Guy Raz is the creator and host of three NPR podcasts—two for grownups (How I Built This and TED Radio Hour) and one for kids (Wow in the World). In our family car, we’ve been a little obsessed with Wow in World ever since the show enlightened us about two-headed space worms, brain freeze and poop science. Raz tests his kid content with two listeners who’ll give it to him straight: his two sons. Here’s how he parents.
Name: Guy Raz Location: Washington DC Job: Creator and host of How I Built This, TED Radio Hour and Wow in the World Family: Wife and two sons (9 and 7)
Tell us a little bit about your family and your career. Did life happen mostly as planned or were there surprises?
I am always amazed at people who plan and plan well. I feel like every day is like pushing the boulder up a hill. We planned for nothing. And not because we are irresponsible - just that life, with kids especially, seems to be a series of unpredictable events that you just kind of figure out as you go along.
Take us through your morning routine. What are your best tricks for getting out the door?
We wake by 5:30 AM. My wife does her yoga routine. I drink a tall glass of water and then check email and get some work done. At 6:30, I start making breakfast for the boys and pack their school lunches. My wife hops on a 6:25am bus to downtown. I rustle the boys out of bed by 7. They are slow eaters so our breakfast routine takes at least 30 minutes.
By 7:45, we’re in the car and on the way to school. I’m back at my desk by 8:30. The best trick (and this is hard!) is to get as much ready the night before. Grind coffee and put it in the coffee maker. Make sure dishes are in the dishwasher. Make as much of next day’s breakfast and school lunch as possible. Make sure boys triple check their backpacks before they go to bed and make sure they place their backpacks — PACKED — by the front door at night.
How much outside help do you get as a parent? Who or what can’t you live without?
We have a part-time nanny who helps with school pick-up and looking after the boys while we are at work. She is an incredible person who also helps us with dinner prep (chopping sweet potatoes, onions, etc). I do all the cooking at the house so things like having cut-up veggies in the fridge ready for a stir-fry or a clean kitchen are a huge help (and timesaver!)
What are the gadgets, apps, charts or tools you rely on?
We are generally low-tech and reluctantly purchased a family iPad this year. We only allow the boys to have screen time on Friday and Saturday evenings. In terms of other life-enhancing things: Vitamix (crucial for making smoothies, soups, homemade almond milk, etc), our Spotify family account (it has prevented the boys from tearing each other apart), TripIt (my wife can always see my travel schedule and I can see hers), and a basic dry-erase calendar on the fridge with colour-coded markers so everyone can see where we will be and when.
Has becoming a parent changed the way you work?
1000%. I have no choice but to be as efficient as I can to squeeze in as much work as possible to give me as much time as possible to spend with my kids.
Do you involve your kids in your work?
With Wow in the World, I use my kids as my personal audience listening panel to see whether the jokes or the ideas work.
What does your evening routine like?
The boys are now able to take showers on their own. By 6 PM, they are showered and usually in jammies. On most nights, I start on dinner around 6:30 PM. Usually a chicken curry or a stir-fry. We try to eat dinner together by 7 — though sometimes, my wife is still at work and eats quickly when she gets home. Bedtime is 8 PM. We read to the boys. Tuck them in. And then lights out by 8:30. Because my wife and I wake up early, we’re usually out by 10 PM.
How do you decompress?
What’s been your proudest moment as a parent?
Watching my children grow into increasingly independent humans.
What moment are you least proud of?
When I reach a boiling point, and raise my voice at them.
What do you want your kid to learn from your example?
To find a partner in life who makes you a better person.
What are your favourite funny/weird/special family rituals?
Not weird but we are baseball fanatics. We have to get to the game the minute the gates open (usually two hours before a game) to watch warm-ups and get a Shake Shack burger. We always bring a big bag of sunflower seeds and never, ever leave our seats for three hours.
Has anyone ever given you a piece of parenting advice that has really stuck with you?
You have one job to do: To raise kind and independent adults.
What’s the hardest part about being a parent?
The fear (“Are they safe?” “Am I going to be able to provide for them?”). It’s a fear I never experienced until I became a parent.
What’s your favourite part of the day?
The moment I walk into the door after a long day at work and I hear small feet running down the stairs shouting “Daddy!”
The one thing I would tell other parents who are juggling a career:
It’s just a job — unless you are Barack Obama or Nelson Mandela or Gandhi. It’s unlikely the work you do is ever more important than the small moments you have with your family.