right now, I severely restrict their device usage. I very rarely give them my phone. I shot YouTube and YouTube Kids and I only have educational apps and PBS. These videos of surprise toys – my child could watch them for hours. They seemed kind. It was like the kids love to watch it, but what’s the harm? But then I noticed that my daughter was literally opening these surprise toys and throwing them away because she just wondered how they opened. Or I heard her say, “Oh, that’s boring.” This is because her brain was tuned to have fun quickly and then move on to the next one. I saw her dissatisfied with one thing, and it was so scary. I realized that children cannot have unhindered access to these retail outlets. As parents, with all this we are just learning.
Has your oldest daughter watched your show?
I really have to be frugal with what I show her. But she saw the show and it helped us strike up some really meaningful conversations. She just watched my [upcoming] methamphetamine episode in Oklahoma. This allowed us to talk about the impact of drug addiction and why these things are illegal.
What’s your favorite family ritual?
We’ve got a new cargo bike, the Virtue Schoolbus . This is a large cargo area attached to the tricycle. We ride it all over the place and sing Baby Shark.
Gender and children:
How do you unpack?
I try to play sports as often as possible. I climb the stairs a lot. There are 250 steps where I live, and I try to do it religiously. Right now I am on the 23rd floor of the hotel and am going to try to climb up to the 40th floor at some point during this trip. I need my heart to beat every single day to get rid of all my anxious energy.
How do you deal with tantrums?
Well, I’ll say that sometimes it works, what often works is to admit their frustration. Be empathetic. Not like a parent, but a confidant. Say, “I know you’re upset. I’m sorry that you are upset. I know it’s difficult. “
The only thing I would like to say to other parents who are pursuing a career:
Don’t feel like you have to do it all by yourself.